Today I want to briefly cover a few last topics that I think are foundational and practical things to remember in most organizational projects. After today, I’m excited to start showing some projects in my house that put the philosophy and solutions of all my previous posts into action!
This topic needs an entire post for sure! I have boxes, bins and baskets with various memorabilia items for all of us, and will break those systems down in future posts. For now, I would like to briefly set out some basic guidelines for sentimental items in our home. Let me clarify that by sentimental items I don’t just mean cards, ticket stubs, schoolwork and art from your children. I consider sentimental stuff to be much more! It is all of that stuff in your home that you don’t use. You keep it for an emotional attachment.
I am all about keeping things that will remind me of my children in their youth, precious memories and good times with family and friends. But, many of us need to work on detaching ourselves from things. Things won’t keep your kids young, bring back a loved one, make you an all-star athlete at the age of forty… If something is truly important to you because of the memories it brings back, the stories you can tell your children about it, the loved one it reminds you of… then do one of two things:
1.) Find a place to display that item so you can see it, use it, or enjoy it on a regular basis.
2.) Store it in a way that you can easily find it, and it will be in good condition when you want to use it or share it with someone someday.
These are examples of how I display my kids artwork on a regular basis, because I love seeing it and watching them share it with pride. I have 2 pieces of art for each child in our upstairs hallway outside our bedrooms. There are 2 frames for each child and the mat is a solid off-white color so that their artwork can be a variety of sizes, colors & shapes. The art sits on top of the mat, protected behind glass. It looks pulled together, but the kids still get to show off their creations! This isn’t the only artwork I save, but I’ll talk about that in another post.
What do you do with your children’s artwork? cards? photos? Are they displayed in way that your family and guests can enjoy them? Are they in piles on a desk or counter? Are they hanging on a refrigerator that is so full no one can clearly identify anything on it? I really believe less is more when it comes to sentimental belongings.
If you have so much sentimental stuff that you can’t enjoy or preserve it, then you need to get rid of some things. Again, set boundaries of how much stuff is reasonable to store in your home (not a rented storage unit, unless you plan to move to a larger home in the near future) and force yourself to prioritize and sort down to that boundary. If you can’t do that alone, ask a friend to help you or hire someone.
Maintaining Order – An Ongoing Commitment:
No matter how perfect your systems are, there will be busy days, busy times of the day, crazy weekends… A realistic goal is spending 15 minutes each day ridding your home of clutter. Remember that doesn’t have to mean you dealt with everything – just that it is in its temporary or long term home.
Set aside 15-20 minutes, 3 times per week to maintain your order. Use this time to sort food in your pantry, throw away toiletries or medicines that are old, clean out your junk drawer, sort a stack of papers, get rid of everything that doesn’t belong in the mudroom, pick up the garage… It does take time to maintain order – we all have the days that things just get tossed somewhere. But, if you are consistently using small amounts of time to straighten one area, nothing will get out of hand and you shouldn’t find yourself needed to overall a space you have spent time ordering and putting systems in place for.
Conquering a BIG Project
If you do have a big project – break it down. You can do all of the steps in one day, or if you’re like many of us that isn’t always possible with our other obligations. Don’t wait for a free weekend to organize a disaster zone in your house – it may never happen.
Start by clearing the space, and putting everything in one of 4 piles: Keep, Toss, Donate, Relocate. The relocate pile is for items that you are keeping, but they don’t belong in the space you are working on. i.e. you find your favorite sweater in your daughters closet, tools in the mudroom…
-Deal with the toss pile immediately.
-Give yourself 2-3 days to empty the donate and relocate piles.
-Then, evaluate what you have, and develop a plan for putting it back in place.
Start working on putting things back in the space, rounding up found or purchased items to finish the project. Set a deadline of finishing the project in 7-10 days. You may be someone that has time to have one of those types of projects going at all times. But, it is also a very reasonable goal to complete one of those projects once every two months. That would still be 6 large projects every year – not bad! I know, at that pace some of you feel like you may never have an organized home. I think this is one of those times that it is important to not hold ourselves to a “Hollywood” standard and remember our real priorities. If you still feel like you need a temporary boost in your productivity – consider enlisting some help.
But remember too that setting aside regular small amounts of time to maintain that order will be necessary. If you spend a week organizing your pantry to find it is a disaster again in 6 months, it feels very defeating. Make the commitment to set aside time periodically to maintain the spaces you have worked hard to order.
Coming soon: A post on how to order and maintain a pantry. This was my pantry about a month ago. I’ll give you some tips on how to get a pantry under control & maintain order. Then! I’ll share my “kinda big project” to make it so much prettier, after I was inspired by the photos in this post.