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    • Sunny Schlenger

      Columnist
    • January 7, 2013 in Columnists

    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 12×12 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 display.

    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 read more on-line or 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 you save.

    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.



    • I never thought of addressing piles from the bottom. I am a stacker and I hate opening mail. This is a great idea. J


        • Sunny Schlenger

        • January 9, 2013 at 9:21 am
        • Reply

        Thanks, Jesse. It really does work!


      • Sunny Schlenger

      • January 9, 2013 at 9:22 am
      • Reply

      Thanks, Jesse. It really does work!



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