November 16, 2009

Putting It Together

Recently I got a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle as a gift. I haven’t worked on a puzzle in years and I’ve never worked on one with so many pieces. I could come up with lots of reasons why I shouldn’t even try it, but I’m up for a challenge. Since I started working on it, I’m reminded of the parallels to organizing:

Frame it. I start with the frame for my puzzle. You start by determining the area you’ll work on.

Find time. Putting together a large, intricate puzzle will take hours; I can’t devote that much time to it unless I do it in short bursts. Set aside 15-30 minute blocks to concentrate on your project, with no interruptions.

Have tools ready. I need a good light and a magnifying glass to work on the puzzle. You may need trash bags, file folders or boxes. Don’t use your project as an excuse to go shopping for supplies, which will create more clutter; try to use what you have.

Start somewhere. I can’t complete the puzzle by looking at all 500 pieces, so I start with one piece; it doesn’t matter which one. You start by picking up one thing and doing something with it. Do you need to find its mate? Does it go in another room? Do you even want it anymore?

Think small. I would be overwhelmed trying to work on the entire puzzle at the same time, so I look for pieces that go in one area. If I find something that goes in another section, I set it aside. You start out with one drawer, one shelf or one section of a table, and when you find things that don’t belong there, set them aside to be put away when you finish the space you’re working on.
Collect like items. I group pieces by color or pattern, because I know they go together, but I’m not sure exactly where they’ll end up. You group mugs, shoes, photographs, whatever you find, because like items will end together up in one place.

Put it together. I have a literal picture of what my finished product will look like. As the pieces come together in groups, I can figure out where they go, according to the picture. You can draw a picture of your organized space or create a mental one. When you look at your groups, choose places to keep them that make sense to you.

Starting a project can be hard. I realized I have three options: I can work alone, ask for help or throw it all back in the box. You could toss everything back and give up, but if you follow these steps, you’ll be able to feel proud of the work you accomplished. If you aren’t successful working by yourself, call a friend who supports your goal or find a professional organizer ( who will guide you.

Organized by Marcie: Getting you organized so you have time to do what you love to do!
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