A Great Morning Starts the Night Before, 2.0 Edition (Not Just For Kids!)

Back in 2011, I wrote “A GREAT MORNING STARTS THE NIGHT BEFORE!” for a Back-to-School newsletter.   The original article, found here, is still pertinent and useful for kids and families!

I’ve learned a lot since I published that article!  And I still find myself re-considering how to tweak my routines.  Our days are complicated lately!  While I work on un-complicating them,  I still have to get to bed at a reasonable hour, get up and out of bed in the morning, and complete a handful of tasks before I leave the house every day!

I am older and wiser (as are my kids!), so today, let’s take another look at “A Great Morning Starts the Night Before”!

  • Look Ahead. 
    • In my original article, this was a solitary step for me as Mom to take. These days, the teenagers and I all need to check in with each other and with the upcoming calendar.
    • Part of parenting is to foster planning and self-management skills in our young adults (and working on that for ourselves, too!). Some days, there are scheduling challenges or car usage juggling!
    • I look at the calendar for the next few hours, days and weeks, and ask the important questions of myself and my sons to move us forward.  I may jot down those questions on a dry erase board, in case our schedules don’t synchronize.  (For example, “Where is the grade report from last Friday”, “Does your tux jacket need dry cleaned after last week’s concert?”, etc.)  They can start working on answering these questions in my absence!
  • Meal Planning:  I’m the only person who packs a lunch anymore, so lunch making isn’t as important as it used to be.
    • However, ensuring we have portable breakfast foods on hand has become more important, as has dinner meal planning to make sure I have a meal planned that works with the next day’s schedule.
    • Instead of assigning a specific meal to every day, I may list 5-7 quick and favorite meals on a note near the fridge, and make sure we have the ingredients on hand for each.
    • Then I can choose a really quick meal on days we’re strapped for time, or a more involved meal if I have a little extra time.
  • “Lay out clothes for tomorrow, for you and your children” was the statement in the original article.  However, as we and our kids grow and evolve, we know this gets a little tougher!
    • Laundry maintenance.  The success of this step relies on maintaining the laundry process (and yes, I have started a load of laundry as I’ve been writing this).  By “maintaining the process”, I mean – keep the laundry moving along and don’t let your wardrobe options pile up! For example, start a load every evening, and toss it in the dryer every morning while you get ready for your day.
    • Another key to success in this area is to have a standard ensemble to wear for your typical day.  I am NOT the person to give fashion advice, but I am the person to offer suggestions that will save you time and aggravation.  Spend an hour some evening, and put together a handful of outfits you can easily when you’re strapped for time.
  • “Pack Your Bag the Night Before”.  This piece of advice never grows old.  I had an early morning breakfast meeting today, so last night, I made sure my notes were in my bag.  We still stumble, as the completed forms I laid on the middle-schooler’s backpack for him to take back to school today are still laying on his dresser…  but tomorrow is another opportunity to turn stuff in!
  • Go to bed.  Good sleep hygiene is vital to success, for all of us.  A reasonable and consistent bedtime and calming night-time routines, including planning and prep for the next day, help ensure good sleep and a better morning tomorrow!
To:

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Change The Habit or Change The House?

Working with a client this morning, I was reminded  of an article I recently read on ApartmentTherapy.com.

In the comments for an article about creating an entry way in a small space, a reader asked if the solution to the problem was to “Change the habit or the house?”.

This is a powerful and useful question as we get organized!  And… what does that mean?

Let’s say I notice that, when I walk in the door every day, I consistently put my keys on the same side table and toss my coat over the same chair or the back of the sofa.

Leaving my keys and coat exactly there makes the space look cluttered or disorganized, so I could elect to try and change my HABIT and come in a different door, or walk down the hallway and hang things up in a closet, etc.   However, since I am consistent about where these items fall, I can find them in an instant and be out the door efficiently.

So the HABIT is a good one, but the entry way of the HOUSE doesn’t support the HABIT well.   I could change the house to support the habit by adding a decorative bowl in the entry way for keys and phone, setting a chair in the entry way for our coat and bag, or perhaps adding a coat tree or some wall hooks.

Another example.  This morning’s client has 2 school aged daughters, and they both consistently drop their school backpacks and sport bags in the same places in the living room / dining room.  This can drive a parent crazy, let me tell you!

Yes, the piles in these living spaces are unsightly.  However, these students have good and consistent habits that helps them keep track of their school work and team uniforms.  So, the question we asked this morning was “Is it easier to change the habit or the house?”

My client didn’t actually mind the location of the piles, merely the appearance of them.  So, de- cluttering the pile contents and adding attractive large wicker baskets to hold the bags and gear in the habitual drop zones seems a better solution than trying to establish new habits and drop zones elsewhere.

Years ago, I organized with a real estate agent who had a lovely home office, but she didn’t really like to work in there.  She preferred to work in her kitchen – it was warm and cozy, had great light plus coffee!  So, instead of trying to change her preferred habit of working happily in the kitchen, we instead set up a work space in the kitchen and reserved the home office for meetings with clients, and file and supply storage.  We helped her home better fit her good work habit.

Again, the question: Do I need to change my house or change my habit?

Is there is a space in your home or office that regularly causes you frustration?  A place that has just never seemed to “work” right for you?

If your habit is a problem – you drop stuff where it becomes unsafe, you neglect client files, you are inconsistent with your stuff and the habits around it – then consider changing your habits.

If, however, your habits are sound but the space doesn’t support the habit, consider what you can do to Support the Good Habit and Change the house around it!

Thanks for reading!

To:

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9 Things Every Closet Needs! Tips for National Clean Out Your Closet Month

Did you know?  January is National Clean Out Your Closet Month!

Today, I want to suggest how to celebrate Clean Out Your Closet Month with some ad-ins that will keep your closet organized every day of the year! Check them out!

EVERY CLOSET NEEDS…

  1. A basket / bag for dirty laundry. This keeps random bits from piling up, and makes that dirty  laundry more like to get washed!
  2. A basket / bag for regular trips to the dry-cleaners or tailor (optional).  Ours dry-cleaner bag lives in our laundry room, and we have a weekly errand for taking in and picking up.
  3. A basket/ bag and a path for items to leave.  Our home has a system for getting rid of no-longer-needed items.  These items go into the dirty laundry basket with everything else and get laundered, then tucked in the “Donate” or “Off-To-Our-Cousin” baskets that live in our laundry room.
  4. A wastebasket.  Rubbish needs a path and a receptacle to leave a space.  Show me a closet littered with plastic dry cleaning bags, clothing tags, dirty tissues and general trash, and I’ll show you it lacks a wastebasket.
  5. Good hangers. I’m not suggesting you spend a fortune on your hangers, but invest in plastic or felted hangers to take good care of your clothes and give your closet a tidier appearance.
  6. A few extra hangers, but only a few.  One of the first and easiest steps to making more room in a closet is to clear out all the empty hangers.  Trust me, some have dozens taking up precious rod space!  Once all your clothes are hung and the closet is organized, keep all but 3 or 4 of your empty hangers in your laundry room instead of in your closet.
  7. An Ish-Hook or 2.  I have 3 hooks in my closet for clean-ISH clothes.  Clean-ISH, that you plan to wear again soon.  You know – the pajamas you only wore once? or the track pants and sweat shirt you put on when you get home from work?  Perhaps the jeans you wore for a little while but plan to wear again tomorrow.  It’s not worth it to wash them all, or to hang them all up again, so we need a way to keep them close at hand but not strewn about your space!
  8. A clear floor.  Imagine with me:  You’re standing in your closet, trying to get dressed in the morning. Or perhaps you have clean laundry to put away.  Now imagine trying to do these regular tasks while stepping on clothes or shoes, or dodging shopping bags or neglected empty suitcases.  Having those physical obstacles in the way will likely keep you from completing the simple maintenance tasks needed to make your closet work well for you.
  9. A plan! Every month or so, I get the itch to review my closet and drawers, straightening and purging as I go.  I encourage my sons to do the same, at least a couple of times a year.  This quick but regular maintenance keeps my clothes and closet organized and relatively clutter free all year long!

Spend some time taking care of your closet this week, and it will take care of you every day!

To:

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Creating a Landing and Launch Pad Where There Isn’t One

Many of our homes were built around the idea of “everyone uses the front door”.  Larger entrance, coat closet, etc.  However, many of us do not come and go from that front door.   Last week, a friend asked if I could help with her new homes’ back door / drop zone / launch pad.  In her words,

  • there is no place for coats and bags;
  • the space is small and hard to manage;
  • adding in winter accessories like glove and hats makes the problem worse;
  • taking coats to the bedrooms makes no sense;
  • everything gets dumped at the door, and is now spreading into the kitchen; and finally,
  • “I’m gonna lose my crackers!”

Picture this:

  • The back door is where all five family members exit and enter.  
  • For scale, when the back door is open, it spans the entire width of the space.
  • The back door leads directly into the dining area in the kitchen.
  • The back door landing is a step down from the kitchen, and is the landing for the stairs going down into the nicely finished basement.

The family is quite organized, and they have done a lot to maximize the space they have while settling into this new (new to them) home.  There is a small set of hooks next to the door for keys, umbrellas and the dog leash.  There is a counter a few feet from the door where family members can drop their bags as they come home.   But they lack coat / accessory / bag storage.

We all may have an organizing challenge like this….

Often-used space that occasionally drives us crazy!

Spaces that every family member uses!

Spaces that can make or break our daily routines and flow!

Spending a little time and energy organizing these spaces saves us hours of headache (and yelling) in the future!

Here’s How:

State your purpose for the space. For my client, the purpose of the back door space may be “An attractive space that helps with timely and stress-free arrivals and departures”.   Once you state your purpose, Pare Down what is in the space to only the items that feed your purpose. My friend’s back door / landing pad space should be

  • geared towards a quick and easy transition, typically exit;
  • aesthetically pleasing;
  • as clutter-free as possible.
  • If you look at something, and you feel yourself frowning as you wonder “Who’s is this? Why is it here?  What were they thinking?”, those are all good indicators that something doesn’t belong in the space you are working on!

Once you know the Purpose of the Space, Look up and down and all around for storage solutions!

Keep it Safe!

Since this space is a heavily traveled walk way – in and out of the house and also up and down the stairs  – safety is very important.  Storage solutions will need to keep the walk way and stairs clear.  I will recommend coat hooks as solutions, but only on one side of the stairwell, to keep it as clear as possible.

Shelves, shelves and more shelves.

  • Any empty walls can be considered storage space.  To keep the walk way clear, I may recommend shelves high on the walls for baskets of accessories or off-season items.
  • Shelves, too, near the ceiling could hold decorative baskets with extra accessories, if needed.
  • Add shallow shelves above the command center in the kitchen, and add baskets for extra sunglasses, charging cords, and maybe one for each family member.

That Door Has Potential!   Consider the door itself in the organizing solution.  

  • Invest in an over-the -door coat rack; and / or
  • invest in an over-the-door shoe rack, for shoes but also for accessories; and/ or
  • if the door is metal, purchase heavy duty magnetic hooks for coats, like these…

Install some – okay, maybe a lot of – hooks:

  • Everyone gets a couple of hooks for their own bags and coats.
  • Consider key hooks, especially if any one shares a car.
  • Command Hooks are a personal favorite, too, for this type of challenge.
  • Double deck your hooks:  Consider installing two lines of hooks – the upper set (at eye level)  for accessories and keys, and the lower set, installed 6-8 inches below the upper set, for coats, umbrellas or longer hanging items.
  • Since my kids were little (and would take off with my car keys!), my handbag has been hung on a high, heavy-duty hook near the back door, with my keys securely clipped to it.

Expect and embrace maintenance.

  • I really wish I could say that once we organize a space, it will stay organized forever.  However… that is not typically the case.
  • Once a week, clear everything and put it away.   The shoes and coats will slowly migrate back to the landing / launch, but at least once in a while, the space is clear.
  • Keep an empty storage bench at the bottom of the stairs, for that day when you have a house full of people and you just want the space cleared!
To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
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Call / text 708.790.1940
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49.2 Degrees at 5 am. I Believe It’s Fall!

Fall is in the air.

It was 49.2 degrees this morning.  The forecast calls for a high of 70, but let me tell you, it was very dark and chilly at 5 am.

In response, all day I have been mulling over my “It’s really Fall now” list of things to do, to clear clutter and stay organized.  Perhaps you have that list, too?  Perhaps you are looking for some suggestions?  Here are a few!!

  1. Check your entry way, and swap out your accessories for the new season.
    Clean out the accessory basket by the door, review the contents, toss the old or broken items (empty bug spray bottle, beat up shopping bags), and put away all but a few of your absolute favorite warmer weather items (just in case you really do need that base ball cap again). Now re-stock the basket with hats and gloves, umbrellas and scarves.
  2. Check your entry way, and swap out your shoes for the new season, too.  So long flip flops, hello boots and wellies.  Toss the old or unmatched flip or flop, get rid of all but the last pair or two of sneakers (“Truly, dear, no one needs 4 pairs of old sneakers for ‘yard work.'” ).  Take in any shoes in need of repair, and put away the rest.  Then make space for the colder weather shoes and boots.   Do the same with sport items.  Play it Again Sports, anyone?
  3. Look around your home, and make note of projects and repairs to be completed.  Make some plans or make some calls.  Get on the schedule with service providers now before their schedules fill ip around the holidays.  Better to maintain – furnace checks and regular carpet cleaning – than to pay for last minute or emergency repairs or replacement.
  4. Pantry and Fridge shopping.  Check your cabinets and fridge.  Check your expiration dates and use up some of the foods you have on hand, to clear clutter and make room for holiday / seasonal items.
  5. De-furnish.  We have a 2 x 5 table sitting in the basement.  We moved it over the summer when our old kitchen cabinets and counter top were installed in the laundry room.  We should have put it in the crawl space at the time, but we didn’t.  It currently serves no purpose.  It goes AWAY today.  At a client’s yesterday, we collapsed 2 folding tables and a couple of chairs and put them away – they’ve been up for YEARS.  A client with a penchant for small side tables (they’re EVERYWHERE, and hold only clutter) took 3 or 4 to a local resale shop.
    In the interest of clearing physical and visual clutter, what small (or large) items could you do without? Put them away or let them GO!
  6. Drop off stuff.  Bags of donations, like clothes or books or shoes?  Recycling?  Items to be returned to a store?  Stuff that belongs to other people?  Take those piles / bags and boxes that are next to the door or already in the car, and get them Gone, gone, gone!!

 

6 tasks are enough for this week.  Next week’s list holds tasks like finishing switching the closet to Fall, window washing and putting away the deck furniture, but those can wait until then!!

What will you do this week to Embrace Fall, clear clutter and get organized?

First Step of Shopping? Check Your Inventory.

A thought occurred to me very soon after I posted last week’s blog article, “Can We Go Buy School Supplies?”.

It’s the obvious first step, although a little too obvious for me, as I forget to mention it.  That obvious but not-so-obvious first step to shopping should be make your list and then “Check What You Have On Hand”.

It’s always better, from both a financial and clutter clearing standpoint, to use up what you have on hand before you purchase anything more.  This will help you:

  • Save Money;
  • Use items before they expire;
  • Eliminate duplicates; and
  • Clear Clutter!

Here are 5 examples of how this first step has helped me, just in the last week.

When we prepared to go to Office Depot last week…

We first checked our stash of school supplies – lots of pens, mechanical pencils and folders on hand.  We had depleted much of our stash getting the younger son ready a few weeks ago, but we still started our shopping at home, in our own cabinet.

Menu Planning.

Shopping your inventory may be a little more obvious when it comes to making dinner.  Driving home from a double client day yesterday, I was pondering what to make for dinner since I have not been to the grocery yet (and I was tired and really didn’t want to go!).  I remembered my son asked for home-made chicken noodle soup the other day, and as I mentally inventoried my cabinets and freezer while I drove, I realized I had what I needed to make soup for dinner.  And it was good!

Shop Your Home for Home Decor.

I spent a fun few hours organizing and staging space with a client over the weekend.  I assembled new storage units for her office, and then we set up her office space.  What was really awesome was looking around her home and borrowing from other rooms a lamp here, some art there and a potted plant from the old house that hadn’t found a home yet.  The finished space made her so happy, and cost only our time and the price of the new storage cubes.

It’s time to paint my son’s bedroom.  

Our first step is to check and see what paint we have already, especially considering we just painted the kitchen and office. We will also look for any supplies, like paint brushes and rollers, etc., before we head to Home Depot to buy paint and supplies.

The Magic Pants Bin in my basement.

The age of our Magic Bin in the basement has passed, but I will still share the idea.  With three sons, we always had current-sized clothes for the boys plus the in-between sizes that someone would soon grow out of or into.  For years, we always checked the off-size bins of clothes for the next size of clothing before we hit the stores, and like Magic, we could usually find a lot of what we needed in the Magic Bins.  The youngest son is now the tallest, though, so hand-me-downs and the Magic Bin have been retired.  But the idea is still valid!

Before you buy more stuff, always consider this very important first step – Check What You Have On Hand!

 

No, The First Step of Organizing is Not “Go Shopping”

Very often when we get the urge to organize, we start first with the urge to go and get more stuff!  “I need better containers!  New hangers!  Different bookshelves!  Cool new coat hooks, boxes, office supplies…”  well, the list goes on and on.  Lots of people go out and buy more stuff before they start actually organizing.
I understand this compulsion, friends.  I do.    Why do we want to shop first?
  • When faced with a cluttered space, of course it is more fun to think about the shiny new things in our “finished” space than to start with the hard choices, the heavy boxes, the dirty stuff!
  • Buying new things can lead to tangible improvement, something we can touch and point to and say “Look at how much better this space is now that we have xxxxx (fill in the blank).”
  • We may not know how to tackle our project, but we certainly know how to purchase things, either in a store or on-line.
  • If we already have clutter, it’s possible that “let’s go buy something new” is our usual response to a problem.
I recently worked with a lovely client in her laundry room. As we got started, she mentioned some great product ideas for shelving units and wall hooks for cleaning supplies, and I was all set to google those ideas on my phone, too, because Yes! That sounds waaaaaayyy more fun than tackling a pile of laundry!  HOWEVER… that is not how Organizing works.
 Here’s something to remember:  almost every organizing project requires at least some purging, some “letting go” of stuff.
The right organizing solution is almost never “Let’s bring more things into the space before we part with stuff!”
Instead:
  • Commit to the hard work, with a clear vision of how awesome your space will be when it’s organized!
  • Sort what you have.  Make decisions about what you want to keep and what needs to go away.  Actually bag up and get rid of the “go away” stuff.  Then figure out how to store what you have kept.  THEN you may want to shop.  However…
  • WAIT!! Get used to your newly organized space and stuff before you purchase something else!
  • Shop in your own stuff first – it’s very likely that you have what you need already.  As we organize, we may come across unused containers that we can re-purpose for our current project.   Or there are containers elsewhere in the house we can use.
  • Do your research, so you don’t end up contributing to your clutter.  Invest in good quality items, only as many as you need.  Keep receipts so that you can return items that don’t work in your space.
  • Do NOT buy new things that take up more space than the discarded items, or you will end up back in the same cluttered space you started in.
  • Look around your own space, or talk to friends and family before you spend the money!
  • If you like to shop, save the shopping as a perk for getting the hard work of sorting and purging done.
  • Keep a list of items you want to purchase or obtain.  Take the list with you when you shop, and stick with it!

 

So, let me be the little voice in your ear, your Jiminy Cricket encouraging you to do the right thing.   Do NOT shop first!  Do the hard work, then decide if you need to bring more stuff in to corral your stuff!

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
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Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

Truth Bombs About Socks

I worked with a new client this morning.  She is awesome.  All my clients are awesome. 

This client, whom I will refer to as Client (all names are changed to protect the innocent), and I worked on her tween daughter’s room.  Client sorted her daughter’s  clothes into “keep” and “donate” piles while I worked on the physical space in the room.

As is often the case, the topic of Socks came up. And I capitalized “Socks” because Socks are a big issue.  More specifically, the topic of the big pile / basket / bag of unmatched, unloved and slightly scary Socks came up.

Come on, you know the basket.  The one that lurks in shadows, ready to take on more cast offs, silently judging you and draining your mental energy day in and day out?  Yes, that one.

Let me share with you some truths that I shared with Client this morning:

  • Some of us judge ourselves far more harshly than we deserve.
  • Just because friends don’t talk about this on Facebook doesn’t mean that others aren’t fighting the same struggle. You are not alone. Lots of people have too many Socks (and other things).
  • MORE IMPORTANTLY,
    • Possession of all these Socks does not make you a bad, lazy or crazy person.
    • Possession of all these Socks causes negative self-talk as we choose yet again to go about our day of Family and Work and Volunteering and finally Bed (all very important things!!) instead of dealing with those cursed Socks (not nearly as important).
    • You are awesome, and the quality of your character is not determined by a basket of Socks.

And, for your peace of mind, if you want to conquer Sock Mountain, try these:

  • Wash the Socks.  Check under beds and couches, and wash them all.  One nasty soccer sock really can ruin the whole basket.
  • Once clean, collect them all.  Yes, All.  Check the sock drawers for rogue lone rangers.
  • Enlist Aid.  All of these Socks are not yours (probably). This project will go more quickly with more hands.
  • At least try.  Some clients have suggested chucking all the Socks and starting over, but this is terribly wasteful and we won’t learn anything from that strategy.
  • Change your location.  If the laundry room is not well lit or cheerful, move the basket to your bedroom or the kitchen counter, or somewhere else that will inspire and motivate you.
  • Line the unmatched Socks up by size and dominant color, to make matching them up easier.
  • Luckily, these days, especially in the world of tween girls, unmatched Socks are cool and fun!
  • Set a lower limit and an upper limit.  Many times a session with my clients, I will ask “How much is enough?” and “How many is too many?”  For example, set your Enough for 30 (or some other number) pairs. Pick your favorite 30 and pair them up.  Now you can look at little more critically at the leftovers.
  • Recognize that those Socks, at least some of them, ended up in the basket for a reason, and may no longer be needed and useful.
  • Set a timer.  We can do anything, even if we don’t like to, for a short period of time.  Watching a show? Great.  Grab the basket, dump it out, and get to it until the buzzer rings.  Then put away the matched Socks, and donate the rest.

So, be nice to yourself this week about your Socks and anything else, be honest with others, and spend a little time and tackle this common problem!

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!