Last year I read Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and I had goose bumps. I’ll admit, some of her rhetoric about ‘resting socks’ is a bit ‘woo-woo’ for me, but coming from a long line of hoarders, her home organisation tips were music to my ears. I read the book and was fizzing over a potential mass exodus of stuff….and nothing. Zero. My grand plan to go all ‘Konmari’ on our house (where you supposedly turf up to 70% of all your possessions), never happened and now we have more stuff than ever.
Ironically, my Achilles heel is painfully obvious; no time and not knowing where to start! My junk/spare room is soon to be the bedroom of my youngest daughter Sienna. Her cot has been in my bedroom months longer than needed because her own room is chocca-block with all my crap. I keep shuffling around the same few boxes, but I’m no closer to cleaning up the space. Unfortunately, I know my problem – I’m aiming for perfection (finding the perfect home for each item as per Marie Kondo’s advice) but instead just close the door on the problem and walk away with a sense of failure.
In these tough times of first world problems, I need to remind myself that it’s ok to have ‘stuff’ on benchtops, in packing boxes and an overflowing toy box in plain sight….and it’s ok for you too. I may have missed it, but in Marie Kondo’s book, I didn’t once see her acknowledge the tidying/treatment of kids stuff. She mentioned her own childhood tidying pursuits, but there was no talk of the perfect spot for our Peppa Pig flash cards, Play-Doh, Mike the Knight dvds and the Gup X. However, I don’t want to live like this and I know I can do better. We’re a modern family of 4…..we have a lot of crap, but there are so many items that can genuinely go and can be re-purposed for the greater good.
Home organisation – where to start!?
Truth be told, the success (of anything really) is all in the planning. It’s no surprise that I love lists (it’s the cornerstone of my business after all) and I get an immediate hit of calm and order when I start jotting down tasks on a page. I consider myself a super organised person but even list gurus get the blues.
Given the clock was ticking I knew it was time for ‘Hom Organisation 101’. No more stuffing around….just get on with it! It wasn’t until John Black really, really, really, really, REALLY wanted to exorcise the Devil from Marlena (Days of our Lives circa 1995) that he made it happen, so harnessing your motivation is when you kick some goals.
I wish I’d done this back in October, but I’ve made some cracking progress in a week and now I want the same results for YOU. Below are my top 4 tips for tackling your post-Xmas clutter:
#1 Make a list
It’s not until I invoked the ‘John Black principle’ that I made progress. Some of the wisest words to ever leave my lips are “if you don’t have a plan….you’ve got nothing” and it’s so relevant in these circumstances.
As soon as I started jotting down a list of tasks, it became real and achievable. Grab a pen and paper and consider the following:
- List everything you want to tackle in categories and/or list bigger items individually
- Set timeframes against tasks
- Prioritise the list. I would always recommend tackling the easy items first. Early progress will spur you on
- Tick items off the list. You won’t hear a fan fare each time you make a trip to the bin, but register the sense of achievement as you work your way through the list…..and then celebrate with an Earl Grey.
#2 Touch everything no more than twice
There are plenty of organisational experts out there who will tell you ‘touch everything no more than once’. This is a bit ‘holier than thou’ for my taste and it probably is for you too. Huddle up, because I am going to whisper 3 little words that may just change your life when it comes to any kind of tidying…..LAY DOWN AREA. If you’re drawing a blank, a lay down area is a totally clear space in which to lay things out. It’s a bit like a helicopter view and it really does help to bring order to chaos. A made bed, kitchen island bench or dining room table all work as great lay down areas but clear them first. As you are addressing the junk pile, group like items together. This ‘sort as you go’ approach prevents you from making 6 trips to a kids bedroom to put away the same item; one touch to sort and a second touch to put all of the same items away at once. Seriously, it works.
#3 Chuck, store, donate, Gumtree (I wish these words amounted to a cute anagram, but CSDG is average!)
Chuck – More than 50% of the items I’ve looked at in the last week are junk ready for the wheelie bin – badly stained kids clothes (thanks childcare), average books that will never be re-read, old high school/uni notes and text books – why do we hang onto all this paper….just in case?? I filled the recycling bin alone with the latter, so I will tackle this area again in another fortnight. Don’t be afraid to throw things away. We are both an indulgent and ‘miser like’ society; we surround ourselves with possessions we don’t need but are also reluctant to throw away a crappy old t shirt because “it’s still perfectly good to sleep in”….right?? The verdict – we spoil our kids and ourselves with too much of everything and are prone to wearing the unsexist pj’s on the planet. If in doubt, chuck it out! e.g. anything broken, stained, unsafe etc
Store – Obviously, put everything that does have a home away, space bag the last seasons kid’s clothes/winter coats/electric blankets etc
Donate – I need to do this more. Toys, books and my clothes were at the top of my list with literally thousands of dollars worth of stuff marching out the door and onto new homes. There were plenty of hidden treasures in other areas too like the pantry and bathroom. I’m always grateful for childcare’s annual ‘can drive’ to move on some exotic ingredient that’s never been used, but I came up with more than a shopping bag full of food that will never be used (and plenty of expired products too destined for the bin). Same goes for the bathroom. I was a ‘road warrior’ in my ‘white collar’ life and have dozens of hotel toiletries collecting dust and taking up space. There are wonderful local causes like Hutt St Centre* or church groups who are always grateful for donations. HOWEVER, don’t be a schnapperhead – don’t ‘donate’ the dirty/broken/expired crap from the previous category.
Gumtree – I was all over Gumtree in 2015. I sold beds, pavers, a BBQ, outdoor setting and more. As long as your price is sensible you will get a sale eventually. Anyone want to buy a promotional surfboard?? (one item I can’t shift!). Use the money from your sales to start a xmas 2016 fund.
#4 Take a photo
I am a massive fan of photographic benchmarking. Once you’re done, take a photo of the space looking schmick and you can refer back to it in future when the mess is building up. I also love this idea for a kids bedroom. Instead of sending them back to ‘keep cleaning’ their room, put the photo of perfection on their pin board and they will learn this is the standard you expect. Works a treat.
After an intense week of cleaning and sorting I am absolutely knackered but the end result has been worth it. Miss 11 months is now sleeping in her own room and I’ve ticked off almost everything on my list. The next area to tackle is the shed…..but that’s Marc’s problem 😉
Best of luck with your post-xmas decluttering. Share your progress or your photo benchmarking on the FB page.
List & Assist is the ‘must have’ companion app for South Aussies. It’s a list-maker jam packed with curated content and advice (all the best info and none of the rubbish) to help YOU plan for key events and get organised. L&A will be with you every step of the way and map out all the tasks you need to consider and recommend awesome SA businesses who can provide you with the products and services you need.
*Organisations like Hutt St Centre are always in need of quality items to be donated. Hutt St Centre supports Adelaide’s homeless and offers meal services, the opportunity for learning and education, access to professional services and much more. Hutt St Centre has a targeted ‘wish list’ of items….can you help?? Your donation would certainly bring a little joy to a fellow Adelaidian in need.