My teenage daughter spent a good chunk of her spring break last week cleaning out the bottom floor of our house. The past nine months have shown that our family moved to Georgia with far too much stuff, and the sheer amount of clutter has hindered our ability to fully enjoy that bonus space. So out went the junk, and what is left I plan to rearrange.
My daughter hates when I rearrange. It’s one of her most dreaded words. Because about once a year, without fail, I get an urge to freshen things up, see if there’s a better way for a room to function, see if there’s something that needs more focus — or less. It’s usually not every room at once, although that’s not a complete impossibility.
My thought process begins with a single piece of furniture, and goes a little something like this:
“If the office shelf was against that back wall and out of the main area, the traffic would flow more smoothly downstairs. And since Cora isn’t using that smaller room for a playroom, why not move the office in there, then move the treadmill out with the TV, plus we can move the record player next to the big comfy chair and all the bookshelves together on one wall and we can have the media room I envisioned when I first looked at the house and then we can finish hanging records on the walls and then everything will be in its magic spot and the room will be more simple and my life will be more simple and everything in the house will flow much more easily and thus my life will flow much more easily … “
Yep. Something like that.
It may sound silly, but rearranging my home feels a little like New Year’s Day. There’s a fresh start, and the new positioning opens up new ways of moving, and those new ways of moving open up new ways of doing other small things and it can end up having a snowball effect.
I do my own personal organizational systems in a similar way. For years I’ve used a Happy Planner for my family calendars and various lists, and I stay pretty on top of things. But about once a year, without fail, I get an urge to freshen things up, see if there’s a better way for my days to function, see if there’s something in my life that needs more focus — or less.
And so recently I found a notebook system that directs me to plan out my monthly goals, then break them down into weekly goals, then each morning I distinguish my few priority tasks — those tasks that work toward my defined goals — apart from my basic to-do list, which can take up most of my time and make me feel busy, yet not accomplished.
Have I tried other organizational systems before? Of course. Have they always worked out and made my life easier? Of course not. But sometimes a new way sparks new thinking — even if it doesn’t ultimately become the greatest way that’s ever been done.
In all the areas of my life, I try to be open to the possibility that there might be a better way. A more profound way to reflect upon my day, a more efficient drive to pick up the girls from school, a more flavorful way to cook salmon, and a more proficient way to budget and track expenses.
It might seem on the surface that I’m a little Angelica Schuyler and will never be satisfied. But it’s not that way at all. It’s more about the hope that comes only from an open heart … and an open floor plan.
* This column first appeared in The Walton Tribune on April 17, 2021 *