Getting Things Done with Al and Martin Luther King

Today is Martin Luther King day, and Al has off from work. I do not, and neither do M's mother or our sharecare nanny, Jess, so the Beaner is at sharecare as usual today. This means that Al is doing what he would normally do on a Saturday if he had any control over his weekends anymore: namely, hitting golfballs, running errands, and tackling the larger items on his to-do list, like cleaning out the storage room.

down the stairs to the storage room

The workbench has been groaning under the weight of impulse purchases from Lowe's and Home Depot, and the storage unit that formed the nexus of our stroller station from the days when I was a SAHM had become totally useless. (The stroller is still parked in there, but the system of bins and boxes I used to sort things that went into and out of the stroller based on where we were going or where we'd come from was less than obvious to our nannies.) And, of course, the storage room is also where we hang all our hockey equipment to dry and where we store our hockey bags; where the recycling bin and long-handled cleaning implements are; where the apple-picking wagon we only use in the fall is parked; where the hose we use to water the garden in the summer is coiled; and where the overflow items from the pantry and the bulk purchases of water, toilet paper, and paper towels end up.

before after
Before (taken in November with the FinePix) and After (taken today with the Canon)

I just went down to the kitchen to drop off a load of plates and mugs from my desk and to tell Al of a brilliant parenting-related post from Matthew Baldwin, and he pointed out some of the finer points of his latest organizing efforts to me. I should note here that Al is absolutely brilliant at fitting enormous amounts of stuff into incredibly small spaces, and he takes particular pride in his organizational abilities. He thrills in pointing out how he's rearranged things, and I always feel awful when whatever he's done doesn't really work for me. It reminds me of all the times during the Dreamweaver 1.0 development phase when Ken E. used to run over to my cube to show me the latest thing he'd coded, and I'd cause a crash within seconds. "WHY DID YOU DO THAT?" he'd say, and I'd reply that that was just the way I did things. I mean, I wasn't trying to crash the app; I was just accomplishing my task in a way Ken hadn't thought of.

The same thing happens with Al's organizing efforts all the time: The true test of whether things will stay organized is whether however he's arranged them will fit my workflow. Areas that only have to cater to Al's workflow stay organized longer; ditto places we share but where are workflows are similar. Sadly, those places seem to be few. The kitchen cabinets, luckily, represent one area of shared workflow, though I actually think that planning had more to do with it than luck.

I think Al made a good choice by putting my tea up front where I could get at it:

my stash of Stash

And he also, for the most part, didn't touch the spot where I hang my hockey gear (he did temporarily move my gloves and knee/shin guards to my hockey bag, but there's still room to lay them out to dry after practice tonight):

the hockey gear drying rack

Al is a big fan of bins. He organized our toiletry closet with them, and for the most part his system works well... except that he's grouped items differently than I would have, and sometimes the categories are a little ambigous. For example, does lip balm go under Dental or Skin care? Answer: There are a few lip balms in each bin. Luckily I don't need to find most of the things that are in labeled bins in the storage room; the labels are mostly for Al's benefit. "Of course I have a bin labeled 'Zip ties & Velcro, Compass & Car fuses, Bike tire kit'," says Al. "Of course you do," say I.

now that's organization "Tiny tools" "junk"

Aside from the cleaning and reorganizing of the storage unit, my favorite thing Al did today was hanging the towel bar/shelf that used to be in our master bathroom (and that came crashing down on my head one day when I was hanging a towel) in the storage room. I think it'll be a great spot to hang overflow hockey equipment, and Al has already stashed a wire bin on the shelf.

long-handled tools

As part of the reorganization there was also some weeding, obviously. Al unearthed an unopened box of granulated Splenda, some expired Stevia leaf packets (which I threw out), and some Splenda packets. He also set aside the Graco stroller rain cover that we bought as a backup to the one we wore a hole through when we were using it with the Snap 'n Go... and that we never used because The Beaner outgrew the Snap 'n Go not long after. I put both items on Freecycle and got six requests for the Splenda within 30 minutes; so far, there've been no takers for the stroller cover. Huh. Tomorrow I'll be freecycling a KVM switch and some chili. Want to take bets on what will go first?

Posted by Lori in around the house at 3:57 PM on January 15, 2007