#38: On January Organizing

#38: On January Organizing

I love to organize. I mean I REALLY love to organize. When I was young, I used to draw out my closet shelves on graph paper and figure out the best way to place my stuff on them. I have a journal from fourth grade called “All about Me” and on a page asking me to write down my favorite activities, I actually wrote the words “organize my closet”. It’s true.

So when all the January issues of the magazines come out in mid to late December, with all those articles about organizing your house (and your life) for the new year, I start planning excitedly. While I do get a little sad about taking down my Christmas decorations at the end of December, the sadness is quickly replaced with the anticipation of a clean, orderly house. The time off I have from Christmas to a few days after New Year’s (one of the perks of being a teacher) is the perfect time to do this.

When sharing with some friends from church last weekend that I was in the middle of cleaning/organizing my house, one of them looked at me and said, “Aren’t you the only one in your house?” To which his wife replied, “There are just two of us in our house and look how much stuff we have.”

Yes, it’s just me, and it’s not that I have tons of stuff, but my place is small and I if I don’t stay on top of my stuff, it can quickly take over. And this time in January affords me the opportunity to tackle certain areas of my house that have bothered me throughout the year and need to be tackled instead of ignored. This year I tackled my kitchen and my guest room closet.

I have a VERY small kitchen. I know there are smaller kitchens in New York City studio apartments, but know that I speak the truth when I say that my kitchen is smaller than most. Now I have organized the space pretty efficiently over the years, but a couple years ago, I “got” to replace all my cabinets when my neighbors’ pipe burst and flooded my downstairs. I truly love my new cabinets, but they are smaller than my old ones and I lost a drawer in the process, resulting in a battle over what to do with my spices and the foil boxes.

This year, I had an epiphany: The Container Store! Elfa Systems! 30% off! All it took was a basic system for the back of my pantry door. I can put all my spices, plastic wrap boxes, vinegars, etc. on it! It has officially changed my life! Why didn’t I do this sooner? Now I can cook and get to everything I need and I no longer feel cramped in my kitchen!!! (and no, I’m not getting paid for this endorsement.)

Living in a townhouse, I don’t have a garage, so my guest room closet has become my “garage”. It is filled with everything I don’t have another place for: lawn chairs, Christmas ornaments, pictures that I have no room for on my walls, but I still want to keep, etc. I tackle it pretty much every year. I get rid of as much as I can, but then I just have to find room for the rest. I did some creative rearranging this year and feel pretty pleased with the results. Maybe I have finally found the solution.

Now that my house is in order, the bags of unnecessary items taken to Goodwill or the trash, I am ready to start thinking about the new year. I feel like I have an unencumbered fresh start. I can think and make plans. I can dream about ways to bring order into my life. I can be creative. What wonderful things will my tidy house inspire? Stay tuned.

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