Monday, June 10, 2013

The Ripening Box

Last week, I wrote about Broken Links. I described how we all have systems and things that stop working, we no longer use them, but we never actually take the final steps to dismantle or dispose of them.

I now have another example: A physics project made by my son; a trebuchet (see example below), which is now sitting on my front step, where it was removed from the van, after the presentation at school. It will take some work to dismantle, and I get that.... I just hope it happens before the graduation party!!

Anyway, although I cannot offer a quick solution for trebuchet management, I can suggest a tool for dealing with smaller items;

The Ripening Box
This is a container (mine is an open cardboard box) that lives in a convenient location, hidden from plain view, and hopefully up out of the reach of peering eyes. Into this box I put things that have been lying around, that no one has claimed, or that seem to be no longer the priority. Tiny little toys and stickers, paper airplanes, things I am not sure I am done with, but no longer want to look at, older but still beautiful art projects, etc. All of these go into the ripening box. If by chance someone says to me "Did you see my xxxx?" I can easily dig in there and find it. If not, when the box is full, I empty it. Some things I may return to the owner, or save in the box for the next cycle, but most I either discard or donate. The box isn't very big, and I empty it every three months or so. Right now, a toaster is in my box, waiting to see if there is a need for it in my son's college dorm room.

Lest you think I am a callous person, let me tell you that I can probably count on one hand the number of times that I have had to dig into the ripening box. What I have found is that we have a plethora of stuff at any given time and much of it is not needed or missed.

What do you have laying around that you could put in The Ripening Box?
Share in the comments. I would love to hear.

For help with any organizing project,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Broken Links

You know how you click on a broken link and a message pops up?

Well, that's annoying, isn't it?

I have found that this happens in our physical lives, as well. We are constantly setting up new systems, abandoning the old and NEVER removing the link, even though it goes nowhere.

Some examples:
  • I have a system for dealing with Holiday Cards. Works great. I get them, I tape them up on the wall in the kitchen to display (or temporarily in a basket to hang in a free moment). Sometime in January, I take them all down and put them back in the basket. I have every intention of sorting through them later, but somehow, here it is June, and there they still sit.
  • Our sweet little gerbil died last month. In keeping with the tender, end of life care we provided to him, we wanted to bury him properly in the yard. Unfortunately, he died on a rainy and busy weekend. I put him in a box in the garage and each day, after school, my daughters asked me if I buried him. Not yet. I was trying to find the "perfect time" when the girls were home and not busy and, of course, the few times the opportunity presented itself, I callously forgot to do it. So, a week later, I finally said to myself "Linda! Deal with that gerbil!!" and we went out to the yard, dug a shallow grave and buried him, saying a tender prayer. Was I procrastinating, unconsciously? Yes, I think so.
  • I have used an electric toothbrush for about a year. I have to admit, I am not really happy with it. Although I love the way it makes my teeth feel clean, I have to replace the batteries way too often and I can't stand when it runs down. Last week, I finally got frustrated and got out a "manual brush", leaving the electric sitting on the counter, open with it's batteries strewn about- attempting to dry out- in case somehow moisture was the problem. I pretty much know that my relationship with that toothbrush is over, but somehow, I can't yet bring myself to throw it out. Why not?
Can anyone relate? What are you avoiding or procrastinating? What broken links are there in your systems? Routines and storage you set up but are no longer using and never bothered to dismantle?

And most importantly: Why do we do this to ourselves??

Although, certainly not exhaustive, here are some ideas I came up with:

  • Frugality: We invested time or money in the system and are reluctant to give up on it (whatever "it" may be), even though it no longer meets our needs. This is the example of my disappointing toothbrush.
  • Guilt:  Related to frugality, if we spent time and resources on it, if someone gave it to us or if we feel that something bad will happen if we let go of it.
  • Rebelliousness: A bit of reluctance to actually react to the pressure we (or in many cases-others) put on ourselves to make changes to our environment. We rebel (lots of times unconsciously) and avoid the change and feel in control.
  • Apathy: We just don't feel like dealing with it, maybe just not now, maybe not ever. Especially, if the systems or stuff are excessive! A huge impediment to rallying the energy needed to establish change. This is part of what blocked me from burying my gerbil.
  • Sentiment: An emotional attachment to the items or systems in question. This is what prevents us from getting rid of our children's artwork or stuffed animals, or grandma's china that is no longer practical.
  • Fear of Failure/Perfectionism: This isn't everyone, but it is intense for some. This is an awareness that the perfect solution isn't available or can't be implemented right now, and even though an approximation might be 90% helpful, a "why even bother" thought process prevails. This is also what happened in my gerbil example. Waiting for the perfect opportunity to come.
Knowing is half the battle. An essential piece is wanting to change. Give yourself permission to wait until you have the energy and the interest, then act! You may be surprised at what you accomplish.

For help with Broken Links, Systems or any other organizing project,
Simply call Linda, 716-631-5619.