The Master Plan ~ by Sam

I mentioned in my last post that, this year, I am making a concerted effort to (FINALLY!) get our home organized.  To that end, I have been zipping around the internet perusing lots of articles on home organization.  I have been poring through catalogs for IKEA and the container store, visiting the closet organization sections of places like Home Depot and Target, and wracking my brain for ideas of how to better use the stuff we already own, and pare down some of the clutter.  The “100 items” challenge has helped a lot with that last piece of the puzzle.  We are currently at 93 items and counting.  

As I started weeding through all of our stuff, I was struck by how disorganized our home is.  I thrive on order, and I know that kids do, too.  We need to know where things are.  I feel like we waste a lot of time ~ and cause ourselves a great deal of stress ~ just be being disorganized.  Way too much time is spent trying to find stuff an panicking because we KNOW we have it, but we just can’t find it!!  (“I saw it yesterday!  Was it in the laundry room?  Maybe it’s in my car…Did you check all of the bathrooms?  How ’bout the back porch?”)  So, in an effort to conquer the disorder, I have decided to focus on major problem each month.  That might not solve all of our organization issues, but I am sure it will not hurt.  

So, this month, I have decided to go through and reorganize all of the files and paperwork I have around the house.  Between the kids’ schoolwork and artwork, my teaching supplies and materials, our household files, home improvement ideas (I keep paint chips, brochures, and other things that inspire me in a file for future reference), receipts, medical information, reports cards, and all of our craft/art supplies, we are literally drowning in paper.  As I started to go through everything, I saw evidence of my many attempts over the years to get organized.  I guess the news is at least I have tried.  Unfortunately, through all of our many moves, I have not managed to maintain a single system.  As a result, I might have three different filing systems for the same things.  Today, I discovered that I had three separate systems for sorting different types of paper.  Since we are crafty, and we have a teacher and three students in the house, we generally have plain white printer paper, coloured printer paper, lined paper, graph paper, construction paper and a variety of craft papers in our home at all times.  The problem is that, when it is not organized so that we can easily see what we have on hand, we end up panicking and buying more when a project crops up, only to discover later that we already had some.  Thus, the drowning in paper problem.  Just by reevaluating the situation, clearing out all of the unnecessary garbage (we don’t need to keep every spelling test the kids have ever taken, for instance), and consolidating like items into a single space, I was able to completely rid the house of one set of paper trays and repurpose another 3-tier tray to sort items like page protectors and report covers.  We now have all of our plain white printer paper on one shelf, construction paper on another, lined paper on another, and coloured printer paper on another (we are out of graph paper, but it will most likely live on the 3rd tier of the aforementioned tray).  
The hardest thing about this system for me is staying on target.  It is so easy to get distracted by other problems I see and try to tackle them, but I promised myself January would be the month I use to get all of the paper and files organized, and establish a system that I think will work for our family.  In the meantime, the laundry room and the closets are KILLING ME. Actually, Shane spent time this weekend installing shelves in Justice’s closet, because she has the smallest closet int he house, and hasn’t really been able to fully move in to her room because she desperately needed more storage options.  However, we are discussing how to go about all of the this, and I am coming up with a list of things that need to be done.  It is a work in progress, and I make no guarantees that is will actually happen in this order, but here’s what we’re thinking:

January:  paper, mail, household files, etc.
February: closets
March:  bathrooms
April: kitchen 
May: laundry room
June: bar
July: craft/school supplies
August: party room
September: sewing supplies/fabric
October: garage (maybe…if we feel like tackling this)
November: photographs/scrapbooks
December: we’ll be too busy partying 🙂

Well, that’s the rough plan, anyway.  We’ll see how it pans out.  I have no problem working on some projects ahead of schedule, as long as I don’t leave anything undone.  Also, I think it is important to note that we may not stick strictly to this schedule.  Depending on weather, time, budget, etc., we may change the schedule, but those are the projects we really want to accomplish by the end of the year.  Wish us luck!  even if it doesn’t end up perfect by the end of the year ~ even if we don’t get done everything we have planned ~ I think we can plan on being much better organized in the long run.  

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