Get Organized Like a Starr

Rule Your Relationships

So here we are. I’ve arrived at my final blog entry along this journey toward organizational enlightenment, and if I’m lucky, maybe a few of you Chronicle Books blog-readers are still out there with me. If I’m really lucky, a handful of you have been organizing your lives simultaneously. You might be wondering, “So, what’s left to do?’ According to Meryl, the list of organizing tasks is infinite, but once you have the impetus to change, you can focus your sights on anything that troubles you. One of the “heavy hitters” is the social calendar. “Remember, you’ve cleaned up your financial act, you’ve caught up on the to-dos, you’ve learned how to manage your calendar, and even structure your time, but what about your friends and family? Are they benefiting from your organization? It’s time to manage your relationships in a more systematic way.” I’m intrigued by this one…

Within minutes of my conversation with Meryl, I got it. I’m famous for broken plans, late RSVPs, and empty promises to plan lunch dates. These are telltale signs of social disaster. No wonder I’m always complaining that I never see my friends and I don’t have time to visit with my family. I’ve been using my “social time” irresponsibly – not valuing the time I have to devote to those I love. So Meryl suggests that I think about the important people in my life and consider the following – “Who,” “What,” “When,” and “How Long.”

“Who” do I want to see? Will they appreciate our time together? “What” will we do together? Do I enjoy it? “When” prompts me to consider which days really work. “How Long” reminds me to budget the time I can devote to the commitment. Meryl promises that by proactively managing my interactions I can limit frustration and maximize my precious time. So I gave it a shot. I can take control.
To protect the innocent, names have been changed. I got a call from Lisa who was in town for just a few days. Unfortunately her schedule conflicted with everything in my schedule – from work, to yoga, to my weekly drink date with friends. So rather than promising to juggle my calendar and “make things work,” sacrificing my plans, and struggling to enjoy the time, Lisa and I made a plan together. Lisa came to yoga class, and then we grabbed a light dinner afterward. I enjoyed my workout, I got to catch up, and I was home in time for bed! The satisfaction I felt giving Lisa a hug and tucking her into a cab was wonderful.

With this new approach to my social life it’s easy to make plans and commit to them, knowing that I have priorities and boundaries. And what’s more interesting is that my friends and family have responded well, too. Everyone appreciates it when you’re honest about your schedule – my friends value our time together when I meet them and lament that “My week is chock full so I’ll have to leave after a drink, but I can’t bear to miss our weekly chat session.” My Dad loves when I’m honest, “I can’t make it home this weekend, there’s too much to do, but next Saturday is all yours!” I never thought that limiting myself could be so liberating.

So there you have it. The last entry in my series of blogs on toiling to achieve organizational nirvana. You might wonder whether I’m there yet. No, probably not. “But you’ve got an amazing start!” Meryl reminds me. “And you want to change.” What about you?

This is the last post, so don’t forget that one lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Meryl’s Personal Organizing Workbook and her Home Organizing Workbook. Isn’t that enough incentive to get organized!?

Allie Frey
Assistant to the President

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  • Sean Cowen July 25, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    I am surrounded by an office of collectibles and oddities and realized that I really need a book like this. On many days, it truly feels like trying to conquer a mountain and almost getting to the top, then slipping and falling all the way down.

    I enjoyed the blog entries about this book and I must say I’m intrigued enough to see more of the areas it covers and see if it might help me become more streamlined. That’s the exact word … streamlined. That’s what I hope to learn how to achieve with this book.


  • Naomi July 25, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Wow, I could definitely use some help. Since my second child was born a year ago, I have felt like everything is massively disorganized and that it’s snowballing…


  • Michelle July 25, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Hm, I never considered my social calendar in my plans to get organized, but it makes perfect sense! Some of the stress of life comes from trying to fit everyone in even if there isn’t a lot of time, so why not reduce that as well? I’m looking forward to implimenting this one over the weekend… I have a few friends coming over at different times on Sunday. It’ll be a nice way to keep everything under a nice schedule for once rather than running around trying to figure out what went wrong! 🙂

    I’ve really enjoyed these posts, they’ve put a lot of perspective on the way I’ve been running things… Best of all, I can find all my important papers now right when I need them. 🙂


  • Thien-Kim July 25, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Ugh, I have been running around the last few days like a chicken with my head cut off. I know if I was more organized, I wouldn’t feel this way. I think the social calendar suggestion is great.

    Hubby and I used to go out for happy hour with our friends every week. But it was hard on our budget. And our toddler is too active to hang out with us (it’s a family friendly place). So we decided we would have happy hour at OUR place. It was BYOB and I provided a few snacks. It was so fun, and relaxing. My daughter was able to play in her room or come out and socialize. We’ve done this twice now and it’s worked out great. I can’t wait for the next one!


  • del4yo July 26, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I’m organized. But if there is any advice to give family and friend the incentive to get organized too, I’d glady buy ten of those…


  • Michelle July 28, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I’ve got the first book waiting for me at the library (I’m a try-before-I-buy gal these days- don’t need to add anything more to the clutter) but as I read this blog I have to admit that while I definitely have some problem areas in my house- I really need this second book. I like the idea of ‘someone’ making me ask myself the hard questions about my time management and (hopefully) getting me to rethink and readjust the path I’m on now.


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