Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why Systems Really Do Work

Part of the organizing and reclaiming of my space that I've been doing these past few weeks included a complete reorganization of our mudroom. This tiny, but oh so important, space serves as our laundry room, long-term storage closet, and coatroom.

Organizing this room is a nightmare. Keeping it organized should count toward Purgatory time. There always seems to be too much stuff and too little space. Lately, as we've suffered through a deep cold spell unlike any we've had in decades, the problems have multiplied. There was just not enough room in this small space for all five of us at once... and since this is the space we walk into as we enter the house, this is a pressing issue several times each day.

To make matters even worse, I fixed the dryer venting issue last Tuesday (hooray for me... saved us hundreds of dollars!) at the expense of 4 inches of width. In a room that is less than five feet wide, four inches is a lot of real estate to give up.

So, Wednesday morning of last week, I informed the kids that Mom was going to be working in the mudroom while they did their school work. They were not to take this as license to goof off (the mudroom opens into the family room, where we school in winter); I was right here if they needed help or had questions.

It took me about 2 hours, and involved multiple trips to the minivan with bags full of stuff to donate, and to the trash and recycling cans. It involved unscrewing hooks and screwing them back in the wall in a different spot. It included moving heavy boxes and repositioning storage cubicles. It involved labeling. In the end, I invited the children into the room to see the new layout, and to go over the new locations for their belongings.

It's been a week. A week of in-and-out, dance class and art class and playdates. We've done a full round of laundry in this space. And it is really working for us. It's still organized. All five of us can fit in there at the same time.

What a joy!

Sometimes I can't believe how slow I am to embrace the logic of systems. Last fall, I started a new laundry system that has revolutionized (no, that word is not hyperbolic!) my approach to laundry. Three months later, we've all completely adapted to this new laundry system, and I've reclaimed hours every single week.

I am now seeing the same amazing results from the organized... and accessible... mudroom, and from the meal plan that I developed a few weeks ago. These projects seem so big, so overwhelming at first. They can take hours to implement, and who really has "hours" to spare? But the payoff in the end is amazing... absolutely worth the effort and energy that goes into them.

Next on the list: organizing the household chores.

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