Organizing in the Winter
It's a New Year's cliché, of course, but getting organized
for the new year can be profoundly satisfying if you do it right.
And getting organized can include anything from kitchen drawers
to vision boards, clothes racks to bucket lists. What's important
to establish from the outset is that you have a goal in mind before
you begin. Maybe you need to be able to make things fit in that
junk drawer that won't shut anymore. Or perhaps you want to plan
sequentially for the next six months. Having a goal will keep
you from having to deal with the following dreaded scenario: You
decide to better organize the hall closet. You open up the closet,
take everything out, feel totally overwhelmed, put everything
back in the closet and shut the door.
The point of having a goal is that you know when you're done
and can feel successful about what you've accomplished. The goal
may be as simple as working for 15 minute increments until a job
is completed. Or you may just take an evening and get as far as
you can. Regardless of your approach, you should have an end point
in mind that is realistic and achievable.
Winter in the northern hemisphere is a wonderful time for organizing
because you can take advantage of your natural inclination to
nest. You can see how comfortable your routines feel and if anything
is missing that would make life simpler or easier.
Take filing, for example. Longer evenings can provide a good
opportunity to dive into neglected piles and see what's lurking
there. I would suggest, though, that you begin at the bottom of
a stack rather than the top. Starting at the bottom re-introduces
you to papers you haven't seen in quite awhile and thus gives
you a fresh perspective. Also, you're less likely to be emotionally
attached to items that are more removed in time.
Doing my filing recently caused me to discover that I'm much
more of an Everything Out person than I realized. I had been organizing
my 12 x 12 scrapbook paper, by color, in portable closed files.
Problem: it seems that if I don't see it, I don't use it. So I
switched to a system that also stores vertically, but does so
in transparent vinyl pockets. Problem solved.
My winter organizing project this year will be more conceptual
than physical. It's been over a year since I've re-done my inspiration
bulletin board and I'm interested to see what I come up with.
Important Note about Bulletin Boards: Don't mix your functions.
Many people use their boards for posting information, along with
inspirational quotes, cartoons and notes. What happens is that
everything begins to blend and you have more of a decorative background
than you do a visual alert system. Keep posted reminders separate
from decorative features.
My inspiration board combines elements of dream/vision boards
with favorite pictures, color combinations and decorative embellishments.
The board as a whole lifts me up and gives me energy when I need
it. I start by separating elements out of my To File pile that
pique my imagination or curiosity in some way and then tack them
up on the board. I move things around until the arrangement is
pleasing. Over the year I'll add new pieces until I run out of
room. I like a hodgepodge look, but you might prefer a more orderly
Wintertime is also the best season for going through old magazines.
It's fun to check out issues of the past year for pictures that
might work on your inspiration board. But more importantly, you
need to create room for this year's accumulation. And maybe you'll
find out that you're not really keeping up with old subscriptions
anymore. Your interests might have changed or you prefer to do
other things with your time and money. It's always a good idea
to step back and see if you're using and enjoying the things that
Maybe your recipe collection is getting out of hand. (Isn't it
funny how we clip recipes from magazines and somehow feel like
clipping them is the same as actually cooking them?) Try putting
your clippings into page protectors and storing them in binder
categories. It's always easier to cook something if you can find
what you're looking for quickly.
Even if you don't feel like organizing, take advantage of the
cocooning effects of winter. Settle in and think about the stuff
you save and store, and why you save and store it. You may be
ready, when spring arrives, to undertake a major clean sweep.