Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to have my friend Jill over, who happens to have an interest in organizing households. She was kind enough to look over my entire house, which transcended from “visually organized enough to have people that I love over” to “the height of embarrassing disaster messy” just in the last week. We talked about my approach to cleaning and organizing, and she suggested a lot of very useful ideas to approach these topics differently.
- Step 1- Put it on Ryan’s To Do list, wait and pray
- Step 2- Pick the messiest area
- Step 3- After staring overwhelmed at my mess, pick up one item at a time in that area, and find a new place for it
- Step 4- Redirect myself back to my original area of concern, because I will inevitably get sidetracked with putting items from the new spot in other spots to make room for the current item.
- Step 5- Return to and scour the original area that I had recently removed various items from with a toothbrush and random detergent.
- Step 6- Retire from cleaning, exhausted and disappointed that I have only one extraordinarily clean corner among many messy corners in my house.
Jill’s Suggested Approach:paraphrased to say the least. She’s a little more eloquent and inspiring with this.
- Step 1- Determine the agents of clutter. (In my case, the mess stems from clothes, toys and books, in that order)
- Step 2- Pick the messy agent on the top of your list, (in my case, again, clothing) and work on that only.
- Step 3- Gather all the messy items (clothes) to one spot and sort.
- Step 4- Sort until you have a clear idea of what is being used currently, what is seasonal, what no longer works (or fits), what there is too much of (SOCKS, mostly unmatched) and what is just plain trash.
- Step 5- Toss Trash. Sell or donate items that are not of use to me but could be to someone else, or that I have excess of. Buy proper bins or other storage containers and find a place out of the way to store the seasonal but still needed items. Finally, find a home for or return the remaining items to their originally intended place. (In my case, this will be my closets and dressers.)
- Repeat entire process as desired with the next messy agent.
It was my sincerest intention to begin execution of Jill’s plan through out today. Sadly, I was out of laundry detergent, and the majority of “actually need” clothing is on my basement floor next to the washing machine. Jill was kind enough to call and offer a few more thoughts she had come to after considering my house when she left. (Yes, my house is so messy it haunted her dreams, I think, though she was kind enough not to say it that way.) During our call, I mentioned my lack of detergent, and she mentioned that she actually has success making her own. She referred me to www.eHow.com, and I found a recipe for laundry detergent which said it would work for my high efficiency machine. Because we had some shopping to do anyhow, we took a shopping trip and picked up some ingredients and decided to give this a try.
Easy enough! Our first batch is being tested with a load as I type. I am very hopeful this works, because among other benefits such as being environmentally more friendly, it is a TON cheaper than the detergents we are currently buying. I’ll try to keep you posted.
In addition to the amazing cleaning advice and detergent recipe, Jill had some more specific ideas of how to improve the organizational flow of my home. Some are more complicated, as I expected, like removing this very ill placed built-in cabinet which is always in the way in my kitchen. But she had other suggestions which will be very easy and fast to do, such as putting up hooks in a dead space by our back door where the kids can hang their backpacks after school. (Which was great, because this space was not being used, and I typically trip on their backpacks while searching for them in the mornings while we’re rushing to get ready for school.) Such a simple solution, that I can probably accomplish for $2 simply, $15 at the most if I can find an attractive decorative hook. AND, it gets the bags off the floor and gives the kids a place that they know they belong. I can’t wait to look for hooks tomorrow, after I tackle Mt. Laundrymore.
All of Jill’s ideas got me thinking about other tools I have at my disposal. True to my gadget nature, I remembered that I once had downloaded a free “family organization” app on my phone, Cozi, but at that time, it wasn’t really useful. I looked back at it today, to see what had went wrong. Upon reviewing this app again, it occurred to me that I could finally put it to use. Both of my boys have their own Kindle Fire, which runs this app seamlessly. Ryan and I both have smart phones now as well. I installed the app on each of our devices, set up some To Do lists, built a shopping list (which worked great when getting the detergent ingredients), and synced our calendars. When I showed my efforts to the boys, they were quite excited. Jake realized immediately that he could use his Kindle to add “sign my assignment notebook” to his father’s To Do list. He could also add any snacks he needed for school to our grocery list. (I was really tickled when he added “run with Jake” to my To Do list.) Ben, newly literate, was hesitant but more excited when he realized we would help him read his chore lists and interact with us. Cozi even has a journal where we can share our thoughts and reflect as a family when we are inspired.
We’ve always been a very happy family. Hopefully now we will also be an organized family. Or at least well on our way… Many thanks to my friend Jill!