Saturday, October 18, 2008

When It's Just Too Much

As many of you know; I use routines to get through all of the repeating responsibilities in my life. I have daily sets of tasks that I do at the beginning and end of my day, and I also have daily routines at work. I remain sane, as I don't have to repeatedly write down these routines. I just do them in the same predictable order, day in and day out.

When I first started to get a handle on my home twenty-five years ago, I found the card file system in Pam Young and Peggy Jones' book Side Tracked Home Executives (see my journey). Since then I have been using my planner and daily routines and a Basic Weekly plan. I have also adopted the focus area plan where I focus on an area of my house for a week and do seasonal cleaning and decorating in those areas.

My biggest challenge has not been with keeping up with routines, nor with finding time to focus on areas of my home. From time to time everyone can fall off the routine wagon for whatever unusual circumstances come up. But they can easily be picked right back up and all is well and the house is running smoothly again. The challenge is what to do with all the stuff. I have closets including two walk-ins in the master bedroom and a linen closet in the master bathroom that is large enough to store much more than sheets or towels. I have shelves and cabinets in the living areas that hold specific items. We have one set of shelves for family board and card games, another set of shelves for DVDs and videos, one set of shelves for video games, one for books, one set of shelves for my scrapbooking supplies and photos, and one for other craft supplies. The kitchen and pantry have their own storage spaces for all that surrounds cooking and eating.

Things come into the house on a regular basis. New books or magazines to read, clothes to wear, gadgets for any family member that we just can't live without, food and consumable supplies and a good sized stack of mail, school papers, receipts and other paperwork to sort throughout the week. I am happy to say that most of these things find a home or are cycled in with the regular schedule of time that makes my house a calm and comforting place to be. Sometimes my desk day just involves dealing with these items that have been left in a holding place. As you are probably guessing, this is often my undoing. Finding time to deal with stuff that really hasn't found a home can be just too much. And it's not that I don't want to deal with it, or that I forget to find time to deal with it. It is that when I encounter this new stuff in my house that really doesn't have a home yet, I don't know where to file it, place it, and keep it... If I get a new book I need to decide which book has to leave so I can keep it, or if am I just going to read this book and pass it on, or am I going to expand my space for my library. How much of the boys' creations should I hold on to? I do have a place for what I am keeping, but where is the holding spot until I make that final decision on what is staying in our home for keeps.

Making decisions about stuff is sometimes way too much to deal with for my very busy schedule. There is an answer to every question about stuff, but it requires that I have a time in the right mental state. So I have a hold spot that is in a box, and I call it my "Too Much" box. The things on hold in my life can only take up the space of the box. The box is for things that require decisions that are not autopilot or easy for me to make. I know that I will get to a point where I can make these choices about stuff, and it is not every day or just because it's anti-procrastination day on my calendar. It may be while I am working on a certain area of my home or when I have a block of time away from work. I delve into the box a few times each season when I am in that proper mental state to make decisions. I feel that with my Too Much box, I can deal. I can find a home for some of the stuff that needs a decision in a time that works for me. Stuff inside the box gets a home or is sent out the door. In the meantime the mental clutter that the stuff can create has a home of sorts, although temporary, and life goes on.