Most people who know you will tell you that I’m a very organised person. When I say ‘most people’, it doesn’t include my mum. My mum knows that I’m an extremely disorganised person at heart. Always have been, probably always will be. So how does a naturally disorganised mum fool the world into thinking she’s organised?
I’ve always been a ‘by the seat of my pants’ sort of flyer. I hate routine, I hate regularity, I push deadlines because I work better under pressure. At times, I’ve pushed them way too far, like the time I smashed out three 4,000 word university essays between 9pm Sunday and 8.55am Monday – bit too much pressure there. Incidentally, I got 2 Ds and an HD for those essays – habits are reinforced in extraordinary ways. My Anthropology marker wrote, “I can tell you wrote this in about 5 minutes flat and it pisses me off to have to give you a D.”
I got married in 2002, about nine months after arriving back from living overseas and travelling for 4 years. Trying to organise the wedding, settle back into non-nomadic life and start a new job that was more senior than any job I’d ever had before, meant I was so overwhelmed with life that I couldn’t see straight. In a desperate bid to help me keep track of everything I needed to do for the wedding (and halt all feelings of wanting to grab Bart and flee the country), I started a spreadsheet. I had no idea how to do a spreadsheet like this, so I wrote down absolutely everything to the minutest detail and started ticking off the list. I went from feeling like I was sinking into a giant abyss to feeling buoyant and excited about the wedding.
Despite the merciless mocking I suffered as a result of that spreadsheet (my family will still bring it up 15 years later), I continued to develop systems to help me stay on top of life. See, that wedding spreadsheet showed me just how valuable planning and routines can be. I knew that the logistics of the wedding were being taken care of, so it freed me up to concentrate on the fun stuff.
The same is 100% true of family life. I continue to be a disorganised person masquerading as an organised one, because being organised allows me to leave the boring bits of life to structure and routine, freeing me up for the fun bits. Being organised makes more time for spontaneity. I don’t want to have to spend any more time than I have to on things like housework, meal preparation and kid logistics, so I don’t. Pretending to be organised allows me that.
So, how does a disorganised person become organised? I’m glad you asked. Over the next few weeks, I want to share what has worked for me over the years so you might feel confident enough to see what works for you. I’m going to cover things like meal planning, housework, dealing with clutter, kids’ schedules, daily routines, home storage, calendar organisation… all the fun stuff.
You are not going to find complicated systems in any of my advice. I have no interest whatsoever in spending more time organising life than I have to. I’ve never been able to make anything labour intense work for me, so things like re-writing to-do lists each night or making neat, matching labelly boxes are out and anything remotely fiddly whatsoever is totally dead to me. Organisation is there as a tool to free up my life, not make it more difficult.
My only qualification for writing this ‘Organisation for the Disorganised’ series is that my life is well organised, even though my head isn’t organised at all. I’m not convinced that a naturally orderly person is the best qualified to teach the rest of us about getting our shit together anyway. I’d rather learn from the successful imposters.
What would you most like to see me cover as part of this series?