Organizing my thoughts on being organized

By Joanne Peterson | Sep 12, 2013

Last week, I ended my column with “To be continued,” as I wasn’t finished sharing my recent thoughts about being an organized person, running an organized household. Or, in my case, not being such a person, not running such a household.

Oddly, three times this week, I have read or heard the words, “A place for everything and everything in its place,” an adage I spoke of in last week’s column.  I think it’s one of those “Words To Live By” sort of statements that’s difficult to quibble with—how lovely to know exactly where to look for the waffle iron, the title to the car, your favorite pair of sandals or your copy of “The 100 Best Poems of All Time.”  Not that I’m saying I can’t find those items. I will say I definitely do know where my passport is.

How could anybody go wrong by simply following through with a plan to put each thing neatly back in its very own assigned place after each use?  Is that too difficult a concept for someone whose stumbling block has been “A place for everything and everything someplace?”

Unfortunately, I’ve encountered plenty of people who admit to identifying with me.  They, too, are hanging on to too much stuff, not knowing where specific things have hidden themselves and having occasional fantasies about trending toward minimalism. Well, yes, there are more of us than you’d ever guess, or book stores wouldn’t stock volumes called “Clutter’s Last Stand” and “The Fast and Furious Five-Step Organizing Solution.” Right?

If people didn’t have at least some teensy hope of changing their ways, would they bother reading magazine articles titled, “Stress Less, Find it Fast” and entering “Organize My Room” sweepstakes?

Being disorganized is not the easiest way to live. No one else can “fix you” if that’s the way you are. You have to fix yourself or accept yourself the way you are, which is true about life in general, of course.

Oh, I read about the practicality of storing neatly-folded color-coordinated sheets tucked into one of their matching pillowcases – the other pillowcase folded inside with the sheets – and then stacked tidily in the linen closet on a shelf neatly labeled Guest Room Queen Sheets.

I don’t know why I read it. I have neither a linen closet nor a guest room.  Also, if I did have the shelf to label, I would have no idea where to look for the cute label-making thing my brother bought me.

I guess I’m just pointing out that people keep writing books and articles about organizing offices and homes – and sheets – because they know there are plenty of us who think we just haven’t stumbled on the right book yet. We haven’t gotten the right advice to help us on our pathetic quest to change our lives—which we would prefer to do without loosening our grasp on the things that own us.

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