Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tips for taming the clutter

"A place for everything and everything in its place."

We've heard the old adage for years, but does it apply in your home?  When someone asks you for something, does it take you 10 minutes to find it or do you know right where it is? Are the flat surfaces "decorated" with junk mail from the past two weeks? Does the clutter make you feel a bit crazy?  It does me.  When my environment is chaotic I find it hard to concentrate on much else.

Living in our tiny IKEA cottage for the last three weeks has proven the old saying to be completely true.  It is the SECRET TO ORGANIZING anything.  While cute and cozy, there is not much no room for storage here.  For the most part we're living out of suitcases.  If you've ever lived out of a suitcase for more than two days, you understand how hard it is to keep that organized. The kids' room (yes, four kids in one room) looks like a clothes bomb went off.  I remind them to clean it, but what does that mean?  Stuff it all back in the suitcase so it APPEARS to be clean?  The proper storage makes pick-up a cinch because everyone knows where it all goes.  When our Texas home was on the market the kids could get it all ready to show in 15 minutes flat.  Everyone pitches in, grabs stuff and PUTS IT WHERE IT BELONGS.  

When people stop by my house they often comment on how clean it is.  I just smile and pray they don't look too close.  You see, there's a big difference between "clean" and "tidy".  Clean can pass the white glove test.  Tidy is a whole 'nuther story.  I'm much better at "tidy" than "clean".  

Before I go on I should add that I was not a born organizer.  Nope, everything I do I've had to didn't come naturally.  So if you've been holding on to the excuse that you are unorganized because it's just the way you are it's time to put on your big girl panties and deal with the mess!

Three Tips for Taming Clutter

1. Start small.

How do you eat an elephant?  One rubbery bite at a time.  So start chewin'.  Pick the one thing that's bugging you the most and work on it for 15-20 minutes.  You'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.  Even one organized drawer can make you feel better.  Then, when you start to feel overwhelmed by the clutter, you can just open that drawer and stare at it for awhile.  Hopefully though that one drawer will motivate you to keep going and before you know it you've conquered the whole bite at a time.  

2. Keep it in Perspective

Your home didn't become disorganized overnight so don't expect miracles.  Set realistic goals for yourself.  Saying, "I'm going to organize the kitchen today!" will probably leave you feeling discouraged and crying in your coffee when you can't get it all done.  Saying, "I'm going to clean off the flat surfaces today" is very doable and will give you the sense of accomplishment you need to keep going.

3. Money doesn't Matter

One huge misconception about organizing is that it takes a lot of money.  Well, in my dream home I have matching baskets and bins from The Container Store, but in reality I have things I scavenged for - Goodwill, yardsales, Wal-Mart, Target and Home Goods are all great places to find organizing ideas.  I subscribe to several catalogs I can't afford to shop from (Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs are my favorite).  These are great for getting ideas I can remake on my own for a fraction of the cost.  Looking for matching baskets to organize your bathroom shelves?  Round up what you can find and paint them all the same color.  Voila!  Now they match!

And of course there's Pinterest.  Search under "organizing" and you'll get enough ideas to keep you reading 'til you're 80.  Enough said.

Needless to say I am excited to move in next week so we can get some order back in our home space.  I told a friend today it feels like I'm nesting only without the pregnancy...whew!

What's your best organizing tip?  I'd love to hear it!

1 comment:

  1. I so relate to the clothes bomb going off when entering my kids room! Would love some tips on how you teach your kids to clean up after themselves. Still working on it with my own...


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