Home Organization

Start with your Center: Create a Relaxing Space

When it comes to organizing our homes, we often want to start with the spots that bother us the most.  In reality, we should begin with the space where we can feel good and relaxed, a refuge and sanctuary.  For many of us, that place is our bedroom, but it doesn’t have to be.  It can be a home office, an outside space, a little reading nook, or simply a corner with a comfy chair.  The important part is that this space is just for you.

Many of us want an organized and tidy home.  Many of us are also EXTREMELY busy!  So how can we tidy and organize our home when we’re exhausted?

The answer is start small and find your motivation.  When tidying means constantly cleaning up after others, it’s hard to find the motivation.  What if getting started on the road to organized meant creating a space just for you?

Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine what you would feel in a spot that was just for you.  Whatever it is that you want to feel: peace, inspiration, focus, or quiet, let’s look around your home and find a place to create it.

Steps to creating the perfect space

Only you know the type of decor that will suit you.  What we are talking about is clearing and decluttering the space so that you can feel good in it.

Step 1: Take out the trash.  Literally!  Spend a few minutes looking around for any trash, cups, empty boxes, etc. Don’t sort through any papers yet, just find the obvious trash.  If the bag isn’t full, leave it in the room for now, we might find more to throw out soon.

Step 2: Start sorting through your belongings.  Gather all like items together into piles.  It is very necessary to go through everything.  All clothing, for instance, should be put in a pile together.  All books in another pile.  Papers in another pile.  All small electronics in another pile, etc.  I also like to grab a jar for any loose change I find.  Often our bedrooms become the catch-all for random things, especially when company is coming.  Anything that does not belong in your room should be put in a basket or pile of its own.

Step 3:  This step can be challenging, but I know you can do it!  PURGE!  Take one pile at a time and start purging.  I recommend choosing the pile that you have the least emotional attachment to, like paperwork.  Unless you are sorting business receipts and bills, most of us do not need to hold onto receipts and paid bills.  If you find any unpaid bills, put them in a pile to keep.  Do not throw out tax returns, tax documents, insurance or mortgage documents, or any other important papers like identification documents.  The rest of the papers you don’t need should be put in a box to be shredded.  I am always making lists and I often find dozens of notes to myself that I have tucked away.  Do this for each pile in turn and work quickly.  Don’t think too hard about it.

For many of us, clothing takes the longest.  The clothes you wear regularly should immediately be put in a pile to keep.  Then start going through the rest.  Get rid of the old underwear you never wear, the torn bras, the ripped leggings you are holding onto because one day you might patch them up.  If you haven’t done it by now, you’re not going to!  Anything that is ripped, has holes, or is so stretched out it doesn’t fit right…throw it out!  Are you holding onto clothes that don’t fit?  Clothes that you wore once and didn’t like the feel?  The money has already been spent.  Free up your closet and donate or sell them!

Once you’ve finished, take all of the trash out to the trash can.  Take the donation items out to your car and the items you want to sell should be put in a box and removed from the room for photographing.

Step 4: Now it’s time to take a look at what is left and find it a home!  Are you putting them where they are easiest to access?  Is there anything you need to change?  Look for the best place that makes the most sense.  With fewer items, you may be able to relocate your belongings to a place that is more efficient for your routine.

Step 5: It’s time to start putting things away.  Is there anything that bothers you about how you have stored your belongings in the past?  Think of all of the organization methods you have tried.  Which ones worked and which didn’t?  Do you know your personal organizing style?  Read this short article to see which method fits you best, then let’s start putting away your purged and organized piles.

If you are a Traditional organizer, you may prefer to micro-sort your piles into even more specific categories before storing them.  Just remember to keep track of your time!  If you don’t have the time to do it, leave them macro-sorted for now and come back later to tackle each category individually later.  You may prefer to put some items in closed, labeled bins inside your closets.  Bins will help you take advantage of vertical space on the shelves in your closet.

If you are Visual and Detailed, you also may prefer to micro-sort, but resist the temptation if you don’t have the time.  It’s important to finish the project as soon as possible and then come back later when you have more time.  You may prefer to choose clear bins that are clearly labeled so that you can see your belongings.  If you have a small closet, consider removing the doors so that you can easily see your clothing!

If you are Simply Visual, clear bins are definitely the answer!  Just remember to label them clearly and consider leaving off the lids to make putting things away easier.  To take full advantage of your vertical storage space, you may need to add shelving.  Removing the doors on your closet can make it much easier to see everything in your closet.

If you are Simple and Uncluttered, clearly labeled, opaque baskets or bins are definitely a good solution.

Step 6:  Once you’re finished, give it a few weeks and see if you find it easy to maintain.  If not, you may need to tweak those specific areas that aren’t working to make them work for you.

Want additional tips for organizing for your personal organizing style?

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Achieve your Goals!, Home Organization

Organize and Clean your Space

Poster above sofaWhether it’s your bedroom, living room, home office or your entire house, living in a cluttered and dirty space distracts you from your goals.  I know, no one likes cleaning and many of us have no idea how to go about organizing.  But I promise you, doing this first will help you achieve your goals and help you find the motivation to achieve them as quickly as possible!

Organizing/Tidying…not cleaning…your home.

Tip 1 (time to complete…5-10 minutes):

Walk through your home with a notepad.  Write down each room and underneath, list the top 5 things that bother you in that room.  This will probably be the first 5 things you notice.  Walking through my home, this is what I found (even after cleaning and organizing!).  I like doing this about once a quarter, just to make sure that everything is going well.

Living Room

Coffee table clutter

Flat surface clutter

Shoes

Dog area

Entryway clutter

Kitchen

Keys, sunglasses, phones, etc.

Dirty Dishes

Spots on the floor

Fingerprints on the Refrigerator

Dirty Microwave

Master Bedroom

Robe on the bed

Things on the counter

Laundry Hamper

Closet clutter

Nightstand

Loft (TV Room)

Spots on carpet

Clutter on bar

Bookcase clutter

Toy clutter

Blankets

Guest Bath

Dusty Baseboards

Fingerprints on the light switch

Trash

Cleaning products

Guest Toiletries

 

Tip 2 (time to complete…30 minutes):

Once you have your list, choose a room every day and tackle it!  You will need: a garbage bag for trash, a garbage bag for donations, a bin for items without a home.  The trick here is to do this as quickly as possible…and be ruthless!

Tackle the trash first.  This includes: broken toys, clothes with holes/stains that you will never wear, old papers, magazines, newspapers, junk mail, pens that don’t work, etc.  I take my in-house recycling bin to the room I’m decluttering to make this process easier.  Recycle it or trash it.  Just do it quickly and then take the bags to the outside garbage bin.  Don’t forget to go through cupboards, closets, and look under furniture!

Second, donate, trash or put away.  Be ruthless here and challenge yourself to find a random number of things to donate or throw out.  When I first began, my house was so cluttered that I just simply put everything I didn’t use or didn’t love in the donate bag (or trash bag if it wasn’t donation worthy).  I filled the back of my SUV with donations every day for a week and still had so much left over, it was embarrassing!  Now, I use a random number (depending on how I feel that day) between 20-50.  Most people use 20-30, however I really love purging and some days, I really love being able to remove 50 things from my home or even a single room!  This may seem overwhelming, but I promise you, once you begin, it becomes easy.

With what you have left, put it away.  Don’t pile it to put it away later, because let’s be honest, it’s not going to happen.  If you’re in a common room, like the living room, you can take a basket (laundry basket works great), and collect things that belong to the kids, things that belong in their bedroom or play room, and make one trip.  But don’t just set it in there, actually put it away.  By doing this, you aren’t moving your clutter to another time/day and you’re saving yourself the time and energy you’d be exerting later.  “Do it now!” needs to become your new motto!  Or if you have older kids, a spouse, etc. make a bin for each of them to address and put away when they get home.

For everything that doesn’t have a home, that you don’t know what to do with it, put it in a bin.  We’ll find homes for these things later, put it in a designated spot in your home where you will put all of your items without a home throughout this process.  We aren’t stuffing!  We’re simply waiting until the entire house is decluttered before creating homes for these things in the extra space we’ve created by purging the stuff we no longer need, use, love.

You will want to do this process in every room in your home.  Choose one room a day and get it done!  It’s a lot of work at first, but I promise you, you will not regret it and you won’t miss all of the clutter!

Tip 3 (time to complete…5-10 minutes):

Cleaning the room.  Yes, we still need to do this!  But we’re going to do a quick surface clean, not a deep clean, right now.  Start at the top and dust.  Use a rag or a dust catcher and move quickly in the room from top to bottom, removing all the dust (and cobwebs?) from ceiling fans, light fixtures, picture frames, shelves, etc.  Anything that catches dust, dust it!  This should only take about 3 minutes; you just want to remove any visible dust.  I like to time myself to see how fast I can do it.  I’m always trying to beat my previous time.  Next, it’s time to wipe down the surfaces.  Use a multipurpose cleaner or a wood polish (for wood furniture), to quickly wipe down all the surfaces, removing finger prints, excess dust that the dust catcher left behind, sticky spots, etc.  Again, as fast as possible!  Last is the floor.  Vacuum the floor really quickly.  Even if you have a tile floor, vacuuming is faster than sweeping.  On your tile floors, if you notice any dirty spots, after vacuuming, simply take your multipurpose cleaner and a rag and quickly spot clean those areas, or if you have a Swiffer or similar quick mop, use that.  Just remember…we’re surface cleaning, so don’t start scrubbing grout.

When I first started this process, I spent about 2 hours in each room.  But my house was VERY cluttered and dusty and gross.  I have four dogs and yeah…the dog hair was insane…and everywhere!  I couldn’t simply just vacuum and spot mop…I mean, I could have, but it bothered me so much that I really couldn’t.  I was on a roll!  If you find that you’re on a roll, finish the process through Tip 5, and then go back and do a deeper clean.

Tip 4 (time to complete 5-10 minutes):

Remember that list you made?  Time to tackle it.  These are the areas that most bother you that need to be cleaned or need an organizational fix.  A good example is my kitchen counter.  It is VERY far from the front door, however it’s where everyone puts everything.  I have a small kitchen, so a pile of mail, a set of keys, a wallet, phones, etc. just makes it seem dirty and cluttered.  The problem I have is that when I clean everything and clear all the clutter, someone sees the nice clear surface and decides that it’s the perfect place to put their things.  After years of frustration with this, it’s time for me to make a “landing pad” and a charging station for our devices!

Address the areas that are quick and don’t require a “make-over”.  Bins are a great way to do this.  For my shoe problem in the living room (which is just off the entry way), I put bins for each member of the household, labeled with their name.  Ideally, they put their shoes in the bin when they take them off, however if not, I can easily and quickly put them away so that shoes aren’t littering the living room.  For the areas that require some serious thought and a plan, leave those to last as you tackle the rest of your list, one room at a time.

Tip 5 (time to complete…varies):

Time to find homes for the stuff you collected in the bins and start your small project list for those “serious thought” issues from Tip 4.  This will take the most time and may not be completed in a single day.  Think about the things you’ve collected that do not have a home.  Do you use them often?  If so, put them in the room where you use them.  You should have plenty of room for these items now that you’ve cleared some space.  If you don’t, leave it in a bin in the room until you can devise a storage method for it.

If the things in the home-less box are things you don’t use, but don’t want to get rid of because they have sentimental value, cost a lot of money, aren’t yours, etc. then you have some tough decisions to make.  For those things that are sentimental to you, but are things you don’t want to display, make a memory box.  Get a pretty box, put your memories in it, and place the box on a book shelf or in a cupboard that you’ve designated for memories.  This can be done rather inexpensively with a shoebox and some contact paper, wrapping paper or wall paper.  Just cover the box and put a label on the outside for the memories contained within.

For those items on which you spent a lot of money, but aren’t using…it’s time to accept the fact that the money is gone, and you can’t get it back.  Can you resell it?  Can you gift it to someone who will really appreciate it?  An excellent example of this is my flute from high school.  It’s a really nice, rather expensive flute.  But I haven’t played it since I was sixteen years old.  A few years ago, there was a donation drive for families who lost everything in a very large fire.  I was donating items and I wanted to donate my flute.  I never use it, it’s in amazing condition.  I figured if someone didn’t play the flute, they could at least auction it off.  It just needed a quick clean and polish, which I did.  I was so happy at the thought of it going to someone who really would appreciate it.  My boyfriend saw it, heard what I was doing and was adamant that I hold onto it.  He said it was my history, a memory, and I should keep it.  I did keep it, but it has bothered me ever since.  I came across it in my recent purging and decided that this time, it’s going to a good home.  I don’t love it.  I don’t display it.  I don’t play it.  It’s just taking up space in a closet that I could use for something else.  And somewhere out there is a high school student who would love a beautiful flute.  The item doesn’t create the memories.  Those memories exist in my mind and heart, with or without the memento.

Your kids’ artwork is also something that is very difficult to get rid of.  When my daughter was small, I would keep all of her artwork for the year.  After school ended, we would go through it together and she could keep her top 5 pieces.  We also went through the rest of the items she had set aside in previous years.  Sometimes she would see something that she had saved and ask, “Why did I even save this?” and toss it.  Involving her in the process meant I didn’t need to feel guilty about it.  It was her work and she was deciding.  Plus, it taught her to look at things for how much they meant to her, rather than to simply hold onto everything because she created it.  I still have her bin of items.  It’s a rather small bin, but they are things that have remained important to her over the years, and so we have them.

I will caution you about purging items belonging to your significant other.  What I do when I know they are things that he never uses, but I ask him if I can get rid of them and he says no: I put them in a box in the back of the closet.  This began early in our relationship.  He would bring home all kinds of work papers and leave them out.  I asked if he needed them and he would say yes, they were important.  So, I left them where they were, cluttering up my counter, table, bar or whatever.  It really bothered me, but after a few weeks, I noticed that he never touched them.  I created the box in the back of the closet and from then on, any “important” papers went there.  The first time I showed him the box, we had been together five years and the very large box was full.  There were papers in there from before we met, old magazines, receipts, etc.  None of it important.  I asked him sit down and go through it.  Ninety-eight percent of it was garbage.  Now, I ask him to go through the box more frequently.  I still won’t throw out his things, but I really don’t want a closet full of papers that have absolutely no significance.  He understands that I need this and goes through a much smaller box without complaint when I present it.  After seven years together, however, I do take the liberty of throwing his t-shirts that are stained, ripped, etc. into the rag bin.

Now make your small project list.  This is a list of projects for which you will need more time, materials, thought, or planning.  The list might include items like a landing strip (for keys, purse, wallet, backpacks, etc.), a place for mail and bills to be paid, a decorative way to display a collection, adding a bookcase or cube case to your room for extra storage, or adding Command Hooks to a wall, cupboard, etc.

Final Thoughts

Once this is finished and you’ve gone through every room in your home, look around and feel the sense of accomplishment!  You’ve accomplished a goal in record time!  How quickly can you get this done?

Please send me your questions, areas in which you want help, or comments!  I’d love to hear from you!Poster above sofaposter-above-sofa-PVJEF9B.jpg