Learning to Organize in my 30s

Since I watched several cleaning inspiration videos recently, I purchased tools that I learned about in the vids. I bought some of those Home Edit clear plastic modular organizing systems for different projects that have plagued me for years. Organization is new to me. I didn’t even know what organized meant until a couple years ago (thanks, Malcolm!).

For some background, I was raised by a parent who has ADHD and likes everything to stay in the same place for years, even. A banner decoration with my 18 year old face on it from my 2008 high school graduation party continues reign over my parents’ dining room. I’ve suggested taking it down and storing it, but I’m met with opposition. This is my go-to also, as it is for my grandmother. We three have ADHD, though my grandmother has never been officially diagnosed. My doctor recently diagnosed me with ADHD also, which has gifted me great insight into the machinations of my brain and the behavior of the other Marys. We are the three Marys, as my grandmother calls us — our first names are all Mary, though my mom and I don’t go by our first names. The three Marys, not so holy. Not so organized.

All this to say, organization feels like an insurmountable task, historically causing anxiety and fights. So when Malcolm wanted to rearrange our first living space we share together, anxiety and fear bubbled up. I wouldn’t allow it. It made me feel so unsafe, I shut down the conversation and proceeded to take a walk to clear my head. He prefers to freshen the layout of rooms very periodically, like once every four or five months. When I met him, all of his under the sink items were organized in blue milk crates. I had literally never thought to collocate under the sink. I didn’t know how. I didn’t even know enough to know I didn’t know… you know? 🙂

Malcolm was incredibly patient with me (one of the 39500109827 reasons I married him), and we eventually worked through it. The first part of the arranging process brings my anxiety through the damn roof. Laying out everything is so overwhelming. Part of having ADHD is completely forgetting I have what I cannot immediately see. I always think I have less than I actually do. The three Marys have all been accused of hoarding at different times, but I think it’s because we genuinely cannot remember what lurks in the depths of closets and cabinets. When I take items out to categorize them, I realize I have mountains of shit that I completely forgot existed.

However, Malcolm showed me that if I can just get past the very first part, I can do it. I began to realize how much dopamine I get after organizing. He showed me how to group and categorize things like all purpose cleaners in one bin, sponges and scrubbing pads in another, and dishtowels in another. Learning how to group things made the next steps so easy. I only just harnessed this ability and am fully functional on my own. And it feels so damn good. Like a clean kitchen at the end of the night, everything in its place and easily accessible.

So if this task isn’t your bag, try thinking about what part of the process deters you. Do you know the typical process? Netflix has several shows on home organization, and you can always Google it. I organized under the sink just today, and I feel like I could fly. Plastic bags for litter box and dog poop? Got them right here. Need a pest deterrent? Easily reachable in the back, which I can visibly see. A glass cleaner? Right there. It’s simply magical.

What are your tips for organization? I’d love to learn from you.

xMae

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