I go through this every month “Clean up, company’s coming!” I run around the house in a panic, picking up all my projects, spending hours just putting away my stuff before I can clean the house or my husband can clean it (whose fault it is anyway, for inviting people over!)  What’s the matter with him?!  Every month, my husband invites people over for wine and cheese. I hate it and I love it. It forces me to “pick up the house,” as my mother says and get things put away.  If my husband wasn’t so pathologically social, then my piles etc. may never get moved and I would end up with stuff all over the house!  Although I am a professional—I am like most of you and my house is not always perfectly organized.

My piles are within the realm of normal (check the hoarding scale). However, I don’t want our guests to think that I’m not organized—that would be bad for my reputation! The normal state of my house would not scare my closest friends who may see a few dishes in the sink or dust bunnies roaming the hallways but I’d rather they didn’t when eating cheese with me.  I do want the house to look organized and not require a health department inspection, but when I’m in a maelstrom of projects, my piles do require attention after the storm has settled. I know that this is an issue for a lot of people who don’t have company over because it’s too much work to clean up.  Many a time have I received calls just before Thanksgiving, where the prospective host is in a panic because the relatives are coming, expecting to use the dining room table!  In some cases, the table has not been seen in years under the drift of papers or as a catch-all for unresolved projects. When this happens, it becomes a small crisis that needs committed energy and a small army.

The biggest obstacle for people getting organized is the lack of a home for everything that is floating around the house.  Sometimes creating space initiates a domino effect within the house.  It requires clearing one space to make room for the errant piles somewhere else.  Last week Peter in Bedford wanted to organize his office but had run out of room on the bookshelves.  When we took a look at what was there, we realized that some of the books could move into the den and be accessible to the family. Also, the cookbooks in the hallway were thinned out, donated and the remainders moved to the den. This general thinning and disposal freed up a whole space where his professional books could move from the floor to the shelf in his office.

On the dining room table, Peter had piles of different projects in various stages.  This is a strategy of mine too.  When company comes, I like to thin the piles and then gather them into trays or shallow baskets to resume later.  This way, the categories are not jumbled and I can easily resume where I left off. It is a simple form of project and materials management. Some folks use laundry baskets to temporarily stow away projects.  Of course when an aspect of the project is completed it gets filed away, whether that’s in a file or even a box marked by the year.

So yes, if it’s Friday afternoon, I’m running around picking up my house, trying to corral my projects and find them a home. Then I can chase the dust bunnies before my friends show up!  Good luck if you’re in the same boat and happy organizing!