Saturday, March 03, 2007

the simplicity of kindergarten

The fast is going well. I'm getting migraines from low blood sugar, but I can handle that.

In my altered mental state, however, I crave simplicity. Nothing complicated, nothing strenuous, nothing extraneous.

I want to go back to kindergarten.

One of my favorite organizing authors, Julie Morgenstern, uses the kindergarten analogy when talking about organizing.

(See Organizing From the Inside Out, page 59 - Julie's Secret Weapon #1: The Kindergarten Model of Organization.)

Remember kindergarten? Lots of fun stuff to do. Every activity had its own little area, and everything you needed for that activity had a clearly designated home nearby.

It's hard to go wrong with the kindergarten model. It's comforting, it's reassuring, and most of all it's easy - if you remember to put things back in their homes when you're done. Maybe what we all need is a kindergarten teacher to remind us to take the time at the end of each activity to clean up.

Why do some of us hate this last part so much? Me, I love putting things back where they belong. My boyfriend, on the other hand, leaves stuff everywhere. Mail from the mailbox, for example, makes its way to the living room coffee table, where it sits forever.

(Okay, not really forever. It just seems like forever when I'm inhibiting the impulse to tidy up after him.)

Where is mail's home? Where does mail belong?

The simplest solution is to put mail in a special spot on your desk, and keep everything you need to deal with the mail in close proximity: letter opener, cheques or computer (for paying bills and other correspondence), recycling bin, shredder, and filing cabinet(s).

But what if you like to read mail in a different place from where you pay your bills or file your papers?

You have choices, and this is the not-so-simple part. You could have a series of mail "way stations": a place by the door where you immediately put mail when you come inside; a place by your favorite mail-reading chair; a place in your desk area; and the final place (which could also be multiple places: the recycling bin, the shredder, the filing cabinet).

You run the danger of "losing" mail if you rely on too many mail homes, however. Even I am occasionally vulnerable to this. Just yesterday, I was sorting through my date book and found the bank slip from my last GST remittance (paid in January!) stuffed under the back flap. Oops.

Where's my kindergarten teacher when I need him?

copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

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