Sunday, October 18, 2009

Organizing is like a bowl of oatmeal

This post is something akin to
"Life is like a box of chocolates."

Let me explain...

My husband eats a bowl of oatmeal almost every day. However, he rarely finishes it before he leaves for work and he finishes it on the way. That means the bowl sits in his car all day before he gets home and sets it in the sink.

You know what that bowl is like 10 hours later, right? The difference between dried oatmeal and superglue is minuscule at this point. That bowl has got to soak for hours in water before it can be cleaned (by hand). There's no point in putting it in the dishwasher, which seems to only multiply the superglue effect of dried oatmeal.

My point here around organizing is this: it's often much easier to get to (and complete) a project or task right away, rather than letting it "ripen."

Those bowls or any other dishes, when newly dirty, are often extremely easy to clean. A moment of swishing a bowl with water and a scrubber will clean them well enough to set in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning and sterilizing.

However, if you let dishes sit to dry and harden, it not only takes time to let them soak, but then more water (a precious resource in in drought-prone California), more effort (elbow grease) and more time (scrubbing, soaking) to get an item clean. What might have taken seconds and very little water, is taking minutes and gallons of water and energy just because you didn't rinse an item right away.

Now, is this an essay about the rewards of doing your dishes right away? (Yes and no.) For some of my clients, creating a habit of cleaning the kitchen is something we work on together. But really, I'm looking at the bigger picture here.

What other tasks are you putting off that cost you more in time, effort, energy and possibly money (since time is money)?

I know I've got a couple of overdue library books racking up some fines. (Actual dollars there.)

If I let the laundry go too long, then I suddenly have several loads to wash, dry, fold and put away. (And in the same vein, if I let the laundry sit in the dryer too long, I then have a load of wrinkled clothes that will now cost me time (and electricity...$) to iron.

If I don't open my mail and put all the bills in the "bills to pay" folder, I might miss a bill, have to pay a late fee ($) and possibly harm my credit.

If you can nip anything in the bud, then you will keep it from overtaking you and putting you in "overwhelm." Often, "overwhelm" isn't because we have so many things coming at us (well, for some people it is), but it's because we've let so many things get away from us and they become wild and unruly like spoiled children. Kids don't come out of the birth canal spoiled. Parents that have neglected to set rules and boundaries create spoiled children. Omissions rather than an actual act of trying to spoil kids. A lot like our omissions of not getting to tasks.

(In truth, a child does come out of the womb spoiled. They have had everything they have ever needed fed to them through a tube or encased around them. Heck, they haven't even had to chew and swallow. And I do believe we should "spoil" them for quite awhile after they enter the world with all that they need: food, sleep, clean clothes and diapers and love and attention. At some point, though, gentle boundaries are taught and they begin to assimilate into a world with other beings. But I think I have digressed a tad...)

All I am saying is this...the next time you are about to procrastinate on a task, think down the line a little. How long will it take right now versus how long it will take tomorrow or next week? Is there a price to pay? The price you pay may be in dollars, time, effort, another person's hurt feelings, your reputation or your credit score!

What's it worth?

Oh, and those oatmeal bowls? I think I'll encourage DH to eat toast...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

NSGCD Conference

Wow, what a great time I am having at the annual conference of the  National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization!

Some highlights
  • My Level III student, Janine Adams, received her CPO-CD® pin! Whoo-hoo! If you need a PO (professional organizer) in the St. Louis area, give her a call!

  • And since she earned her Level III, I earned my Level IV! (Thank you Janine for making it SO easy!) You can guess what Level is next, huh?

  • The NSGCD will be changing its name! The committee has been formed, but no new name yet. We've outgrown the name--we are international now (we just signed an agreement with both the Australasian Association Professional Organizers) and Nederlandse Beroepsvereniging van Professional Organizers (The Netherlands).  And we are no longer just a study group--we are doing some research...and we also have subscribers (fancy way of saying members) who are in related fields like psychology.

  • Dr. Daniel Amen spoke--always such great info on the brain. I've read a couple of his books as well as watched his PBS specials. Very entertaining and charming in person, too. He previewed for us his script of his next PBS special based on his next book Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, in which he related his research on the brain to different types of brains and what each person needs to do to help them lose (or gain if they need) weight. He's also doing a study on retired NFL players and dementia...hmmm...can't wait to see that one!

  • Getting to see all the friends I've made all around the country has been very exciting...and making new ones each day. That's called networking, right? But it feels really fun and this is a welcoming, warm, fun (and very smart) group of organizers.

  • Getting to spend time with a very good friend, Kim Anker-Paddon, who abandoned me in Sonoma County to come and live and work in LA, where she is closer to her daughters. She's an extraordinary organizer who specializes in clients with issues like ADD (ADHD), chronic disorganization, and compulsive hoarding. Please call her if you need any help in the LA area!

  • My hotel vegan dinner turned out to be a really lovely polenta (with about 10 cloves of garlic in it) on  a bed of mushrooms and al dente veggies. I was able to request a dessert of berries--raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and a blackberry (there's my brain food, Dr. Amen!) They didn't score so highly with me at lunch. Once again, they just took the chicken off the bed of pasta and gave it to me. At least there were veggies on the side!

Oh...there's so much more, but I've got to go get ready for an early 8 am breakfast. (They had soy milk at the buffet yesterday for the cereal...more vegan brownie points for the Omni Hotel!)

And please forgive my liberal use of exclamation points today...but I am having fun! (oops...)