In-home office organization for the working Mom
Being disorganized is NOT about being lazy, stupid, or crazy – Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo wrote “You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!” about people who are ADD-abled just to remind us. But the thought isn’t just for people with ADD. You’re not lazy, stupid or crazy because you’ve been sick for two weeks and fell behind on the invoices. You’re not lazy, stupid or crazy because you were never taught how to get organized, or you were taught ways that don’t work for you, so now you’re confused. You’re not last, stupid or crazy because when you put something into a file cabinet, you forget about it.
Being organized is about being self-aware. Some people are great at time management, but they are terrible at filing paperwork. Some people can file paperwork for hours, but that’s exactly why they miss appointments – they get lost in details and lose all track of time. Some people get upset by too much visual clutter, some people need it. Some people need to talk to themselves while they work – definitely NOT automatically “crazy”! It’s about stepping back and asking “’Does this work for me?’ ‘What are my weaknesses?’ ‘What are my strengths?’ ‘What do I LIKE?’”
You are organized, got sick, fell behind, and now you’re insulting yourself. That negative self-talk is a sure way to just give up. If you can replace just one negative thought with a positive one in a day – “Hey, I fell behind on the invoices, but I did still write two new bids.” – that’s a start. Build on it.
You were never taught how to get organized, or you were taught ways that just don’t feel right. Read some books. Go to some talks. You might find ideas that speak to you. Walk through your house and see if there is an area you think is pulled-together – can you figure out why? Maybe everything in that space is color-coded, maybe everything is labeled, maybe everything is out-of-sight, maybe everything is in sight but very carefully lined up… Take the methods that work and see where else you can use them. If you ever worked outside your home, if you kept yourself on track in college, think about what worked there. Bring it home.
File cabinets don’t work for you. Experiment with stacking egg crates on top of each other and putting the files (folders) in them – because maybe, when you can see the file folders more easily, you remember them. Amazon also has some wonderful options for mobile file carts. You use a lot of research materials – file those any way you want, as long as it makes sense to you and you can explain it to everyone else who needs it. If “Cute Guy in Tijuana” signals “Joe S., the reliable tour guide from Mexicoforromatics.com” GO FOR IT. If you’ll remember “Mexicoforromatics.com” GO FOR IT.
Do you ask to be interrupted? Yup, that’s exactly how I mean it. Your kids, if they’re young, don’t understand “Mommy’s working.” But older children, friends, family, spouses, can be told “Office Hours. No interruptions unless it’s urgent.” Clients can call whenever they need, but they will come to expect return calls at only certain times of the day IF, and only IF, you only return their calls at certain times of the day. Always answer every call, very email in five minutes, you’ll teach your clients to be demanding. And you may never feel focused. If you lose track of time easily, maybe set timers for however many minutes seems to work to break you out of your “zone” at whatever
These are just a few of the issues that can be difficult for working Moms. We’ve already got the hardest job on Earth, and then we add on more!
Lauren Williams, a Professional Organizer specializing in homes, home offices and small offices, is the Founder of Casual Uncluttering LLC based in Woodinville, WA, USA. Her website is www.casualuncluttering.com