Well, it’s happened again. The other people in your home have successfully managed to disorganize everything you organized and rather than put it back together you want to give up.
Well, hold on just a minute. There is still hope! Now, you and I can’t change other people (though we can teach our littles) but we can work toward building a habit in you to keep up with the organization of your home.
All that hard work that you’ve put in for the past few months or weeks at getting unwanted items out of your house was not for nothing. Let’s keep it going!
Or maybe you find yourself finally getting frustrated with not being able to find things in your home and having to purchase things you KNOW you already own but just can’t find it. Ahem, tape, scissors, glue… anyone?
After working with clients who have diligently been through their entire home side-by-side with me developing little habits of success along the way, I want to provide that for others. While not the same as working with someone, I want to make encouragement and tips and success available to you as well. For that very reason, I’ve developed a program that will show up in your email every day for 30 days. Consider it a little version of me in your back pocket cheering you on for 30 minutes each of those 30 days. I’ve had people ask me to come move in with them to help them with their spaces. This is pretty close!
You’ll learn about the best method to organize fully. You’ll hear from others about the change that organizing has brought to their lives. You’ll have the accountability to work in your home’s disorganized areas every day for 30 days, building a habit that can last a lifetime. You’ll have quick wins along the way. And, best yet, you’ll have a daily cheerleader in me!
I will be popping in every day for 30 days to cheer you on to working 30 minutes in your home every day. Thus, the program is called 30/30! 30 minutes for 30 days. It’s really up to you how much time you spend but the goal is to build a solid habit to either create or keep up with the systems that are keeping your house organized.
So sign up, invite your friends, and make a fun time of it!
I ask a lot of questions when working with people to find peace and freedom in their home. The questions vary by person and situation. “Do you like this item?” “Do you want to keep up with the care and storage of this item?” “Is this item an excess duplicate?” And so on.
One question I ask myself but not others is, “would you rebuy this if you lost it in a fire?”
Maybe you will think this is morbid. At times I sure do. That is exactly why I don’t ask this question of other people. I simply ask, “would you buy this item again?”
I should say that I have never had any reason to ask this question involving a fire. I’ve never experienced a fire myself. I’ve never even known anyone personally who has been involved in a house fire.
That is until this past year when I found out that the house of my friends burned. It was an accident that they had nothing to do with. Each of the seven people in their family made it out safely but hardly any of their possessions did. A photo or two and a small amount of other precious items.
Maybe you’ve known someone or you yourself have suffered this loss. What is the first word that you think of when you hear about a house burning down? I think of words like tragedy, devastation, and loss. Then I think of words like rebuilding, starting over, and community.
There are a few lessons that I want you hear from this as you continue reading. First, from my friend, make a video documentation of what you own because the insurance dealings are difficult and this video will help. Second, the less you own, the less hassle you will deal with both in everyday life and in emergencies or loss. Third, it’s all just stuff and only some of it is necessary and beautiful.
Make a Video/Take Photos I spent a little bit of time walking through my home recently making a video of all of my belongings. It took some time but it is done. I got serial numbers on things like the TV and my computer. Be sure to get in close on jewelry and artwork, perhaps getting photos of these individually. As another quick practical tip, have a fireproof safe that you store your important paperwork in as well.
Own Less Remember that “less” is different from “none.” The less things you own, the less things you have to keep up with in the day-to-day. And, in the unlikely but still real possibility event that you suffer a fire or natural disaster or loss of a loved one (more on this specifically in another blog post to come) you have less to deal with.
The Necessary and Beautiful When my friends started rebuilding their belongings they had immediate needs. They made a list of all the things they would need and their amazing community stepped up in beautifully unexpected ways. Yes, I used the word “need” in that last sentence correctly. They needed clothes, basic kitchen items, and basic furniture. But we also thrive when we have beauty around us. They might not be the first things we buy after a fire but they are probably on the wish list just the same.
I’m not asking you to get rid of everything you own except that which you would need right after a fire. I’m asking you to think about what you own and WHY you own it. Do you want to keep 3 sets of fine china that you wouldn’t purchase again if it was all broken? That is totally fine. Just know WHY you are keeping it. Chances are they are sentimental items and we all know those can’t be replaced. (I’m also not saying you need to keep everything that is sentimental but that is for another time.)
There are dozens of tips and questions to ask to help you decide what to keep in your home. There are too many to say all at once while in a decluttering session. Some, however, hold more bang for their buck. One of them is the 20/20 rule.
I first heard the 20/20 rule from these guys. And now I use it frequently with others. The basic idea is this, if you are holding on to an item just in case you might need it one day, you can let go of it if you can get it again in less than 20 minutes for less than 20 dollars.
One example might be that you have 16 rolls of tape. If you are holding on to these just in case you might need some tape, you can apply the 20/20 rule. Since you aren’t using this tape definitely (it’s a just in case item), and it will take you less then 20 minutes (on your next grocery run) and it will cost less than $20 (you can get the brand name for around $3) you can let someone else have it. Otherwise those 16 rolls of tape are taking up valuable real estate in a drawer and in your mind (another topic for another article).
Another example might be a bundt pan. “I might make a bundt cake next year. Maybe. I should probably hold on to it.” A bundt pan takes up valuable space in those kitchen cabinets. If you are holding on to it just in case you might make a bundt cake at some point, you can let it go. It falls into the 20/20 rule but also, you can probably save even more time and money by borrowing this item if you ever decide to bake that bundt cake. Then, not only are you not buying a pan that you probably won’t use often, you are also building community, saving money, and freeing up time and space in your home and head.
What items are you hanging on to just in case that are taking up valuable space in both your home and your mind? What can you let go of today to help bring more peace and freedom to your home?
Choosing only 10 after photos of all the work I did with the greatest people this year was super tough! I had the honor of walking with people through tremendous growth and that just doesn’t show up in a two dimensional image. For that reason, I’ll share my favorite images and the stories behind them. And to make it even easier on me I’m going to do them chronologically. I just can’t show favoritism! I love everyone I work with so much!
#1 Cozy Den
When you live in a house with this many delightful windows, have a lot of sweet friends, and a good variety of play options you have a lot of people over. This cozy den is actually a play room! Behind the couch is a piece of furniture that houses a variety of toys for different ages and of course there is the fun slide and massive, snuggly bear! This family of four has a lot of fun together and as you can tell, they can be cozy too.
This basement belongs to a couple who was literally days away from welcoming their first child into the world. With the help of a thoughtful family member, we tackled some important spaces in their home: kitchen, basement, attic.
After a move-in, a round of flooding, and a laundry room move the basement was the last place either of these two wanted to be. However, their beautifully old home has little storage so they would brave the crazy and go down for light bulbs and paper towels. Tossing a lot of stuff, adding some shelves, and putting like with like made this basement not only functional but also not scary and maybe a little beautiful.
#3 Toy Corner
What a treat to help this family of 3 get ready for their second child! Going through toys was so special to see what toys their toddler enjoyed and what toys they wanted to set aside for their new baby. With a little thought and rearranging, we were able to let go of some things, put some things in a “when she’s older” bin, and even have some room to grow as a birthday and day of birth were coming quickly.
#4 School Science Closet
When I got the call to come help with a school science closet I wasn’t sure what we were getting in to but this was so much fun! This science closet houses earth science, physical science, and biology. Sorting these items was a mix of memory lane, learning, humility, and nerding out. With three different sciences also comes multiple teachers which means this area needed all the bins and labels we could come up with. Also, science and learning change from time to time so we were able to think through what would be best for the teachers to advance the students’ learning and growing. And just look at those cute little lab coats!
#5 Girl’s Closet
All things girl are housed in this little space. I think what I liked best about this session was the energy that her mom brought. She was motivated, ready, made decisions easily, and had a blast doing so. She was thoughtful about what stayed and what left. One of my favorite stories of the year was when this mom kept a googly eyed crazy headband that I thought for sure was going straight to the trash. While I never throw away a client’s things without their permission, I do often catch on quickly to what they will or will not toss. That time I was mistaken!
#6 Garage (from scratch)
One of the most exhilarating jobs I had in 2019 was this garage design and install from scratch. This family of 4 had just moved into this home that had just been built and wanted to start their garage off right. Storage, labels, easy access, and room to park 2 cars. I laid out a plan, purchased supplies, hired a handyman, and we got to work. The parents put in a good amount of time decluttering down to what they wanted to keep and I put all those keepers in appropriate (like with like) bins complete with labels.
What you don’t see here are the tiny stickers that they placed to be sure they park their cars in just the right spot as to be able to get out of their car without dinging the wall or other car. There is one in front of them and one to the side of them. Genius!
#7 Kitchen Cabinets
This young married was one of my most grateful clients ever. She simply could not contain her gratitude as we worked through each section, seeing items that she could easily let go of, finding homes for the items that were useful and beautiful for her and her husband, and experiencing the peace and freedom immediately as we went through the process.
Instead of a wall of glasses that they didn’t use and casserole dishes spread throughout the kitchen cabinets, they now have what the like and what they use in easy to access areas. And because these cabinets are glass front we chose items that they like to look at as well.
#8 Move-in Breakfast Nook
A military family of four found a home to settle in to and I had the privilege of helping them. The mom has a beautiful eye for decorating, doesn’t she? Moving during a school year and especially right before the holidays meant the kitchen table was a drop zone for this family. Once we were able to find homes for some other items, put together a real drop zone, and get through some boxes, we were able to uncover the table and the entire family can sit together again for meals.
#9 Kids’ Bookshelf
I started 2020 suggesting you start with a bookshelf if you were having a difficult time thinking of a place to start. This is one of the many bookshelves I worked on in 2019 and how fun is it? This family has 2 elementary age children and an infant. Using that information we made shelves for each of the children and a few others for sets and shared book. I was brave and moved all the books to the front edge as that is what looks best and reminds people that nothing else goes on the book shelf in front of the books. When I returned to the home for the next session, I was told that the girls were reading books, putting them back on the shelves, and moving the books back to the front all on their own. I have no illusion that all families will do this or even want to do this but without providing the opportunity for beauty and order you never know.
#10 Women’s Closet
As simple as this may look to you, having all the same hanger for your clothes can make a big difference in finding peace and freedom in your morning routine and when hanging clothes. The similarity of hangers means you don’t have to look at a lot of different items when you are only wanting to look for which shirt you want to wear that day. You aren’t thinking about the different hangers on purpose but your mind is having to put up with it while also trying to choose a shirt. Put another way, choose hangers that are going to be white noise rather than a rock concert. You have to see them but you don’t have to be bothered by them. This client prefers the velvet hangers but you can use any hanger that are the same (I prefer tubular hangers as they are easiest to get clothes on and off of) will do the trick.
Are there other sessions and photos that I absolutely love? Yes, of course! I post before and after photos at least twice a week and adore every session. So you can head over to Facebook and Instagram to see those all year round or even go back and see what fun we had other than the 2019 Top Ten.
What areas of your home are you most excited about having worked through in 2019? What areas are you ready to tackle in 2020?
Can you join with the countless number of people who utter these words in regards to how they feel when looking at their clutter? Is there so much stuff that you don’t know where to start so you just stare at it and walk away defeated? Are there so many places that you can’t make a decision on where to start?
Today I want to give you a place to start. At the end of this post you will also find a few short questions to help you pin point your next area to work on.
Let’s start with a bookshelf. I’m going to walk you through just what I would do in-person with a client. These will be broad strokes as I can’t ask you questions about specific items like I would if I were with you but everything else will be right here.
First, why a bookshelf? A bookshelf is usually already mostly laid out for you, either having nothing hidden, or just one layer behind another allowing you to see almost everything on it at one time. You’ll see the importance of that as we keep going.
The first thing I do in organizing is the prep work. We choose an area, gather our supplies, and clear off a space to work on. Our area is a bookshelf and because of it’s layout we will get to use the shelf as part of our work space. You will still want to clear off a table or bed to work on as well. For supplies, you will want a trash bag for trash, boxes for donating, and a smaller bag for your walkabout. A walkabout is for those items that you want to keep but don’t belong in the area you are working on. For example, a hair tie in the silverware drawer. You want it but it belongs in the bathroom, not the kitchen.
The next thing we will do is sort. This is in a few stages and with our bookshelf will go more quickly that other areas. Usually you would take everything off of/out of the space but since we have this beautiful space to clearly see your books, we will leave the books at first. Anything that is not a book will come off of the bookshelf and be put on your work space. If you’re feeling like your declutter muscles are strong, go ahead and sort as you bring things down. If not, pull it off and then sort like with like. If your declutter muscles are super strong, go ahead and toss or donate some things. Hold off on what you are keeping until you have everything off of the shelf (except the books) and sorted.
Once everything except the books are off of the shelf and are sorted. Turn back to your books. If you have children’s books mixed in with cookbooks, novels, and text books, go ahead and do some sorting there depending on your preferences.
With everything sorted like with like, you can start the decluttering process. This involves making a decision on each item – keep, toss, or donate. Start with the items that aren’t book then move over to your books. A few questions you may want to ask yourself: Do I like this book? Is this book still useful? Does this item belong on the bookshelf or somewhere else in the house? Put those “keeps” that aren’t books or specific items for decoration on the bookshelf in the walkabout bag (oh and if this bookshelf isn’t in the kitchen, book your cookbooks in the walkabout and take them to the kitchen.) Don’t worry about organizing anything just yet. Give yourself the freedom to just make the decision on if you are keeping it or not.
Now that you know what you want to keep (all of these items should still be on your work space and/or bookshelf with no order necessarily), what you are donating (all of these items should be in a bag or box ready to be donated), and what you are throwing out (all of these items should be in trash bags) you can think about organizing. A bookshelf is a great place to start for this reason as well. 90-100% of the items on a bookshelf should be books. If you don’t have enough books to fill the shelf it will be lower of course. Let’s say it’s 90% books for our discussion here. Put your books in an order on the shelves that make sense to you for easy reference. Do you prefer to find a book by author or title or subject? Do you have children’s books that need easy access to little ones? If so, those would be good on the bottom shelf. There is no right or wrong here, just preference. Don’t overthink it. The other 10% is likely decoration like a keepsake or framed photo. Arrange these in a way that doesn’t overcrowd the shelves and is pleasing to your eye.
Just when you thought you were done… you need to actually finish your project. Do your walkabout. Put the trash in the trash can. Put your donations in your car and drive them to their destination.
You did it! You went from not being able to make a decision to finishing an area! Fantastic!
Don’t worry, here are those questions I promised you. Your answers will help you to determine which area to work on next.
What area overwhelms you the most?
What area would give you a “win” and the courage to keep going?
What area seems the easiest to tackle? Hardest? (depending on what type of personality you have you might want to start with the easiest or the hardest)
What area can friend, spouse, sibling, child, etc help you with?
You can do it and if you ever want someone to come along and help, bring in a professional! I’d be happy to be that person.