display | more...

Have you ever looked around and thought to yourself; I want to get organized? Rest easy my friend, I have been there too. I know how often life can seem overwhelming, chaotic, and stressful. Pressures squeeze you from every angle; work, school, home, society - is there an end to all of this madness? One of the primary principles of organization is putting things that resemble each other together. Whether it's a pile of bills, dishes, clothes, many things are more easily organized once you understand this fundamental principle of organization. There are times when I've thought that I am organized, then I look at my bookcase and my eyes drift over to the stack of books on my coffee table. I have another stack in a different bookcase where I also store other things. This also violates another organizational principle, trying to make one space do too many things at once. As soon as I want or need a particular book I'm often struggling to find it since I have numerous places to search. This leads to confusion, frustration, and wasted time and energy. I want it to stop, and, this is key, it is within my power to change my environment. Note - this is not always possible. 

Were I to get serious about organizing my books, and I am. I shall do what I should have done long ago, which is to gather all of my books together. Uh oh, I now have a towering stack that will never fit in the space I have allotted for book storage. Now what? Too much stuff is an organizational problem. I can increase the amount of storage I have for books, or I can decrease the number of books that I own. One book that I just love suggests limiting physical possessions to either a numerical quanitity, or a specific space. Using this system, I could keep X number of books, alternatively, I could keep all of the books that fit on my bookcases. But this brings me back to a problem we identified in the previous paragraph. I am using the bookshelf in my front hall to store things other than books. Creative use of furniture is encouraged, and can be delightful, however this collage of odds and ends is anything but eye pleasing. This is where organization can get complicated, I meant to confine my books, but what do I do with the rest of the things I've unearthed during my attempts to bring my books under greater control?

First of all I need to take a moment and remind myself of other times that I have faced challenges and overcome them. It doesn't matter what I think about, or how long ago it happened. I still remember riding a bike without training wheels all by myself. The wind felt faster, I rode down the long hill, from the garage at the top, to the basketball hoop that was positioned where the parking lot started to widen. The feeling of accomplishment is a good one. I use this past memory of achievement to inspire and motivate me. But the stack of books and other items looms large. Doubt creeps back into my head space. So many books! Some that I have never read! Why did I spend all of this money so foolishly? Will I ever really be organized, or is waking up to one bookcase with books a pleasant dream that will never come to pass? No. I have done many things that are much more difficult, but this unearths other organizational challenges. Am I the right person to be doing this task? Is this the right time to be starting this project? It's late and I'm tired. Now is probably not the best time to be starting a project that will be emotionally draining despite the desired outcome. I'm probably the best person to organize my books, but could I invite a friend to help?

The concept of a body double is another organizational trick some experts recommend. This person needs to be someone you trust to have your best interests at heart. Ideally they should know you well and understand what you are trying to accomplish. My body double may very well tell me that I don't have too many books and that what I really need is a better system to read the books that I already have. Perhaps I could get another bookcase, or put up some shelving. They might suggest moving certain books to another area such as cookbooks to the kitchen. If I do decide to utilize someone who can come and help me out, I can listen to what they say while realizing that ultimately, the decision is mine. Whew, this is certainly taking a lot longer than I thought it would. It seemed like such an easy task when I started, put a specific number of books in the place where they belong. Please be gentle with yourself, many of us have an illogical attachment to our personal possessions. I am more in love with my books than I am with the idea of confining them to a tidy space, this is a core issue. If I get rid of books, I might feel as if I am losing something, potential knowledge perhaps. But if I keep them, I feel less powerful

By now you have grasped that the concept of grouping similar things is much easier when it is an abstract theoretical construct rather than a real life application. This is what stands in the way of my progress, indecision and a desire for perfection. The truth is that it really doesn't matter what books I keep, I have to get comfortable stepping outside of my comfort zone which is another organizational concept. I want something I have never had before, books that fit on a single bookcase. To do that, I must do something I have done many times, get rid of books that I may want at some future point in time. Holding onto books I haven't read in years is holding me back. Grouping them has exposed another problem, the fact that I shop and buy books to make myself feel better. What if there was a way for me to feel better without bringing more books home? When I went to the library regularly this was less of a problem. Maybe I need to get back into the habit of visiting my local library. Many libraries accept donations. I have a lot of really nice books, and if I took them with me, I might be able to visit them again.

When you are ready, solutions emerge. Organize your catastrophic thoughts by grouping them together. Write them down, identify where you have control, and where it is lacking. Make a new list - areas where I am ready to grow. Organization on a superficial level is evidence of organization on a deeper internal level. It is evidence of being in control of your mental processes and behaviors. There is a small table near my stairs. Whenever I come home I try to put my purse, lunch bag, and backpack onto this table. It's a strange aqua color, but I've never repainted it because I want it to stand out. I want those three black objects to be visible from across the room because if I leave without my lunch, my paperwork, or my handbag, I won't have some of the things I need to get by in the outside world. Grouping similar items allows me to identify which ones are mine at a glance. Grouping similar things makes sense because if you have a hammer here, and a hammer there, you need to go to two spots to find a hammer rather than just one. There are reasons to keep hammers in multiple locations and reasons to place tools in groups. Only you can decide how to live your life in a way that make sense to you. 

P.S. I'm proud of you