Good Advice from an Older Sister

I blog for a lot of reasons – some of them are covered in this post – but also for the reason that I’ve very much come to see this blog as a reflection of myself turning into an adult.  I’m also starting to see that there is going to be a point where I declare myself a Grown Up or at the very least have attained the Age of Reason like my friend Marta wrote about at Connect Shore. That didn’t seem possible when I first started 3 almost 4 years ago.

With this post I feel like I’ve reached another milestone (beyond it being my 202nd post) because it represents a shift in my thinking and structuring of my day from a pile of details into a coherent plan.

All that said – this post is about Organization and I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said before and better, by more qualified people, in more specific ways. This isn’t a “how to” article it’s a “how I did” article.

Truly, this post is dedicated to my two sisters, who I love to regale with my newest findings on how to organize better and more seamlessly – and why they should be doing it too.

Becca and Rachel, let’s pretend like I am the lecturer giving a slide show presentation and you are my captive audience.  You may take notes, or text on your phones, as students are wont to do.

My basic premise for this project was –

Basically, like Gretchin Rubin says in her Happiness Project book and blog (paraphrased for this circumstance) I’m not disorganized, I’m just not as organized as I’d like to be.  These were some of the reasons I was feeling disorganized –

See Also – Eating a lot of cakes and muffins agitatedly when I am stressed out like this scene in The Importance of Being Earnest.

“When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink”

So, as you both know, whenever I embark on a new project I like to read a lot of things about that topic.  I read a book by organizational guru Julie Morgenstern, an interpretation of Maria Montessori’s teaching methods which are largely founded on the idea of order (I blogged about that here), and dozen of blogs of which I HeartOrganizing is pretty representational.  This is what I learned from all of that.

Yes, it’s kind of time consuming just to come up with a system.  After all my reading I managed to couple together a system that works for me that is pretty low tech.

Yes, its just a plain old notebook, nothing fancy here.

It involves dividing my weekly to-do list into a way that reflects the four primary spheres of my life and filling them with only the amount of items that will fit in that box.  That means I’ve automatically pared down the list to include the most important things – and I know I won’t even finish those ones.  My different areas are:

  1. Home/Family
  2. Friends/Church/Ministry
  3. Self/Blogs
  4. Work/School

Daily dividing my day into four different parts (4 hours each between 7am and 11pm).

And doing what I need to do during those time chunks – and not getting carried away if I get really into writing a blog post for 2 hours – EVEN –  if I’m being “productive”- see slide 4

Letting it go means if the craft project I really want to do doesn’t get done, I forget about it, not perseverate on it – I want to make a baby scrapbook, but it isn’t happening right now.

Finally – my system is working for me, but I still learned some other theoretical things about organizing.
Even though I still don’t have time to do everything I want, paradoxically, I do find that I at least want to do what I’m doing (minus scrubbing the toilet). And even though it doesn’t make me a nicer person, it does cut down on blaming others for my own feelings of stress. Also, I’m now getting 85% of what I want to get done and feeling pretty calm.

The End.
Love, your big sister Beth.

*PS. As usual, I made up 99% of the statistics in this presentation.


A Post about Classification and the DeCordova Sculpture Garden

I am gradually realizing that not everyone thinks like I do.  I know this intellectually but it is easy to forget it in everyday living.

On the beautiful day before the fourth of July our family sojourned to Lincoln ( a few short miles from those old sites of important action – Lexington and Concord fittingly.)  We drove to see the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park. Although the museum is beautiful, we went quickly through it in order to spend our time outside following the path around the grounds, seeking the sculptures nestled against trees or proudly standing in manicured lawns.

After what felt like a brief hour and a half we were already leaving.  This is where I remarked,

If I was going to come with older children I would make a little scavenger hunt for them, to see if they could find which sculptures where made of bronze, or wood, or plastic.  Then I would send them off.

I am –  at my core – someone who classifies, who organizes.  I group according to type and material.  On a first draft of my hunt I have no doubt there would be no lines to inscribe what the sculptures resembled, of what they are reminiscent.  Only on reflection would I remember this is important too.

I am glad that I am made the way I am.  But I am also glad for all the mediating forces in this world that help me think in other ways too.

No Dumping – The Complaint Board

I’ve been working my way through the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.  A bestseller in the 1990’s it set out under the premise that Emotional Intelligence (learning to manage your emotions so that you can relate to other people and yourself) is as important (if not more so) than regular old Intelligence.

I just finished the chapter on intimate relationships (ie marriage and/or dating) and some of the pitfalls.  As a general rule of thumb, women like to air out the problems they face in a relationship, and men like to gloss over them.  (As a point of interest, this is partly because men actually don’t experience problems as deeply as women do.  They aren’t “ignoring” the problems, they just don’t rate them as importantly as women do.)

Also as a general rule of thumb, I like to try and prove dichotomous thinking wrong with examples from my own life.  However, in this circumstance, I’m no exception.  When something’s bothering me – man, I want to talk about it with my husband.  Ad nauseum.  Particularly if I’ve been home alone all day.  It doesn’t matter how trivial this problem might be.

This in itself is a problem.  Like most people who are transitioning to a different environment, he doesn’t want the equivalent of a proverbial ton of bricks or metaphorical bucket of cold water dumped onto his head as an entrance gift.

So, this is the solution I came up with last week.  The Complaint Board.

You won’t find one of these on Pinterest – after all, that’s a place for idealized worlds of perfect schedules, Bible Verses, manicured photos, and organized family calendars.  Nothing ever goes wrong on Pinterest boards devoted to home decoration. You know it’s true.

So what we have here is a small eraser board you can pick up for about $10 mounted onto the side of our refrigerator.  I get to write down the things that make me want to tear my hair out.  My husband gets to read them when he comes home.  No bitter discussion needed.  I think it might be a little bit of a relationship saver.