7.18.2011

Happy Organizing

Arthur Sarnoff 1955
Rule #4: Nothing on the Floor No More! ...Once you have a firm grip on the fact that a floor is not a big shelf at your feet, you can begin to clear the space…  from page 23 of The Beverly Hills Organizer’s Home Organizing Bible by Linda Koopersmith 

Murphy’s Law means my neighbors only come to visit when my house is a mess.  No one drops by when it is sparkling.  Therefore, we now e-mail each other when our house looks especially good.  We pop over and ooh and ahh and laugh and compare notes.  We all have had hoarding tendencies and paper problems, and we all love FlyLady. 

Keeping house is not about perfection or having model homes.  It’s about living and doing our best, without stressing over the small things.  But when those small things cause major problems, it is time to dig in and find new ways to solve the nagging little problems that cause continual frustration.  We need to constantly implement them, because we so easily slip back into old ways.

Organizing from the Inside Out, Second Edition: The Foolproof System For Organizing Your Home, Your Office and Your LifeThat’s where Julia Morgenstern helped me.  I listened to her audio tape on Organizing from the Inside Out and did the steps.  I highly recommend her book or tape (she even has a DVD now, but I haven't watched it).  On graph paper, I quickly outlined my rooms.  I wrote down what the room holds, the activities it supports, the supplies it has, and storage available.  Then I was able to assess what worked, and what didn’t. 

She asks a series of questions that I answered in writing, and then, with my goals in mind, I was able to 1) determine how to change what didn’t work, 2) if things were stored in the proper room, 3) what needed to be decluttered, and 4) how to organize what was left.

My goals were:  A clutter-free home (although clutter goes and comes in again); a relaxing, comfortable place we want to spend time in, a place to read, write, do genealogy, scrapbooking and homeschooling. 

What I expected to achieve when I decluttered and got organized:  Enjoyment of my environment, gaining both energy and calm from our space.

Issues at the heart of my organizing challenge:
 1.     Entry: dumping ground; magazines and mail don’t have homes (Solved – two pretty bins on kitchen desk)
2.     Front room: bookcase cluttered.  Need open spaces.  Husband needs his own space for his items.  (Solved – only books in the bookcase – looks cleaner.  Lined books to the edge, like I noticed they did in a visually appealing library I visited.  Rearranged the furniture to show more blank wall space; removed coffee table; bought DH his own beautiful wooden floor holders for magazines and papers. Created a shelf in the bookcase just for his books.)
3.     Dining: Need places for bills, genealogies, pictures, recipes, baby info, menus, home fliers, warranties and repair paperwork. (Solved – a pretty bin on kitchen desk for bills, moved everything else into the front room walk-in closet in its own see-through plastic bins.  Put recipes into a photo album. Put menus and warranties into their own binders.)
4.     Linen closet: Too many things, and it’s unpainted and ugly.  (Decluttered, but still need to paint)
5.     Junk room:  Too many papers and unused stuff (Ugh.  Still there.)
6.     Bedroom: Papers and blankets need homes.  Need shelf sorters and risers.  Need more drawers.  (Solved – papers put in room they need to be used in, bought the sorters & risers at Big Lots, used plastic zip bags for blanket storage; used suitcases for off-season clothes; put more clothes on shelves instead of buying drawers.)
7.     Bathroom: Floor needs cleaning, door painted, more storage. (Solved – Hooks over shower doors for towels, gathered items into small plastic shoeboxes for in-cabinet storage, removed rarely used items to linen closet.)

Needed:  A drop-off table when coming home, instead of using the couch or the kitchen table.

·       I also went through and put one or two trash cans in each room of the house.  I put them and other items where I use them. 
·       I designated a huge basket at the bottom of my entry way closet as “the give-away closet.”  The second we have an item to give away, in it goes.  I drop items off once a month.

The House That Cleans Itself: Creative Solutions for a Clean and Orderly House in Less Time Than You Can ImagineI was excited to get the book The House That Cleans Itself because she was going to give me more ideas than what I thought of doing on my own.  This should have been a great book.  Her premise is to rearrange your house to suit your needs.  Right before I read this book I did this for my house and it works.  Well, the book was fun and motivating, but it ultimately failed me because she only gave one example – her entryway (big deal!).  If she had detailed each room I could have borrowed some great ideas, I’m sure.  What insights did she have?  What changes did she make?  A fun read, but disappointing.  If you’ve never thought about rearranging your house to suit you, you may get something out of it though.  I probably would have liked the book more if it had come out the year before I thought of doing her suggestions on my own! 

The Beverly Hills Organizer's Home Organizing Bible: A Pro's Answers to Your Organizing PrayersNow, next to Julia Morgenstern, the lady that helped me most through her books is The Beverly Hills Organizer, Linda Koopersmith. Her book Home Organizing Bible is so good I paid full-price for it at the bookstore.   It has plenty of pictures and ideas.  I love to read organizing books, and I’ve yet to find one better.  The thing I liked BEST about her book is she showed me HOW TO USE all the organizers on the market!  I realized that for about $300 I could totally organize every room in my house!  Now, I didn’t have $300, so I went to Big Lots instead and bought what I could there.  Her rule:  Measure First, Shop Second.  I put on paper what I wanted to do. 

I bought risers for my canned food, a shelf for my freezer, shelves for under the sink and in bedroom closets, shelf dividers so my husband’s jeans didn’t fall into his folded shorts, 4-shelf shoe racks, put shelves up in my front-room closet, bought plastic drawers for the closet, wicker baskets for homeschooling books that sit out, shelves for videos, small wire holders for Ziploc bags and wax paper that could be attached to my pantry door, a caddy for our remotes in the front room, a bakeware rack to keep my casserole dishes on their sides and easy to grab instead of stacking, a rack for my pot lids, and more.  I also made drawer dividers using cardboard lids covered with contact paper.

Because she explained HOW to use these items, and had a picture of them, with a picture glossary also at the end of the book, I was readily able to implement.  I compared prices online but didn’t buy.  I went to Big Lots, Home Goods, and The Container Store with my price list.  My budget was $100.  I bought all of the above.  I didn’t get everything she suggested in her book that sounded great due to my limited budget, but the changes I implemented made a HUGE difference! I highly recommend her book.

Happy Organizing!

Janine  www.keeping-house.blogpot.com

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