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Posts Tagged ‘organization’

This month’s Rocket City Bloggers’ shared carnival topic — “your favorite tool” — was a gimme.

It’s the set of screwdrivers that my grandmother gave me for Christmas the year after I got married.

One of the first realizations I had after moving in with the husband was that our organizational styles differed. He could live with items in any number of places, whereas I enjoyed finding the same items in the same places time and time again.

Screwdrivers, for some reason, were an early ongoing issue. I would find them on the kitchen counter, under a bathroom sink, on a bookshelf or in the car. Anywhere but the toolbox. And I would NEVER find the model I actually needed. Sure, it was nice to know that the medium Phillips head was on the end table, but that knowledge wasn’t helping me tighten the flat-head screw on the top bookshelf.

My grandmother heard my laments and came to the rescue. Christmas morning, I was the envy of all the men in the room, with my full set of Craftsman screwdrivers (complete with a bonus pair of RoboGrip pliers that have since met their demise).  The tools were packaged in a vinyl organizer, so it was easy to keep track of them, and keep track I did. I all but made the husband sign a checkout card when he needed to use one for a project.

The vinyl organizer disintegrated a couple of years ago, so the screwdrivers now reside in a plastic box that formerly housed jewelry. I had to steal back the favored medium Phillips head from the husband’s office for this photo, so obviously my efforts to keep them all in one place aren’t always that effective.

It would be too simple to say that these screwdrivers are my favorite tools because my grandmother gave them to me. I mean, she made sure I had the BEST screwdriver set that she could find. What could have been a throwaway joke gift was, instead, a well-planned purchase that I’ve used time and time again.

The woman who had given me a toaster and a mixer at my wedding shower was perfectly content with the idea of her granddaughter wielding a screwdriver in the name of DIY. Awesomeness personified.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 35: Pinpointed the cause of the problem with one of the closet doors in my office (other than the fact that cheap, hollow-core bi-fold closet doors are the worst invention ever marketed to uncaring builders and unaware homeowners). Whoever lived here before yanked on the door so hard that the bottom pivot screw was actually ripped from the door, leaving a gigantic hole that I’ll have to fill with epoxy. Assuming I don’t simply replace both the doors with an awesome beaded curtain first.

Day 36: Spent the better part of the morning helping the husband set up my mom’s new computer via telephone and remove connection. He configured her wireless connection, while I ran Mac orientation. And if your mom has ever had computer problems while you were eight hours away, you know that helping her launch a reliable new computer setup totally helps your peace of mind. Ergo, this counts as a point for life organization.

Day 37: Spent a couple of hours researching online backup systems. I tried Mozy, but it’s become extremely unreliable lately, and its non-detailed interface doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies about which files have REALLY moved into the cloud. I’m currently leaning toward Dropbox, but I’m still taking nominations if anybody has a strong opinion.

Day 38: I made the mistake of taking the humidifier apart before I filled it up with water before bed. Oh my. The scale buildup on and around the heating element was simply horrifying, and I spent the better part of 30 minutes trying to scrub it clean. Even more horrifying was the knowledge that my husband had, indeed, actually cleaned it before. More than once. Meaning that the mess I saw did not take three years to accumulate, but possibly only weeks.

Day 39: I sorted through two catch-all UAH file folders. Not the biggest task, but I did manage to merge the documents that belonged together and get rid of some duplicates. The paperless office remains elusive.

Day 40: I grabbed a small stack of old copies of the New Yorker, tore out the stories that I had marked to save, filed them and put the old magazines in the recycling bin.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 24: I realize that some people have an entire room dedicated to their crafting supplies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I yearn to be craftier. But I also associate crafts with stuff, and I don’t need more stuff.

So, my craft supplies consist of magnets, Mod Podge, a few rolls of post-Christmas-sale ribbon, colored pencils, a hole-punch, an X-acto knife and embroidery supplies.

Wait. Embroidery supplies? I know. Because I was TRASH at embroidery when I attempted to take it up a couple of years ago. Trust me: The embroidery supplies are just biding their time until their turn comes on the circle of thrift store donations.

Anyway, today’s Do One Thing activity was to organize all my craft supplies into two stacked storage units that I got on super clearance last year at Michael’s. Yeah, yeah — a couple of corners are kind of weathered, and one of the smaller drawers is a slightly different color, but I got them both for less than $20.

The storage units are currently serving as a nightstand in the guest bedroom; at the rate I buy new furniture, they’re likely to be serving in that capacity for a while.

Really, the embroidery supplies were the only thing that needed moving. They were hanging in a bag in my office closet, and I’m trying to take down everything that’s hanging in that closet to make it neater.

All crafting supplies in one place, and a closet that I could walk into, assuming I could actually get both bifold doors open (grrr). I’m nearing neatnik nirvana.

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Today, a friend sent me a link to Unclutterer, a blog about getting organized. The posts preach minimalism: the less stuff you own, the less stuff you have to organize. Every Wednesday the site mocks “unitaskers,” items that only serve one function while taking up valuable space. These products are often the worst of the “as seen on TV” club, and invariably enable you to do things that you can easily do without them, such as washing your feet or cracking eggs.

I admitted earlier this week to owning my own unitasker, an awesome cappuccino maker that, after a scroll through Unclutterer to see the ridiculous things that other people own, I’m liking more and more. While preparing dinner tonight, however, I realized that I’m actually the proud owner of two more unitaskers, both of which I needed for the substantial amount of produce in my CSA:

  • The Oxo Good Grips Strawberry Huller, which pierces the strawberry, scoops out the hull and releases it in a couple of quick moves. Using a knife to cut out stems is tedious and a bit slow, and poking a straw into the center of each strawberry simply makes a mess and often doesn’t remove the entire stem. This unitasker is also small and easy to clean, so it stays.
  • The Oxo Good Grips Corn Stripper, which strips and collects corn kernels as you move it down the corn cob. Sure, it does what a good sharp knife will do, but it does it without making a huge mess. Stripping corn with a knife results in flying kernels. The easy-to-clean container on this gadget is what makes it worth having. Fill it with corn kernels, dump them out into a bowl, then start filling it again.

So, in my kitchen a unitasker must perform its task much better than other multitasking accessories can and it must be easy to clean. (In fairness, apparently it also must be an Oxo product or an Italian import.)

I have this paranoid idea that most unitasker products are given as gifts by people who are hating on the clean, efficiently run kitchens of their recipients. What other explanation is there for the s’more makers that rampaged across American Christmas shopping lists a few years ago?

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The browser tab title of “Organize This!” — a New York Times story — is “Barbara Reich Organizes the Homes of New York’s Elite.” Clearly, this does not apply to me, but some of Reich’s philosophies apply to us all.

Her mantra is, “Stress is clutter, and clutter is stress.” We live in a time of stuff, and it’s simply stifling.

I know I have less stuff than a lot of people, but every time I clear another storage box out of the closet, I feel even lighter.

Clear space equals a clear mind.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 13: Reorganized a particularly troublesome kitchen cabinet area. My house in Mobile, Alabama, had laughably little cabinet space, so I’m still getting used to maximizing the larger space I have now. I have this obsessive desire to keep all the baking items (mixer, cake pans, muffin tins, etc.) close together, but that just doesn’t work. I accept this limitation, and now I can reach the small loaf pans without interference.

Day 14: Cleaned out a box of hair accessories that was mysteriously stored in the nightstand in the guest room. Discovered that elasticized hair bands deteriorate and lose their stretch when stored in stupid places for long periods of time.

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The “Do One Thing” series chronicles my yearlong effort to tackle one project every day to organize my life and home.

Day 11: You would think that being trapped in the house by snow and ice would provide the perfect opportunity to organize, sort and clean. You would be wrong.

I managed to figure out the state of several magazine subscriptions, however, so we’re in no danger of losing our monthly/weekly music/technology/cooking news fix. Note: Print is not dead yet.

Day 12: Third snow day of the week. I managed to help some class handouts that had been taken out of their notebooks find their way home. With a high of 25 degrees, that was really all that anyone could expect of me.

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