Tuesday, May 1

Let's O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-E!

Today, Neal flew in to San Francisco and is driving down to Monterey. If it's a sunny day on Pacific Coast Hwy 1, he's enjoying this view to his right.
Enjoy Fiona's message from 4/30/2007:

Well, I decided my Big Bites were: The top of my desk, unloading the computer files on my almost deceased computer and the filing cabinet.

The desk is my first priority - the mess doesn't permit me to even get to the computer and the filing cabinet doesn't have the same "What do I do when I can't find______" panic. My plan was to "sweep" the desk for things that were: Big, not paper and items that obviously didn't belong. Even though this meant that I was touching pieces of paper multiple times (at first glance, not the most efficient) - I reaped more immediate rewards because items that took up lots of space went away first. This was good emotionally as well, since every time I went by my desk, I would be distracted by the odds and ends that didn't belong.

So, I finally moved the air freshener pack that I have been meaning to take out to my car, the clothes from a well meaning aunt to my toddler son that don't fit went into a good will bag into my car, the paint chips and samples from the hardware store to paint the shutters some day went to a more appropriate part of the house and the wild flower seeds we have been meaning to plant went out as well.

This still leaves me with quite a mess, but it has already made a difference, which will help me continue with the project. It only took me about 20 minutes, too, which was a nice way to ease into an overwhelming project.

Let’s Get Started on Our O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-E Steps

Keep in mind, we're not just organizing our lives so we can feel better about ourselves. We get things in order so we can be freed up to better serve God and others whenever an opportunity arises.

OVERVIEW: When you were asked to choose three areas to consider (“Determine three areas in your home or office that are driving you crazy and write them down”).was it easy or hard to choose? If it was easy to pick out three areas that bothered you the most, then you’re aware of what’s calling for help the loudest in your home or workspace.

If it was hard to pinpoint just three areas, you probably need a little guidance for getting started on the journey to organization. Here are some “diagnostic” questions to consider:

1. Have you recently misplaced your keys, or your purse, for more than ten minutes?

2. Have your little children, or pets, damaged any important papers or other valuable items in your home?

3. Do you put on make-up, or style your hair, while driving?

4. Have you found yourself buying groceries more than three times a week?

5. Is leaving the house on Sunday mornings a little busy, or downright rough?

6. When you finish one task, at home or at work, do you usually know what to do next?

7. If you had four friends with birthdays last month, did you visit the card shop four times, or only once? Follow up question—how many times did you go to the post office to buy stamps for those cards?

Let’s REVIEW our situations: What are your individual priorities for organization—what needs attention immediately? Here are some suggestions, depending on your life stage and living arrangements:

1. Safety is crucial. If you have young children at home, or often welcome young friends and family members into your home, you will want to structure at least the public part of your living space in such a way that little ones can play with independence and minimal “temptation.” For example, breakable family heirlooms will find their resting spot on the mantel and not your coffee table.

Hobby rooms with scissors, pins, rotary cutters as well as home offices with important papers and yummy paper clips can be blocked off. Pick up a couple of expandable baby gates at Goodwill and keep them handy in the guest closet. We want to enjoy our family and friends and focus on them, and this can take place much more easily if we have safe, interesting toys readily available for young ones, plus a child-safe space where we can easily supervise their play.

Another aspect of safety is quick access to health and financial information. Down the road you can organize your records by date, doctor and bank account, but today is the day to put together some key facts:

Health info:
Immunizations—adults, when was your last tetanus shot?
Current Medications
Contact numbers for doctors, pharmacies, health insurance company

Credit Card Companies:
Card number, 800#’s for reporting lost or stolen cards
Who has authorization to make changes on the card? One of my good friends lost her husband last summer, and she found out in a very unpleasant way that her automatic bill paying had stopped once the company learned of his death.

Bank Account Information:
Bank names, contact persons, account numbers
Safety deposit box—where is your key or access number?
Who has authorization to access your account(s)? Hint, it’s not always just the person whose name is printed on the checks.

2. Getting out of the house in the morning. How many times have you berated yourself for being late, or forgetting to take along something important when you left the house?

Some steps to start having better mornings:

Before bedtime, put your house keys, car keys, work access keys in your purse or briefcase.

Have your work papers in your tote bag or briefcase, along with your keys.

If there are children who leave home in the morning, pack their schoolbags or diaper bags before their bedtimes, and leave the bags near the door. If you pack their lunch the night before, put a photo of their lunch box or baby bottle on top of their bags, so they can pick up the photo in the morning and remind you of what they need from the refrig. You might want to make two, laminated photos!

If you’re nervous about your children, or pets, getting into those organized bags resting near the front door, figure out a high spot to hang a small shelf with pegs. If possible, make it within arm’s reach of your school-aged children, to encourage them to hang up their own bags.

Did you get gas in your car on the way home? Putting gas in the car always takes longer in the morning.

In a future message we’ll address tips for organizing your bathroom to equip you with a quick launch pad in the morning.

Big Bites and Little Bites:

Big Bite: Figure out how many house keys you currently have at home. Within the next week, go to a hardware store and have enough keys made to total 3-4 sets. Once you make sure all the keys really work in your lock(s), put your original set in a labeled file at home, or in a fire box, and a second set in a central place in your kitchen. If you feel comfortable doing this, hide one set outside your house or give it to a trusted neighbor—we do both.

Little Bite: Pull out your purse and write down the names, account numbers, 800 # and security codes (on the back of the card) for all of your credit/debit cards. Put this paper in the file which will eventually hold your original set of house keys—label it clearly so you can find it easily or direct someone else to locate it for you if you’re away from home.

Be sure to write Karen and let her know your tips and victories!