Friday, December 4, 2009

plan of attack

i know the holidays are kind of a crazy time to focus on organization at home, whatwith all the traveling, gift buying, party planning and attending, money spending, cooking, and oh yeah - normal work and family stuff too... the tendency is to just get through it all.

but i would make the argument that a crazy time like this is the most important time to stay organized and calm at your home base. it's much easier said than done, though, and it can be one of the first things that goes when we start to get frazzled. but without a strong and in-control core and a peaceful place to start and end each day, frazzled begets more frazzled and it takes the joy out of giving and receiving, and everything else this season brings. and frazzled just feels terrible, doesn't it?

for me, staying tidy and organized at home takes work, but is well worth doing. i am not a neatnick by nature, but i am a planner and to me that's half the battle - the other half being of course, sticking to the plan. and i think we're each different - some people like to do a mass overhaul once a week, while others do a set amount of time each night. in some homes, it's a group effort and in others, it's one person leading the charge.

but i think the key to truly successfully organization is to know and embrace that your needs and your abilities change over time - sometimes as you get older but also sometimes from one season to another, even one month to another. i think we have to be forgiving of ourselves about those changes, and also be proactive and adaptable enough to reassess our plan when it's not working anymore. plan right now is putting everything (almost) away every night. i am always reminded of the six things martha stewart does every day, which i blogged about a couple months ago. they are truly things to live by and well worth a read.

the merits of a nightly kitchen tidying are many -- it's cleaner and it makes cooking and setting up the coffee and packing lunch a lot easier to do. and we all know the benefits of doing all those things - less money spent on take-out, more pleasant and alert mornings and healthier meals. there is nothing like a messy kitchen to make you feel like throwing in the towel and doing what's easiest. for me, that's a danger zone in so many ways. of course, using products you love makes it all so much easier. as you know, i love all the mrs meyers lavender products and i also love the method all purpose sprays, particularly the cucumber one for the kitchen. oh, and the trader joe's lavender dish soap...but i digress...

in our new bathroom, i have made sure to have plenty of little dishes and bags and baskets to hold all the hundreds of things that seem to take up residence in the bathroom and the massive linen closet we are so happy to have in there. the neatness systems and rituals make it a calming place to be - not just in the morning and the evening, but especially in the middle of the night when i stumble in and can see the countertops and the floors, clean and clear in the glow of the nightlight. i don't know about you, but sometimes the middle of the night finds me thinking about my stresses, and walking into a bathroom with stuff strewn everywhere doesn't help. and if you haven't done the bottles-with-no-labels thing yet, you simply must.

in the bedroom, not having clothes on the floor or on surfaces is a revelation. what's the news there? well, in our old place, we had a big enough bedroom that we had two chairs and a vanity and a few tables....and they all became dressers of sorts. now, we each have our walk-in closet and a dresser.

and thanks to my favorite hanger solution, we have enough for everything to hang just as it should and all match. i buy the 72-packs of cream-colored tubular hangers from the container store (for under $20 you seriously can't beat it and they come in all different colors) and i trick them out with these strips so that nothing slides off. works perfectly and beats spending a small fortune on the huggable hangers (though they are extremely pretty and special looking, especially the platinum-colored ones).

but the hands-down, single biggest thing is making the bed every morning. it's that little moment of control - of making your surroundings peaceful and orderly to walk out and start your day. and it makes it a comforting and soothing place to return to after the day is done. to me, it sends a message that no matter what i have going on, there are some things that remain constant and predictable. and that no matter how busy we are or how late we might be running, we deserve to come home to a made bed. it's been a major aha for me. i don't make it perfectly - martha wouldn't gleam with pride - but i cover the bed with the comforter and i put the pillows where they should be and it takes 45 seconds and it makes me feel like bree van de kamp. and i love it.

what are some of the things you do to try and stay grounded and organized in busy times?

top photos from and; method photo from; medicine cabinet photo from


Anonymous said...

-i also ALWAYS make my bed
-i make sure there are never dirty dishes in the sink or around the apartment when i go to sleep at night
-i never leave piles of clutter in plain view. i have a file sorter on top of my fridge so there are never any piles of paper or mail to be seen (unless you look on top of my fridge)

also, during a time like the holidays, or packing/unpacking from vacation, i expand my dining room table to the largest it can be and use that surface for staying organized. i may stack/wrap gifts there, or neatly pile clothing. the point is, i make the most of what little space my apartment has to offer, and embrace the business by being organized.
the bonus is, when life goes back to normal, it seems more quiet and relaxing :)

Debbie said...

I am really embarrassed at how my house looks at this minute so you have inspired me to get up and get moving.
Saying that I do try to keep the kitchen table clear as that is what everyone sees when they walk into the family room. Also I keep a basket next to my computer to keep things in and then sort through it every couple of weeks. In this basket I have scissors, post it's, measuring tape you have no idea how often I use this), pen, and calendar.
I also keep a small measuring tape in my purse and I keep notes on my iPhone with measurements of things I need to re-cover or pictures to reframe.

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