Experts on clutter agree that one fundamental solution to disorganization is maintaining lists promoting order. If it works for Santa it should do wonders for me. While the results are far from conclusive, here are some highlights of my experience.
After hastily placing cold pizza in my son's school lunch bag for the third day in a row, and finding homework in the passenger side cup holder of my car two days after it was due, I decided things needed to change around here.
One of the first things experts suggest to combat disorganization is to create a series of lists. In this way, one can track tasks and items needed for the coming week. I accepted the challenge. So, for the next 30 days I relied on a compilation of lists to bring order to my chaotic household.
There is an unanticipated thrill in checking completed items off a list of things to do. I enjoyed it. While giving myself credit for getting out of bed before 11 am, or checking a mark for my son as he successfully replaced the cap on the gallon of milk before returning it to the refrigerator are, indeed, tasks, I am not certain this type of list encourages much productivity.
I was excited to engage in a controlled, disciplined trip to the grocery store. I was instructed to create a comprehensive and super fancy list based on store ads, coupons and recipes inspired by seasonal produce. I don't know what happened. Somehow, my list got wedged between a bag of popsicles and six boxes of hair color (neither of which was included on my carefully prepared shopping list). Things just went downhill from there. I retrieved the list from the bottom of my shopping cart at the checkout counter. I actually used it to catch the drips from the giant ice cream cone I bought at the deli while I was shopping. Hey! I had a coupon.
Traditionally, our family meal-planning consists of each family member taking a night to select from their favorite takeout menu. So, this list required an adjustment for everyone. Unfortunately, I have cooking issues. Three days ago, I paid good money for my family to watch an Asian chef light our meals on fire. Everybody cheered. Last night, I burned the lasagna, and nobody cheered. What's the difference? Good thing I had a coupon for a bucket of fried chicken.
Personal food journal
Along with organizing my home, I am also trying to lose a few pounds. By few, I mean 20 to 30 pounds. Many fitness experts suggest tracking what one eats on a daily basis. This would be a more interesting read, I suppose, if I was writing something other than a 12 ounce can of Diet Pepsi and a handful of honey-roasted peanuts for every meal. I also read somewhere that if one eats ice cream directly out of the container while it remains in the freezer it does not need to be recorded.
I encouraged my kids to track their expenses, as well. Turns out, I spend way too much money on stretchy pants and trashy celebrity gossip magazines. My youngest son buys too much chewing gum, which may explain why a large portion of my finances goes to the dentist. Also, I discovered my older son doesn't spend money on anything throughout the week. Therefore, the next time my finance tracker tells me I'm short on money, I know where to go for some quick cash.
The incentive in monitoring this list is to encourage regular exercise by enabling the person to see one's progress. My goal was to walk 10 miles per week. The dilemma was that the treadmill was buried under two weeks of freshly laundered bath towels and a smattering of Christmas decorations that have yet to be stored. Both items are currently pending on my To-do list. So, I was forced to consider other options. Do you know where your Anteroposterior Inguinal region is located? Well, I am rather certain I tore mine in half during my last Pilates class.
One list that did manage to take hold was establishing a habit of daily reflection. Now, I take the time to spend a moment thinking of the good things in my life, showing sincere gratitude for them and recognizing that a source much greater than I wants me to be happy and succeed.
Thirty days later, I still seek order in this house. On those days when the fridge is packed yet we still have waffles for dinner, or my son considers wearing swimming trunks to school because nothing else is clean, I refer to my gratitude list where I have written down all of the things that make my day great and my life unique. I am reminded that the things that really matter are going OK, after all.
Right now, I am working on a couple of new lists. Ten reasons why I shouldn't have to eat cauliflower. And, in order to avoid future dinner mishaps, I am cataloging which foods are more flammable than others.
J'Nel is a Contributing Editor at FamilyShare.com. When she isn't writing or editing, she is strongly encouraging uncooperative family members to pose for photos, golfing, playing outdoors or reading. While working on degrees in English and Social Work, she visited French Polynesia, parts of South America, Egypt, Indonesia, Europe, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and much of the United States. She remained in town long enough to earn a BA in English from the University of Utah. J'Nel's motto: Have suitcase. Will travel.