Organizing vs. churning
Sometimes I have to step back and determine whether I am actually organizing, or just "churning." This site has helped me do that, sometimes.
For me, churning is what I am doing when I realize I am just moving the same stuff around or caught in the same rut. It is also a temptation to me to spend time "organizing" when in the grand scheme, I would rather, or I would rather I would rather, do something "real" with my time, whether it's read a book, or visit, or climb a mountain. It's not quite the same thing as being a little stuck in an organization project, although it can be close to that.
Fundamentally, what is at the route of churning is too much "stuff", using the term stuff to include not only physical things, but fixed habits or have-to's. But in its worst form it is too much investment in things/objects/material appearances rather than on characteristics, relationships and non-material goals.
So the only way I can break out of churning is to get to some point where I can "see" that the reason I am spending Saturday morning "organizing" a room, or closet, or whatever, is that I just need to chuck half of what's in there, and then there would be nothing much to organize. Or that maybe for some reason I am using the "I need to get more organized" as a way to avoid some other thing, like maybe I don't really know what I want to do with that time instead, if that's possible.
I went through a phase where I was really "in" to collecting certain things, not exactly a lot of the same things, but kind of sucked into the home decorating thing. The more things I bought that I liked or thought would look just like the magazine--and interestingly, it often did and looked "good"--the more time I spent churning, because I had nonetheless made my physical environment a little more complicated. As you know, almost all of the magazine-type decorating ultimately results in making life more complicated rather than less ( see the great post on Courage, change and clutter). This is also because I learned that while technically I can do the one-thing in, one-thing-out deal, it is much harder to get rid of something once you get it, and so that led to churning because I would put the new thing in place but still have to put the old thing somewhere, or even spend time and energy saying, hmm, do I like that better than that, or what? Or get sucked into making "seasonal changes" when I should be out taking a nice walk and enjoying the season.So this may be quite different from person to person, but I learned that if I were getting something new as an "upgrade", I had to be darn sure I was willing to let the old one go, or maybe chuck it ahead of time, or the old thing would now become part of a collection, or be the second-stringer, and then I'd be worse off.
Also I found that if I could find the strength to change certain habits not because I had to, but because I would like things better ultimately, then I could benefit from the trade-off. For example, I have too many magazines and I rip pages and save them. So of course one thing is to buy fewer, another is to rip less, and yet another is to rip only in a designated place, have better files, and so forth. (the fewer magazines is the most beneficial approach, naturally) This sounds funny, but it really helped. I would tend to read a magazine in any of various reading spots, and also read them at bedtime. So I ripped out recipes, favorite pages, etc. Then I had piles lying everywhere. I finally determined that bedtime reading would be limited to novels, basically. No magazines to fire me up about projects or have room-envy or house-envy, and no ripping piles in the bedroom. I would rip only in my study, where I keep the files.
So, sometimes discipline of leisure activities is needed to lead to real leisure. Or discipline of normal activities--such as, I actually have to think ahead and say, hmm, my usual approach to dinner tonight would be to go to the store and buy these things and go home and cook them and then clean it all up and wonder where the evening went, but if I really want to accomplish this or that other thing, I will just make sandwiches with what we have.
I will say that the above example has nothing whatsoever to do with guilt or nutrition. It is just some kind of habit that seems hard to break away from, or perhaps it is linked to a lack of focus or purpose.
Churning is also tied to things that are hard to get rid of, like photos or memorobilia.
So one goal I have is to do less churning and more limited true organization, and try to look at my days or weeks and measure true progress by actually spending less time organizing or thinking about organizing.