A New Year, And You Know What That Means…
If you’re thinking resolutions (aka goals), then you’re on the right track. There is just something exhilarating about a blank calendar or planner and new year to fill them both with our hopes and dreams for a better, happier, and quite possibly, a more organized life. If you’re like me, you might set resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, eat more healthy foods, and to get more organized. We see ads for storage containers, bins, crates, baskets, and other forms of getting our stuff under control. We’re offered tips, tricks, and techniques for sorting, prioritizing, and managing our possessions.
The problem I’ve noticed with a lot of these helpful hints is that they assume you are already organized and just need a little tweaking to get the job done. But if you’re starting from ground-zero, it can seem nearly impossible to get on top of the constant influx of stuff. We often bring work home with us, our kids bring home school papers, and of course there’s the mail!
When we check our mailbox, we have a constant influx of notices, statements, bills, and just plain junk. It’s often easier to just set that pile aside for a rainy day to go through it, but then when the rain comes we don’t want to get to it because that one pile has morphed into a mountain of paper that threatens to spill over the edge of the desk and fall on the floor!
Most of us have the best of intentions when we undertake the often daunting task of getting organized. We want to have a clean, orderly home - but that’s hard to do with stacks of newspapers, piles of papers, and clutter everywhere. The problem is often where to start! If we begin in the kitchen, then all of a sudden it’s mealtime and we have every drawer and cupboard emptied out on the counter and no room to make dinner. So we stuff it all back in any which way just to hurry and clear out space for cooking and eating. We may just be so exhausted by all the dumping out and putting back, that it might be days or weeks before we can face the task again.
The problem is compounded by the emotional attachment we have to our things. Great-grandmother’s china set, our toy train set from our childhood, our school papers from third grade, etc. all have memories and feelings attached to them. If you are married, you double that amount. As children come along, you have less time for organizing as you wipe little noses, change diapers, and spend time with those adorable little creatures that seem to require a mind-boggling amount of paraphernalia. Before we know it, we’re drowning in stuff!
If you’re ready to light a match to everything and start over, there is hope! You have a place to store these things where you can get to them when you need to, but they’re not in your way and crowding you out of your own house. It’s called a storage unit, and for a few dollars a month you can keep your things and have them out of your way, too. A storage unit can definitely be a lifesaver when it comes to our avalanches of stuff!
One of the advantages of having a storage unit is that you know where your things are, and you can access them any time. You can then take your time with getting on top of all the priceless treasures, questionable papers (do I really need this?), and even the out-and-out junk that just needs to be thrown away. With my own kids, I had to clean out their rooms when they were at school because if they were there, they would cry and beg to keep every scrap of paper, every candy wrapper, and every picture they ever drew! If I waited until they were gone, I could get rid of the junk, and most of the time they couldn’t even tell what was thrown out!
If the kids are driving you crazy, you can go to your storage unit and do a bit of sorting. Perhaps you could pick just one box right at the front and start going through that. Maybe you set a timer for 15 minutes and work hard until the ding. Often, just 15 minutes is enough to get us over the hurdle of a task we dislike and keep putting off. Once that timer dings, then you have a decision to make: keep on for another 15 minutes or stop.
You can take your time and make the decisions of what to store, how to store it, and how long to store it. School papers, for instance, are very important while your child is in school but their significance is dramatically lessened as time goes by. Perhaps a few treasures from each grade are enough. Or maybe you want to save ALL of them and it’s worth it to you to have more boxes stored. It is such a personal decision, and that is often just what makes it so difficult.
In future articles, we will explore different ideas related to solutions, prioritizing, some ideas from the experts, and other information that we hope you will find useful in the ongoing process of getting - and keeping - a handle on the almost constant influx of stuff.