“…is like a puzzle.  Can you solve  ’em?  Stress’ll drive you crazy tryin’ to deal with these problems.  Problems, problems, how you gon’ solve ’em? Man, I’m going crazy trying to deal with these problems…”

I think it’s safe to say this is a pretty darn accurate lyric right here.  Ole’ Rappin’ 4-Tay got it RIGHT.

(It’s okay if you’re not familiar with his work.  The only reason I know this song is because it’s in the movie Dangerous Minds and I just happen to watch it every chance I get!)

Let’s look at this lyric line by line, shall we?

  • YES, each piece of life IS like a puzzle!  Every. Tiny. Piece.  It’s not even like you just dumped all the pieces of one ginormous puzzle out and have to figure out how to put it back together.  There are like THIRTY puzzles all dumped out at the same time!  You’ve got work, your friends, your family, your social life, your health, your home…AND THERE ISN’T EVEN A PICTURE ON THE BOX TO HELP YOU PUT ‘EM TOGETHER.

  • Um, maybe?  I mean, sometimes you kinda get a tiny grasp on one but then the another one just completely poops the bed.

  • Yes!  YES!!  Stress WILL drive you crazy trying to deal with these problems.  CA. RAZY.  Stress.  Stress should be a four-letter word.  From now on, it should be stres.  Well, except that looks stupid.

You know what would be really helpful in this giant box of mixed up puzzle pieces we call daily life?  If someone pulled out the unnecessary shit before we wasted a ton of time on it.  Before we exhaust ourselves on something that doesn’t even deserve our energy in the first place.  If ONLY there was someone who could do you this solid.  IF ONLY YOU KNEW SOMEONE WHO WAS AN EXPERT AT THIS FITTIN’ PUZZLE PIECES TOGETHER THING!!!

(I’m clearing my throat hoping you’ll notice me over here.  Yeah.  Me. One Organized Girl.  Over HERE!)

Okay, okay so I can’t really help you with your work or your friends or your family or your social life or your health but HOLY MOSES I can help with your home.  And your purse and your car and your office!  Well, if those things you need help with relate to organization!

Actually, I’m gonna address five problems that I see people dealing with on a regular basis.   A. LOT. Of. People.  ALL. THE. TIME.  Problems that aren’t rocket science but can ruin your day in a heartbeat.

They’re not in order of importance and some of them are probably pretty common-sense but still.  I see these A. LOT.  Like…A. LOT. ALL.THE.TIME.  (You get the picture.)

1.  You have too much stuff.  Seriously, how many dish towels do you need?  You have a washer and dryer.  YOU DON’T NEED THIRTY.  Get rid of twenty of ’em and now you can fit them all in one drawer!  A drawer that doesn’t get stuck every time you try to open it.  A drawer that easily glides open whenever there’s an unexpected spill and quickly produces a dry dish cloth with which you can soak up said spill.  ONE drawer.  Not a mountain of towels that rain down upon you whenever you open THAT cabinet.  (Apply this principal to the other areas of your life where you have “too many”.  My suggestions include- cups, pots and pans, small kitchen gadgets, sheets, bath towels, sets of dishes, vases, office supplies, socks, t-shirts, toys, archaic cell phones…)

2.  You don’t have enough space. Sometimes you do everything right as far as purging but you’re still short on space.  If this is the case, try using over the door shoe organizers on the backs of your doors.  They can hold everything from toiletry items to small kitchen gadgets.  I’ve got about five of them in my home right now!  Be sure to get the organizers with clear pockets so you don’t lose things!  I realize this might not be the “forever” option you want but it’ll at least get you through until you can get that kitchen renovated or that addition added . You can also implement the “annex” system.  This means that you have a secondary storage location for items you don’t use often.  All of those pots and pans you only use during the holidays?  The seven sets of linens you need the two times a year your sister visits?  The toys your kids aren’t ready to part with but don’t really play with anymore?  Those are great items to live in an annex.

3.  You’re covered in paper.  Bills.  Kids’ artwork.  Photographs.  Medical info.  First of all, don’t feel bad because you are BY FAR not the only one. Secondly, realize there ARE different strategies than just sitting down to a mountain of paperwork and trying to plow your way through it one item at a time.  I’m not a huge fan of the “touch it once” rule (No smart comments, please!) mainly because it forces you to make a decision RIGHT THAT SECOND.  While this can SEEM like a great idea, sometimes you’re too overwhelmed to even be able to make a decision.  Instead of putting all this pressure on yourself,  sort all that paperwork into like categories- magazines, coupons, utility bills, insurance papers, artwork, professional information, junk mail, etc.  Once that initial sort is done, then you can tackle one category at a time.  Not only does this break the task into smaller, more manageable chunks but it also allows you to celebrate small accomplishments as you work.  “SCORE!!   ALL THE MAGAZINES ARE IN STACK. There’s no way in hell I’m gonna read all of those!  Before anyone else sees this pile I’m just gonna bury them in recycling.  ONE CATEGORY DONE!” Another benefit is that the strategy is actually designed to be easily interrupted.  You can tell your kid you’ll be done in ten more minutes and then you’ll take him to the pool. Ten minutes later you’ll actually really be done with one portion of the task.

4.  Laundry is ruining your life.  Just like paperwork, laundry is a pain in the ass.  Seriously, just when you get it all done the stupid process starts all over again.  To a certain extent, it’s just the nature of the beast.  There ARE a few things you can do to keep from losing your mind though. One easy strategy to implement is the “wash/dry/fold-one-load-a-day” rule. This just means that you do one load of laundry each day and you complete the cycle.  It goes from dirty clothes hamper to washer to dryer to closet/drawer in one evening.  You can also assign certain laundry days so you only have to worry about laundry on those specific days regardless of if the basket is full or not. (For me, it’s Wednesdays and Sundays but I have to admit I’ve been a huge slacker lately!) If you still can’t keep up then you may just have too many clothes. There’s no way your family should be able to go a week without doing laundry.  There’s a fine line between being sufficiently outfitted with underwear and not wearing the same pair twice in one month!

5.  You’re CONSTANTLY behind the eight ball.  Late to meetings.  Late on bills.  Forgetting plans with friends…This is miserable.  You feel terrible all the time.  The people in your life start to hate you.  It’s just not good.  Pretty much you need to institute “admin” time.  It can be a half hour ONE day a week.  This is where you sit down with your planner (You’re using a planner, right?) and get caught up.  You deal with bills, emails you’ve been putting off, reviewing appointments and obligations for the week…All that stuff.  Then either first thing in the morning or before you go to bed at night, take two minutes to go over the upcoming day.  What’s going on?  Do you need to do anything out of the ordinary? This strategy can’t guarantee a complete end to chaos but it gives you the opportunity to feel grounded at least once a week.  It’ll also help alleviate that “Holy shit, it’s June 23 ALREADY?” feeling because you won’t be blindly dashing through your days.

The main thing to remember about life’s problems though?  Whether big or small, the only way to deal with them is to DEAL with them.  One at a time.  (Avoidance may seem attractive and sometimes downright enjoyable but you’re only prolonging the inevitable.)  As a matter of fact, that’s exactly the wisdom Rappin’ 4-Tay imparts through the last line of this song-

“… Problems, problems, how you gon’ solve ’em?  I’m a handle mine.  Problems, problems, how you gon’ solve ’em? Take ’em one at a time.”

Yes, I will, Rappin’ 4-Tay.  Yes. I. Will.