Well, I hope after last week’s tips about time management, I haven't scared you off! I hope that you are super-excited to move on, now that you are well-planned, well-prepared, and on time for everything. Great! If you haven't had the chance to read last week's post, please check it out.
Strategy One: Managing Your Time
Now, let’s move on to the second strategy that will move you along the road to living life organized.
Strategy Two: Manage Your Stuff
There is really no other way to put this: we do not need as much stuff as we have. Do you really need your daughter’s stroller even though she is now 6? Do you really need to keep that old dvd player that would work again if you just replaced that one part? My brother-in-law is a pastor in Colorado Springs, and he said something very insightful the other day. As Americans we have this fascination right now with the world ending or the apocalypse coming, or the zombies, or the power going out, or crashing on a deserted island. Have you watched TV lately? Lost, Revolution, The Walking Dead. We have so much stuff that our biggest fear is losing our stuff. We don’t fear starvation or death as much as we fear losing our iPad or phone. Hoarding is now an official psychiatric diagnosis because it is only now that we have so much stuff that it can become an illness! We need less stuff. I organized a client's garage last year, and he had 8 monkey wrenches of the same size. 8. He only has two hands; there is no way he would need 8 monkey wrenches at one time, ever. Think through how much stuff you have. Now wouldn't your anxiety go away a little bit if you could weed through it all?
The very first step in decluttering your home is to know what you have and know what you need. Figure out what you have. I have cleaned out people’s houses and heard them say… “Hmmm! I didn't even know I had that!” Or we find 5 bottles of paprika because they kept buying it over and over again since they couldn't find the last one.
Follow the one room at a time, one week at a time philosophy. Start with one room in your house, take everything out, go through all of it and only put some of it back in. Then, the next week, tackle another room and then another and then another...
As you clean out a room, make a pile of things to keep, a bag of things to donate, and a bag of trash. Then, make a pile of things that have to go somewhere else. And then take them to that place as you leave the room. If you find a monkey wrench in your linen closet, take it to the garage where it is supposed to be (with the other seven). Go through things quickly. Don’t take 5 minutes on each item or it can become overwhelming. If you are unsure about an item, keep it for a while, but make a note of it, and then force yourself to do something with it by a certain date.
And most importantly, PURGE! PURGE! PURGE! Don’t attach sentimental value to everything. That great shirt that you bought in London is not going to keep the memory from that trip alive.
Once you have gone through everything and you know what you have, the next step is to decide what you need. Perhaps you need to buy some new bins to put all your newly organized Tupperware in. Maybe you need to purge even more because there still isn’t room for everything. I can promise you that most of us are living with much more “have” than “need”.
After you know what you have and what you need, you need to know where it goes.
Having a clutter-free house creates a sense of calm. Empty white space can be visually soothing and relaxing. With that said, we still need to own furniture and toasters and remote controls. Because of that, every item in your home should have a specific spot that it lives. Everything needs to have a home. Our corkscrew always goes in the drawer by the oven. It does not go anywhere else. It doesn't sometimes live in the drawer by the stove and sometimes in the drawer by the oven. This drawer makes sense because it also holds our bottle opener and wine corks, and other entertaining needs. So when I have had a long day, I don’t need to open every drawer before I can open a bottle of wine. I have a friend who keeps the colander and the cheese grater together in a cabinet because they are both metal tools with holes. The point is, it doesn't matter where you keep it, as long as it doesn't take time to find it, and you know where to grab it every time. Toys need a specific home. Your phone needs a specific home. If everything has a home, you will not need to look for things, and straightening up the house will be quicker.
Sometimes, we seem to have too much stuff for our square footage. If this is the case, think creatively. Put toys in bins under couches and under beds. Use your sideboard as your home office. Buy a storage ottoman instead of a coffee table, and use it to store extra blankets and bedding. Use the high spaces in your closets to hang extra bags or baskets you don’t use very often. Sometimes, you have to get creative to find homes for things.
Good luck sorting through your spaces this week, and if you need help, call us! That’s what we’re here for.