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Angelina Hedgehog's story

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was a bit of a packrat, somewhat untidy, and not traditionally organized, but that was okay. She could find anything and everything she had at a moment's notice.

Goodness, I missed that girl when I grew up!

At some point, I developed a really inadequate paper handling system. I would pile papers on various surfaces, and when the piles started to bother me, I would sweep them into shopping bags and stash the bags out of sight.

Twice a year, I would gather all the bags, sort through the papers, toss quite a bit, and file the rest. So by and large (apart from the odd missing earring or sock that would eventually turn up in one of these bags), it worked.

Then I went back to school part-time, and my housekeeping standards (casual to begin with) slipped a bit more. Plus, I started bringing home a lot more paper. Notes from classes, articles to read, papers and tests, oh my!

My semi-annual sorting routine was not able to keep up with this new development.

Well, in due time, I graduated. The paper situation remained a mess. In fact, it just got worse.

Part of the problem was that I didn't really like the apartment. It was a lovely old building, but it wasn't well maintained, and it showed. Cockroaches, mice, dripping taps, disintegrating plaster.... Why keep things tidy?

Additionally, the other tenants were a little strange. This did not encourage frequent trips to the cellar, where the trash and recycling bins were housed.

So the clutter grew, and I felt trapped. Didn't know what I wanted. Didn't know what to do. I felt paralyzed.

I finally ended up moving into an apartment that was twice the size of my current one. (Apparently, I wasn't totally paralyzed - the check-signing hand still worked!)

Moving into that apartment meant that the worst of the squalor problems were over. After all, I had closets and cabinets galore!

Time passed. Boxes were unpacked. Things weren't really squalorous, but they also weren't as tidy as I had dreamed. I eventually ended up at Julie Morgenstern's site, reading a thread about someone who had a real mess.

The people seemed friendly, the advice looked good, so I read a bit more. Finally I decided to get a copy of Julie's book.

In the weeks and months that followed, I started really organizing my space.

Today, my apartment is fairly organized. Paper is still a problem, but I work on it off and on. I still have some older boxes to go through, but they don't bother me all that much. I know I will get to them eventually, and I know that when I do, I will be using a filing system I can maintain.

My cubicle still amazes me. It has not gotten seriously messed up since I organized according to Julie's method. I still smirk whenever I reach for a coffee filter or a pencil.

Additionally, a few weeks ago I did up a time map for work hours. Nothing terribly fancy, but I wasn't happy with the way I was using my time, and the map shows where I am "borrowing" time. It's an eye-opener.

-AH [Smilie]

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Angelina Hedgehog's master bedroom

Not the mess at its worst, but it has most of the ingredients. Note the flip top bins to the right, with neatly arranged and filled hanging file folders. In addition to those four boxes, I count at least six other containers, bought at various times, for the express purpose of getting the mess under control. And yet, my Important Papers were in the gold foil gift bag halfway down the side of the bed. The rest of the papers were stashed in shopping bags (I count at least four in this photo), and piled into and on top of boxes. And the whole mess is sitting on a lovely braided rug that I bought as a sort of housewarming present for myself. Hey, I know things are getting better; I've been able to see the entire rug for several months now. And I vacuumed it during my marathon cleaning session this weekend!