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Preempting the New Year’s Resolution Madness
Getting Organized
By Kayla Lemar
Teen Scribe
 
                Processes are my lifeblood.  I spent most of my childhood summers organizing “summer school” lessons for my younger siblings, a sure sign that I longed for the order of school life.  Changing classes, a balanced load of assignments, easily defined due dates and expectations—that’s what I live for.

                My need for organization hasn’t changed.  I took a position at a non-profit organization this year that didn’t have an instruction manual.  I almost died.  By the time I resigned, I’d written one.  It was one of those jobs where I hope I left something behind to bless others, but more than anything was a blessing to me as I learned skills like organization.

                Organization, I learned, is arranging parts in such an order that they are easily found, utilized, and replaced.  The reason we organize is to protect important things from being misplaced or damaged, and that the key to any system of organization is that it speeds up or de-stresses the process of accomplishing something.

                That’s why there’s that slot at the top of your school desk for pencil’s, instead of a jar on the other side of the room.  Organization should be like hitting the Staple’s Easy Button, and it is really that simple, if you recognize the habits that might botch the process.

                One such habit is collecting.  I am a gifted collector.  I don’t say that because I have whole shelves full of porcelain dolls, although I do.  Rather, exams indicate that one of my greatest strengths is input, the talent of pulling in.

                You know a collector when you walk into your Aunt Bee’s house and it looks like a museum or a library.  The most talented collectors utilize their gift to create something insightful and memorable.  But most of us start with the compulsion to admire, pick up or buy, and place in our pocket—anything, like pop tabs, leaves, or fifty-cent books from garage sales.

                For collectors that don’t harness their talent, there tends to be a build-up of junk.  Rather than collecting useful things and organizing them in meaningful ways, we collect things that clutter and cut us out of our own space.

                The shadow of a collector is the Fear of Not Having.  Collecting should be about the happiness finding and tending a treasure brings, but sometimes we collect through a lens of fear.

                The first key to organization is realizing that you only have so much space in your life.  There’s only so much time: 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks in a year.  You only have so much emotional energy, and it has to be split between yourself, boyfriend, parents, siblings, friends, and that mangy dog you convinced everyone would look good braided and bowed.  You only have so much physical strength, no matter how many Monster’s you drink.  And there is only so much space in your bedroom, probably 20-20 at best, maybe a lot less.

                There’s no point in trying to organize things that don’t have value, and take up space where valuable things should be sitting.

                Start off your organizational process by sorting through your life and deciding which things are worthy of your precious space.  Things you keep out of fear should be the first things to go.  While a collecting niche can be a blessing, the Fear of Not Having is distressing and a waste of space.

                If you find yourself organizing and re-organizing and re-arranging and re-organizing again, you might have a problem other than junk collecting.  It’s called perfectionism and boredom.

                Pick a system, and stick with it.  Get a date book, an address book, some filing cabinets, and storage tubs.  Label it, and don’t change the labels.  Small adjustments here and there will of course be needed, but take it from someone who rearranges her bedroom and her life each week: too much organization is almost as bad as not having any at all.

                Remember the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  If your system works for you, leave it be.  The need to constantly tamper means you’re stressing over something that’s intended to de-stress, or maybe you’re just bored, in which case go join some clubs so you have commitments to organize.

                I won’t tell you how to organize, because organization is a way to streamline your time, energy, and talents into the most productive areas, and I don’t know what those are for you.  But Junior High and High School is the perfect time to find out, and to practice.


 
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