Welcome to the Laurel Plum Online Clutter Scavenger Hunt.
Take your arms and spread them wide. Stretch every muscle all the way to your finger tips. Now, take 10 to 15 minutes right now to tackle all of the spaces your fingertips could reach.
This mission is one to rinse and repeat.
There are a few places in our lives where we spend a majority of our time. Our favorite chair, our desks at home or at work, our kitchen table, our bedside table, where we put our make-up on (unless we’ve given up on that luxury), our car… The rest of the time is mostly spent in motion or transition between those places. You are probably sitting in the middle of one of the big ones for you right this minute.
These spots can get piled up. Often. We sometimes don’t even notice until something or someone calls it to our intention. Until something can’t be found. Until something causes an overflow into the floor.
We play a big part in the damage, but others add to the piles, too. They expect us to be in those places. This is where they come looking for us. They leave notes or things they want us to see even when we are not there.
Co-workers help. Spouses help. Kids come with a lot of stuff that invades our spaces. Children especially are great for ganging up on you with stuff when you are flat unable to give them the attention they deserve. Multi-task? I can not tell you how many times I’ve been cooking or on the phone, even in the ‘powder room’ when one of the kids has brought something for me to see. At least 10 times a day I tell them to go put said widget on my desk for me to look at after I get done with the task at hand.
We really need to be more diligent with keeping these frequent places as peaceful, neat and pretty as possible. Not because it is expected. Not because we are suppose to be super women. We need to because these spaces have such a continuous impact on us. We deserve it. We owe it to ourselves to at least try.
So today, take a few minutes to make a difference on the area immediately around you wherever you are reading this. Do not go out and buy a bunch of things to tame and contain all the stuff around you yet. Just keep taking 5 minutes here and there cleaning things up. Keep at it until you feel you can start from the best case scenario with what is already in front of you. Start at one end and work your way all the way around.
- Toss out all of the trash.
- Sort like with like including a pile of anything that belongs somewhere else.
- Put away as many things as possible.
The Next Step.
Once you feel you are starting from scratch, THEN start paying attention to the specific things that begin to pile up and the possible reasons they do. One by one, look for a solution to stop it, store it, or otherwise strategize it from becoming a problem again.
- If you find you have a bunch of mail that keeps piling up, work out a strategy to reduce or even eliminate it from your space. You can eliminate a lot of it from even hitting your mailbox then work out a daily routine to deal with the rest very quickly.
- If you find you have odd pieces of garbage, could you eliminate it by putting a trash can closer? Is the one that is close smaller than needed? Simply keeping temporary disposable grocery bags in my car has done wonders!
- Could you set up a system for all of the kids items nearby? A box for little toys? An ‘In’ box for all of their papers? Maybe one for each child and anyone else in the house? (Consider using vertical space. You can dress up inexpensive acrylic wall file boxes (aff.) at a height accessible to each person with stylish file folders or scrapbook paper glued to the inside.) Do their papers even have to infiltrate your space? You may be able to set up an in/out location near your launch pad instead. Just make sure to check it every day.
- Are there a bunch of pens laying around because you don’t take the time to put them away? Or a bunch of papers laying around because you can’t find a pen when you need it? When I’m at my desk working, I have to push back to get to the pencil drawer. Now I know it is just a few movements. It’s not that I’m lazy, I’m just usually in a flow. I know that when I adjust myself physically to retrieve or put away a pen, it takes some time to adjust back to focusing on what I was doing. Call it ADD or Mom-nesia, either way having a place for pens within reach, using as few movements as possible to get to, keeps the pens put away and some of those papers at bay, not to mention those “What was I doing?” moments from deepening the furrow in my brow as often.
This part of the process will probably take several work sessions over a period of time. Start with the biggest inconvenience or the things taking up the most space first then work your way down to the next until you find yourself with an area that takes only a moment to reset.
Try to work with what you have on hand. You may have to try a few different approaches before you find what will work for you long term. When you get to a point when you feel efficient in your space, then you can spend some money to dress up your solutions.
Work this mission on each of the areas you spend the most time. When you’re done, you’ll have great insight to your/your families habits and how to work WITH those habits (in-spite of those habits?) to carry into organizing any part of your home.
Just for fun, for each challenge let me know what is the weirdest thing you find. As always, I would love to hear when any challenge makes a difference for you big or small.
Before you start, grab a camera. Take before and after pictures. Keeping a pictorial journal for your decluttering accomplishments can be a big boost later on those days when you feel you are not making a difference.