It’s been awhile since I posted to this blog. I must confess the gardening bug bit me early in the spring. I have spent every minute of available time working in my gardens. I pulled weeds, moved plants and re-shaped beds. I thought a lot about the similarities between maintaining a garden and maintaining an organized home.
One question that I asked myself was “Why didn’t you do a fall clean-up?” There was another disturbing internal conversation. “You know Karen, weeding is a repetitive task and you teach others how to identify and schedule repetitive tasks. Why didn’t you apply the same advice to the gardening?”
So here goes another confession. I ignored my gardens last fall, except for one small Bearded Iris bed that I created. This neglect resulted in an overgrowth of weeds that was maddening. Not just weeds… I seem to have a love for invasive plants.
I have a gorgeous blue Rose of Sharon that I have trained as a small tree. It stands about eight feet tall in one of the planting beds and every seed pod that drops sprouts. The wind carries them as well and the little offspring clutter up the entire garden.
I also have a Nandina hedge that runs between the driveway and the back garden. Nandina is also called Heavenly Bamboo. It sends underground shoots that pop up all around the mother plant and beyond. If these tiny shoots are not removed they turn into new shrubs. I spent a total of ten hours pulling up all the newcomers that were cluttering up the hedge row and the adjacent garden bed.
I spent my spring frantically playing catch up in the garden. I was beating myself up because I had let things get out of control. I was actually a little ashamed and embarrassed.
I started thinking about you, my clients and readers. Isn’t this how you feel when the mail and other papers get out of control? I can assure you that beating yourself up will do no good. First we have to understand what happened.
The Real Problem
After weeding and cleaning up a garden bed we fool ourselves into thinking that we can just sit back and enjoy it. After getting a huge pile of mail cleaned up and filed into the system that we created we think that we can relax.
In both cases we think our work is finished. Guess what? The mail and paper continues to come in just like the new Nandina shoots emerge, the Rose of Sharon droppings sprout and Creeping Jenny creeps onto the walkway. So how can we keep all this under control and still have a life?
The answer of course is what I mentioned in the beginning. We must identify and set a schedule for the actions that will prevent these spaces from getting out of control.
I don’t want a Nandina and Rose of Sharon forest in my backyard. I need to spend ten to fifteen minutes per week during the growing season plucking the tiny sprouts. Every month during the growing season I need to give Creeping Jenny a hair cut to keep her out of my walkway.
Wouldn’t it be nice if incoming mail only had one growing season?
Once you decide what tasks to do and how often to repeat them, work them into your schedule. This may mean writing something as simple as “process mail” on your calendar or in your planner.
Repetition creates habits and good habits will keep you organized. I have observed that naturally organized people have good habits. We can learn from them. Do you know someone who is organized in an area where you struggle?Repetition creates habits and good habits will keep you organized. Click To Tweet
The Ah Ha Moment
I have a client who has about ten large planting beds in her yard. They are stunning and magazine perfect all year long. Her husband is the gardener in the family. Last month after an organizing session, I asked her about her husband’s gardening schedule. I assumed that he had some sort of spreadsheet where he tracked when to do each specific chore.
She assured me that he did not and pointed to the window sill in the kitchen. On the sill was a small pruning tool. She said “He just grabs those and walks the garden every day. He does a lot of dead-heading.” I knew without a doubt that along with dead-heading he was catching every weed before it grew past seedling stage.
I also have the habit of walking my garden every day. It is a joy to see what new plants have sprouted or bloomed. My habit has been to walk empty handed and make a mental note of chores to do later. Later is a procrastinators favorite word.
I plan to adopt this new strategy of walking the garden with pruners. I’ll let you know how it turns out as the season progresses.