Thursday, October 7, 2010

Keeping Things Functioning Around Here-Part 3

Organizing our Clutter

I haven't posted lately because my card reader broke! I know "No pictures" doesn't make a post very exciting but I figured I'd keep it going anyway.

The words in my title do not go together because the words "Organize" and "Clutter" DO NOT go together. When I begin to organize a space in my home or help someone else organize their home, the first thing I do is get three boxes out. I mark them "Throw away", "Put away" and "Donate". The "Put away" box is for items that do not belong in that room. If we leave the room every time we have something to put away it takes longer, and we get distracted so, when the box is full, I go put the things away in each room they belong in. If we do not have a place for donations we tend to not donate them and we shove them somewhere in our space. I tell my kids all the time, "If it doesn't have a place, then it doesn't belong in our space". I read in a magazine today that the average American only uses about 20% of what they have! We are spoiled. So, if you haven't used it in 6 months to a year, it is cluttering up your home and making MORE work for you. Work=Time, and I don't know about you but time is not something I can spare. I also read today that each family member should only be spending about 30 min. per day on housework. If this is true, then spending more time either means we have TOO much stuff, or the other members of our family are not doing their share which brings me to my next tip.

The Chore Box:
Another thing my children constantly hear me say is "Don't put it down, put it away". So, if I find it out, it goes in the chore box. On Fridays, we dump it out and you owe me a chore for each item in there. If your items exceed 5, you don't participate in "Kid night". A movie and dessert that night. This is after my children have decluttered their stuff because I realized one day they had way more then they could appreciate. Now that they have eliminated the things they don't use, they care for the things that their Daddy works very hard to provide.

We've found that when we dread putting our clothes away it's because our drawers are too full. A great tip for decluttering drawers, and this especially applies to junk drawers, is pour everything into a box. If you use it, then put it away in the drawer. After a month or so, get rid of the rest. In your closet, turn all of your hangers with the hooks facing you. After wearing and washing an item, hang it back up with the hook facing in. Everything left on hangers facing you needs to go. (This works great for the people in your family that have a hard time letting go of un-used items.)

My house is divided into 4 zones.
Zone 1-Kitchen and office (Because the office is just off the kitchen)
Zone 2-Dining room and craft area
Zone 3-Bedrooms and bathrooms
Zone 4-Living room and entryway

I spend one week a month in each zone. First decluttering a little bit at a time. The best method I've read is this. Ask yourself 3 questions.

1. What already goes on in this area? It's easier to make a place for your husband to dump his stuff where he already does then to try and nag him into dumping it somewhere else. If the shoes are left at the door, don't expect a pretty shoe basket in a bedroom closet to become their new home. If your family plays games in the living room, store them in the living room.
2. What supplies are needed for this activity? Once you've decided what goes on in the zone, throw away trash or items you are unable to donate, donate things that are not being used, or put away what does not belong. Categorize the rest into piles. Maybe by size or type. An example would be toys. Don't make it too complicated for the kids. I have blocks, mega legos, and a wooden train set all in one tub because they were always doing these things together. They would end up pulling out the blocks to make the train set bigger, etc. This is a very easy clean up for toddlers and preschoolers and they are learning to do their share!
3. What type/size container do I need? We tend to get this one backwards. Don't buy them first because they could end up too big or too small and you don't want them creating future clutter problems. The goal is to de-clutter and stay that way so you have more time for more important things like playing with your kids. So, look at the piles of everything you are keeping and then decide what will hold them neatly. I prefer containers you can't see through. You can find neat ways to label them when you're done.

Like I said earlier, I was not born organized. I don't think anyone is. It can be learned and I'm still learning everyday. Whenever I go to an appointment I search for the magazines with organizing tips. Woman's Day, Better Homes and Gardens, etc. I take notes in my planner when I read something good. My kids always search the free magazine rack at the library for me too! Some other great resources are Flylady and HannahKeeley. I would love to hear how you stay organized and contain your clutter.


Grace said...

Great tips Season! I love flylady! Working on some of those same things here!

Aly sun said...

I'm loving reading this. I REALLY LOVE the turned around hanger idea. That's brilliant. I do most of what you suggested -- a combo of fly lady, motivated mom planner, and "house that cleans itself."

My best tip (you already mentioned) is to organize for the way things are. If you don't, it will just get cluttered again. A great idea is to take a picture of it at its worst and list what needs to go where. It helped heaps (pun intended) in my back entry, formerly known as the pit of doom.

Sara said...

There are some great ideas here! Thanks for sharing what works for your family! I can't wait until my kids are older so they can share some of the load, instead of me getting their "30 minutes" of cleaning a day stacked onto mine. :)