Most people who live in a cluttered and unorganized world don't have good systems or habits to tame the clutter and keep it under control.
When you are cleaning the house, do you find yourself trying to "find" places to put things away?
If you answered YES to this question, you need to ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have a place for this item?
- Is it necessary in my life/home?
If you don't have a place to put the item, then you need to evaluate the things you have and where you need/want to keep them
If you don't have a place for them and they aren't necessary for your life/home, then THROW IT AWAY or give it away, but get rid of it!
When I am cleaning and run across an item that I just can't seem to find a place for, I ask myself: Is it necessary? Is it important enough to create a long term space to keep? If the answer is ever NO, then to the trash it goes.
Over a year ago, I embarked on a journey to completely declutter my entire home and, in essence, my life...I am still on that journey, but now I look forward to it, rather than procrastinate even getting started.
What I found along this journey were a series of things:
- I have a huge house but NO storage or organization systems to speak of.
- I have a problem with paper clutter - I don't know how to throw it away :(
- I procrastinate putting things away - if it goes back to the 3rd floor and I am on the 1st, it can wait till later...the problem is remembering to grab when "later" finally arrives...
- These are all problems that have a solution!
Let's tackle #1: Huge House with NO storage/organization systems
This one is actually the easiest of the three.
You can run out and buy all kinds of items to put things in, but that can also require $$ that you may or may not have...no worries! Pinterest to the Rescue!!
Did you know you can create the most awesome items from recycled cereal and shoe boxes? I do now and while I was embarking on this journey realized that there are so many things that can be turned into the cutest of functional storage solutions for very little money.
Here is one of my favorite projects from Karen at sewmanyways using propel sports drink boxes:
You can also visit my pinterest page for more creative organization ideas:
Dollar Stores can also be great places to pick up inexpensive storage bins and containers.
But, I caution you before you set out to start filling your house with containers...start with one room, or better yet one area in a room that seems to have the most clutter. For me it is paper! I bought 2 small 3 shelf bookcases for my office to start and started laying things out on the shelves in the order they would be most useful and then decided what types of container would best suit the items.
It is a process and not something you do in one single day...instant gratification on a large decluttering and reorganization project is not a reality. It took me a few months to figure out the system that would work for the items I had and complete it with purchased and homemade storage systems...so don't be discouraged if you have to do this gradually. I save up for 3 weeks to purchase the two bookcases and then purchase and make the containers to house the items I had on the shelves.
#2. Did I Mention My PROBLEM with PAPER?!?
This wasn't a storage issue, it was a habit issue.
I realized that I would procrastinate dealing with finding place for new pieces of paper until there was a pile of it on my dining room table, my office desk, my bulletin board, the corner of the kitchen counter....and so on!
This required changing my HABIT!
I started with the one place that brought in the most amount of new paper: THE MAIL :(
It takes about 30 days to change a habit, or so I have read.
So, on the first day of June last summer, I started getting the mail and walking directly to the trash can with it, went through it over the trash can and threw away anything that did not require my attention or a need to keep it. I decided that for one single month the only items that would be kept were bills...everything else was looked at and thrown directly in the trash. Since bills were the only items being kept, I decided to put a file folder marked bills on my desk (where I pay them) and would walk directly from the trash can and file them. I did this for 1 month and have ever since. The bills have a place now and the junk mail too! It no longer resides in piles all over my home.
As time went on, I have used this system with the kids homework that they bring home too (another huge paper clutter disaster if you don't have a good habit in place). As soon as the kids get home from school and we are going through their folders, we pull out the papers that aren't necessary and they go directly in the trash. The papers that need my attention get signed and returned to their folders immediately and homework get worked on and returned to the folders/backpacks - Crisis SOLVED!
BUT! Here is the important part:
you MUST create the habit and follow through...that is your system, and without the system and follow through, it does not work.
Don't try to tame all the paper clutter in your house in one single day...it won't work!
You must put a system in place and create a habit or you will set yourself up for failure.
Take this one slow and you won't need to go through it ever again :)
#3. Don't Procrastinate...a very nice way of saying Don't Be Lazy!
This one goes to having a system in place again and following through.
For me it was the constant carrying of things up and down the stairs all day...and that I was lazy about it.
I needed a simpler method than just remembering to "take it upstairs later" because, as I said earlier, later never seemed to come.
I have 4 small totes on my stair case now...one for each person in the house to manage.
If it is one of my girls toys, articles of clothing or books, then when I pick it up I take it straight to their tote and drop it in. Their first chore when they get home from school is to take the entire tote and put all of the items that are in it away.
Did I mention that I am lazy?....I have 2 totes: one on my first floor that goes with me when I go upstairs to the second floor. Once there, I put everything away EXCEPT items that need to go on to the 3rd Floor (my studio). If there is anything in the tote for the 3rd floor I drop it in my tote that I keep at the bottom of the stairs for the next time I get up to the 3rd floor. It's a system...It works for me...I am lazy about going up and down the stairs and figured out that this works.
You will figure out your systems and what works for you as you start to figure out the reasons around WHY clutter seems to form in your home...You will need to just be brutally honest with yourself...Did I mention I was lazy?!
Ok, #4. There is a solution to everything!
If you accept that you cannot declutter your home and life in a day, a week, a month, and possibly not even in a year, then you can do this...I promise!
Take each thing, one at a time and master it, and slowly those "things" won't be a thing anymore and you can move on. And, once your life seems less chaotic you will find yourself with time on your hands to tackle one of those super cute little fabric covered storage container projects for the kitchen, bathroom, craft area or wherever.
- Locate the problem areas (hot spots if you will)
- Figure out the Reason WHY it has become a Hot Spot
- Find a "simple solution" to start you on your path
- Create and Maintain the Habit
- Problem Conquered!
- Pat yourself on the back for A Job Well Done and then MOVE ON to the next problem area...
My home organization is still a work in progress, but I give myself a pat on the back on each small accomplishment and look forward to the time when all of my problem areas have been conquered...and you will too!
So, don't procrastinate...start today with one little spot in the house and you will be so proud of yourself when that little spot brings you a smile that you won't let it get back to where it was and you will actually be excited to move on to the next one!
Good Luck on Your Journey!
~ Ali @ my (soon to be) UNcluttered life