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May 09, 2003: In place

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I've seen these in other journals and while sometimes the questions intrigued me, I never managed to get around to doing one. But this one got me thinking enough to actually write an entry. So here you are. My very first Friday Five. I doubt this will become a regular event, but who knows.

1. Would you consider yourself an organized person? Why or why not?
I would say that it depends on the things being organized. For example, my kitchen is fairly organized. My closet – organized. My linen closet – organized (well, for brief periods before the cats get into it and scrabble around in the blankets and towels to make themselves more comfortable). My desk and my car – not so much.

I am very much a pile person. I like to keep things in their place, even if that place happens to be a certain pile on the desk. All the things to be filed live in one pile (in a box that is usually occupied by a cat). Stuff that eventually needs to be put away is in another pile off to the side. Bills that need to be paid are stuffed – untidily, to be sure, but still, all together – in a little plastic divider that sits on my desk and holds, among other things, bank statements that I need to eventually open and look at, articles from magazines I wanted to keep for who knows what reason, and, in explicably, the title to my car. I think I keep it there only because I'm paranoid that if I actually *file* it somewhere I will never remember where I put it and someday when it comes time to trade in the Maxima for something more shiny and new, I will end up tearing apart the house to find it.

2. Do you keep some type of planner, organizer, calendar, etc. with you, and do you use it regularly?
At one point in my life I actually had a paper planner, and amazingly enough I did use it fairly religiously. Considering that it weighed several tons, I eventually switched to an electronic version. The latest model is a Palm m515. The one and only reason I use Microsoft Outlook as my email program at home is because it synchs the calendar with the Palm and gives me pop-up reminders. Without that electronic calendar I would never remember any dates at all. Writing things on a wall calendar does not work at all for me – I either forget to write it down or I never look at the wall and end up switching months sometimes days or weeks past when I should have flipped the page. In fact, my current wall calendar is still sitting on April. Oops.

Plus the Palm comes with two nifty features that the paper organizer never had. With the foldable keyboard (and a handy installation of Documents To Go) I can pop that sucker out, click the two together, and take notes at meetings, write journal entries, even work on stuff for the office. And also, there are games. I shudder to think of the hours of sheer boredom I would have had to endure in airports without Rally on my PDA to keep myself entertained.

3. Would you say that your desk is organized right now?
See answer to question one. Every once in a while I plow through the stuff on my desk, file everything that needs filing, put everything away that has been sitting there for days/weeks/months, and remove as much of the dust and cat hair as I can. It doesn't take long, however, before it starts to get a tad cluttered again. The important thing is that the mess, such as it is, is contained to only a small portion of my desk area, and there is usually enough clear space that I can actually use the desk as something more than just someplace to store things.

At the new job I am surrounded by people who usually have huge architectural plans spread out on their desks, on the floor around their desks, and on every other available spare surface. In fact I have teased one of my coworkers on his habit of 'walling off' his desk by arranging little piles of things across the floor between his area and the rest of us.

I tend to use the pile system at work as well, but unlike at home where it's okay if it gets a little messy, I try to keep things a bit more organized at the office. I actually have file shelves to keep paperwork for my various projects separated, and I routinely go through everything that's scattered across my desk and dump everything I no longer need into the recycling bin.

4. Do you alphabetize CDs, books, and DVDs, or does it not matter?
So at this point I suppose I have to admit that when we moved into this house, I sat on the floor and organized all of our CD's and books. The CD's were grouped first by genre and then by letter. I didn't go so far as to alphabetize each and every one, but all the A's are together, followed by all the 'B's', and so on. I am pretty sure that at this point, that system has pretty much disappeared, but the point here is that I at least gave it a good shot.

Books I organize by type. All the children's books and humor books are on the shelf in the guest room. Hardbound books live downstairs in the living room, computer books, reference books, and books on religions all live in the computer room. The paperback shelf in the master bedroom holds all the science fiction and fantasy. Those I have tried to group, first by author and then by series, and those I do try to keep in some sort of order, if only because when I want to read something, I'd like to know where the rest of the set is as well.

5. What's the hardest thing you've ever had to organize?
I haven't a clue. I think it's never been difficult to actually organize something…once I actually get started. It's the getting started that is the most difficult part. This is the main reason why it is that we've been in this house now for slightly over two years and I have yet to organize my desk, a task which requires transferring everything from a few boxes and my old desk (which is now used as a table for my sewing machine) into the new built-in desk drawers in the computer room. I know that once I finally get to it it will go fast. It's just that I'm sort of dreading the task, because I know I'll start finding a need for drawer organizers and file labels and little shallow boxes in which to stash all the tiny odds and ends, and it always seems to overwhelm me.

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