Diary of an Organizational Project

Don’t you just love post titles like that? It sounds so… interesting and…captivating and… yawn.

My babysitter is on hiatus for softball season, and I was thinking about postponing my weekly writing sessions anyway (that’s another post), so I’ve decided to spend that same chunk of time working on finishing some projects around here.

At the top of my list is the state of my desk. Well, it’s not a desk really, as much as it is a set of shelves from Ikea shoved up against the refrigerator in the entryway to my kitchen.

These are the shelves and desk top as I got started. Note the random crap. Everywhere. Those who visit my home know that as you round this corner into the kitchen you will inevitably knock something on the floor as you brush past my desk. If not knocked directly, something will at least blow off the desk in the breeze of your passing. Bryan is frequently heard sighing with furrowed brow as he passes by. Not that he’s one to judge when it comes to messy desks.

shelves before

This is the inside of the lower cabinet. Thank goodness it’s behind closed doors, because LOOK AT IT! Note the previous attempt at organization, using those cute little white drawers. I have no flippin idea what’s in those drawers.

cabinet before

This is the poor, unsuspecting table where I will sort piles of crap.

the sorting table

These are the shelves and cabinets once I cleared them all out. I should have removed all the stuff attached to the side of the refrigerator for a more dramatic affect – this still looks a little cluttered. Oh well.

shelves cleared out cabinet cleared out

Believe it or not, this is all sorted. I created the following piles: to be filed, to do, office supplies, receipts, cookbooks, gardening notes, to go downstairs, to go upstairs, pictures and cards, stickers, handyman items like screwdrivers and furniture pads, and CD’s.

crap sorted on sorting table

This is the part I often get stuck on, because when I see a pile of pictures – for example – I want to sort through them. Or at least look over them and reminisce. But I read this article on the Clutter Diet blog about macro vs micro organization. My first goal is to visually clear the space (my desk) of clutter (macro), it is not to sort and organize specific things in that space, such as photos (micro).

The final step in this phase of the process was to map out what gets dumped on my desk. I read this article, also on the Clutter Diet Blog, about working with known behavior instead of fighting it, policing it, and getting angry. In other words, if certain things continually get dumped on my desk, I should organize to accommodate that behavior, rather than trying to change it.

So here is where I got nerdy and pulled out my graph notebook, listing out all the categories of crap and making a plan for where it will go.

the plan

And this is where the project ends, for the time being. I threw out a bunch of stuff as I sorted, put misplaced items where they belong, and everything else that belongs back on the shelves or in the cabinet I put away. I am waiting on a few wall-mounted letter bins I ordered to sort To Be Filed, To Be Read, Bills, and To Do.

We also decided to buy a small cabinet – at the suggestion of one of my personal organizers friends – to put near the basement stairs where we can stash items that need to go down to the basement. Half the clutter on my desk and the piano comes from items that need to be taken down there, but I just don’t do it one item at a time. The cabinet will contain drawers to hide the clutter, and once the drawers are filled, I will take the items downstairs.

Here are the shelves and cabinet reorganized. The main change is that I cleared everything off my desk except my laptop, the phone, a cup of pens, and a bottle of lotion. Everything else has been put above or below. This will allow a workspace, which I never had before due to crap.


Thanks for watching my kids, Cherie, so I could get this all done!

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