I need to organize my entire life!

kittiemomJanuary 5, 2014

Various life changes over the past few years have brought me to the point that I need a complete organizational makeover. I was doing pretty well when we first moved into our new house. We made a rule that we had to have a place to put anything we brought in from storage (most of what we owned was in storage because we lived in a tiny apt. for more than a year while the house was being built). That worked really well at first and we were able to keep the house neat and clean. Since then, I've changed jobs twice, plus a internal move within my current company, so it's really it's like three job changes. DH's responsibilities at work have increased so he is not as available to help me as he once was. He was doing some of the grocery shopping and a lot of the cooking, as well as helping with some other things. He still helps when he can, but his job is very stressful and he works long hours. He's also developed some health issues that sometimes mean that he doesn't feel like doing anything around the house. My dad's health began to decline, making it necessary for my sister and me to step in and take over his affairs. He is now in an assisted living facility near me, but because he has dementia, we have to make medical and business decisions for him. I became a member of our local Rotary and have been helped with or headed up several time-consuming projects. I also served as treasurer for a friend's political campaign as well as being involved in other ways in the campaign of another friend. All of this has had the effect of me not having enough time to keep my home and life organized.

I was recently asked to serve as treasurer for a local political club. After some thinking during the holidays, I've decided to tell my friend that I can't serve as club treasurer. I just don't have the time to deal with the mail, bank deposits, filing reports to the state, etc. I will likely continue my Rotary membership, though I'm considering taking a leave of absence. I've already told them that I can attend the weekly 7:30am meetings but am not able at this time to head up or become heavily involved in any projects as I've done in the past.

At this point, I feel that everything is a mess. My filing and paperwork are out of control. I stay really busy at work, so my filing there is way behind. Most of my house is cluttered. My car, which DH bought me for my birthday last year, has junk in it. I swore when I got it that this wouldn't happen - it's my first ever new car and the first that I chose without letting others' opinions influence me.

I'm feeling overwhelmed at this point. I have been doing pretty well with trying to plan healthy meals and using my crock pot and pressure cooker to reduce the time spent in the kitchen. That's about the only area where I feel successful right now. DH and I both need to lose some weight this year, so that will definitely mean that I need to be organized with my meal planning.

Sorry this is so long. I guess I needed to vent to people who would understand. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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My only advice would be to go through and get rid of a lot of stuff. Keep your home simple and easy to clean. I walked into a home one time that did not have every wall covered by furniture and pictures, it was refreshing and looked very large. I even asked them if they were moving. After that I started getting rid of "stuff". I got rid of the sofa, it was never used after my husband died. I only have 3 chairs and two end tables, that keeps it simple. Then I started on another room. If I don't wear a clothing item in a year I get rid of it. Knick Knacks were the hardest to get rid of, I love pretty things. I even divided family pictures and sent them to the appropriate people. I finally had the dining room table carried downstairs I did that because it was expensive and I wanted to be sure I wouldn't be sorry.........I am not! The comment I get when new visitors come in is.............WOW this is big.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 11:11AM
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Also ... endeavor to simplify your life.

I'm finding myself in the same situation as you ... with too much to keep up with.

So, I am having to divest myself of some activities (you've already started with your involvement in your Rotary club). Like you, I currently hold an office in an organization ... where I am no longer to keep up with the demands. So I told my Board that they need to make plans to transition someone else into the role.

Keep at it one step at a time ... you'll get there ...

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 11:37AM
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It sounds like you have taken a great first step and that is cutting back on your outside commitments. I think it is especially hard for women in particular to learn to say no. We really want to help. When my kids were young I used to be at meetings and I would tell my friend "if you see me raise my hand to volunteer, please break my arm". We need to remember that spreading ourselves too thin means nothing really gets done well. And multitasking is overrated!
Your subject line tells me you feel overwhelmed, so as aegis500 said take it one step at a time. Start with the smallest things: organize your purse, your underwear drawer. The big projects can seem overwhelming, so divide them into small parts. I would start with the most visible stuff, walk in the front door and find the first area that you see that needs work. Give yourself a pat on the back and then keep going.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 3:08PM
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I can relate. We moved a few months back so we are starting over again.

It's great that you've been able to keep up with cooking and planning healthy meals. That is a major accomplishment. Realizing you can't do everything for other people is another major accomplishment. I think maybe you need to give yourself permission to take care of yourself. You come first, then family, and everything else comes after that. IMO, the leave of absence from your outside interests is a good idea. It will leave you more time to take care of what is really important. And...now that December has passed...the days are starting to get longer again.

For my suggestion as to where to start, I would suggest having your car detailed since it really bothers you. This is one thing that someone else can do without your help. I'd recommend letting go and allowing someone else to do it. Drop it off and be done with it. That's one thing you can cross off the list.

You know what you need to do. It's just overwhelming right now. I wish you the best of luck.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 4:34PM
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My advice would be to delegate as much as possible. For your house, that means hiring someone to come in and do the basic cleaning for you weekly or every two weeks. For the car, as adellabedella says, get it detailed. At work, ask if you can get some help from an administrative assistant for a few hours a week until the filing is done. Surely your boss would rather you spend most of your time on your job and not hours and hours filing?

Your father needs you. And it sounds like your DH, with his health issues, needs you as well. And you need to take some time for yourself, too. Caregivers can burn out easily--and then where is everyone? A saying I've heard: If you overload the lifeboat, everyone drowns. The caregiver is the lifeboat--you need to take care of yourself, or it all falls apart.

Take the leave of absence. Then take a week and just do the minimum. Go to work, but leave as close to 5 pm as possible. Order takeout for a few dinners. Use paper plates. All this so you can get some rest. You need to stop the treadmill and get off for a short break.

Once you've caught up on your sleep, make a plan to declutter and organize. Even if it is just one hour a week, that means by the end of the year, you will have put in over 50 hours of organizing and decluttering. Just think how your house will look!

And some hugs, because I know this is hard. All of it.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 9:32PM
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Find a local college or high school age person who needs some extra money and hire them to help you with the filing and house work. That's a less expensive way to do it. The other way to do it if you have the money is to hire a professional organizer. They charge a lot per hour but you won't need them for many hours because you can get on top of things with relatively few sessions. They are very good at filing.

Also, since your husband and father are having health problems you may need to scale back your community volunteering. Cut loose from as many of those things as you can. OK to still have one thing you LIKE to do to get away from the caregiving stress, but eject the things you don't like to do but feel you should do. It's better to do one thing you enjoy with a positive attitude than drag yourself through many tasks that are weighing you down. Realize that your place in life may have changed so what you enjoy may have changed too. I used to enjoy being in charge of things and tackling lots of project, now I enjoy spending time with loved ones I know might not be around much longer, and I want to give that my full attention. I scaled way back and have not regretted it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 12:50PM
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I agree with the others; you are dealing with a lot. Cut back on everything except your DH and your dad. Make time for yourself. If you can afford it, hire someone to help. Another option is to have a friend come and help. Going through clothes and knick knacks with a friend can be fun. The paperwork at home you probably want to keep private and file yourself. For now, I suggest you separate it between "must keep" and junk. Put all the "must keep" papers that are not bills in a paper bag or box and mark it clearly, then stash in a closet. Once you get caught up on everything else, you can deal with the filing. As you sort in two piles, set aside any docs you will need for filing taxes in April.

If you can hire someone to clean the house and another person to help with your dad, that might open some space for you to deal with your needs. There are people who will help with the decisions and insurance paperwork. I hope there is someone in your area.

Donate or give away as much as you can. We stored our books in the attic while the rec room was redone. Once we pulled out those boxes of books, we realized that we didn't need them any more and donated most of them. Just one example.

Big hugs to you - none of this is easy.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 8:14PM
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Three times in my life I have had a good friend come over for the weekend and help me get organized. One helped me go through all my clothes and decide what to keep and what to pitch and organize my closets because I was going to rent out my spare bedroom and needed to consolidate all the stuff I kept stored in there. Another time, a friend helped me recover control of my home after a long illness. Maybe you can find a similar angel in your circle of friends.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 10:16AM
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There's a series of (three,I believe) "Happiness Project" books which lead you to organize your life and home. The author leads you to examine everything in your life, keep the things that are important and discard the rest. I have been reading the books and they are a great guide. Just something that may help.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 9:19AM
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Thanks for the encouragement and suggestions. I talked to my friend and told him that I just couldn't take on the treasurer position. I also told him that I realized that he needed someone to get a few things set up initially and I'd help with that over the next week or so. He texted me this morning to say that there is no one else who wants to be treasurer. I told him again that I'm just unable to do anything beyond maybe the next couple of weeks.

I've managed to make a few small but good steps. I organized my messy sweater drawers by weight so I can find what I need in the mornings. Our weather swings can be pretty big here - it can be in the 50's one day and the 70's the next. Having my wool sweaters separated from the thinner cotton ones is a help. I also organized my scarves and pashminas, by color. I wear my pashminas basically year-round, as scarves in fall/winter and as a shawl in spring/summer. Both of these have helped my mornings go more smoothly.

I've mostly cleaned the car out and am planning to finish that and to take it in for service and to have it detailed in the next week or so.

Although I've never been one who likes to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, I noticed that some of my recipes just take too long to prep and cook. Right now I'm focusing on using my crock pot and pressure cooker to streamline meals and also cooking enough so we have leftovers, freeing up more time in the evenings.

I'm trying to make time for myself by picking out some craft projects I really want to get to and making sure I have supplies, etc. I managed one simple one of making some wine charms. It felt good, though, because I've had the supplies for a couple of years now and just hadn't gotten around to the project. I'm planning to start back with weight lifting and running this week because I've noticed that I've been neglecting myself to take care of everyone else. I'm taking time today to attend a cooking class at Williams Sonoma with a friend.

I have a lot left to do. One of my goals is to get what is supposed to be my craft room cleaned out and actually set up to be a craft room. Unfortunately, during some very busy times, it became a catch-all room.

DH and I are discussing the possibility of getting rid of our satellite tv, partly to save money and party because we realized that we may be watching tv more out of habit than anything else. He would prefer to read or play video games. I want to focus on my organizing and crafts. I need to give up something, and tv is much less important than the other things. We only watch a few shows anyway. It would be a win-win, saving time and money.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 12:01PM
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O Kittiemom, my heart goes out to you! At the same time, I feel like I'm looking in a mirror and was thinking of posting the same subject.

Before you do too much more, take a few minutes to apply the Holmes Scale to yourself. I've been using since the 70's during times when life overwhelms. Change = Stress, even it the change is "good" like a new home, a promotion, etc. Be sure to think back to this same time last year when you check the boxes. You may have to do it on paper, if for example, you changed jobs or any item on the list more than once in the past 12 months.

When we are severely stressed, we have a tendency to frantically grasp at answers thinking it will help us feel better. Actually, making more changes only increases the stress and continues the amount of time it will take to recover. Depending on your score, this may not be the right time for you to try and "make progress" but a time to shed optional obligations, rest, relax and do the bare minimum to keep you, your husband and your dad going. Just MAINTAIN, restore yourself and let time pass. You will feel much better as the months go by as your lifeboat floats along.

I hesitate to suggest a change in your recreation but I found giving up cable tv, and limiting my service to only local, Netflix and Hulu (if you have Amazon Prime, they have lots of free shows & movies too), my tv expense is less than $20 per month and I spend less time watching shows since there are no commercials on Netflix & Amazon! And you can choose when you watch. The reason I hesitate to suggest you do this is you may need to buy a Blu-ray player and some other things (all under $200 including the player), find somebody to hook it all up (any guy under 30 can do it) and learn how to use it. THIS ADDS STRESS! But keep it in mind for the future when your score gets down to a more manageable level.

Another thing to consider is stop watching TV news, listening to news radio, etc unless it feels stressful for you to stop. I find stopping the amount of junk coming into my awareness to be very peaceful ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: The Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:34PM
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If you do want to go the no cable tv route as lov2garden suggests, it isn't that expensive.

Most newer Blu-ray players can stream Netflix and Amazon, as can most gaming systems. You can also buy a Roku box or Apple tv box that streams content from the internet.

The Rokus start around $60. I got one for Christmas and it took about 2 minutes to hook up to the tv and it was ready to go. You just need the subscription to Netflix or Amazon and those accounts are easy to start, as well.

And the shows are definitely shorter without the ads. Half hour shows are 21 minutes long, hour shows are around 41-42 minutes. I watch them when I crochet, to keep from being bored during the simpler parts of the pattern.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 7:07AM
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