On Organizing & How It Can Honor Those Who Are No Longer With Us

Today I'm happy to share a guest post by my bright and lovely cousin in law, Savannah, who recently was asked to be involved in a project honoring her friend's father who had recently passed away. Read about her experience below!


Last fall a family friend asked me for help on a project she was working on. Her father, who had passed away recently, had been a prominent musician, a legend on his instrument, and an avid book collector. She was in the process of donating his entire personal library to a local university’s music school. The project is an undertaking as entire rooms of her home are lined with boxes of her father’s books. I, along with a number of other individuals (her family, friends, people who needed side work, etc.) received boxes from my friend to catalogue. By the time I came on to the project, she already had an efficient system set up for her cataloguers.

 I was happy to help her, but I soon found the job came with its own challenges and discoveries. I am an extremely organized person; I enjoy systems and like for everything to have its own place. I’d pick up as many boxes as I could fit in my car from her house, then would spend hours poring over the contents, trying to glean as much identifiable information from it for valuation. I’d type the information into a categorized spreadsheet, print it off, put it in the correlated box, then move onto the next.

There was a moment before opening each box that bordered on excitement. Sometimes I’d find a book with personal notes from the authors or other musicians. Or a book so old I feared I would need gloves to turn the pages. At times there were entire music catalogues, or quirky little how-to-play this or that instrument which were amusingly dated. Admittedly, some days after hours of cataloguing I’d hope to find the boxes nearly empty so I could check it off quickly.

I’ve seen how this project both delights and wears on my friend. She is excited to share something her father was passionate about with the world, but is ready for it to no longer take up the space in her home or the hours of her days. She has chosen a unique and honorable way to commemorate her father with this contribution and her dedication gives me pause.

I’ve learned a lot about my own work ethic and myself as I’ve assisted on this project. While organization is something I value, I realize that I also need inspiration. I wish I had time to thumb through some of the books, even borrow and read some of them. But that was not my task. When I got into a rhythm of sorting the books and typing its information in, it was cathartic for me. But it also roused the procrastinator in me to new heights of stalling, challenging me to develop new methods of overcoming my tendency to push off tasks.

 Still under way, there is a satisfaction that comes with each box completed, each benchmark set and the excitement of my friend as she sees it come one step closer to being checked off her to do list permanently.


Thanks for contributing, Savannah!