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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Not Naturally Inclined Toward Organization

One of my activities for this summer has been decluttering and organizing cupboards, drawers, shelves, and closets for the whole house (with exception to others' personal spaces). The obvious advantage of doing this is less frustration when putting away or retrieving needed items. The bonus (which may or may not be greater than the organization part) is uncovering all of my forgotten supplies, often times in duplicate. A thorough annual or semi-annual clean-out is a necessity for keeping all of my family's belongings accounted for.

For example, I found 2 new rolls of clear packing tape. Packing tape is obviously good for sealing packages to be mailed. It also doubles as "scotch" tape for gift-wrapping, repairs torn freezer bags, laminates paper items (like recipes recorded on paper/cards), cleans lint and hair from clothing and upholstery, etc. We find this kind of tape so useful that I buy a couple of rolls per year.

I also discovered that I have enough pj bottoms for another winter season. I had thought I would need a new pair when one of my two current favorites wore thin in the seat this past winter. I also have enough sweat and fleece jackets to get through another cold weather season. And, I found that I had more socks than I need, so I donated 4 good-condition pairs to one grateful daughter. 

I pulled all of the gift items together that I've acquired over the past two years and now have them in one spot -- the designated gift closet (where they should have been all along). I've got a great start on holiday and birthday shopping/gifting for the coming season. 

In the kitchen I found several stashes of cleaned, gently used freezer bags. We now have enough freezer bags for all of our freezing needs this summer and fall. 

I also discovered that we can stop buying hair conditioner now. I think I have enough hair conditioner to get through this pandemic and the next one. 

And, we have not one but 2 ping pong balls for our table. I found each ball in a different cupboard. Go figure.

You may not know this about me, but I am not naturally inclined toward organization. When it comes to putting things away, my mind scatters in a multitude of directions. To give you an example of what I mean, I'll tell you about my recipe card file. 

The sorting dividers for my recipe box are alphabetized index cards (with A, B, C, etc tabs). I can never settle on just one section for a particular recipe card. For instance, with my recipe for rhubarb custard pie, some days I think "I'll file this under R for rhubarb, so when it's rhubarb season again next year, I'll know where to find it." On other days I think, "this recipe is for a pie, so I'll file it under P for pie." And yet on another day, I'll find myself certain that the most logical place for this card is under D for desserts. Even if I had the kind of divider cards that said Desserts, Entrees, Vegetables, etc, I might still find myself conflicted over which section to place the card. Can you imagine what it's like when I need to actually find a particular recipe card? I was making salsa this morning and had to search through several sections to find that card. I ultimately found it under T, you know, for tomatoes. *smacks hand on forehead* 

And if you think this sounds bad with me trying to organize a house, imagine what it's like when you throw a bunch of other people into the mix. No one here really gets my "system." So I may put item X away in the drawer with other Xs. Yet my husband will put item X in the drawer with Ys. Most of the time, we all just hunt around for whatever we're seeking. This really does make a good case for not packing cupboards and closets completely full, and instead leaving lots of air space around each item for better visibility. And that brings me back to my big task this summer -- getting rid of everything not truly necessary and organizing what is left. 

I sometimes throw out something that I later regret. This used to really bother me. (You know -- "I just knew I shouldn't get rid of that do-hickey. Now I am do-hickeyless right when I most need one.") I now look at this as one of the "costs" of getting and staying organized. Just about everything we do has a cost of some sort, be it time, money, or effort. So I may have a regret or two after this summer's clean-out. But for the most part, the wee bit more of sanity we'll enjoy when retrieving or putting things away will out-weigh the expense of replacing those do-hickeys.

I would like to say that the flip side to my lack of inclination toward organization is that I'm creative and spontaneous, and loads of fun to be around. However, I'm sure my mother would point out that I can be creative and fun while still putting my socks away in their proper drawer.

Back to decluttering my drawers.

Are you the naturally organized type? What are your secrets?


  1. Lynn from NC Outer BanksSeptember 1, 2020 at 6:16 PM

    Oh Lili, you are a woman after my heart. I hear you with the struggle to figure out where your recipe for rhubarb pie could best be located. So many choices! Also with holding on to "do-hickeys".

    I have so much de-cluttering to do in my house. I agreed with the cartoon that commented amidst the pandemic: "Well, I guess we know now that lack of time is not why that closet didn't get cleaned out!" It's all a struggle for me and I've got company coming for the weekend with SO.MUCH. to do! Yikes!

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Ha ha! That cartoon is pretty accurate, isn't it? I'm sure there are some folks who love to clean closets, though. Someone, somewhere.

      I hope you enjoyed your time with company, Lynn!

  2. Interesting! On the other hand, you are supremely organized with your food buying/planning! I'm somewhat the same--selectively organized. In certain areas, very much so; in others, not at all. I'm organized with my budget, bulk food buying, and the household closets. My hiking shoes? Thrown in a big pile on our tiny closet floor because there isn't enough room to place them all neatly (yes, I need to clear out some). I read a lot of minimalist stuff and aspire to that, yet live with six other people who drive me a bit crazy in this area. Random cords kept, one of our living room bookshelves filled with DVDs, board games, and video game paraphernalia. The other, organized by me, neatly lined with books.

    1. Hi Cat,
      yes, selectively organized. I guess I know where my priorities are -- eating! I can only imagine how difficult it is to have a household of 7 to tidy up after! You're doing a great job!

      Have a wonderful rest of the day, Cat!

  3. I think this is true for me to a certain extent. But my husband is for sure one who puts things away anywhere he pleases. My tea ball can get put away in 5 different places and though I show him it goes with all the others, he puts it totally somewhere else. Sometimes I ask where he put XYZ and he will say "I don't know". Problem is, we've been married 34 years and the things go in the same spot so I wonder what he doesn't get about putting things away properly!

    Now about decluttering...we have a nice storage spot under the stairwell in our basement. It has shelves under the tall end for cleaning supplies, canned goods, paints and the slope part has suitcases, clothes hanging rack and even a spare bed frame. There are two big wire shelving extending from the wide end all the way to under the steps. One of those wire racks broke so we had to take the entire contents out of storage, remove the rack and then decide what to do. It gave nice storage but it also took away a bit as well. I opted to remove it completely. It was the low rack of the two. We also gave away a couple pieces of luggage that just were not used and few other things. So forced purging works as well as voluntary purging. This is the same room I am stockpiling canned and non-perishables.

    I found a small garbage bin for my "office" and an old carpet piece for the entry of the closet. I organized all the items on the shelves. I also cleaned out a couple of drawers in my "office" that had kids' school binders. None of my kids are in school and these binders are old so we gave them away. I still have some college papers from kids down there and quite often they won't get looked at again so sometime they will have to go through that stuff.

    Oh, and I agree with you that throwing away or giving away something that you will reqret later is something I did when we moved to a smaller house 7 years ago. I gave away lots of recipe books that I wish I had kept.


    1. Alice, my hubby does the same thing! And he stacks the big mixing bowls on top of the little ones without nesting them. After 19 years of marriage I've (mostly) given up--I do my eye roll and fix it. Must be a Y chromosome thing.

    2. Hi Alice,
      I agree -- forced purging can be great, too. Another way to declutter is just not replace things that break down. We've been doing some of that this summer, as we find things that we just didn't use much in recent years.

      I completely understand the tea ball frustration. This is exactly what I mean by others in the house don't "get" my system. It all seems logical to me.

      I hope you're enjoying these early days of September, Alice.

    3. Hi Kris,
      Ha ha, we have nesting mixing bowls that don't always get nested, too. I just nest them myself and go about my day. Similar thing with a certain canister that gets used every day. It gets pushed a few inches away from the wall every morning. I come along a little later and put it back in its spot. I figure these things are pick-your-battle moments and I don't want to die on a hill of tidiness.

  4. You gave me the laugh I needed this morning when you said that you have enough hair conditioner for this pandemic and the next one. I also seem to have difficulty with storing those kinds of items--deodorant, vitamins, hair care items .... I have a small house so there aren't really super great storage options but I think I could do better.

    I think you (and I) ARE inclined toward organization ... in certain areas. Your food management system is pretty awesome. And the way you plan out meals and supplies .... only an organized mind can do that. I find that I am pretty good with planning food needs for trips/daily needs/events like providing snacks for my son's Eagle project. Storage organization, though, is another beast.

    So on that note .... I have folders for recipes. One for breakfasts, one for breads, one for soups, one for other main meals, one for desserts. But .... do you put the muffin recipes under breakfast, breads, or desserts??? Oh, the choices. And we won't even talk about the giant ziploc bag where recipes are crammed in, devoid of organization. Nope, not a discussion to have. :)

    1. Hi again, Kris,
      I think it's like Cat said -- selective organizational skills. I am pretty good at planning vacations or special events, plus meals and using food. I just don't like to plan or organize other things. I'm working at it, though.

      I love the idea of folders for recipes. I have a shallow box of recipes that I've clipped or copied that really need some sort of organization, and there are far too many to fit in my recipe card box. But folders would work. I'm going to try that. I will still have the problem of what folder to put some of them in. I think I'm going to have to come up with a system that works in my own mind for how to categorize some of the recipes.

      Enjoy your afternoon and evening, Kris!

  5. Boy...can I relate! I just keep trying. Every so often, it is just time to dig in and get a little more organized. However, I have come to realize this is gonna be a lifelong thing for!

    1. Hi Linda,
      I'm on the same page as you -- this is going to be lifelong for me, too. Oh well, we have other wonderful qualities to be thankful for.

      Have a great afternoon and evening, Linda!

  6. Yes, I am one of those organized people, but I am not a type A personality at all. I just don't like clutter, and I don't like to shop so it is a perfect combo. :) For a long time, I have adhered to the adage, "One thing in, two things out." I love to have a warm, cozy home with just enough stuff. It makes cleaning so much easier. Also, there is such a feeling of peace and contentment when you have what you need(and quite a few things of what you want), but you are not living in chaos!


    1. Hi Isabella,
      You make an excellent point about not living in chaos. I'm going to work on your approach in my own life. Thank you for the tips and perspective as they are truly helpful for me.

      Have a wonderful day, Isabella! (I love your name, BTW. It reminds me of a favorite artist's painting from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.)

  7. Lynn from NC Outer BanksSeptember 2, 2020 at 1:53 PM

    Cat, I like that--selectively organized. When I think about it, this describes me as well. I too am very organized around meal planning and food purchases. (Not as organized as Lili, but more organized there than in other parts of my life) Back when we actually had real photographs, I had all of mine in albums, labeled and duplicates safely stored. But organization for life in general?...not so much. And during this pandemic, with extra time? I have not spent it organizing :(

  8. I can be organized, but don't always do it. However, I am happier when there is order around me. I not sure this would work for a recipe box, but in our general files, I keep a paper at the beginning that lists what is filed under which letter. When we file something new, we just put it on the list. So if something doesn't show up where we think it should be, we can look at the list without going through all of the folders. Generally works when we take time to actually file things.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Keeping a list of where to find things is an awesome tip. Thank you! Years ago, I read of a woman making a list of everything in her freezer spaces, so she could find anything easily. I may try keeping a list of recipes and where they belong, just taped to the card file box. Again, thank you! I really appreciate tips from people who have a natural knack for organization.

      Have a wonderful evening, Live and Learn!

  9. An abundance of hair that. I was cleaning my office at work a few weeks ago, in my desk I had 33 cloths pins - 33! At home I use cloths pins to hold bags closed, when I take something to work in such a bag...the pin goes with it. My church had a HUGE yard sale in July - all the members cleaned during the shut down earlier this year. It was a win win situation - folks purged what they didn't use and the church made a good chunk of change.
    Blessings to you!

    1. Hi Shelby,
      That's a lot of clothes pins all in one place. I can understand how they all got there, though. Things have a way of accumulating, don't they?
      Yep, I've got all of the hair conditioner that I may need for this coming decade!
      That's awesome that your church was able to hold a yard sale. I can imagine that they received a lot of donations.

      I hope that you're enjoying these early September days, Shelby!

  10. I finally can comment. Not sure why I am logged out sometimes, but Google has a mind of its own.
    I am not an organized person, yet I generally can find what I need. I don't have a physically attractive system that is nice and neat, and I have a system that only makes sense to me. Especially paper, I can find a receipt or the date we bought something within minutes, because I love creating set it and forget it systems. However, my problem is having too many systems, over the years it can be a bit ridiculous. Like keeping track of every item purchased. This comes in handy in warranty claims. Last week, I received a new replacement luggage because the lining of the old luggage had deteriorated due to material defect. Purchased in 2017, we never used it, so it was not due to wear and tear.
    Right now, our house is the most disorganized it's been because we made room for our grandson to live in part of the house. In two weeks, we moved our stuff from that side to our side. So everything had to be condensed, and every space filled to the ceiling. We are keeping two separate living quarters, and talk by phone or with masks outdoors.
    Like you, Lili, it was interesting finding lost treasures. As much as I am organized paperwise, I lose track of stuff. Some shelves and drawers never get looked at or touched in years, so when we had to find additional storage space, we went through these forgotten areas. We also are working on improvement projects in two bedrooms, so nothing is put where it should be. I am crafting in my livingroom for now.

    1. Hi Laura,
      Google likes to mess with me, too, from time to time.
      That is wonderful that you can help your grandson out this way. Just having him there must be nice, even if you need to maintain some distancing.

      The lost treasures are a real bonus to the cleaning process. I had such a good time looking at old photos of my kids as I was going through drawers. I need to do something with those pictures -- maybe a project for winter. Crafting in the living room works, too, in my opinion.

      Have a great afternoon and evening, Laura!

  11. Hey Lili! Thinking of you all. I hope that you aren't in the fire area. Praying for your protection!

  12. Hi Lona and Kris,
    I'm sorry. I've just been so busy and am so tired. While life got somewhat easier for some folks, with working from home or having a spouse around to help with kids, for me, my life got a whole lot busier. If any women out there have retired husbands, they can understand how suddenly, the newly retired hubby creates a drain on the wife's time. Well, now imagine if you had two or more husbands that just retired. That's how I feel. My work has increased dramatically while others have less work to do, with all four of us at home since March. So, I'm needing to prioritize what has to get done. Right now, one of my most important tasks is harvesting and preserving the garden and orchard.

    As for the smoke and fires -- we don't have any fires close to us, but our air has been smokey since Tuesday when we woke up. The air quality is poor for sensitive groups but should improve a lot over the weekend or on Monday when a new system pushes in to the Puget Sound region. I keep seeing images from California and feel horrible for so many of the affected people there. 2020 has been some year, hasn't it? I'd like to erase the memory of this year, but I know that in all trials there are learning moments and they draw us closer to God.

    As for posting -- I actually do have a post in the works right now. I'll be finishing it up today or tomorrow.

    I hope you are doing well and thank you for thinking of me and my area.

    1. I TOTALLY understand that sometimes you have to change how you prioritize your time. No worries! I'm not familiar with the geography of your area and was wondering if the fires were affecting you personally. Glad to hear they aren't.

  13. Thank you Lili for the update. I understand completely. I am virtual schooling my 8th grader this year. I just had you on my heart and wanted to check in with you. Praying that you are strengthened! Hugs!


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