Organizing is like crack...

Truly,  I've never tried crack cocaine, but the high I get from trendy colors and patterns on binder tabs and specialty note pads is addictive.  I think I can stop at just one cute set of desk accessories...

And four days and night later I haven't showered or fed my children, but I have color coded and organized a year's worth of cleaning schedules, homeschool plans, and personal goals.

The definition of addiction is: "Doing something repeatedly and excessively even though you understand it's bad for you."

It all starts with the six week check-in that I perform for homeschool record-keeping purposes.  I also take that time to make sure we are meeting Common Core objectives.  It is a lot of paperwork and lists.

I enjoy looking back over my kids' work to gain perspective on our successes and failures.  I do not enjoy tediously checking boxes on lists of standards.  Since it has to be done, I want it to be visually pleasing and easy to read.  I figure while I'm at it, I might as well tidy up other areas of my office...and things become increasingly frenzied from there.

After organizing binges, I inevitably return to the beginning of the cycle, realizing there is no way I'm going to dust the blinds quarterly or rotate batteries our of our emergency supplies semi-annually.  I'm going to do those things when I'm not already busy and it's raining, and I am scraping the bottom of the barrel in my Netflix queue.

I definitely benefit from reviewing the details in our household budget and homeschool plans.  Über-organizing is bad for me, though, because it sets me up to fail.  I cannot possibly maintain this frightening level of self-monitoring.  It is dangerous perfectionism. It can detract from actually completing tasks when the focus stays on planning the tasks.

One of the quotes framed and hanging in our school space is:

"Ma chère enfant, rien n'est plus perilleux
Que de quitter le bien pour être mieux."        -Voltaire

My translation:

"My dear child, nothing is more perilous
Than to leave the good for the better."

Common translation:

"Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."  

This quote has multiple translations and can thus be skewed to mean different things when removed from the context of the original poem.  I take it to mean that the pursuit of perfectionism can put your light out.  When you have a detail-oriented personality, you can quickly lose sight of the overall picture.

So I must ask myself, "Do I really need to put my 5 year old's sketches in chronological order, laminate them and bind them in color-coordinating binders?"  Probably not.  Instead I'll pick my three favorites, take digital pictures of them and keep the images in a folder on the computer.

I see what I'm doing.  I realize that it's my need to control and feel like I've accomplished something.  Since at least a third of my time is spent doing dishes, laundry, cooking and cleaning I need to measure what else I've done to feel good about it.

A final note on the dangers of organizing-- Routine and structure can quickly eclipse any organic learning that homeschool offers.  If we are intent on finishing Unit 4 in a math workbook by the end of the week, we might not take time to study the cloud formations right outside the window.  

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