Look in our Drawers, Part 1: Project Simplify Christina's Office

About Christina

Week 1 of Simple Mom's Project Simplify focused on drawers and shelves, and boy did I have a junk drawer that needed immediate addressing. I mean, look at this chaos:

It's true! The emperor is not wearing any clothes! Or, to be more accurate, I am not wearing a bra, but that has nothing to do with this post or this drawer. Stop staring. My eyes are up here.

Ha, ha! Just kidding! That drawer isn't the problem! Rather, it is the solution my husband quietly proposed a few weeks ago by gently saying "I cleaned out a file drawer for all your stuff in the office" and then running away while I bristled.

Why did I bristle, dear readers? This is why.

O.K., that shirt on the chair is NOT MINE. Let's not talk about all the other detritus littering the desk...

And who left all this random shit on the file cabinet? Whoever she is, I bet she looks stunning braless in her oversized, construction-cone orange sweatshirt.

Piles! They're not just for anuses anymore! So, to promote marital harmony and to fulfill the mission of the first week of Project Simplify, I knew I was going to go through my piles and make use of the empty file drawer so lovingly (desperately?) cleaned for me by my desperate (loving?) husband. Easy peasy, yes?

NO, readers, NO. It was not easy, and neither was it peasy! I couldn't get started for the life of me, and I finally had to have a little sit-down with myself to figure out what the problem was. It wasn't that I didn't know where those piles went, because they had a drawer designated for them mere inches from where they rested on the desk. It wasn't that I didn't want to clean the office, because I'd been meaning to for months. The problem was that each of those piles is a project in progress that I can't seem to find the time to finish or have half forgotten about, and the piles were serving as a sort of tangible to-do list set up for me to remember and restart. I was afraid that if I shoved all of the piles of projects, all of which are important to me, into the drawer that I'd never remember them again.

See, one of my biggest challenges in parenting two small children is the difficulty in finishing anything that is not absolutely urgent. I'll do the dishes, wipe the hineys, wrap the Christmas presents, and read the endlessly demanded stories because they're all urgent, even if they're not ultimately the most important, tasks in front of me. Those piles represent things that are more meaningful to me - a creative writing project I've been pecking away at, Livy's homeschooling materials that I've been organizing into a personalized curriculum, photo projects I've been inching my way toward completing, and journals I've been filling with brilliant ideas at a glacial pace. Ultimately these are the things that matter greatly, but they get pushed aside to tend to urgent and mindless tasks like cleaning up the spit-up and picking up a dropped toy one more Godforsaken time.

So, no, the last thing I wanted to do was shove these important, fulfilling, and nourishing projects into a drawer where I might never remember them. But I'm a firm believer that a desk is a work surface, not a storage surface, and so I came up with an embarrassingly simple system for keeping my work relevant without having to look at it collecting dust every day.

The list is life!

If the piles were an entire landscape, then this is the map. If the piles were an entire book arrayed in torn-out chapters, then this is the table of contents. My projects can be present and visible every day without being out every day. I've put this list somewhere where I'll see it often, on my household management binder (possible future post to come on this baby - it saves my bacon at least once a day).

My Bible

And, because I have the list rather than the piles, our office now looks like this:

It's not perfect, but it's better. That frame will be gone once one photo project is finished, and the in-box will be emptied once I shame my husband into finishing the filing. The suitcase has no home yet, and so it lives there. Poignant, no?

Two staplers - He refuses to give up his black one, and I refuse to give up my red one. When I tried to sneak his into our Goodwill pile, he found it and said "I believe you have my stapler," which both reaffirmed my love for him and softened my position on having two staplers in the house.

Mama's projects on the left, Livy's homeschool materials on the right, and a file of more Mama projects in the middle. Done, done, and done.

There you have it. A bit of amateur self-analysis, a bit of housewifery, and a bit of effective work organization and motivation. On to next week when we'll tackle "That Pesky Closet" with other Simple Momsters. This one already has me breaking into a slight flop sweat, so stay tuned for more overwrought angst over putting my things away!