One Bag Nation

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busydesktopMany of us have a lot to do around the holidays. Despite my attempt to plan a more frugal and simple holiday season for my family, I still have long to do lists. I’m not feeling stressed, though. I found a great way to get my tasks done without feeling completely overwhelmed.

The idea was inspired by Marelisa at Abundance Blog, who first introduced me to the concept of “micromovements” a while back, and she wrote about it again recently in a post about productivity. All it means is that you break down projects into very small pieces, and work away, little by little, until the project is finished.

Each day I’ve reviewed my holiday list, and identified something – even just a tiny something – I could accomplish, .

Some examples: one day I took inventory of our holiday cards, and another day I ordered stamps.

One day I pulled out my holiday cooking binder and located all the recipes I’m planning to use; another day I bought canning jars and cello bags.

One day I got out the patterns for the knitting projects I wanted to do; another day I put yarn, needles and patterns together into tote bags so I could easily grab them when I had time to knit.

By committing to do a little something every day I’ve managed to chip away at my list pretty efficiently. I also set aside a couple of days for shopping and errands, and I’ll be doing that again tomorrow, hopefully for the last time this season.

Micromovements have really made a difference for me this year, and if you need help managing everything you’re trying to accomplish right now, give it a try!

If you have other holiday survival tips or tricks, please share!

Do you always imagine that everyone else has it all together? I do!

I imagine “everyone else” sailing through their days with amazing and natural efficiency, while their well-behaved children play in their lovely yards (or tidy bedrooms); their inboxes never overflow; their basements are clean and organized; and there is nothing resembling clutter – physical or otherwise – to be seen. My husband insists that I have an unrealistic view of “everyone else’s” orderly life, and I think he might be right . . .

In the past two weeks I’ve been to two different friends’ houses, and what did I see? A dust bunny or two (or more!), piles of mail, paperwork and magazines; a few stray hairs in the bathroom; messy teenage girl bedrooms that rival any of my daughter’s messes; crumbs on the carpet; the list goes on . . .

Did I decide that I could no longer be friends with women whose houses looked this way? Of course not! I thought: wow! life creates dust and crumbs and piles and stray hair at “everyone else’s” house too.

This is not to say that I want to live surrounded by clutter and chaos. I just need to realize that “everyone else” is struggling to balance work, home, kids, husband and self just like I am, and that I should stop worrying about being judged for not always being able to keep all the plates spinning.

Somewhere a few years ago, I read a great line – I think it was a comment on http://www.flylady.net – that said:

If you’re coming to see me, come right over. If you’re coming to see my house, give me 30 minutes!

I loved that and I should remember it more often.

How about you? Do you feel like your clutter or sense of disorganization define you? Or maybe you’re on the other side, and really pride yourself on being neat, clean and efficient. Either way, let’s not lose sight of the rabbits for the bunnies – or something like that!

I recently met with Laura Leist, author of Eliminate Chaos. Laura’s office is in her home, and I was dying of curiosity to see how an expert organizer lives and works.

Her home and her office were neat as a pin, but not in a sterile, does-anyone-actually-live-here way. Her desk was tidy, but she had a few piles of paper on it – which she said was making her crazy – so I imagine she keeps it clear most of the time.

All in all it was pretty interesting and made me curious to see the work and home environments of other professional organizers. They spend so much of their time in other people’s spaces but rarely, if ever, reveal theirs. I wonder if they feel pressure to keep everything perfectly perfect . . . then again, keeping it all together comes easily and naturally for them – or so I assume.

I’ve recently been doing some consulting for an organization I worked for several years ago. Back then, one of the senior managers always handed out tons of paper at meetings: big, thick packets of stuff stapled together. Those packets caused me so much anxiety!

A couple of months ago, I saw his office again. Although the piles and piles of paper were all very neatly stacked – and I’m sure very well “organized” – I instantly recognized that he was creating safety with all that stuff. He was literally surrounding himself with a fortress of paper!

I’m sure you can guess where this is going . . . no doubt some of the stuff we buy, save, and move from room to room and pile to pile is stuff that we don’t need, except that having it provides some sense of safety and security.

Seems to me that before we can really let go of the clutter and the mess, we need to figure out another way to feel safe; how else to achieve order, serenity and peace of mind?