What does it mean to be organized?

I’ve read many good definitions of what “organized” looks like, but I recently came across one from organizer Matt Baier, which read in part:

My definition of organizing is “taking the less important stuff out of the way, so that you can get to the most important stuff.”

To me, organizing isn’t effective, if there isn’t a process of prioritization. … Furthermore, I believe subtraction always has to be part of the process. By saying “out of the way,” I don’t mean just discard and donate, but also sell, store, and archive. You can still keep things, but when you free up the most space for just the most important items, it is easiest to STAY organized. Of course, taking the less important things out of the way, must be done in such a way, that you can always TRUST that you can find what you want, when you want it, in storage and archives too.

This definition really resonated with me because of my own situation this past month. I had hip replacement surgery, and I knew I’d have a lot of movement restrictions when I came home. So I really needed to put this definition of organizing into practice.

Since I wouldn’t be able to bend down very far, I needed to prioritize what sat on my counters, within easy reach. So down came the food processor, since cooking just wasn’t going to happen for a while, and up came the paper plates for serving the Chinese food I could get delivered. In the closet that serves as my pantry, down came the staples for cooking (tomato sauce and such) and up came things like the bran cereal.

Because of my movement limitations, I wound up working with a home services agency to get someone to come in weekly to do light housekeeping and laundry, and to run errands for me. Fortunately, my garage storage is organized, so I was able to tell her just where to find things like a new toothbrush.

And yes, there was definitely some subtraction. One example: I knew I needed to find a place to stash the Bosu balance trainer which took up valuable floor space I would need when using a walker. I certainly wouldn’t be using the Bosu for a while! But then it dawned on me that this was a piece of equipment I probably wouldn’t want to use at all in the future (for fear of losing my balance and coming down in a way that damaged my new hip) and I gave it away on freecycle.

The prioritization process also applied to my to-do list. I considered what things had to be done pre-surgery and was comfortable deferring everything else.

Of course, Matt’s advice about prioritization works for everyday situations, too. There were many things I didn’t need to change, because my prior organizing efforts meant the most important things were already identified and readily accessible. But one side benefit of preparing for surgery was taking some time to re-evaluate what was important, and making some changes that will benefit me even after I’m fully recovered from the surgery.

6 Comments for “What does it mean to be organized?”

  1. posted by peggy wade on

    What do you include in your “garage storage” ? I have no basement so my garage is my storage.

  2. posted by G. on

    So that’s why your blog has been pretty quiet lately – I hope all is going well with recovery!

  3. posted by Debbie on

    Great article and I hope you are well into a speedy recovery!

  4. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    Thanks for all the good wishes on my recovery, which is going fine now!

    Peggy: The main things I keep in my garage are:
    – Spare stuff (toilet paper, cat food, toothbrushes, lightbulbs, etc.).
    – Things I use very seldom (my toolbox, for example).
    – Seasonal items (such as leftover Christmas/New Year’s cards to use in the future).
    – Items I get from clients which are best donated or freecycled at specific times of year (Christmas ornaments, for example). I have plenty of space in my garage, so it’s no problem for me to do this.

  5. posted by Joyce on

    Congratulations on your new hip, and many thanks for the uncluttering tips the past several years.
    I had a hip replacement almost 8 years ago – instead of getting rid of the Bosu, you might want to consider finding Pilates Reformer and/or CoreAlign classes around you. I started taking Pilates Reformer classes once my PT was finished. Better than PT alone, and I’m still taking classes. Best wishes on your recovery!

  6. posted by men automatic watches on

    I agree that the upstairs, very reasonable

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