by Julie Snyder
In December my cousin cut our chat short. Her ride to the mall arrived. "Oh, you're shopping for Christmas gifts?" That seemed a logical question.
She looked horrified. "Of course not! I bought all my gifts at the after-Christmas sales last year."
That wouldn't work for me. If I'd gotten presents then, I'd have forgotten where I stashed them. Then I'd have to rush out at the last minute and buy them all over again. Just as we approach gift buying differently, we organize differently. Tailoring strategies to your personal style can help, not hinder as you get it all together.
How do you organize your stuff? Can you relate with one of these styles?
All-or-Nothing Amelia: Ideally, even the vegetable in minestrone would have a place. You don't have time for all that, so why bother getting started?
Sacrificing Susan: Your kid's and husband's stuff is perfectly orderly, but don't open your closet door!
Hoarder Hannah: You're sentimental. Your house overflows with kid's artwork and old ticket stubs.
Anxiously Avoiding Arlie: You're sorting the mail. Yikes! The electric bill. You'll do it later; need to start dinner.
Free-wheeling Freya: You have more creative stuff on the schedule. You're heading out...as soon as you find a clean shirt.
Last-minute Linda: You can't seem to get around to cleaning until the last minute. Then you'll fly through the house, but will you remember where you tossed stuff?
The perfectionist: Amelia, you set your bar so high that you can barely spot it up there. Dream in smaller steps.
Choose one thing that irritates you about your house. Is your phone charger always lost? Put a bright-colored container near your computer. Rate each room in your house. Work on the ones you need to look great and live comfortably with the rest.
The sacrificer: Susan, you're a great organizer, but you don't have the time and energy for your own stuff. Start small so you won't feel guilty.
Set a timer and put a single drawer in order. Reply to any non-emergency request with an "I'll be glad to help in 15 minutes." No, you do not need to locate last year's gardening plan or help make play dough cookies right this second.
The hoarder: Hannah, you remember and nurture through stuff. While you long to create a loving, warm home, it's so messy that no one feels comfortable. Spread your love around.
Set up a giveaway box in each room. Remember you're passing items to people who will use them. Make a transition box for things you can't part with, label it with the date and check through it in six months.
The avoider: Arlie, you approach every organizing task with dread. An unpaid bill might lurk in the mail pile. Make a schedule for dealing with the necessities.
Set a weekly time for desk work. Put a note on your calendar so you can't "forget." Keep all supplies at hand so you don't have an excuse to get up before you're done.
The free spirit: Freya, you're a people person. Your casual style may drive your loved ones nuts -- if they could find the road under the clutter. Make your sociability work for you.
Ask one of your many friends to help you reorganize the closet. Reward yourself for tasks. You can make that call after you earn it by sorting the under the couch. You'll save time -- not searching for lost items.
The adrenalin junkie: Linda, you thrive on pushing the limits, finishing the job with mere picoseconds to spare. Your approach messes more it cleans. Channel that energy into ordering your daily life.
Shop for the perfect closet organizers, file systems and pantry gadgets, this afternoon! Instead of living through last-minute frenzies, save that time for real emergencies and fun projects.
What's your organizing name? How to you work with your style to keep organized?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.