We all have "that call" we need to make. Even the most extroverted among us have that one thing - that one call - they've been putting off for weeks, months, possibly even years. I've had things go embarrassingly long before, where it got to the point that I had to plan my social schedule around avoiding people I owed return phone calls to. I was down to visiting the laundromat at 3am the next town over when I realized I had better get my shit together on this front, and fast.
But I didn't want to make the call, and neither do you.
Tough. Do it anyway.
I hate talking on the phone, and with email and text accessibility it's getting harder and more hated. I order my pizza by app, and I pay my bills online. I have no fond memories of all-night gab sessions with teenage girlfriends because I am a "in your face all up in your space" person and I translate best in 3D where you can see that my eyes are tender when I am telling you to get your shit together.
I bet you do things exponentially harder than making a difficult phone call every day. Maybe your job requires bravery, or your set of in-laws are particularly trying, or maybe you have a kid nicknamed "Scream in a Diaper." Those things are way harder than punching in 10 numbers and using your sound hole for 10 minutes.
If you have several of these calls to make, start a list. Leave a few lines of space under each entry. In fact, start a list even if you only have one item. Let me prompt you in case you think you're in the clear:
You're intelligent; you know how time and calendars work. Every day you put this phone call off is one more day you are carrying the weight of an undone task in your pocket. EMPTY YOUR POCKETS SO YOU CAN KEEP CANDY THERE.
I can almost guarantee that the call will not be as bad as you think. Our brains are amazing and creative and sometimes wacky places where the smallest things become huge and seemingly insurmountable. Your brain is being an asshole right now. Give the controls to your fingers to make the call.
Not calling for a test result is not going to change the outcome. Not calling to request a school meeting is not helping your child to read more effectively. Not calling the tax office is one more day of interest payments with no plan for repayment, and not calling your grandmother is more day she's sitting at home thinking her Boopy doesn't love her anymore.
Basically, you're a monster.
Now - look at your list. If there is more than one entry, then start at the top. Chances are your brain prioritized the list for you, and the top entry is the one you've been dreading the most. We're starting here. If you don't have the numbers handy, get them now and even if they are in your phone, write them down next to the item. On the space under each entry, write down what materials you need for each call, like a tax roll number, your child's teacher's name, a gin and tonic. You're 10 minutes in at this point. You've made a time investment. YOU NEED TO PRESS ON.
Next, place to make the call. If it's to a government agency, make sure you have child care plans stretching all the way to University drop off. Once you commit to making this call we are seeing it through and this list is NOT going on the fridge. You are going to make at least one call today and maybe more if you're feeling sassy. We're grown ups and we have our shit together! Get a doodle pad and make notes or doodles if it calms you.
1. Call the number.
2. Call back. (I know you hung up.)
3. Call back again. (Come on; I am so on to you.)
4. Say hello, state your request, and actively listen to the response. This is the hard part, but you are doing great! You are on the phone and no one can see you. You could pee your pants and no one is going to be the wiser. If your phone call results in further action, or an appointment, write it down right this very minute or enter it into your phone or Google Calendar with an alarm set for the day before, the morning of, and the hour preceding the event. We're not going through this bullshit again.
Now, be honest: Don't you feel better?
Look at you, adulting on the telephone!
If you are still absolutely frozen, well, no judgement. There's always email.
RELATED: How to Get Your Sh*t Together
Let's cut the bullshit and get right to it: We all made semi-drunken promises to ourselves on New Year's Eve. And yet only about 2% of us will close out 2016 with our goals accomplished. I'm not here to scold you - I do it too - but rather to talk about how we can get some of our bigger shit together so that next year we have the energy to actually completing tasks like finding love, losing weight, or learning Spanish so we can move to Spain because of beautiful Spanish men.
This is a hard sort of article to write because there are as many reasons to be disorganized as there are pieces of junk mail on top of your refrigerator right now. I am no Patron Saint of Having Ye Shit Together, and if you'd like a list of all the stuff I do that makes me an asshole, I have several family members who still grant me their email addresses, so I can set you up if you're looking to do some digging. But I also know what I am good at, and I am good at organizing things, and I am good at telling people what to do.
So let's get started:
Go do your dishes.
Empty and reload the dishwasher, or put everything in the sink and wash it. Then dry it and PUT IT AWAY. Do not get sidetracked by the mess in the cupboard. Do not leave the roasting pan "soaking." Do all the dirty dishes and then put them away and your house will instantly become 30% cleaner and your shit is thatmuchcloser to being together, even if it is just for today. When your sink and dishwasher are empty, you are in control of the kitchen and by extension your home and by extension your life. Now you can concentrate on the task at hand.
The first thing you need to do is get rid of some shit. Don't hyperventilate if you are a visual person who likes to have things on display. This is not a pro Konmari post wherein I instruct you to thrown away all your prized possessions in hopes of achieving such Zen that you no longer require food because your level of enlightenment allows you to receive all nourishment you require from sunbeams. You will need to clear out some stuff, and I can't promise it all won't hurt, but you're going to find you don't need most of it anyway.
Over the next few months we will tackle all areas of getting your shit together - from your desk to your car to your kitchen pantry to your underwear drawer to finalizing your divorce.
Here's what you need this week:
Note that I didn't tell you to go to IKEA (Hello, Mothership) to purchase plastic bins of various shapes and sizes in stackable formats. Leave that until you've cleared all the clutter, or you will just be - and this is key here for getting your shit together - you will just be organizing clutter. You don't need rattan baskets. YOU NEED TO GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, NOT ORGANIZE YOUR SHIT. Do you know who organizes clutter? People who collect dog hair and have a high likelihood of dying under a mountain of 1987 newspapers and adult diapers.
Going shopping means you'd also lose a few hours of valuable cleaning time to mentally redesigning your living room and gorging on cafeteria meatballs. IKEA, Solutions, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond are the reward, friends - not the starting line.
Be warned, however: do not go boldly into the dark night - or even the dark laundry room - without a plan. Getting your shit together is going to take some time, and let's be fair - you didn't start out with 17 sippy cups in your plastics drawer. We're going for a slow burn here, or you'll fizzle out and your partner will arrive home to find you crying under your son's crib while the toddler wanders around the backyard muttering his first words, which, incidentally, will be "too many goddamn toys. Too many goddamn toys..."
Take 20 minutes every day this week and commit to filling two full size garbage bags with GARBAGE - stuff you do not want, do not need, and do not want to clean. This means broken toys, ripped clothing, pieces of paper you don't need (take a quick photo if you're hesitant for your records), old magazines (you can get articles online using something called "Google,") stray bobby pins, 16 of your 18 rubber spatulas, and anything else you've acquired since you took on the burden of a house full of clutter. See that yarn in that bankers box in the downstairs closet? Pitch it. You know full well it'd take a full on apocalypse before you'd learn to knit. Clear your closet, clear your mind.
Sentimentality has its place, but that place is not on your bookshelf.
Anything you think could find a home somewhere else can go neatly into cardboard boxes - clean clothing, useable toys with no broken parts, DVDs starring celebrities who've be arrested and you've lost respect for, etc. Keep going until you've filled two bags right to the top with garbage, plus an additional two boxes (size your choosing but don't be a weiner and pick a shoe box) of stuff to donate or give away.
That's it - TWO BAGS, TWO BOXES. If you want to keep going, do! But don't feel like this has to be an all or nothing clean up. Two bags will begin to put a dent in the crap and anyone can fill two bags of garbage. I spent the week post-Christmas cleaning my already clean space and I could fill two garbage bags right now.
DO NOT put those bags and boxes in the garage, because they will find a Mumford & Sons CD and screw all night and reproduce as only clutter can. We are looking to rid your home of excess stuff, not just provide it a change of view. Take the two bags of garbage and take them to the dump if you can easily do so. If not, put them where your weekly waste goes. Get in your car, or get on transit, or build a fucking wheelbarrow if you must, but get those boxes to a local charity drop off or arrange for home pickup with Clothesline or some other service.
Next time we'll start digging deep and hit some sore spots - like stocking and organizing your cleaning cupboards. Get limber, and get tissue - it may hurt, but no one ever said that getting your shit together was going to be entirely pleasant. It will be worth it however, because being found in a towering pile of your own excrement is a fate fit for no one.