Do you have an organized mess or perhaps just a mess? We all have different, yet similar, clutter situations; from the “junk” drawers in the kitchen or bedroom, to the box of Halloween costumes in the closet that have accumulated throughout the years, or maybe scattered junk piles due to a spouse who doesn’t always put things in their proper place.
Who doesn’t wish they had more time and motivation to better organize their home?
We will talk about how to put the best strategies into practice so you don’t feel stressed out or like you need a whole weekend in solitary confinement to get your house (and mind) organized and decluttered. Here are some tips to get you started without becoming overwhelmed:
1. Don’t expect to get it all done in one day – Slow down! Allow yourself to feel accomplished by finishing projects over several different occasions. Whether that means a period of several weeks, days, or hours. Of course this will depend on the size of the project and the time you have set aside for it.
2. Have realistic expectations – ¬Double the amount of time you first imagined it would take to finish a project so that you are not disappointed. For example, if you suspect organizing the garage will take one day, it will most likely get done in two or even three days. And that’s OK – it will get done! There is no reason to unnecessarily stress yourself out.
3. Take breaks – Take breaks every hour or couple of hours. Even if it’s just doing another “chore” during your break, for example: get an errand out of the way, make the kids’ lunch, or take the dog for a nice walk. Doing this will help you feel even more accomplished.
4. Avoid distractions – If you have decided to concentrate two hours on organizing the closet – then really do just that. This is not the time to reminisce on old photos. Instead, put those aside to enjoy later. Treat it as a reward for yourself after you have completed your two-hour goal.
5. Make it fun – Play some upbeat, or relaxing, music so you can bop around while trying on old clothes and deciding which to donate or throw out. Catch up on calling your friends you haven’t had time to get back to all week. Have a “declutter party” and supply hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.
6. Get the whole family involved:
- Kids are more likely to put away their stuff if you work with them and make it fun to create a “system”. If your goal is to have your daughter pick up her toys, let her pick out some pretty boxes to store them in or make a fun art project to decorate some storage boxes. Then let her decide if she would like to organize her toys by color, size, or category (e.g., dolls, books, etc.).
- Your husband might not put mail in the bin, but he sure knows how to arrange his baseball-hat collection. Let him organize the things he finds most important. Don’t assume your way is the right way. Make him your partner in organization and let his solutions surprise you.
7. Time saving shortcut – Have different boxes for different rooms, so you don’t waste time by going from room to room several times to put things away. For example, if you are decluttering the living room have a box for your child’s bedroom. When you pick up a toy that belongs in your child’s bedroom, toss it into the box and at the end of your allotted declutter time return the items to the appropriate rooms.
8. Think outside of the box – You may have several containers that you bought but never used. Or maybe you have cleaned out some of the junk from containers, therefore freeing them up. Look for places where you have lots of little items that can be consolidated—linen closets, bathrooms, kitchens, etc. Toss travel-size toiletries in a bin so when you get ready to travel, you can pull it out and review the contents all at once rather than sorting through each item one by one. Place small containers in kitchen cabinets or the pantry to keep dry packets of seasoning, small snacks, and other loose items.
9. Creative labeling – You’ve done such a good job of organizing, don’t make it hard on yourself to find or remember what’s in which bin when you go into the garage to find something. Make sure you label storage boxes and bins. You could use colorful stickers or buy assorted colors of containers and organize by color. For example, Halloween items would go in an orange bin, Christmas storage would go in green and red bins, etc.
10. Maximize storage space – Take advantage of all the nooks and crannies. Double-check the measurements of your storage spaces before buying bins, trays, racks, or installing shelving or closet organizers. Measure the width, height, and depth of your closets and shelves. If the shelves are deep enough, you may want to have two rows with less frequently used items in the back.
11. Be Realistic – Organizing isn’t about being overly disciplined. It’s about being structured just enough so that you can find anything within two or three minutes. Decide what your top priorities are. (The living room? Your files? Your shoes?) Then organize to the point where you bring serenity into your life. That’s rarely achieved by perfectionism.
12. Simplify your life – If you’ve organized all of your spices alphabetically only to find that you can’t easily access the thyme without reshuffling the entire cabinet and undoing all of your organizational efforts, then it’s time for a KISS (keep it simple silly) way of doing things. Easily access kitchen goods with lazy-Susan turntables. People have a tendency to forget what they don’t see; this also keeps everything visible.13. Do you have too much of an organized paper mess? –Are you hanging on to paperwork because you aren’t sure what to throw out and what to keep? Here is a general rule of thumb; tax returns should be kept forever. Backup material, like receipts and statements, can be purged after seven years. Another way to cut through clutter but have peace of mind is to scan items you want to keep.
14. Downsizing the wardrobe – I must admit I have trouble with this one too. But if you are one to hang on to the short, short mini skirts – ask yourself the three F’s: Does it fit? Does it Flatter? Does it make you feel like a million bucks? If any one of those questions are a no, then donate it to a charity. At the end, you will feel so uplifted!
15. Let it go – This can be another tough one. You have received gifts that you don’t want but feel guilty giving away. Get rid of them! The overall purpose of a present is the exchange of thoughtfulness and good feelings. The actual item itself shouldn’t be an issue. If it helps, you can take a picture of yourself holding the item.
If after decluttering your home, your mind doesn’t feel decluttered as well, then you could try these simple solutions:
• Pay attention to your physical health – get a check up, rethink your diet, pick up a fun exercise routine, try to go to bed an hour earlier.
• Attend to your mental and spiritual health – DE-stress! It may be as easy as setting aside as little as half an hour of “me time” everyday. Enjoy a walk outside, read a book, meditate, call a friend or simply relax. Do a little something daily for yourself.
• Let go – Don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn that certain circumstances and situations are simply out of your control and are not worth stressing yourself out over. Ask yourself; will this situation really matter tomorrow? Next week? In a month?
• Good for the soul – Do something that makes you tick! Find a hobby where you can unwind and simply enjoy yourself. Sign up for yoga lessons or a painting class, volunteer, go to the beach. The possibilities are endless.
No matter how you choose to get started – whether it’s with some of these tips or countless others – the goal is to take your first step and feel good about it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding underneath that clutter. How you remove it is ultimately up to you..