Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Organising Bug

Don't stand still around me right now - I am bound to pop you into a labelled box!

I am in the midst of my organising bug and I can't do anything about it. It happens once or twice a year and has me unsettled, as even sitting staring into space I am plotting how I could purge and sort something. Nothing is safe - my home, my workplace, my car ... my daughter's homes!

But I have had a light bulb moment about it this time around: I know the basic reason behind my need for order is that I grew up in a home that was cluttered and disorganised. Both my parents hoarded in their own ways and I craved my own space where I could find calm and order. But I struggled through much of my adult life, as I was raised without the life skills to achieve my goal. I married a man who doesn't like to throw out stuff which might be useful and we birthed children who had no good examples to follow.

Until I yelled STOP. It took the diagnosis of chronic health issues and the realisation I could not rely on doing everything myself. Unemployed after a major health crash that left uncertainty about my future ability to work, I immersed myself in developing strategies and techniques to reduce the clutter and organise every aspect of life so it could almost run on auto-pilot if needed. That was 12 years ago.

The first shock was finding that I was far from alone and my parents were not unique. I found online communities where others faced the same challenges. We supported each other and learned from our shared experiences. I did my best to give my children the skills they needed and to delegate tasks to everyone so it wasn't all dependent on me. Mostly, it has worked.

But what is behind these bursts of satisfying but unsatisfied decluttering and reorganising? Where was the pattern? I have worked out it takes over when I am in one of two modes - ironically I have always described myself as flat out or out flat! - and these are the triggers for me. When I am over-busy, with lots on, I crave order and the ability to function with a certainty that what I need will be where it should be when I need it. But the other trigger is when my body is struggling physically - this is also a time I need to be able to function with minimum effort, without searching for essentials or having to use my limited energy for the most basic tasks. Then - I need order and even though I am least able to enable it at those times, it is amazing what I can get done in tiny bursts, followed by rest. And it gives me what I crave most of all - a sense of control in my life.

So, bear with me. It will ease soon and you will safely be able to put something down without me whisking it away to a new home. I will go back to my usual clutter-tolerance level and will stop twitching. But in the meantime ... arm chair organizing is the order of the day! Sit. Think. Act. Sit..... if you need me, I will be at Ikea!


Anonymous said...


Clutter is a problem because we have so many possessions.Until I had my own house there was no way to hoard while boarding in the city. Papers and magazines cause clutter as do old clothes and kitchen items.As children we slept on a verandah and had very few possessions anyway.In the depression and war years no one owned much of anything. Tackle one part of your clutter at a time. good luck. you might find items you had lost.

Anonymous said...

Magazines and newspapers are easy to discard except those that record special events. Our local newspaper published a collection of articles from past newspapers. these days it is easier to find early editions of newspapers on the net. Some have news from early editions of our papers such as The Age. Sometimes it is good to have kept very old items.

Anonymous said...

'"What Bird Is That?"by Neville Cayley was a childhood favourite in the 1940s.It helped to encourage a love of birds. The trees in my backyard are a haven for birds now. On Grandfather's farm you could see many birds I have a vivid memory of seeing a flock of wild budgerigars. At night you would hear the sound of curlews. Treasured memories.

Anonymous said...

Expecting to see some of London this evening when the Olympic Torch is carried through the city.It is a happy event and so will the opening ceremony be.

Anonymous said...

A few ideas that might be helpful. First, your photos show a very neat and tidy home. A friend of mine always said that your home is not a museum. The main thing is to have the house clean. My mother had to contend with so many things without any electricity or running water. She had it very hard but was always willing to help her sister on a farm.Also she served as a secretary for the P&C and sewed and knitted duringthe 1930s depression and WW2. We have it easy these days.