Reducing the stress of “too many things”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, that there are so many calls on our time. It can be stressful to section up the moments into fifteen minute chunks in order to move a whole lot of projects forward one more step, yet that is what is left to us between meetings, at work. It even extends to coffee breaks and those mythical things called lunch time. Increasingly, there is a list, or dare I say a backlog, of tasks that need attention ‘when I get a free minute’. What to do about that? I have a new strategy – think about it as ‘all one thing’.

It is a bit of a mental shift, a bit of jiggery pokery, but instead of breaking everything apart, I’ve been grouping things together. A notion of ‘all one thing’ means I can put it all aside. All of it. The stress seems to come from the volume of stuff, not from the individual tasks. Previously, when I’d sit down to make some use of a bit of unexpected time, the whole list would loom in my head, all clamoring for attention.

“Me!” “No, me!” the voices would shout. “Pick me!” “Move over, it’s my turn.” The litany went on and on.

I am learning to tune the lens to smaller buckets. Work. Not work. Goals for the Day. Non Goals. It makes it much easier to decide which of the many drawers to open, and in which context. My focus is just on the thing in front of me. Yes, I sometimes need to switch to another topic, but again, it is just one thing. All a matter of perspective shifting. Useful nonetheless.


3 easy steps to helping friends organize

How to get started on dealing with household mayhem

It’s after the holidays, and your chum’s house looks like a tribe of Ewoks collaborated with a dervish of devils to make a mess that rivals a teenager’s room. What to do if you are called on to help sort it out? I’m not suggesting your own house is in the same state, though if it is, you can follow the same steps below to get started on organizing it. Our place tends to wax and wane, depending on where we are with projects, travel, and visitors; during the week, jackets and bags get dropped in our offices, and need to be sorted on the weekend and hung up again. We could just put stuff away as we come into the house, but where’s the fun in that. Colorful piles of stuff make the place look lived in, and happy.

Step One – go to the dollar store and get a batch (12 or so) $1 laundry baskets
This is the sorting mechanism – they’re a good size, have handles, and nice open tops. You can also use boxes if you have empties on hand. The container wants to be about 2 x 3 feet and shallower than it is deep.

Step Two – put 4 baskets/boxes in each messy room, in the middle, and label them. Add one big black garbage bag. Here are your categories for a general rough sort for the room.

  • Keep – you definitely want the stuff you throw in this basket
    (good electronics, clothing, gifts, unopened candy, bills to pay)
  • Recycle – someone wants it, just not you
    (include regular recycling like bottles, plastic, wrapping paper as well as old monitors, cords, CDs, old dish sets)
  • Shred it or file it – important paperwork, paper stuff
    (magazines, catalogs, letters, cards, memorabilia, medical records, taxes, paid bills, contact info, business cards, research materials, photos etc)
  • Undecided – we’ll make a call on this later
    (it might be something you want, or it may be stuff you’re not ready to let go of, shoes and clothes you don’t wear, misc stationery, left overs from projects, half a ball of yarn, old nail-polish, messenger bags you are not currently using, plastic cups, cutlery, colored napkins from a theme party)
  • Black bag – toss it out – it’s garbage!
    (open bag of chips, cookies, clothing labels, trash of any kind)

This rough sort has the benefit of reducing the piles of stuff to manageable chunks, and the trash gets taken out to the bin right away. I take the regular recycling to the recycle bin, and the other stuff goes into bags for donation to good will, PC recycle and so on. The paper takes a longer time to sort, so putting it all together means I save time and avoid being distracted by it while clearing the larger room.

Step Three – move the baskets out of that room

  • Clean the surfaces of the room with surface cleaner and paper towels
  • Sweep, mop or vacuum the floor
  • Only return the stuff to that room that will live there from now on

As an added benefit, helping a friend organize their stuff gives you a fun backdrop for conversation, with lots of opportunity to find odd treasures and learn more about each other’s lives.

Copyright 2013 R Loader all rights reserved

Organizing the car and enjoying the ride

Car-Boot-Tidy-Bag-Organiser-Organize-Bag-Auto-Storage-Box-Multi-use-Tools-organizer-sampleI should start this post by saying that organizing is one of the things that makes me happy. It clears my head, gives my hands something to do, and I can see concrete results from the effort. I noticed recently that there seems to be a lot of stuff that accumulates in the car. I took inventory of things that needed sorted and put away. Wow, was I surprised! There was an pile of towels, umbrellas, survival gear, clothing, cans for recycling, cds and miscellaneous paperback novels. I’m not even sure what to say about the lace parasol and the bag of steampunk gears and watch parts. In addition, there were collections of things.

Jackets and wraps
I’m sure there’s a good reason for having 3 winter jackets, a summer sarong, and 3 pashminis in the hatchback section of my car. However, I feel it takes preparedness too far to add shorts, a halter top and 3 winter hats.

Ugh boots, two pairs of sandals, one that I’d forgotten I had, and a pair of flip flops that I only wore to a gym that I haven’t had a membership in for two years.

There were two hammers, a set of screwdrivers, a rubber mallet, and two fix-a-flat cans, a big ball of twine, 2 rolls of duct tape, bungie cords (2 sizes), and a set of tent stakes, along with a lantern and 3 flashlights.

Cups, mugs and picnic gear
I found no less than 6 travel mugs, all thankfully empty and pre-washed. That was a relief, I can tell you. A set of plastic tumblers, picnic blanket, fold up sit-on-the-ground seat with a back, folding chair and a couple of gallons of water.

At this point I feel compelled to say that I do not have kids, and was not carrying about any of this stuff for anyone else. It was simply the detritus of a year of being prepared for various eventualities that, well, didn’t. Eventuate that is. It took six bags to carry it all into the house and fully a month before it got sorted into laundry, kitchen, and other sundry piles for putting away.

Organizing the car
I got myself a couple of those cloth square baskets with flat bottoms, so at least the car and emergency stuff has it’s own place. And there’s even one with a garbage bag in it for collecting empty drink cans. When I get a chance, I’ll add a couple of totes for my shopping bags.

Am feeling so much better about the organizing I got done. There are no longer any strange sounds as unknown, and heavy, objects roll about in the back area of the car when I take a curve too fast.  I no longer have the task of cleaning out the car distracting me from time to time. Now I can just enjoy the ride.

Copyright 2013 R Loader all rights reserved