Put Stuff Away Before You Take Anything Else Out

Have you ever noticed?  When we are excited about an upcoming adventure / event / road trip, our first reaction is to jump in and start pulling things out to get ready.

Perhaps we are packing for a trip.  We’re leaving in the morning, so we run to the closet or dresser drawers, and start pulling out clothes and piling them on top of a potentially already cluttered dresser or bed.

Sometimes, we have a project for work that must be done right away, and we spread it out on top of the projects already on our desk or work space.

Maybe we’re famished and we need to start dinner, so we pull things out of the fridge to the already crowded counter and then wonder why cooking is such a hassle.

AHHHHH!!! Let me suggest a better way:

  • STOP!
  • Put your stuff away before you start pulling more things out.
  • Just 5 or 10 minutes of clearing out and cleaning up will help you find focus and clarity and a clear work space!
  • As you tidy up, craft your packing list or project plan in your mind.   Then, when your mind and space are de-cluttered, jump in to action!

Let’s go back to packing for that trip.  Take 5 minutes and hang up that pile of stuff on the dresser or bedpost (you know, THAT pile).  Locate and put away your clean laundry, pulling out items you want to take along with you.  Then pull out your suitcase or satchel and get packing!

Need to pack up more orders for shipment?  Finish the ones from yesterday and load them in the van.  THEN… start on the new ones.  A clear work space is always going to make the job go more smoothly!

Back to that new project for work?  Take the 5 minutes to clear up the old project, so the two don’t get mixed up.

Friends coming for dinner, and you just got home with all the groceries? Before you turn on the oven or open one package, take 5 minutes and put your groceries away, setting aside the supplies you need to make dinner on a tray or cookie sheet, and wipe clean the counter.  Just those few moments of putting away and getting ready will make your meal prep a lot easier!

I always encourage action instead of inaction, but we should also be taking the RIGHT action. So, clear and clean up before you leap in and give your next actions some thought.  Then go ahead and jump!

Your Stuff Needs an AWAY.

We all have stuff.  Stuff we need, stuff we use, stuff we love*.  Stuff.

(*if anyone can tell me who crafted the ‘Need, Use, Love’ criteria, I would love to know!)

Sometimes we have stuff we don’t need or use or love, and then our Stuff turns into Clutter.

 

Perhaps you have Stuff that you do need and use, but it is scattered around the house.  In the way, on surfaces, in bags, on top of other things. In this case, your Stuff becomes visual clutter.  We know we need to keep it, but it still drives us crazy.


Your Stuff needs an AWAY.
Once we determine what Stuff is needed and useful, we need to establish an AWAY, a spot or maybe multiple spots in our house for our Stuff to live.
Then we need to create and maintain the habit of actually putting our Stuff AWAY.
We put our Stuff AWAY…
  • to take good care of our Stuff so we don’t have to buy our Stuff again;
  • so we can find our Stuff again when we need it; and
  • to give our eyes a break and our homes a breath of clean and fresh air.
Ideas to consider:
  • If you have look around your home and notice piles of Stuff, we first ask – is that Stuff or Clutter?  If it’s Stuff, it needs an AWAY.  If it’s Clutter it needs to be purged.
  • We need to establish an AWAY for our Stuff that is convenient to where we use our Stuff. Obviously, we keep cooking and food items in the kitchen.  But we can be more specific, as in, keeping the coffee cups in the cabinet above the coffee maker which is also right next to the sink.
  • We also need to establish an AWAY that is convenient for the other related Stuff that goes with our Stuff.  So, in the coffee analogy, I might also keep the cream and sugar near the coffee maker and mugs, and the travel mugs nearby, too.
  • An AWAY for our stuff helps us decide about quantity.  For example: to me, one large dresser drawer full of t-shirts is a reasonable amount.  So, when I put my clean laundry AWAY and the drawer is too full (perhaps a recent shopping trip?), the boundaries of the drawer remind me of a reasonable t-shirt collection size, and I purge a few.
  • When we have a reliable AWAY and habit around putting our Stuff AWAY, we can check the AWAY location to determine if we need to buy more of our Stuff.  Again, using the coffee analogy, when the KCup holder (the AWAY) is empty, I know it is time to buy more KCups.  Imagine if I randomly stashed KCups all over the kitchen.  I wouldn’t know what I have, nor would I use it very well when I needed it.
  • Consider this idea from the other direction – If your stuff doesn’t have a home – an AWAY – it’s likely clutter.
Make the habit to put your Stuff AWAY.  Once a day, a couple times a week?  Put your Stuff Away, and enjoy the clutter-free space.  A clear space signals to your brain that you’re done, that work is complete, that the room is clean, etc.  A clear space can be both calming and energizing!
To sum up:
  • Decide what is Stuff and what is Clutter;
  • establish an AWAY for your Stuff;
  • establish good habits around putting your Stuff AWAY,
  • so you can take good care of your Stuff and enjoy a less cluttered home .
Have a great week!

Life’s Stormy Weather: Cleaning Up and Getting Ready

I presented to a church group last week, and as part of the meeting, they were reflecting on Proverbs 31:21, “She doesn’t fear for her household when it snows, because they are all dressed in warm clothes”.   As I pondered the verse, I realized that we all have Snow, we all have difficult seasons in our life.

This idea has been rolling around in my head these last few days, as friends and family struggle with life’s stormy weather, and the clean-up afterwards. Even we Klimczaks are cleaning up from especially busy days, and preparing for more busy times in the next few weeks.

We all have to endure “Snow” from the scripture, the stormy weather of life.  We have cold, dark, uncertain or tumultuous times:  big life events or small, personal hardships and tragedies, major work deadlines, illness or the death of a loved one.  If you are enduring ‘stormy weather’ right now, know that I am praying for you.

Here’s the toughest part, I think.  Regardless of our storms, no matter how vulnerable or maxed out we feel, the rest of the world just marches on.  And as hard as it seems, we have to catch up. Today, let’s talk about the after-storm clean up, and preparing for every day life plus the possibility of the next storm.

If you’re coming through your storm, you may feel tired, sad, drained, unmotivated.  Focus on Survival first: Food, clothing, shelter and safety.

  • Take a shower, get dressed, accomplish your usual morning routine.
  • Get something to eat and something to drink.  Take care of You.
  • Make the bed.  It’s amazing how accomplished we feel after such a simple task.
  • Open up the blinds and curtains.  Close your eyes and bask in the daylight for a moment or two. Maybe even crack a window open for some fresh air.  Breathe deeply.   If the day is dark and gloomy, turn on some soft lighting as you get moving.

Now, Maintenance tasks:

  • Grab a notebook.  I guarantee, as you move around your space today with your thoughts set on clearing “storm damage” and restoring order, ideas will occur to you that need to be noted!
  • Start a load of laundry.  Or fold a load.   Ah, laundry.  That never ending pursuit of clean clothes. Ours are clean but heaped in the big cart to be folded.  So this morning, I started a load and folded a couple.   This task took all of 5 minutes once I set out to complete it.
  • Clean the kitchen counter so you can make coffee, of course!, but also so you have some place to put the groceries you’re about to buy!
  • Craft a quick grocery list and head to the store.  This is not a 2-week buying extravaganza, this is the “let’s get through the next few days” trip.    And did you know there are flowers at the grocery?  Bought some tulips today.  Made me smile.  (There is also chocolate, specifically Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, on sale right now.  Just sayin’…)
  • Take a coupe more deep breaths.
  • Put the groceries away, grabbing something for your self for lunch and leaving something out for dinner.
  • Feeling better yet?
  • Check the mail that has piled up, toss or recycle as much as possible, add the action items (add them to your list, of course, like “pay bills”, and “make appointment for car service”), and schedule time to complete those action.
  • Check the email, purging all but the essentials.  Add the action items to your to-do list.   Put out fires and flag emails for later, add those to your action list then move on.
  • Accept help.  A friend offers to drive the car pool, drop off a meal or run an errand?  YES! And remember, sometimes the storm is ours, and sometimes it is someone else’s, so be ready to help out when you can, too.

The challenge with life’s stormy weather is that we don’t usually know when the storms will hit.  So it behooves us to quickly recover from life’s ups and downs and get back to normal, so we’re better prepared when the next storm rolls around.

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

National Clean Out Your Closet Week: What’s In Your Suitcase?

Did you know?  The 3rd week of March is National Clean Out Your Closet Week.  Here are simple questions to ask and an easy activity to help you clear your closet clutter!

I have been thinking a lot about closets today.

I spent some time in a closet this afternoon (I love saying that), offering suggestions on how to put it back together after a recent paint job.  My client and her husband have a good selection of clothes but not too much, so we didn’t have to talk about clearing clutter.  We could focus on solving storage challenges (more shelves, higher closet rod so we can double hang one side of the closet, etc.), instead of trying to stuff too much in too small of a space.  It was a pleasure!

This morning’s client has been traveling a lot these last 6 months.  And I am sure that there are clothes in her closet that have not traveled with her on her recent adventures.  So, the question is – does she really need those left-behind items at all?  Her travels remind me of a decision tool I’ve used with clients:

  • Imagine you are packing for a 2 week trip.  Perhaps a new outfit every day, but re-use favorite items if you’d like?
  • Pile up all the items that you would take with you. Then..
  • Look at what is left in your closet   Perhaps there is A LOT left in your closet?

Perhaps it is time to clear some closet clutter?

Let’s look at those items that aren’t going with you.  Ask the question of each piece:  Why wouldn’t it make the trip?

Too formal:  Keep a few, of course – we do need at least some dressy clothing.  But, not too much.  Unless we wear really dressy clothes all the time, the selection should not outnumber or overcrowd the other items in your closet.

Too casual:  We don’t need too many of these, either!  A client had an entire pile of worn out t-shirts for “walking the dog or washing the car”, which is a great idea, but  – a Whole Pile of beat up t-shirts?  We reviewed the pile, kept the best 5 or 6 and freed up shelf space for more important items.

Uniforms or specifically work clothes:  True, work clothes may not go on vacation with you, but we can still look objectively at our work clothes, and recognize how much is enough and how many is too many.  30 pairs of pants?  42 dress shirts?  Too many.

Wrong season?   These can stay, but perhaps it’s time to swap out your closet seasonally, to create more space for moving around and using your day to day wardrobe.  I took my big Irish sweater off the shelf today – I only wear it for St. Patrick’s Day, so now is the time to put it away for the season!

Needs repaired, but I still love it: The answer, of course, is to get it repaired.  In the past 6 months, I have had a skirt shortened, shoes fixed and a leather backpack repaired.  Invest a little time and money in your favorites, and put them back to work!

Needs repaired, but I don’t care about it much anymore:  donate, sell, toss. Don’t let it occupy another minute of your time and attention, let it go.

Stained?  Old?  Scratchy?  No longer stylish?  You will NEVER choose these items as you get dressed in the morning.  Let them go.

I have no feelings for the item, one way or the other:  If you are battling clutter or looking for more room in your closet, you may want to go ahead and donate / sell  / purge your ambivalent items.  Using the Vacation analogy, it is highly unlikely that those uninspiring items will be your choice as you get dressed in the morning, either!  These items will never make the cut, which means they should not stay.

Spend a little quality time in your closet this week and play this game to make decisions easier!

National Organize Your Home Office Day: My High Tech Me Project

Did you know?  The second Tuesday in March is National Organize Your Home Office Day.

I’m entertained by the fact that, thanks to technology, I started this blog seated at my favorite satellite office, the Corner Bakery near my home.  Not to be confused with my favorite Conference Room, the Beverly Bakery, also near my home and where I take my breakfast meetings.  The real irony is that I’m avoiding baked goods, but I really love these places!  And now, I’m home in my actual office.

These “home office” musings remind me that my “Home Office”, or in my case, just my “Office”, is anywhere that I am at that moment, thanks to technology.  There is a dark side of tech, though:

I’ve been struggling with the myriad methods of communication available, and how to manage them all well.  For example, last summer, a friend asked “Did you get my message?”, so I went back to check my:

  • recent texts;recent voice mails on my mobile phone;
  • recent voice mails on our home phone;
  • FB messages on my personal page, and
  • FB messages on my business page;
  • professional email;
  • personal email;
  • at the time, cub scout pack email (as I was still Cubmaster and she is a scouting friend);
  • twitter; and
  • actual snail mail, and my really big white mail box because she lives down the street, and could have left something for me.

Ridiculous.  Not the message or the friend (she is lovely), but the number of places I had to check for communications.  Ugh.

Fast forward: I spent the first 7 weeks of 2017 working on what I called my High Tech Me project. My plan was to make the moving parts of my office experience work better together.  To organize my “office” and clear communication clutter, I organized my tech.  After assessing my needs, I (just to list a few steps):

  • streamlined my IPad and IPhone apps, and set up my laptop so all the devices communicate with each other;
  • set up my devices to update automatically overnight, and installed yet another external hard drive;
  • purchased a few more chargers and surge protectors for the places we all use them the most (and my chargers are pink as the only female in the house, to easily identify who swiped my stuff);
  • fully embraced Gmail for my personal email – it’s easy and has an app!, and I left behind our old email provider that doesn’t have an app and regularly froze up or kicked me out;
  • wi-fi enabled my new IPad (woot woot);
  • adjust my privacy and notification settings on all my social media and email accounts, to better manage my information;
  • explored Evernote, and now use it more fully to organize my thoughts and notes;
  • unsubscribed from dozens of retailers and email mailing lists; and
  • re-established a relationship with Siri on my apple devices, and while we still don’t always see eye to eye, we’re making progress (and Siri is now an Australian male voice and I refer to him as Nigel.  Whatever works.).

On this National Organize Your Office Day, remember these important points:

  • Technology is amazing and overwhelming, but it is just a tool.   It’s here to make our lives better, so set yours up to improve your life and not detract from it (and if you don’t know how, ask my web guru Claire and she will say – When in Doubt, Google it Out!)
  • BACK IT UP.  To the cloud, to a hard drive, to your lap top.  Back up your information. And get a case for your phone.  Yes, you,
  • Keep current on your device udpates, all the time.
  • De-Clutter or streamline what you can. Unsubscribe, send all your emails to one address, get rid of your home phone (we’re working on this one!), mirror your devices so you only have to remember one set-up, etc.
  • Make maintenance a habit.  I have actually added a line item to my daily routine to remind me to check different communication methods until it becomes a habit.

 

Get Over Left Overs: 85 Banana Chocolate-chip Mini-muffins

I regularly see this billboard and it always makes me think. Imagine – $1,500 a year is a lot of money to just throw away. (www.adcouncil.org)

A related statistic from the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations website (www.fao.org), 1/3 of all the food produced in the world goes to waste.  One third.

I try to not waste food, yet every week when I clean out the fridge, I toss a few things, too. Overripe cucumbers, mystery meat, dried out or moldy bread – all foods I should have used instead of wasted!

So, let’s bust these statistics.  We can all benefit from a plan to use our food better!  We can:

  • Save money by using our inventory before it expires;
  • Clear kitchen clutter by only keeping on hand what we really need;
  • Eat better and healthier by planning our menus with a little more care; and
  • Be more responsible stewards of our resources!

When I got home from the grocery the other day, I cleaned 3 pounds of grapes (they were on sale) and left them in a bowl.  We made dinner, consisting of baked sweet potatoes, a veggie, and warmed-up pork roast from last week.  While the potatoes baked, I turned a double batch of banana bread batter into 85 banana chocolate-chip mini muffins (I’d take a picture, but 48 hours later, there are only 6 left).

  • We will never eat grapes off the stems, but everyone will grab a handful if they’re clean and ready to eat.
  • We are unlikely to warm up pork roast just because, but pairing it with fan favorites like baked potatoes makes a lovely Sunday dinner.
  • No one in the house (including me) will eat brown bananas, but we’ll eat mini-muffins like crazy.

The secret is (well, it’s not really a secret) to Plan, Plan, Plan.

Looking to use up what you have?
Look first to use your fresh food, then fridge, then freezer then canned.

Clean and prep your fruit as soon as you get home from the grocery store.  

Apples, clementines, lemon and limes – I wash all in the sink immediately, and then store it on the counter to grab and go.

If we buy melons or strawberries or grapes, we clean and prep those, too.  Making good food convenient  ensures we will use it up before it goes bad. And when the strawberries start to get mushy, they go into the freezer, to toss in smoothies another day.

Know yourself and your habits.

I wish I could say that I take lots of time to cook nutritious meals daily for my family.  But I don’t. If I buy fresh veggies, I try to clean that when we get home from the grocery, though this takes a little more time.

Fresh produce is one are of my grocery list where I use convenience food.  Pre-cut carrots and celery are much more likely to be used than produce still in a bag.  And yes, I buy bag salad.  A head of lettuce will go to waste, but we will use bagged salad and spinach.

If you’re going to dice one pepper, dice two.  If you’re going to shred a cup of cheese, shred two.  Prepping twice as much of something, and then using it later takes little additional time and saves scads of time later.

Meat. We freeze everything.  When we buy ground beef or sausage, we brown most of it and then refreeze it in one pound bags, to use, tacos, chili or sauces.  We also purchase Costco rotisserie chickens and eat some for dinner, then save the rest for casseroles and keep the  carcass to make chicken soup another day.

Look in your pantry and fridge with new eyes, and Get Over Your Leftovers.

Who says you can’t have dinner for breakfast, or breakfast for dinner?  Eat dinner for dinner, then expect and plan to use leftovers for breakfast and lunch.  Use what you have before it expires. Use it before you go out and purchase more. Re-purpose what you have.  Make your own breadcrumbs and croutons from bread and buns, dice your fruit for smoothies and baking.

Use what you have!  Save money, save time and clear clutter!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Conquer Your (kid’s?) Clothes and Closet: Summer Project #1

July is a great time to clean closets and organize clothes!023
It may seem counter-intuitive (or crazy!) to tackle closets now, but think about it:
  • it’s easy to be objective and make decisions about cold-weather clothes, since we haven’t seen those items in a little while;
  • summer is well underway, so we have a good idea of what works for this current season;
  • organizing the closet and clothes now will make Back To School shopping (there, I said it!) easier; and
  • as we tackle closets with our kids, summer allows for a more relaxed schedule and a little extra time to complete this type of project.
So, let’s get started!  Tackle the kid closets first, but these guidelines work for your closet, too! Grab white kitchen garage bags (for donations and hand-me downs to others), black garbage bags (for actual garbage), clear storage containers, a black sharpie and post-it notes.

Start with Sizes:

     Most kids (and adults!) have more than one size of clothes in their closets or dressers.
     I worked on a client closet last week, with clothes present from birth to 5 or 6 years jumbled all together.  We first sorted the little girl’s clothes by size (she’s a 3T,)
     We lined up bins, labeled them (creatively!) 0-12 months, 12-24 months, 24-36 month, 3 T, 4T and up, and started sorting!
     As we sorted the clothes, we also reviewed the items, donating or scrapping anything Mom wouldn’t use again (stained t-shirts, unmatched socks, pants with big holes in the knees, etc.).
     After a recent class, a mom-of-3-boys asked me “what to do with all the clothes?!” Especially the “between sizes” that no one is wearing right now.   The answer is the same.  Sort out the clothes by size, store the “between sizes” in well-labeled stacking plastic bins, and purge the stuff that no one will use again.
      Most importantly, leave one more open bin in the closet, to receive clothes as your child outgrows them.

Off-Season Clothes:

     If you don’t have multiple sizes of clothes in your closet, you can start with off-Season clothes.
     Objectively, look at off-season clothes.  Remember, you can’t fix ugly, you can’t fix itchy, and you can’t fix the wrong color.  Pretend you are packing for a 2 week cold-weather trip, and you leave tomorrow.
     What favorites would you take along? Set those aside.
     What really useful items would you take along?  Set those aside.
     Now look at what’s left – neither favorites nor really useful items.   So, do you really need them?
     This week, get your off-season clothes repaired, tailored or cleaned.  My middle son wears ties with his high school uniform.  Drop off ties, suits and other dry cleaning this week.  Take your shoes or handbags in for repair.  Get those cold-weather pants or skirts hemmed now while you don’t need them.

To Re-Cap so far:
     We’ve pulled out off-size clothes, and off -season clothes.  We have also pulled out beat-up clothes to donate or throw away.  The closet is looking pretty good right now.

So, let’s put it back together!  Categories:
Sort the clothes you have left by categories (jackets, tops, pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, socks and undergarments, etc.).
Once you sort your clothes into categories, decide where you want to keep each type of category of clothes.  Hang up the dressy stuff, school clothes or uniforms; fold the sweaters and causal stuff.  Put t-shirts, shorts, under-stuff and pjs into drawers.  And be on the look out for more items to purge!  For example, when my son and I look at the 30-40 t-shirts in his drawer, we realized 35 is too many and we can toss / donate at least a few (his idea!!).

Spend some time this week, between work and sunshine and summer activities, and create order in your closets!

Leap Day! What to Do With An Extra, Bonus, Cherry-On-Top Day?

Leap Day!  I’m publishing this blog today because I can!  We only get this opportunity once every 4 years, so I’m taking it!

Turns out, it takes we Earth Dwellers 365 and a quarter-ish days ( 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 47 seconds to be precise) to fully orbit the sun, so every 4 years we need to add a day to catch up with those quarters.  We’ve known this for 2000+ years now, though Leap Day has moved around within the year at the whim of various leaders over the last 20 centuries.  Time really is relative, and a human construct.   This is the ultimate Time Management Blog!

2016 is a Leap Year, today is a Leap Day.  I know it still feels like a Monday,  and may look like every other day except on the page of your calendar, but today is a Gift.

My question to you is:  What Can You Do With An Extra Day? An added bonus, cherry-on-top day?

I asked myself – If I had a day all to myself, an added bonus, cherry-on-top day, what would I do?

And it turns out, I would probably spend it doing the things I already love.

  • I’d get up early, like always.  Not because I had to, but because it helps me be my best self.
  • I would talk with loved ones, and spend time with my husband and sons.  Time with them would be essential to making an added bonus, cherry-on-top day the best day it could be.
  • I would prepare and share and eat really delicious food.
  • I would still organize, though perhaps just my own home or time or brain for that day.
  • I would still be productive because, honestly, I don’t find sloth enjoyable.  I get pleasure out of getting things done, so my added bonus, cherry-on-top day would still be productive.
  • I would read, go to Mass, go out in nature, take a nap and watch a really great movie.
  • I would drink tea and eat girl scout cookies and write, just like I’m doing right now.
  • I would be surrounded by music of my choosing.
  • I would live in a clean, uncluttered space, and still clean up after myself, because a added bonus, cherry-on-top day, and every other day, deserves that respect, as do I.
  • So long as no one was getting hurt, I would let those around me do what they choose, too.Here’s what I would not do:
  • I would not argue with anyone.
  • I would not talk on the phone.
  • I would not watch the news.
  • I would not shop, or spend much money.
  • I wouldn’t hear about people shooting each other over sneakers in a Mall, or how some crazy guy killed people in my beloved hometown of Kalamazoo, because those things wouldn’t happen.I realized, as I pondered this whimsy, that every day is a gift, an added bonus, cherry-on-top day, whether its a Leap Day or any other day.  Imagine how powerful this blog and every day could be if I changed the “I would’s” to “I will”.

    So, to repeat my earlier question,

    What Would You Do With A Gift Day? An added bonus, cherry-on-top day?

    And what is keeping you from treating every day like that Gift?

    Intentionally spending your time how you want, with whom you want, and in the productive endeavors that suit you best?

Dig Deep This Week, and Organize the Basement!

Basements are the hot organizing topic this week with my clients, how about you?

This phenomenon occurs this time every year.  We get a little stir crazy, perhaps with a touch of cabin fever.  We want to stretch out a little, but it’s still cold outside!  And so we look to those big spaces in our homes – the Basement!

Basements present great opportunities for family spaces, but we need to get them organized and functional before we can really enjoy our time down there!  So, how to organize that basement into fun and functional space?

The first step is my first step to every organizing project – grab a clipboard, start your lists and make a plan!

Ask the questions:  Who is using the space?  And for what purpose?  

Name Your Space.  When you call a room a junk room, guess what ends up in there?  Yes, junk. Every space needs a function or purpose, but not more than 2 or 3!  Imagine:  If you called your basement the Family / Toy  / Craft Space / Work Out Space  / Laundry Room, well, indeed, EVERYTHING would end up down there, and it would all be a hot mess!  Which leads me to…

Differentiate your spaces for separate functions.  If your basement is used to multi-tasking, make sure to set aside one corner for work out gear, and another corner for kid toys, instead of mixing the two.   You don’t have to build walls to separate spaces, either.  Imagine a couch set in the middle of room, with TV viewing / video game playing in front of the couch, and kid toy storage and play space behind the couch.  Something that simple can separate an overly large space into two more manageable and organized spaces.

Is there clutter that needs to leave?  Once you know who is using the space, and for what purposes, take a good hard look at what is already in the basement.  Are there items in the basement that do not match up with the newly decided purpose / functions?  Consider how to get rid of that crummy old couch, or plan a donation drop-off for those bags of clothes or books. Most basements I visit are in serious need of  de-furnishing!!

Plan a block of time, and enlist some aid!  If this basement space is going to be family space, it’s time to get the family involved!   Carve out a few hours on a Saturday morning, and make some big progress!

Decision making is still a stumbling block, I know.  We collect clutter from the rest of the house and let it pile up in the basement.  We delay the final decision of “Keep or Toss?” and just let it accumulate.  Then… the piles are just too overwhelming!  Therefore…

Make the Decisions, even when they’re hard.  Consider the piles in the basement.  Will the contents ever be brought up to the light of day again?  Come on… that old bedding, the wall art from 15 years ago, broken toys or dated holiday decorations?  Be honest, friend.  That stuff needs to go AWAY, and not into storage.  And you and I both know it.

One common function of basements is storage.  When it comes to long-term storage, please Remember your basement is a basement.  Protect items that you choose to store for a long time.  Basements may contain bugs, moisture, dirt, etc, so invest in sturdy plastic or Rubbermaid-type containers to store your stuff and treasures.  Soggy cardboard is not going to save those holiday treasures or family photos.

Spend a little time in your basement this week, and make fun and functional family space!

Inarticulate Growls of Frustration About… Clutter!

It’s amazing, and a little appalling, that some days I find myself uttering inarticulate growls of frustration.  It happens regularly when I stand in my family room.  I growl at my wonderful and amazing family members (and myself).
Why?
The pile of discarded shoes I trip over in the middle of the floor ..9 inches from the shoe rack.
The blanket folded (yes), but left… On top of the trunk where it actually belongs.
Coats heaped on the shelf… Right beneath the coat rack.  (Sigh).
Today’s discarded clothes leaning against the laundry hamper.  On the outside.
My recent favorite?  The wet and snowy shoes NEXT TO the doormat.
Let me admit – some days I am part of the problem.  Last week, we all came home from an outing and instead  of waiting for everyone to get out of my way so that I could hang my coat on the hook, I dropped it on a chair to hang up later.
Luckily for my family, I understand why these close-but-not-quite efforts happen, and I also try to not yell too loudly because I may have to yell at myself, too.
But we don’t have to live with clutter, or grumble at ourselves or others, if we can keep these following tips in mind:
It is amazing what 10 seconds can do.  Seems small, right?  But it takes just 10 seconds to
  • hang up our coat, put our keys on the hook where we’ll find them when we need them, and tuck our shoes out the of way;
  • put the tools away in the tool box instead of leaving them out where they may get lost or forgotten;
  • put my cell phone on the charger instead of just on my desk;
  • put today’s mail in my in-box instead of in another heap on some different surface where it will get ignored and gather dust.
Create a habit of setting things right once or twice a day, and this goes for both our professional and personal lives.    Check your work space at the beginning and end of your work day, and put stuff AWAY to clear that mental clutter or to prepare of the next day.  At home, try to take a sweep around the house before bed, or maybe in the morning AND in the evening, to put rogue items where they belong.  And this is not a solo affair – get others to put their stuff away, too – the afore mentioned coats and shoes and stuff all get hung up.
Be on the look out for regular system breakdowns.  If you or co-workers or family members always struggle with a regular task, take a closer look.  Sometimes we just don’t like  or want to complete a task, but it also may be too complicated / hard / confusing for us or others.  We may need to change or re-assign the task to get it done.  I was recently in an office where filing tasks were never getting completed because the file cabinet was physically blocked by a dead printer graveyard.  The filing tasks would NEVER be completed until we removed and recycled those printers.
Few spaces are ever completely stuff-free, and that’s ok.  Know what Done, or at least Done-Enough looks like, and once you’re there, move on to something else.
Remember, every moment can be an opportunity to do better.  We can growl or grumble. We can judge others and ourselves harshly for not completing tasks or leaving a mess or getting distracted, or… We can take a deep breath and do better.  Even just a little better.   We can put things away, clear the mental and actual clutter, and move on to something else.
Have a great week.