Monday, March 26, 2012

Cutting Down on Cleaning Up

As we go about our daily lives, we pick up countless items in our home and put them back down again.  The only problem with this is that where we put them down is rarely where they belong.  Our possessions get spread out throughout the day. Look around the room where you're currently there anything out of place? I don't know what your room looks like, but without much effort I can make a list from my home on any given day: the cordless phone is nowhere near its base, the pens are nowhere near the desk, the shoes are nowhere near the closet, the socks are nowhere near the laundry (perhaps that's unique to my house, but socks are always where they don't belong), the glasses are nowhere near the dishwasher.  That's just a quick list.  Perhaps you have a similar situation. If you don't, then congratulations are truly in order. As we've discussed in previous blogs, having a place identified for everything makes bringing everything back to "base" just as easy. Once you have that worked out, there's just one key step to cutting down cleaning up: NEVER leave a room empty handed.  Yes, it's simple, but very effective.

Every time you get up, bring something to the next room that belongs there. Consider how often you move from room to room and how many items you could put away in just one day.  It will eventually (dare I say, quickly?) become a habit. Of course it's a never-ending cycle and things will reappear, but it is so much easier to keep your space tidy if you don't need to dedicate long stretches of time to straightening up. It's a constant process, and one you can share. Family members will love the little reminders to take something with them when they leave the room, trust me. Okay, maybe you shouldn't trust me on that one. Although they may not love it, it WILL help.

Now, if you're not passing by the home of the misplaced item on the way from the living room to the kitchen, all is not lost. A little trick is to move the item closer to its base. Although I usually go the extra mile and put the item away, I have been known to move things to the doorway of the room it belongs in if I'm really pressed for time. It gets closer to where it needs to be and is ready for when I walk into that room.  Use the partial move method once you're into the routine of putting things away, since you don't want to add unnecessary piles. If it belongs on another floor of the home, get it just a little closer by putting it on, or near, the stairs. Remember safety first: don't put in where someone can trip.  Once there is an item waiting for you, you'll never walk up or down the stairs empty handed, right?

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Friday, March 16, 2012

The First Step to Getting Organized: Just Start

I have often thought that sometimes the hardest part of running is putting on my shoes. I really enjoy running and I love how it makes me feel, but when you're already cozy on the couch, well, it's easy to forget all that. In organizing, as in running, the first step is the challenge. There's only one way past it - just start and the rest will come.

How do you get over that feeling that the couch is the better option? A little change of perspective may help. Don't view your organizing project as a marathon. Think of it as just stretching your legs. People are often overwhelmed with the idea that everything needs to be done at once, and done right the first time. You can do the equivalent of a quick run around the block. Pick just one small area to focus on and organize that. Maybe it's even just decluttering a corner of a room. Every step counts.

Tell yourself that this is just a trial run. Don't view your results as the final answer; view this as playing with new drawer configurations, or rearranging shelves, or trying out some containers. You don't need to commit to the perfect solution. Be happy with the fact that you're moving in the right direction and making it better. Remember, every step counts. Who knows? The interim solution you create may even ultimately meet your needs.

Tempting as it may be, don't start with shopping. When I first started running, I didn't have any fancy gear. I got out there and ran a little first, then added pieces as I figured out what I needed. The same thing applies to organizing. Don't worry about having the right supplies before you even start. Try out some alternatives using what you already have in your house. If they don't work, change them up again by buying something new. If baskets don't work, try hooks. If boxes don't work, try shelves. No matter what you do, you probably will need to tweak whatever you've done in time as your needs change, and that's okay. Forward movement is the key. Just start and you'll get to the finish line. Baby steps…

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