30 Day Challenge Update
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
30 Day Organizational Challenge, hosted by Laura the Org Junkie, ends today!

The Reveal...

Which sounds more glamorous than it actually is.

I was working on our playroom/schoolroom/office. This room is actually supposed to be the dining room, and is off the kitchen and the living room. It's one of the rooms in the house where I spend the most time.

Here's my desk before: (Wow, I actually forgot how bad it was, even though it's been like this, more or less, for 9 months!)

Play area before - kind of neat, but not utilized well and boring:

And after:My husband actually purchased that large black box in the corner - it's a CD organizer and also holds flash drives and such. He's been inspired too! The purple Trapper Keeper next to it is my household notebook, and my coupon box. The black 'purse' hanging off the shelf is the holder for the digital camera - I can actually find it now. The pile of papers on the left... I probably should have removed those, but I thought that would be cheating! The children have been bringing home lots of papers since it's the end of the year, and my office day is Monday, when I'll deal with those. And yes, that is an old peanut butter jar full of rubber bands on my desk... and yes, we do use it every day for our Geoboard!

Laura and visitors, here are my answers because inquiring minds want to know:

1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?

The hardest part is other people, and realizing I can only be responsible for and control myself. I am in the process of teaching the children to replace their activities before getting new ones out, but that is a never ending process. There are a few things that I would still like to see changed, such as another shelf mounted on the wall, or the turtle tank cleaned out before I post pictures, but I have accepted that I can't do it all and that it is unfair to nag husband dear to do it on my timetable. The trouble with martyrs is, someone has to die in the process!

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?

I have a desk day scheduled (every Monday); previously, I spent that day trying to dig out my desk. It was never really cleaned and organized to begin with, so if I managed to catch up on my filing, I spent time going in circles, moving a pile from point A to point B in order to clean, or setting up a jury-rigged system "for now". Spending time to think through all of the things I need to have easily available and making a thoughtful plan has really helped in that area!

I now have a basket for bills to pay - I used to put them in a pocket in my household notebook, but I was the only one who could find them, which didn't work out so well when husband dear needed to pay the bills. The hanging basket contains mailing stuff. Previously, I had my stamps filed in our cabinet - after finding the kids had created the world's most expensive wall paper in the bathroom using "Love 37", I decided I needed to hide them. Envelopes didn't file well, so they were in a box in a different filing cabinet. We got a nifty address label dispenser and address stickers with my last check order, and that ended up in a plastic shoebox of miscellaneous office supplies. Pens around here are catch-as-catch can. The checkbook might be in my purse, might be somewhere random from husband dear's shopping, or may be on the dashboard of the van, which drives me crazy. It's all in one place now, the wicker hanging basket. Now, I just got a book of checks out separate from the actual checkbook - who cares if the checks I write "on the run" are out of numeric sequence from the checks I write for the water bill?

My shelf and bill system now:

I solved several problems that are helping to keep me organized:
Permanent home for household notebook, and coupon box.
Trashcan (I realized after a couple of weeks of maintaining the desk that I really needed on in here.)
Bills/Mail station
Kids' money storage (Their allowance was in plastic sandwich bags all over the desk)
Toilet Paper (hey, this about my personal needs. In this house, that includes a roll of toilet paper which is as versatile as duct tape. I use it for kleenex, napkins, to wipe up drink rings from sweaty glasses, to wipe of my schedules in my notebook, and to erase evidence of children's fingers on my computer monitor.)

I've actually maintained things for the last two weeks. I didn't have room for a trashcan before, but now I've removed a cardboard box of paper ordered from Office Depot, and a box of CD's and computer cables still packed from our move (last August!) I have room for one. And room for my feet! Bonus!

Under my desk NOW:

3. What did you do with the "stuff" you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

Three bags of trash! I also made FOUR trips to the bathroom to put away children's Tylenol, hairbrushes, sunscreen, thermometers... I really do spend a lot of time at my desk taking care of everything! It made me realize that my bathroom was disorganized, contributing to my desk disorganization. So I have worked on correcting that problem as well.

In the upper right corner of the "Before" picture, there is a large cardboard box. The box held packing peanuts, in case I needed to mail a package. I last mailed a package... oh, I can't even remember when!

4. What was the biggest lesson you learned from this experience?
It does not have to be perfect to be functional; and functional is much better than inconvenient perfection.

5. Now that you have completed the PROCESS, do you think having and keeping your space organized will make a difference in your life?
It already has! Instead of digging through a pile to find something, I know where it is. It is also easier to keep the children out of the office supplies, since I know where they are. Clearing everything out and replacing the things I need was very effective in cutting the "invisible clutter"! This was especially effective in the schoolroom/play area, where I put away the infant toys and work that the children were no longer interested in. I replaced the plain white containers with more interesting, colorful ones, too. It's not boring anymore!
I can better monitor the children's learning and playing, because I removed activities that were not appropriate for their grade level. Also, they can find their workspace!

I purposely organized the school shelves with different containers, even though having everything match would look much nicer, to help encourage the children to be more independent. Now I can say "Put the blocks in the yellow basket", or "The Lincoln Logs go in the white tub." Again, functional is not "perfect", and that's okay!

I also was able to make this space a little prettier, which does wonders for my organization motivation. I bought some cute fabric and covered the bulletin board.
I also bought some baskets to match at the dollar store and picked out bright colors instead of my usual black or neutral.
The orange really stands out! I often read blogs while I nurse the new baby, and the baskets hold baby supplies, so I don't have to disturb him and walk across the house to get burp cloths and such. I'm not sure he likes orange, though!

I also have a home for my writing books, which hopefully means I will write more often! They used to be in my bedroom on a bookshelf, so if I needed to look something up, I would walk all the back there. Then, while I was there, I'd look more stuff up (to save myself a trip later), get sidetracked, and spend half an hour reading instead of rewriting my draft. Alternatively, I would bring the book to my desk and never see it again.

Check out the other entries for more inspiration!

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 5/02/2007 06:33:00 PM | Permalink | |