Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A different kind of Challenge

Last night I picked up a book that I bought sometime over the last few years and started reading it.  I was so motivated by it that I started on some of the action items right away.  I decided that if it was having such an impact on me, perhaps some of you would benefit from it as well.  I know you can relate based on some of your recent responses to the photo of my desk on Facebook last week.  

Remember, this one 

I found that the author, Kathi Lipp, has a 5 Day Get Yourself Organized Challenge.  Continue reading to determine if this is for you!

Are You Organizationally Challenged? by Kathi Lipp

After his 3-month-old son sailed off the roof of his car at 50 mph and landed unhurt in the middle of an interstate highway on Sunday, Michael Murray decided to break the news to his wife gently.
It was, after all, Mother’s Day, and Murray, a 27-year-old factory worker, said Monday he did not want to say right out that he had “messed up” by absent-mindedly driving off while his son was strapped into a car seat that he had left on the sunroof of his bronze 1987 Hyundai. As her husband sheepishly held Mathew, who was sleeping serenely in white pajamas and sunbonnet, Deanna Murray, 28, recounted the phone call she received from her husband.
"'Come to the emergency room,' he told me."
A surgical nurse, Deanna Murray was on duty at the Medical Center of Central Massachusetts in Worcester when her husband’s call came in. The emergency room is down the hall from her work station.
"'Just come down here,' that's all he told me," Deanna Murray said, describing the phone call. "'Mathew has fallen,' he finally said. I ran all the way down the hall."
After learning the full story, Deanna Murray said, "I was in shock. The nurses had to sit me down and hold me. It’s a miracle. It really is."
As Michael Murray recounted it, things began innocently enough around noon Sunday when he decided to drive Mathew and his 20-month-old sister to the hospital, where Deanna was working the day shift. He wanted to drop off her Mother's Day gifts--a gold necklace bearing the legend "Number One Mom" and a single rose.
After presenting these gifts, Michael Murray carried his two children back to the indoor garage where he had parked the car. Murray put his daughter into her car seat but then got into the car with Mathew still on the sunroof.
"The garage was dark," Murray said when asked how he could have forgotten about his son. 

(Chris Reidy, "Absent-Minded Father Sends Baby Son Flying Down the Highway", Boston Globe, May 12, 1992.)
I first heard this story on a radio broadcast over twenty years ago, and it still gives me the same sick-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach feeling every time I think of it.

But maybe not for the same reason as you.

You see, I think when most people hear or read about the story of young Mathew, their first reaction is, "Thank God that baby is OK." If that is your reaction, congratulations. You are probably a pretty well-balanced, normal person.

However, my first reaction was, "Thank God I haven't done that yet." If that was your first reaction as well, this challenge is for you.

Here are a few other ways to know whether or not this challenge is for you:
  • if you always know where your car keys are
  • if you look at Martha Stewart and think, Now that's somebody I can hang with
  • if all your dresser drawers slide closed with ease
  • if there's nothing in your fridge that's older than your youngest child
  • if you think laundry baskets are for folding laundry and not for running around the house gathering up papers, shoes, and fourth-grade science projects
then this challenge may not be for you. However,
  • if you have offered any of your children five dollars if they win the "Where Are Mommy's Keys?" game
  • if you have ever entertained someone entirely on your front porch because your house was such a mess
  • if your kids automatically know that the hour before Grandma and Grandpa visit is stash-and-dash time
  • if you think that getting your shoes on, driving to the ATM, and ordering fast food at a drive-thru is easier than cooking
  • if your house is clean and your husband automatically asks, "Who's coming over?"
  • if you wear something besides pajamas and slippers to drop off your kids at school, and the drop-off lady asks, "What are you all dressed up for?"
then this challenge is for you.

You're Not as Disorganized as You Think You Are

I come by my chaos honestly.

I am only one in a long line of people in my family who are disorganized. I have an aunt and uncle who could easily take up a full season on the reality show Hoarders, and my dad has stored in his garage nonworking electrical parts from the Nixon-era. (At least when it comes to my mom's walk-in-closet-sized collection of quilting fabrics, they are organized by color for easy retrieval.)

So when it comes to managing my own household, I was probably a lot closer to being invited to my own clutter intervention than invited to cohost a segment on "Clear Away the Kitchen Clutter" on Good Morning America.

Like reading a diet book from someone who has never weighed more than a buck ten, trying to find help from "organizational experts" who have color-coded their laundry hampers since they were three just didn't do it for me.

Out of sheer desperation (and a strong desire to regularly have clean underwear) I would buy the oh-so-magical, super-organization books, start on their perfect systems, and then realize that the author and I had a major communication issue--we weren't speaking the same language. Apparently, my brain was wired completely different than hers was. (Then I would have to organize the book that I was no longer reading into my collection of organizational books.)

The difference seemed to be that while these experts lived to organize, I wanted to get things organized so I could live. I saw organizing as something I wanted to do and then move on. The experts saw organization as the goal in life. (The last time I checked, no one was giving out blue ribbons for the fewest mismatched socks.)

I'm sorry, but I want a little more from life than an improved laundry system.

I bet you do too.

Now don't get me wrong--I have a few friends who love to clean. I mean can't-wait-to-get-down-on-their-hands-and-knees-and-scrub-the-grout-with-a-toothbrush friends. (Come to mention it, I’m wondering again why we're friends.) There again, I realize we have completely different ways of approaching life. While I see the glass as half full, they see the glass as "Are you finished drinking that? If so, go rinse it out and put it in the dishwasher." From these friends and their "kind" I would never be able to learn the art of home management.

I need to learn from people who have the same kind of brain that I do:
  • one that loves to get things done--as long as it's quick and easy
  • one that doesn't want to waste time on boring or seemingly unproductive things
  • one that doesn't want to spend time cleaning a bathroom that's already clean
  • one that would rather be watching a good DVD than organizing them on a shelf
So if this sounds like you, keep going. In the next four days you're going to see some progress, take some steps, and be a bit more organized than you were when you started.

In the meantime, the book is The Get Organized Project: 21 Steps to Less Mess and Stress. If your desk looks like mine, I suggest you get it right away!

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