Get Organized With A Binder

IMG_1125I blinked and then suddenly 8 months went by… what happened? I suppose I should take some consolation in the fact that I got a LOT of stuff done. The most important thing, however, was my New Year’s Resolution: GET ORGANIZED.

You know that rule of thumb about NYRs? Keep it simple, attainable, blah blah blah. I thought, “Hey. It’s two words. I can totally do this.” Ha! Those two words have judo chopped me both mentally and physically.

The worst part is that I’m not even a disorganized person to begin with. I’m a list freak, I am pretty decent at planning ahead, and I am punctual. I get my stuff done. So, why the need to reorganize my life?

The answer is both complicated and yet very simple. I was trying to balance things I wanted to do (craft and DIY projects), with things I have to do (work, cleaning, stepmommy-ing), with things I should be doing which also fall under that category of things I want to do as well (write my book, blog, DIY projects, etc.). All of it ended up being so overwhelming that I was barely able to complete, like, two things. I vacuumed and did the laundry. Yay.

Not organized. Not productive.

I realized it was time to make a change and get organized starting with my home and moving on to the rest of my crazy life.

The epiphany hit me after New Year’s when I got home from Mexico. (We went to Cabo with 18 other family members. Yeah.) All of the Christmas decorations were still up, presents weren’t put away, we had to unpack from a week in Mexico… Ugh. My mind was spinning, I was a disagreeable bitch, and I had all of these things that I had to do, wanted to do, and should be doing looming over me like the grim reaper.

As I dragged my ass to the Christmas tree and started putting away the multitude of ornaments, a sense peace settled over me as I organized the decorations into their appropriate boxes. I started tossing things I haven’t put up in over five years. I made a goodwill pile of decorations that were in good shape but I simply don’t use. Before I knew it, all the Christmas stuff was put away, my stepdaughter helped me get them in the attic, and my house was (gasp!) clean! Well, the living room was, anyway.

Hhmmm. What a nice feeling!

I looked at my suitcase (still unpacked, mind you) in our bedroom and the anxiety returned. I just got all this shit done putting the goddamn Christmas decorations away and I still have all this other crap left to do?

There was only one option.

Commence operation: GREAT PURGE.

I have been wanting to clean out my closet (ahem… needing to clean out my closet, I should say) and I have a ton of clothes out already from our trip. So, I started on my closet.

I was already on a roll from putting the Christmas decorations away… why stop now? Goodwill pile (or four), trash pile, keep pile. Boom.

My husband has been mentioning over and over about cleaning out the storage closet in our bathroom, which was totally legit and needed a good purge and reorganization. Same strategy, less goodwill stuff since most of it was trash, expired medications and more travel bags than I could ever use. Goodwill pile, trash, keep and organize. Boom!

Well, hot spit! I felt awesome! What’s next? Jeff’s office? Hell, yeah.

And so The Great Purge continued to my husband’s office/guest room/sugar glider room/girl’s toy room. That was actually the most time consuming of all the rooms I tackled. Once complete, I realized the room was utterly lacking in pleasing visual aesthetics. Time to plan out a redesign! Yay!

(Here is a link to amazon products to ORGANIZE YOUR HOME)

So on and on I went, from room to closet and Goodwill and back again. It felt so great to have all of the accumulated crap gone and the stuff we needed organized and easy to find and access.

Another epiphany hit me. With all of my physical stuff and space cleaned up and organized, the easier it was to take on organizing my day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month activities. I guess I need to have my surroundings reflect my inner self in order to feel in control and less stressed out.

This task was by far the most challenging. Organizing physical items like cold medicines and clothes was one thing, but trying to do the same with intangible things like projects, goals, and to do items was completely different.

The first thing I did was buy a cool looking binder. I went with colorful and fun because I knew I would be more likely to notice it and actually use it as opposed to the drab black binders that are so not stimulating. I took some loose leaf paper from my kid (don’t judge – she has 300 sheets), and dug out my numbered binder separators that I bought six years ago and still hadn’t used yet.

For days I simply stared at blank pages with a blank table of contents and thought, “How the hell was I going to do this?” I had so many things clamoring around in my brain that it seemed nearly impossible to get them all organized and on paper. I had things to do around the house on a per-month, per-week, and per-day basis. I had work items that I have been meaning to do on a per-month, per-week, and per-day basis. I had fun things to do like build a jewelry case for my bedroom but I also had a huge list of household projects I had to do like touch up paint, clean ceiling fans and the ceiling, painting the baseboards and the doors, and so on and so forth.

Argh! How to begin? I knew that if I could just get started, the rest of the pieces would fall into place. I thought back to all of the things I wanted to do and had to do and thought, “Huh. All of these projects are on a month, week, and day basis. Let’s start there.”

Get Organized BinderThus, the Master Binder of All the Shit I Have To Do was born. I broke down my to do list into categories. My job (The Ad Girl), my blogs (which includes DIY and Crafts projects since I blog about them) and household chores/projects. I broke down each category into things to get done this month and week as well as having post it notes handy to remind me of things to do either next month or week so I wouldn’t forget. I organized household projects into short-term and long-term projects and made a checklist of what I need to do on a monthly and weekly basis when it came to cleaning. For example: vacuuming under our master bed. Yuck! That is a must on a monthly basis, especially with my husband’s allergies.

Each category had it’s own month and week to do. Great. Fantastic. Feeling overwhelmed again…

I had to get on a system to use the Master Binder properly so I wouldn’t put all this work into it, get pissed off because now it just stresses me out, and then never touch it again, leaving me back at unorganized square one.

Once I realized this, the solution was rather simple. I actually made myself an instruction sheet that I put right in the front of the binder. Make monthly goals for each category. Use that monthly goal list to populate the week to do list. Take all of the weeks’ to do list across the categories and make a Master List of goals of per month and what I needed to do that week across all categories on one list.

On Sunday when I make the next week’s dinner list and corresponding grocery list, I went through each of the categories’ week to do and created the Master To Do This Week.

(My binder is homemade using things I had around the house like post-it notes and velcro.  You can find BINDERS AND ACCESSORIES HERE).

When I woke up Monday morning, the sun was shining, I was well rested with batteries recharged, birds were singing, cherubs showered me with rose petals, and so on. I was ready to go. I opened up the binder and turned it to this week’s to do list. I went through everything and wrote down my to do list for that day.

Suddenly, everything just made sense. I no longer felt overwhelmed. I even had triple the amount of things to complete when I made the binder and yet I felt so great about getting started.

I basically just created a clear and easily achievable action plan. The concept sounds simple enough, but getting there was difficult.

Totally worth it.

Now I am finally capable of getting back to blogging and DIY projects. My ultimate goal is to get back to writing my Urban Fantasy novel that I have set aside for about two years now. It was time to start getting back to me.

And, so far so good on using the binder and keeping up with all of my different to do’s.

Well, I’ve only done it for a week and half. So, we’ll see.

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