Saturday, June 10, 2017

A reset. Organizing and de-cluttering

Saving things for future use is in my blood.  I grew up on a small dairy farm in northern New York.  The barn and house were both built over one hundred years ago.  They both always had something that needed fixing.  My parents are/were very careful with money.  We tried to reuse things and save spare parts and extra cloth, rope, pipe, grease, etc for when it might come in handy.  Because of this, my amazing mother is a master at making an abundance of random things fit in small spaces, logically, in ways that you can find them, but also look attractive to the outside world.

I'd like to think I'm really good at this too.  I'm no where near the master sensei level that Momma Shoen is, but I try really hard.

Having grown up this way, and having this skill, also means that when my house/home/apartment/car is a cluttered mess of things, I go a little bit crazy.  I love my husband, who appreciates this art/skill, but has yet to master it.

I say this because during the past two months, our apartment has gotten out of hand.  Although David, my husband, has kept the floors swept, the rugs vacuumed, the shower, sinks and toilet scrubbed, and the kitchen in order, there are little things everywhere.  Surfaces were covered in books, papers, boxes, things we needed to put away, etc.

Yesterday, I had one glorious day to myself.  I needed to feel like my house was in shape again so I could focus on the rest of my life and getting that in order too.

I started by getting the laundry and dry cleaning dropped off to be done at the Chinese laundry on our block.  I then put up two separate shelves that we had been holding onto.  Then I took the things off of the floor and end tables and put them on the shelves.  I emptied three baskets and re-organized things in a way that made sense.

Next I tackled our bedroom.  Both of us have two bureaus.  The tops of the bureaus are gathering spots for mail we need to respond to, papers we need to file, our watches, wallets, sunglasses, receipts, cameras, headphones, chapsticks, photos, hair products, etc.  Twice this week, one of us had knocked a pile of things on the floor as we tried to get ready for work or find something.

To tackle this task, I put an old blanket on my bed and took everything off all four bureaus.  I then moved them, swept around them, wiped them down with a clorox wipe, and then began the organizing.  

At the end of the day, I had organized not only our living room, but also our bureaus in our bedroom, and the storage section of our car.  This made me feel so good.  Waking up today, I look at every part of apartment and smile.  There is still more than can be done (there always is), but just getting the things that were bothering me the most organized helps me focus on what else I can do.

My short directions for getting organized:
1.) Determine what you need and what you don't need (donate or throw out what out what you don't need).
2.) Make sure you have appropriate space for all you have (if you don't then you have to get rid of other stuff).  I find that having a basket, box, or container to put like items in helps them stay together.  I use twist ties, rubber bands, boxes with the lids cut off, mugs, hooks, etc. 
3.) Set out everything that you anticipate going into one certain area (a shelf, a bureau, a box, etc).  
4.) Put like things with like things.  Consolidate when possible (half used lotions can be poured together, etc.)
5.) Clean the space before you put things back.  You don't know when it will be empty again
6.) Decide what things are most important and should be most visible.  It helps to know which things you use most often.  
7.) Start with the big stuff and then put small stuff in.  
8.) Don't be afraid to be creative.  It's ok to stack things on top of each other and to store things under beds, tables, etc. Use hooks, magnets, string to tie things, and thumbtacks to place things on walls of cabinets or hang them from the top inside instead of just stacking things from the bottom and relying on that limited space.  
8.) Don't try to tackle all spaces at once.  It gets overwhelming. 

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