Folks, I have a secret to share with you. I know this may come as a shock (especially to those of you who know about my present vacuum cleaner situation) but I’m…a neat freak. Specifically, I am absurdly organized (even if I AM a bit lazy about dusting and vacuuming). Everything has a place in my apartment, and when an item is NOT in its place…well, we won’t talk about that.
Yeah…it’s a little bit like that.
I’ve had people ask me how I do this, how I regularly complete this task of keeping everything tidy and in its place, and the answer is that, for me, there is no alternative. Because the alternative would be disorder and chaos: items flung every which way around the living room, bills left unpaid and forgotten among sheaves of junk mail, important cables stuffed under tables and desks never to be seen again and perhaps to be whisked off to parts unknown by our resident house mouse.
I bet he steals all sorts of stuff when we’re not looking. Sneaky little turd.
Some people can function just fine in the chaos of indeterminate item placement, but I cannot. So for me, it’s about a million times easier to make a place for something and ensure that it always goes there than it is for me to just throw my stuff any old place. This also has the unintended by-product of making it look like I clean regularly. BONUS!
Ohhhhhh, baby. I wish anything in my house looked this good.
That said, I admit that even I and my infinite anal-retentiveness don’t get around to putting things away properly all the time. Namely, paperwork. I’ll get paycheck stubs, student loan papers, letters and cards from friends and I’ll place them in neat little piles on my desk…and then neglect to file them away where they belong. Boo, bad Jenn. It’s okay for one or two papers, but after a few weeks, I start getting that hamburger-hotdog style stack of papers (you know what I’m talking about) and it starts to look MESSY. And worse, it makes it difficult to find what I need in a hurry. And that makes me a sad panda.
The SADDEST of pandas.
So today, I looked at my stack of papers and I put my foot down. No more would I live in the squalor and chaos brought on by unruly stacks of paper! NO MORE! And so today, I revamped my filing system for the first time in over a year.
Hear that, paper stacks? I’m sending you straight to Hades! (Hades is what I named my filing cabinet.)
My beloved Aunt Kim sent me a bit of congratulatory graduation scratch around September of 2010 with specific instructions to NOT spend it on anything practical like bills or rent. So what did I do with my newly begotten mad money? I bought a label maker, of course. Oh yes. A label maker. And at the same time, I also purchased some fancy purple file folders to keep my paperwork in as well as a magazine file to put the folders in. And then I went to TOWN on my paperwork, labeling it and foldering it most expertly, confident that I would never lose anything ever again.
Ch-yeah, right. Seriously, where the effing eff is my INTERNET BILL!?
I bought an awesome Target credenza at Goodwill right before I moved to Pittsburgh and transferred my file folders from the magazine file into hanging folders in the cabinet, but I didn’t do much else to them at the time. As such, my existing system was mostly fine, just a bit outdated, having last been tinkered with a year ago when I lived in West Virginia, was an Americorps*VISTA, and had a whole different set of paperwork priorities. So today, I prioritized my present paperwork, took scissors to all the outdated stuff (make sure to Google how long you should be keeping paperwork before just indiscriminately shredding it all!), labeled some new folders with my trusty label-maker and recycled some old folders for new use, and put everything in its rightful place. And now? Now, my filing cabinet is BEAUTIFUL. I mean, it’s a stunner, folks.
Like this. But BETTER because it’s MINE.
And it’s not just that it was beautiful to look at (it is), or that my papers now had a home to go to (they do), or that my desk was at long last cleared off (it’s EMPTY, bwa ha ha!): it’s that this one task set the tone for my entire day. After I filed my papers, I felt so good about it that I reorganized my entire desk, shifting my extra stationary and desk supplies around for maximum efficiency. I went through a bunch of my handbags and accessories to give to Goodwill. I did ALL the dishes–ALL of them, even the gross frying pan that has been sitting on the stove for an embarrassing number of days. I baked a butternut squash. I BAKED. A SQUASH. And then I sat down to write a blog post about it, because it has been that kind of day, dammit.
This is like productivity porn for me.
Point is, I felt so good about knowing where everything was that I wanted to extend that feeling to the rest of my apartment. This is the transformative power of organization–the ability to derive peace of mind from the fact that everything is as it should be within the four walls of your living space. So the next time you wake up on a Saturday and don’t feel like doing anything, take a look at your stack of junk mail. It could be the start of a very, very good day.
P.S. Here’s the list of websites I yoinked images from. Thanks Google!