January 9, 2011

an hour is earned

I've spent a fair amount of time in the past couple months helping my near-and-dears get their spaces decluttered, reorganized, and redecorated. I enjoy it, I'm good at it, and they need it. Win/win. We're not done yet, and I'm actually looking forward to working on it some more. Weird? Whateva. Me and mine know how to have fun doing just about anything. 

We've sorted, discarded, thrown away, hauled away, given away. It's been good. 

Their troubles are the same: too much stuff, inadequate organization. That's a recipe for a quagmire.

Make a little space. Restore a little order. Get the energy flowing again. (Yes, I believe in the basic principles of feng shui: namely, that all stuff has energy, too much stuff can clog the flow of energy, and clearing the clutter is like breaking a log jam to get the energy flowing again.)

Don't get me wrong, I love stuff. I don't have a minimalist bone in my body. It's just a matter of finding a balance, and committing to maintaining it. People like me (and them!) who like "stuff" have to be extra vigilant to keep it moving. Here are the rules:

  • Bringing stuff in is perfectly ok. Stuff just has to go out, too, in equal or greater measure. 
  • Regular clean-outs are a must. Don't let the stuff pile up. If you've got a strong tendency to keep more stuff than is manageable, force yourself to have little mini-purges on a daily or weekly basis. Even 5 minutes a day can be enough to keep the clutter under control. Can you deep clean your entire house in five minutes? Of course not. But you can get a lot done in a very short time, and even if it's not perfect, it's better. Typically much better. In five minutes, you can:
    • Clean out your wallet
    • Tidy one shelf in your linen closet
    • Organize one shelf of your book case
    • Make your bed 
    • Clean out the fridge door
    • Empty the dishwasher 
    • Sweep or vacuum one room
    • Gather all the throw rugs, take them outside, give them a good shake, and replace where they belong
    • Gather all the dirty clothes, put them in the hamper
    • De-clutter the living room. Moving around the room, quickly stack magazines and papers, fluff pillows, put trash in a bag, gather dishes. Take everything out of the room that doesn't belong, and into the room where it does belong. 
    • Fold a basket of laundry
    • Put away a basket of laundry
    • Clean out your purse
    • Wipe down your bathroom counter and mirror 
    • Empty the trash cans and take out the garbage
    • Water your plants
    • Scoop the litterbox
    • Wash and refill the dog's water bowl
    • Clean out a junk drawer, or any drawer.  Dump the contents, sort them quickly, wipe out the drawer and reorganize the items into small containers of like items.
    • Gather all the empty hangers in your closet. Toss the broken ones,  rehang the others together. ***To make laundry simpler, when I take an item off a hanger to wear, I drop the empty hanger in the laundry basket. When it's time to hang clean clothes out of the washer or dryer, I have exactly enough hangers right there.***
    • Dust the television and audio/video equipment
    • Speed clean under the sink. Everything out, toss the trash, wipe out the cabinet, put everything back, like with like.
    • 5 minutes online: delete old messages from your email inbox. Don't agonize over it, just do it. 
    • Label a container (box, tote, bag) "LETTING GO."  Place 2-5 items in it. 
    • Clean out the back seat of your car. You can work on the trunk in another 5 minutes. 
  • NOTE: the method for quickie-organizing anything is the same:
    • Do only a small area - one purse, one cabinet, one drawer, one box or tote, one tabletop, one countertop, one floor, one rug, etc.
    • Empty it
    • Sort it QUICKLY:
      • keep
      • throw away
      • give away
    • Clean out (wipe, rinse, dump, sweep, whatever)
    • Replace keeper items, like-with-like
    • Relocate (to the proper area) out-of-place keepers
    • Toss the trash
    • Give-aways go in your "letting go" container.
  • Just because you see something you like doesn't mean you have to have it. You can like it and leave it
  • Thrifts/fleas are dangerous territory for clutterbugs, bargain hunters, and compulsive shoppers. They're dangerous in triplicate if you're all three (Hello? anyone recognize themselves here?). Proceed with caution. Remember all the above rules while you shop. 
  • Never leave a room empty handed. If you're going to the kitchen, look around, grab whatever belongs in the kitchen, and take it with you. Duh. Do that every single time you go from one space to the next and you'll feel like your house keeps itself tidy.
Did you really read all that? Good for you! Now for the pictures (we all know that's everyone's favorite part!)...

Do you have any favorite clutter-busting/organizing tips or tricks? Please share!!

"For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned." 
   Benjamin Franklin


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boops said...

thanks for all the helpful suggestions! the hanger one i am going to use immediately!

Shannon said...

Now that is some inspiration and motivation all rolled into one! I am definitely bookmarking this post for future lazy days. You are wonderful!

life, in small chunks said...

Now YOU are a person I could live with! I'm an organized by nature person (who lives by all of your above suggestions - except the hanger one, never heard that one before, but it's a good one!) who happens to live with a clutter bug/potential hoarder. He appreciates my ability to clean up after him and try to keep him organized, while I am in utter disbelief of his inability to do it himself. Good times.

life, in small chunks said...

p.s. LOVE the photo of what appears to be the top of a rake holding all the necklaces! If only I had another door that wasn't already being used!


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