Sunday, September 25, 2011

The move is on

The landlord gave us 30 days' notice: we must move.  One of my roommates is super-organized (the other one struggles with similar ADD/OCD issues like I do).  So, here are a few things I am learning about moving (a panic-inducing activity for me) from an organized pro:

Make plans.  First thing that happened was the 30 days were marked on all the calendars in the house, countdown style.  Each day is being crossed off as it is completed, and we have a distinct reminder that the move is happening in less than 3 weeks (20 more days, to be precise).

Don't wait.  By the end of the first day, we had rented a storage unit, purchased a lock, packing tape and bubble wrap, and investigated a dozen options for a place to move to.  Ten days into the 30-day window, we have taken all the stuff from the garage to the storage unit.  We have babysitters for our plants (including the tomato plants from the deck), and have sold a couple furniture items on Craigslist.

Goodwill is your friend; visit the drop-off window often.  No matter how much decluttering I think I have done, I am still holding onto things that I am not willing to pay to store or pay someone to move for me.  Moving is a wake-up for a person like me: get rid of it!

Do a little bit every day.  This is a life-lesson for me.  I can do anything for 15 minutes (thank you, Flylady!)  I can pack a box every day.  There are small steps that add up to big results: take down and wash the curtains from one room; tomorrow, spackle over the holes where the curtain hardware used to be.  It's starting to look a bit bare around the house, but we still have much to do.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Get organized: clean desk

School has been in session for several weeks, and I feel like I am doing the organization piece differently (and better!) this year.  I know I need structure and routines in my life.  I also need less visual clutter.  If you had seen my classroom last year, you would know that I haven't been able to maintain a sense of visual calm at all in the past.  I resolved to make changes this year that would help keep the space more neat and tidy.

Change 1: move my desk from the back of the classroom to the front.  It's right up front, where everyone can see it daily.  If it becomes an unsightly wreck, I will be more embarrassed; thus, I have more incentive to keep it clutter-free.  (I have found this method effective in the past: leverage your environment to make it help you get to where you want to be.)

What my students see looking forward toward my desk.

Flylady recommends you keep your sink shiny and clean (in your house), knowing that this oasis of cleanliness and calm will carry forward your efforts to keep your house tidy and organized.  I'm sure that my desk at school is the equivalent of a shiny sink.

Look at that desktop: it feels so clean!!!

In-box: a slight paperwork buildup
I have resisted taking these photos for the past week, since my desk and credenza aren't pristine.  You can see piles of papers and notebooks.  My inbox is growing taller (the goal was to keep it 1" or less in height).  I haven't attained perfection.  But it is working for me.  It *is* cleaner, and I feel a definite psychic difference when I work at my desk.  And I am practicing being nice to myself: things don't have to be "perfect" (that unattainable super-human level of perfection that keeps me paralyzed) before I can celebrate what's good enough.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My first BOTM: buck-a-block

I joined a Block-of-the-Month quilt project through my local quilt shop, Something to Crow About.  I have been intrigued by some of the designs they offer (especially the adorable house-themed project, House Hunting, shown here), but always have so many projects in the works (WIP) that it seems unfair to start something new.  Well, The Crow came out with a "buck-a-block" BOTM, and I couldn't resist the bargain.  Deal is, you have to show up on the designated Saturday, at the designated time, with the previous month's block completed in order to receive the next block for $1; otherwise, the price goes up.  We'll see how many months I make it to the shop on time.  (And also how many months I manage to complete a single quilt block in 30 days' time.  I know it sounds simple to make one quilt block, but my life gets complicated sometimes...)

So here is the first month's block pattern: Morning (from the book The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt).  The colorway shown is Americana - and I'm sure the fabric is Thimbleberries, or something like it.  This particular BOTM was available in 3 different colorways - Americana, Civil War reproductions, and 1930's reproductions.  And, although I am really drawn to 1930's reproduction fabrics, I am currently working on another quilt out of them.  How could I possibly work on 2 quilts out of the same fabrics at the same time?  Couldn't do it.  So I signed up for the red/cream/blue fabrics...

Truth is, I don't love Americana.  I have made a red/white/blue quilt.  One.  Been there, done that.  But I now have some fabric that I don't love, and a block pattern to make up in one month's time.

Auditions!!  Fabric auditions were held to replace the red and cream.  I want to make blue blocks (maybe for a baby quilt for a relative who is expecting).
First step: choose the "white" value.  This will be my lightest value on all the blocks in this BOTM (the rest of the blues will be scrappy).  Although I love the white (and turquoise) barbed wire print, I think the white is too harsh against the cream stars on the navy fabric.  And I know the rest of the blue fabrics I get in my kit each month will also be more muddy and cream-based.  So I went with the cream cloud print (also a Thimbleberries fabric).

The blue cloud print clashes with the cream cloud print here 
I can't decide...
I am still deciding between the turquoise stars and the light blue flower print.  Stay tuned to see which one wins.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Get Organized: afternoon routine

I'm seduced by the constant pursuit of "getting organized".  Put that title on the cover of a magazine, and I'm ready to buy it.  Right this minute I have two different organizing books on the short stack of reading material next to my bed.  (New purchases.  Haven't gotten to them yet.  Only seven books on the stack, though.)

But I am learning more and more about myself and my ADD-related need for organization.  FlyLady preaches that routines are the key to getting organized, and I'm trying out that strategy in earnest this school year.  For my students, my classroom functions on routines; the more I establish good routines there, the smoother the little details seem to be, and the better the learning environment.  But I want a piece of routine for myself as well.  When the bell rings at the end of the day, I'm so tempted to put my feet up and turn to the radio and m&m's for comfort.  Not a good strategy at all, but it fairly accurately describes my after-school goings-on for the past few years.

So, in an effort to boost productivity and a sense of order and calm at the end of my day, I created a simple After School Routine
It is very short, administrative in nature, and doesn't require much thought.  No heavy-duty "plan tomorrow's perfect lesson" on that list.  But, after practicing this routine for three days, I feel good.  I haven't put my feet up at the end of the day: I have found a way to be productive during a time that I have often wasted (due to my low energy and a need to escape the residual chaos of 152 teenagers).  My classroom looks better when I leave it; and I am greeted with a more tidy space when I return the next morning.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

That #@$!!%# ToDo List

Had a heartfelt conversation last night over the pronouncement, "Well, I didn't get very much accomplished today."  Sweetie went over the list of things she felt she accomplished, and how it still felt like a relaxing day around the house, a perfectly un-laborious Labor Day.  All-in-all, a good day.  For her.  And while I agreed with her "list" of accomplishments, I felt a nagging sense that I personally didn't get much done--at least as far as my ToDo list was concerned.

So, the reality check.  Here is the ToDo list, as written Saturday morning (and intended for a 3-day weekend)
Items crossed off in red were done Saturday or Sunday.  Items crossed off in black were done Sunday evening or Monday.  There were 44 items on the list.  According to a previously-stated List Philosophy, one should expect to accomplish only half of the items on any one given ToDo list.  Well, there are 28 items crossed off that list!  Isn't that "success"?  Shouldn't I be patting myself on the back?  And aren't there a significant number of those 28 items crossed off in black, indicating I did many of them on the day I claimed to "not accomplish much"?

One of the big reasons I started this blog was to keep track of my completions.  To celebrate my accomplishments.  To bask in moments.  To take time to remember that, underneath the daily grind, I am fabulous.

Of course I didn't get everything accomplished off that list.  So what if I didn't get to some "important" things?  It was a holiday, for goodness sake.  I took time to breathe and enjoy my life. 

Good enough.

Showing the nerdy side

Went back-to-school shopping recently.  Just had to share my find.  I love being a nerd! 

Yes, even though I didn't need it, I had to buy it.  Maybe it will end up being my "staff meeting" notebook.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Women who do too much

“Women never have a half-hour in all their lives (except before or after anybody is up in the house) that they can call their own, without fear of offending or of hurting someone.  Why do people [women] sit up so late, or, more rarely, get up so early?  Not because the day is not long enough, but because they have no time in the day themselves.” –Florence Nightingale, as quoted in Anne Wilson Schaef

A few years back, my mother got me a daily calendar For Women Who Do Too Much (Anne Wilson Schaef, again).  It was a page-a-day, and I couldn't believe how well it spoke to me.  Did she design this calendar exclusively for me?  Were there lurkers in the corners of my life--how did she get all the *details* so right?
Chicken Little: is the sky falling, or do I just live my life in crisis mode?

I was lamenting with a couple sewing buddies recently about the endless ToDo list.  I had told of my recent Sweetie-inspired idea to cut every day's list in half, and how that seemed to be working better for me--at least in terms of making my perfectionist expectations more in line with reality.  One woman said, "The problem is that a woman who manages to get herself together half an hour early in the morning will think to herself, 'Wow, look at the time--I could paint the house!'  And feels like this is normal thinking and behavior."  So true...

When relating this story to my roommate, he added that the female-socialized perspective is to put the needs of others first.  A man wouldn't think twice about using that extra half-hour for "me time".  Wouldn't feel the tiniest bit guilty about it.  Ah, there's a lesson here...