You Are Normal If…

Is this normal?

Ever wonder what’s normal when it comes to the level of organization your life? Assume you are worse than most? You probably aren’t…

When talking about getting and being organized, I often hear people say things like, “I’m sure your house is perfect… if you came to my house you would be scared!” or “Someday I will get organized like everyone else.” There seems to be a general feeling out there that the “rest of the world” lives in houses that are perfectly organized. Perhaps it is the plethora of magazine spreads showing perfectly ordered (and color-coordinated) spaces that has perpetuated this illusion. Or maybe its the fact that most people do a “quick tidy” before company comes over, so we think everyone else’s house is always perfectly neat.

But it is important to know that very few people’s homes look like the cover of a magazine. I’ve worked with a lot of clients, and I can honestly say that a bit of disorder is very common. Most people have some room for improvement on the organizational front. You are probably very normal!

Here is a brief list of common situations I encounter when helping clients.

You are normal if you have:

  • A box or drawer full of cords that you have idea what they attach to
  • Stacks of back-issues of magazines that you haven’t gotten around to reading, but feel you shouldn’t get rid of until you have (“well…. I paid for them”)
  • Tools and supplies from a recent household project (perhaps incomplete?) piled up in a cobweb strewn box in the corner of the garage
  • Old cameras, computers and other electronics that you aren’t sure how to safely dispose
  • Clothes stuffed into your closet that you are holding onto for when you lose a few pounds
  • A bulletin board that hasn’t been cleared off in years
  • A drawer full of make-up, much of which you either don’t use and/or is expired
  • Decorative items that you don’t really like, but which came from a close friend or family member and you feel too guilty to donate
  • A junk drawer crammed with a strange variety of stuff (like a hammer or goldfish crackers)
  • A box in the attic/basement/closet from your last move which you never unpacked
  • Boxes of paperwork that you are keeping because of a vague tax fear
  • Boxes/bags/bins/computer full of photos in no particular order
  • VHS tapes that you no longer have a player for
  • Kitchen appliances that you don’t use
  • Boxes of your child’s artwork & mementos that you are planning to put into a scrapbook… someday
  • Old cans of paint (some of which you can’t match to any space in your home)
  • An empty baby book for your child… who is now a teenager
  • Original boxes for computers, electronics, etc. that you are holding onto “just in case” you need to send them in for repair
  • A kitchen cabinet overflowing with mugs or sports bottles
  • Plastic storage containers which don’t have matching lids
  • Craft/hobby/activity supplies which you haven’t had time for in years
  • Instruction manuals for appliances or electronics you no longer own/no longer work
  • Keys that you can’t match with a lock
  • An entry or mudroom that is overstuffed and drives you crazy when you walk in the door
  • Puzzles or games that are missing pieces
  • A teenager whose bathroom and bedroom surfaces you can no longer see
  • A spouse who has a very different idea of “clean” than you do

*     *     *     *     *

Feeling better yet? The good news is, there are solutions for all of these situations. Order is always within reach, and help is available if you need it! In the meantime, it is time to stop berating yourself for not having the perfect looking space.

Can you identify with any items on this list? Have another to share?











Organizing Pets

Organizing for PetsFrom cats to dogs to snakes, pets add a layer of joy and vitality to our lives. But make no mistake: they add complexity as well.  If you’ve made the choice to bring a pet (or two or three…) into your space, here a few tips that might make it easier to have them around.

Be thoughtful about where to keep the cage/crate/bed/etc. Make sure to select a space that is safe for the pet (e.g. not near an active fireplace) and where the pet’s normal activities won’t damage your home (e.g. no litter box on the new soft pine floor.)

If you take your pet outdoors, hang the leash on a hook near the door so you won’t drag moisture or dirt into the house.

Decide who will feed the pet when. If multiple people share the job, consider assigning each person a day of the week to avoid confusion.

If you buy in bulk, consider a plastic container with an airtight lid that can be kept in a handy location (e.g. the kitchen), and then store the remainder in a garage or storage space. If you have multiple pets or a large pet, you may like a container with wheels for easy access.

Consider placing a mat under a feeding bowl to protect the floor or carpet. A rubberized mat can also help to keep bowls from sliding while a pet eats. Want to get fancy? Try a retracting pet bowl that slides under the kick of a kitchen cabinet.

Hide a Pet Feeding Bowl

Keep treats in one location. A decorative jar can be a clever solution, but a simple section of a drawer or shelf will also work well.

If you bathe inside, keep supplies on a shelf or in a cabinet near the sink or tub.

If you prefer the back yard, consider getting a shower caddy so supplies can be easily carried in and out.

Set an attractive basket/bin on the floor. Popular places are behind a sofa or tucked near a chair in a family room.

Set up a file for each pet to hold:

  • Vaccination record
  • Insurance paperwork, if applicable
  • Veterinarian name & contact information
  • Copy of license, if applicable
  • Record of medical procedures

If your pet takes medications (such as flea & tick treatments, heartworm prevention pills, skin meds, etc.), be sure to keep them separate from human medications. Add in a pen/notepad wherever you store medications so you can easily track when medications have been given (monthly medications often provide a space on the box to keep track…)

Be sure to be clear about who clears waste when for pets who live indoors. (Set a schedule as for feeding)

Keep supplies for refreshing pet areas handy (e.g. newspaper, cat litter, scrapers…)

Always clear waste to an outdoor/garage location (preferably with a lid!)

If you walk a dog, keep a stash of plastic “pick up” bags near the door. 

Keep an extra leash & collar in the car (they can break…)

Consider a safety harness or a pet carrier/crate. Pets being held on a lap or sitting freely become projectiles objects in an accident.

Travel with a plastic container that can be used for food and water while on the road. Remember to pack pet snacks when on road trips, as some pets may not react well to eating scraps from an “on the road” diet.

Always carry vet numbers, vaccination records and proof of rabies shots. And be sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification tags. [If you choose to leave your pet with a boarder, friend or relative, be sure to leave them with this information as well.]

*     *     *     *     *

Pets – and a system to care for them – can bring unique joy to our lives. What tips have you found most helpful in caring for your pets?