Looking to Get Organized

One of my strengths is that I’m organized. Some would posit that I’m overly organized and that it verges on a severe form of OCD. To that end I usually keep it confined to my home. Sparky is well aware of my need for order. He approached me a month ago and suggested that I need to “pitch in” and volunteer more at church. Sparky asked if I could come with him to the church food pantry – just to take a look and possible make a few suggestions for organizing it. It was the thing of nightmares for an OCD sufferer. It was a mess. The shelves had been labeled but things were haphazardly stacked here and there. I went home and thought about it.

Since then I’ve been back three times to organize the pantry. They have a “shopping list” that tells them what they should get based on the number of people in the family. So I organized the shelves to match the order of the items on the shopping list. That seemed like the logical thing to do. Then I organized the foods in each category by expiration date having the shortest dates in front and the longer dates in the back. It boggled the mind. Then I had to make some additional labels. You see people donate items and sometimes they are not the standard fare – such as the people who donated 10 bags of candy, 4 cans of chocolate pudding, and chocolate covered caramel corn. Families with children in financial straights don’t have money to splurge on non-essentials. I ended up with one shelf labeled “Sweets/Treats” where I put all the cookies and candy, pudding and popcorn and a variety of other treats (can you say Pop Tarts?) that could be doled out in moderation.

That left 2 shelf units for the remainder of items. These were personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, and paper (toilet paper) and plastics. It was a mess. But it is now all organized. I was even able to have a shelf dedicated to baby items. I think the non-food items were the hardest to organize.

The final step was to actually clean. The pantry has been “maintained” by men. To that end the floor had not been swept in, well, forever! So I had to sweep and knock down *Shudder* spider webs. I found 4 containers of mouse poison bait that were so old that there was a thick layer of dust over the top of the contents. I suppose that is good? I take it to mean there are no rodents. Or it could mean that the rodents are avoiding the poison and snacking on the pantry supplies!

Then I tackled the little storage bin with its 3 drawers. Ack! I’m lucky I didn’t get injured. In the top drawer were 2 box cutters, one which didn’t have the blade retracted. Then I found a razor blade that had been wrapped with plastic and taped so that one edge was exposed – just thrown into the bottom. It is obvious that the “guys” are making up their own safety rules as they go… The things in the storage bin were mostly junk. It is now clean and tidy.

The last things that needed attention were the freezer and the refrigerator. Not only did the exterior need a good disinfecting but the interior too. It was too big a job for me to defrost it alone. So Sparky was pressed into service. The end result is that I will be volunteering once a week to go in and put the newly donated items on the shelves, rotate stock, and make sure everything is clean and tidy. I’m hoping the pantry will be “whipped into shape” soon. Sparky suggested I need to “document” procedures so that no one messes with my system….

44 thoughts on “Looking to Get Organized

  1. Your special skills are certainly needed and appreciated for this endeavor.

    I organized our stand up freezer yesterday. 4 freezer baskets and about 15 minutes transformed chaos into a semblance of order. I remain baffled by the contents of the freezer, though. (The at least 2 year old turkey leg is high on the baffle list.)

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    1. Thanks David! Some would call it annoying. Sparky is printing signs for me today – “Place new donations here”, “Plastic bags”, and “Paper bags” and my favorite “NO eating or drinking!” I swept up a fist full of opened or half opened candy and dumped the candy dish (it only had a few chocolates left) and poured out 2 half cans of soda… The rodent bait is useless if they are feeding them Coca-Cola and candy!!!

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  2. I am also an organizer, but I hate to do the job by myself. I run out of energy too fast (fibro spoonie). I’m so glad that Sparky asked you to come over and make it better than it was. I’m also very proud of you for stepping up and into the challenge! Hurrah!! Heroes don’t just pass out the food, they make it easier to find and gather for the families and people to enjoy!

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  3. As I read this, I was thinking that you’d need to volunteer on a regular basis in order to keep the pantry neat and organized — I was glad to see in the last paragraph that you are doing just that! I think organization has to be a key to a successful endeavor of this type!

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      1. A friend told me the other day that he thought he’d thrown out his dark glasses. He has a habit of leaving used paper towels lying around, and though the glasses must have been underneath a pile of paper towels. The next day he told me his daughter had asked him if he had a pair of dark glasses — she had thought they were hers, and put them in her purse when she left his house! Doesn’t happen that way very often!

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        1. That must have been a really big pile of paper towels!! Glad they were recovered. The HOA lost my check – had to take one in today. Their office needs a little organization in my opinion but that’s not my circus, not my monkey!!

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          1. When I’m in the house (not my house), I often throw away two or three piles of two or three paper towels every time I wander through the kitchen! They had been cleaning out the garage, and a pile of paper towels landed on the washing machine!

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  4. What a fun post! Why didn’t you add some before and after images? Like you, I LOVE organizing and so enjoy reading about an other’s satisfying project. Your brilliant system of arranging the shelves in the same order as the pull lists sounds elementary but I’m sure it was a novel concept to many.
    It’s really hard to keep a church organized with so many different users. One person pulls an item for use, while another washes and puts it away. The person putting it away is left to their own (questionable) methods of organization.

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    1. Yes – too many cooks in the kitchen!! (and the guys, bless their hearts, can’t see dirt and have no concept of organization). The women that are helping are more intent on cutting out newspaper stories and recipes and taping them to the refrigerator! I’m happy to straighten the shelves and tidy up (and pull newspaper clippings from 2003 off the refrigerator and then peel off ancient tape)!!

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  5. Bless you. Our daughter did some organizing of my files for which I am thankful. It’s just sad she was unable to do that in her own home.

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    1. I thing there is a different mindset for those who have hoarding tendencies – they have no problem with your stuff but have an unhealthy attachment to their own.

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  6. Oh you are not invited to visit my house~! I have a place for everything and it may not impress others. Toilet items scattered but in each bathroom where it will be needed in emergency. Linens next to the wash room where they come out of the dryer, Books of a according to subjects (within) together, not necessarily what is on the cover~! knife, spoons all neatly in their own place one drawer etc.

    My little sister, when she came to visit would always rearrange everything. Now I have latterly thousands of books and written material. They may be in stacks next to my chair or on the window within my reach. Each is arraigned according to a subject that I am working on. BUT she would rearrange them all according to height , color or thickness~! (really neat~!) Then she would go into the kitchen and reorganize things the same way. Box items of the same size together, etc. Shirley or I would say Bonnie you really do not need to do this,,,,, and she would nicely answer Oh I don’t mind~! BUT WE DID~!!!! When she left we would spend weeks putting things back where WE could find them~! WE all have special ways of cataloguing things and should stick to our own, and leave others alone unless it causes a problem~!

    As to me and my maid, I wash the dishes myself, and stack them where I know that they should go, pick up what needs to be picked, strip the bed and put it into the washer, all in self defense because they will pick up an innocent piece of paper towel, shoes, or other item and put it away in the nearest drawer. Really neat, and clean looking, but drives me crazy looking for it where I set it down on my side table etc…..Usually ending up calling her for advice where to look~!

    Sparky must be a special person~!! Don’t loose him~! But then you two have a common hobby of finding hidden items from clues~! I rest my case~!

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    1. I don’t reorganize things unless I’m invited to do so!! The food pantry was in such disarray that the head of the food pantry jumped at the suggestion I come in. He actually said, “Don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings or stepping on any toes!” It was that bad. Sparky has a basement office and I don’t go near it. He has things stacked and piled every which way (which causes my eye to twitch) so that is his area. I refuse to even dust so when he claims the dust is causing his allergies to act up, I hand him a dust cloth and the Endust and tell him to have at it!

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  7. Yay for you! I bet most churches could use someone like you. Wish I could hire you to come to my house and organize all my papers!

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  8. Wow! Impressive! They are so lucky to have your help! Sounds like you did a ton of work! I wish I could be like you! Disorganization makes me uncomfortable but I am one of those with hidden β€œput away later” boxes that start to pile up and get disorganized.

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    1. Procrastination is the enemy of organization! Though I can procrastinate I don’t – my OCD overrides that tendency! I’m hoping the older folks who used to maintain the pantry don’t feel as if I’m stepping on toes, even though the gentleman in charge told me to go ahead and step on as many toes as needed to get the pantry organized!!

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  9. I am far from OCD, but I struggled for a long time trying to keep the house somewhat orderly because I rarely had help. I finally quit trying – it was too hard with my other physical and mental issues to keep fighting that battle. I’m not finally starting to entertain the thought of hiring a cleaning person to come once a week and just give it the once-over. It kills me because I know I once could do it and it wouldn’t be so bad if I had some cooperation. Right now everything overwhelms me so easily. Even if it was chaos, I always knew where everything was. Now I can’t find anything.

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    1. The best gift my husband ever gave me was a cleaning lady. His mother suggested that he spring for the cleaning – she had 6 kids and worked full time and had to clean and cook too. Then once the kids were out of the house she got a cleaning lady but realized that she really didn’t need one after she retired (and could easily afford one). She told him that I’d appreciate it. And she was right! I had a cleaning lady for nearly 10 years – and didn’t have to clean a toilet, mop or dust in that entire time. Now that I’m retired I have all the time in the world to get it done. I say if you can afford to have someone come in every other week – DO IT! It really does make things better…

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      1. Thanks! I aproched the spouse about it and he seems wiling. just have to get the house a bit decluttered. It’s fine – the cleaning people are busy in the summer with the rentals anyway.

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        1. Sounds like I know what you’ll be getting for an early Christmas gift!! I had several cleaning ladies (all independent) and could get them to come 2x a month (every other week). The cleaning services were a tiny bit more expensive per hour BUT they insisted that I had to have someone every week which doubled the cost. Since I’m organized it was good enough for every other week….

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  10. You are doing the pantry folk a huge favour. God put OCD in the world for a reason-as you say, “maintained” by men, or some teenaged girls, is a euphemism. I am kind of in the middle on this one. I do have a knack for organizing things, and for paying attention to dates on food, beverage and medicine labels. Things like getting rid of paper sin my file drawer or throwing out old keepsakes of scant value-those are my bugbears.

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