What They See….
As an elementary school teacher, I have received a number of flattering compliments regarding my ability to create a visually appealing, organized classroom environment and/or an inviting support services office space each school year. Many times, after bestowing such a compliment, my colleague will then follow up with a variation of the following statement:
“Your house must be impeccably neat and organized, too.”
Teachers indeed do work for the weekend, yet we also work ON the weekend. And HOLY RED LEATHER PANTS, Batman. Yikes.
At my job as a public educator, literally every space I’ve occupied and filled with children over my decade-plus teaching career has been MUCH easier to keep neat, clean, and efficiently organized than my 1,600 square foot, sparsely populated, 1880s farmhouse that I call home.
Classroom/office occupants: 1-28 students and a teacher (me) = about 30 people-animals at one time
Home occupants: Mike, S10, S2, two tiny dogs, and me = 4 people-animals and 2 non-people-animals = 6 living beings
Therefore, there were typically almost 5 times as many living beings in my past classrooms than at my home. In my AIS office this year, I’ll see about 30 people-animals come through in a day as well!
Yet the cleaning and organizing struggle at home? So. Incredibly. Real.
Why is it so hard to clean and organize my home, yet my workspace is a neat, organized, labeled, color-coded utopia?
Here are some theories.
1.Work is where I expend most of my daily energy. Therefore, by the time I arrive home, do I possess adequate energy for cleaning house?
2.At work, I have scheduled breaks where I can straighten up and/or reorganize my classroom/ office. At home, ain’t no such thing as a scheduled break. Or an unscheduled break. Or a break, really. Not as long as kids live here.
3.The overall classroom environment I’ve created as a teacher is a factor contributing to my continued employment and bi-weekly paycheck. This…. motivates me to go the “extra mile,” so to speak. At home? No such motivation exists.
- My elementary students do what I ask of them, I’d say about 95% of the time.
My husband, kids, and dogs do what I ask of them…. let’s just say LESS THAN 95% of the time, as a generous estimate.
….and What They Don’t See.
Mike is an amazing cook. He is a wonderful husband, and ain’t no father more fantastic. But his housekeeping skills are, at best, passable. Yet, the bulk of the housecleaning duties often falls on his shoulders because of my hour commute and job demands. Now, Mike can clean and put stuff away just fine. But does my husband take the initiative to implement organizational systems to improve both overall household efficiency and visual home aesthetics?
BWAHAHAHAHA. I’m gonna go with NO on that one.
Is S10, my older daughter, motivated enough to help keep the home she shares with us clean, organized, and harmonious?
Sure, when she feels like giving AF. Unfortunately, that GAF feeling comes and goes without much rhyme or reason, beyond the classic “Sorry, I forgot.” I’ve learned that a characteristic of tweenagers is a tendency to forget about most things that are not directly related to themselves. Case in point: the piles of clothes on S10’s floor. Are the clothes dirty or clean? And #realtalk: Does S10 give a single solitary F about the pile on her floor at this exact moment in time? Stay tuned to find out on tonight’s episode of “Tween Mysteries.”
So, to answer the initial question, I’m gonna go with #Nope.
Is S2, my younger daughter, intrinsically motivated to participate in the incorporation of feng shui principles within her familial living space, whilst also building each family member’s individual qi through a joyous, decluttered, organized home environment?
BWAHAHAHAHA. Just….. straight. up. no. NYET.
Enter Jane Stoller’s book, Organizing For Your Lifestyle. I was really looking forward to reading this book and learning some practical tips to better organize my home space with the resources and time I currently have (which is not much of either one). I would love to have my home neat, organized, and relatively free of clutter, thus giving future guests the illusion that I have my s**t together… at least in some capacity.
A girl can dream, right?
Jane’s Prologue = Jill’s Attitude Adjustment
I am incredibly thankful that Jane Stoller included an introductory chapter explaining her motives for writing this book. This was important, at least in my case, to read and think about before diving straight into the book’s main content.
Why, you ask?
If Jane’s honest, #realtalk prologue was left out of her book, I am pretty sure that I personally would NOT have taken Jane Stoller OR her book all that seriously as a reader. This is due to the fact that Jane Stoller and I have close to zero in common when comparing and contrasting our life situations.
Stoller begins her prologue by explaining that her book mirrors her specific experience. Basically, Jane Stoller is a single, child-free woman who, in her words, possesses what she calls a “well-paying job.”
I have a “well-paying job,” too, but I’m pretty sure Stoller’s current tax bracket is more than a few rungs above mine. In her book, Stoller speaks of her second home in the Bahamas, for Pete’s sake. To someone like me who has lived la vida de clase media from the womb, if a person possesses more than one home, especially if one of said homes is located on a tropical island paradise = you are wealthy. Real GD wealthy. Which is awesome for Jane! I love learning from strong, successful women, and I hope to raise two of my own! I’m not jelly, I promise. But I am #totesreal here.
I’m also guessing that Stoller is a Millennial, likely somewhere between 5-10 years younger than me (age 39). A big clue for me was when she referenced Lauren Conrad of The Hills as one of her major style inspirations. I wouldn’t exactly call LC a Gen X icon.
Yes, there are big differences between my life and Stoller’s. But Stoller acknowledging that from the get-go, while still encouraging us who lead different lifestyles to read on and take what we can from her experiences, really made me like her on a personal level and heightened my enthusiasm for reading her book.
And ladies and gentlemen, that’s how you hook a reader.
Thank you, Jane Stoller. Again.
Takeaways and Book Highlights
I was pleasantly surprised that Organizing For Your Lifestyle had such an impressive quantity of sensible tips and life hacks that were practical for my current life situation. Here are two examples:
- Downsize by one item per day to help declutter. While tossing out one item a day doesn’t sound like much, Stoller points out that over a year, that’s a total of 365 items, out the house! De-cluttering sprees are definitely needed around here, however Mike…. is somewhat of a recovering hoarder. S10 is also, uh, overly sentimental, which is a nice way for me to say that yeah, she’s a hoarder too. The attic, Mike’s garage, our shed, all in dire need of decluttering. Drawers, too, as sadly some in our home haven’t been picked through since the George W. Bush administration.
Currently, my minimum daily goal is to toss/sell/re-gift/get one item the F outta my house per day. Hopefully, I’ll end up tossing more than just one item each day, but I’m setting the bar low to start. I’ve actually already started this, as you can see in the photo. Thank you again, Jane Stoller, for the purging inspiration! Looking forward to shortening the distance between Minimalism and Me in 2017.
- Instead of buying a ton of cheapo, poorly made clothes, buy a small quantity of high-quality pieces to mix and match.
God, I so want to do this. However, I cannot wrap my head around spending more than $20 on a shirt and $30 on pants because…. I never have. Currently, I’m working on getting used to the idea.One roadblock to incorporating this tip, however is that currently I am… overweight. I do not plan to stay this way long-term, either, because I’m just not comfortable right now. Thus, buying a bunch of expensive, name brand wardrobe staples, then losing 20 pounds would cause me to also lose a lot of money. So I have resigned myself to the fact that as soon as I lose this 1.5 stone, my reward will be nice clothes. I’m already feeling motivated to get this weight loss party started now!
Dammit, I’m gonna DO it.
As stated earlier, Jane Stoller is a true Organization Goddess. Her book, Organizing For Your Lifestyle contains useful tips to help readers become more efficient, organized human beings. Jane is understanding regarding that fact that not all of her tips will resonate with every reader (sorry Jane, but I do not ever see myself ironing my bedsheets lol), however her book contains tons of great advice, helpful hints, life hacks, and practical tips that made me say “Wow, what a great idea!” more than once. Even S10 AND Mike (wow!) picked up Stoller’s book and read a few chapters without any prompting from me the few times I left it in our living room. Talk about universal appeal!
Jane is clear that Organizing For Your Lifestyle is not a “be like me” book. To me, the book is a terrific reference that should be revisited as one improves with organization and wants to do more. If books came with directions, in short: read, takeaway, adapt, assess, and finally, repeat as needed.
My verdict? 5/5 stars. Stoller gives helpful, nonjudgemental advice, is a true master organizer, and her writing overall is descriptive, informative, and, of course, extremely well-organized. Overall, a very thorough and detailed reference on the topic. I wouldn’t expect anything less! Stoller is a boss level Organizational Goddess. Read this book; I’m sure you’ll agree.
Thanks for reading! Until next time!
Disclosure: The book was provided to the reviewer. All thoughts belong to the reviewer and have not been influenced.