Bonnie Brown: Here’s How to Stay Organized in 2018

Hello, 2018! So far, Mother Nature has taken the lead role here with frigid temperatures, rain, travel delays and miseries everywhere it seems. However, even with the nasty weather, we are once again obsessed with weight loss and getting organized as we welcome the new year.

This is a good time to set some goals and to examine what isn’t working in our day-to-day routines—an opportunity to re-set, if you will. I’m certainly not one to give advice on weight management. I am “pleasingly plump” and know that I need to be more active and more mindful of my diet. But I will give myself a pat on the back and say that I consider myself organized, at least in ways that are important to me.

I don’t consider myself a professional organizer. I just wanted to share my experiences and practices with all of you … and to remind you that you are just like the rest of us, looking for easier and more efficient ways to get things done. Trust me, you, too, are organized. You already have established routines in all areas of your life. It’s just that those routines and organizational skills need some adjustments and tweaking. This applies to all areas of your life—work, home, personal space, family, etc.

My children are grown, but I remember that mornings were especially chaotic when they were young. I tried to get my children to be organized so they knew what they were going to wear to school and were able to get dressed in a timely manner and collect book bags and the lunch they needed for the day. It was exhausting—for me and for them too! You want to do so much for them since it’s easier, but trust me, in the long run you need to help them do things for themselves and learn survival skills and independence.

As I mentioned earlier, I am organized in ways that are important to me: kitchen, general space and bedroom/bathroom. For instance, my refrigerator gets an almost daily inspection. I don’t want to have any ongoing science experiments lurking there. And I have a bit of an obsession about labels facing forward, and I learned long ago that regular cleaning and attention takes much less effort than a major clean-out.

The same is true for your pantry and cabinets. If you just fling your groceries into your cabinets, you will lose them in the disorder, and it will cost you money in the long run when you wind up with expired food that has to be discarded. This is an area that I continue to work on.

It takes only minutes to wipe down your countertops, sponge up cooking spills on your cooktop and microwave, and do some prep work for the next meal, such as getting the coffeemaker ready for the morning. Is your dining room table under a pile of bills that need to be paid, items that need to be returned or mailed, unfolded laundry, clothes that need to go to the dry cleaner, or some other clutter? Take the time to find an organized way to address spaces that become the catch-all for clutter.

The general spaces can become messy and untidy in an instant, so take a step back and find ways to de-clutter in order to make picking up so much easier. Don’t wait until the in-laws are coming to do this. Do you have a place to corral the remote controls, a “docking station” for your electronic devices, a place for your keys, a basket for books/magazines or for pet toys? Are they convenient, and do they do the job?

Be logistical. Perhaps you need to purchase a few “tools” to help with this. These tools don’t have to be a Pinterest project, just a quick trip to the dollar store with an eye to solving your storage issues.

I really try to make my bedroom as inviting and restful as possible. Don’t pile your nightstand up with books that you’re not reading, stray jewelry, loose change—you get the idea. Making your bed goes a long way to creating a restful retreat—yes, even a sanctuary. If you are tired at the end of an exhausting day, an inviting bedroom will go a long way to allowing you to relax, thereby getting a good night’s sleep.

It’s important to me that the bathroom be clean. I recall from years ago the “Ally McBeal” TV series that had a character (played by Peter MacNicol) who used a remote control to flush the toilet whenever he entered the unisex bathroom, saying he wanted a “fresh bowl.”  Well, trust me when I say that I only wish there was a remote control to clean the bowl. Nor do I want to stand in the shower and face down mildew or soap scum. So, “clean, clean, clean” is my mantra.

I also want to be organized with my makeup routine. Throw out any old makeup. You haven’t used it, and you aren’t likely to, so get rid of it. I have had many, many products that just weren’t the right color. This includes foundation, blush, lipstick, eye shadow, and on and on. Just know that most stores will now allow you to return cosmetics that don’t work for you, so ladies, save those receipts and return them to try again for that perfect match.

Consider this review of your organization as the first step to a more thorough spring cleaning—which is right around the corner. Yes, I am an optimist. I always thought that Rhett and Scarlett would get back together.

Happy new year and all good wishes for 2018!

Bonnie Brown is a retired staff member of the University of Mississippi. She most recently served as Mentoring Coordinator for the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy.