Guest Post! “Putting Things Away” by Caitlin

25 01 2010

This is a guest post written by Caitlin of Cluttercubed as part of a swap with Clutterbrained. Check out Ito and LM’s take on the subject over on ClutterCubed.

You’ll note that Caitlin has things together and is a lot further down the road then we are. Hers is a fantastic guide to PTA while ours is more like a stereo cry for help. We appreciate any and all comments!

Caitlin says:

Getting organized is simple! All you need to do is put things away after you are done using them. Easy as pie, right?

Wrong.


Photo by camknows

For people who have never struggled with clutter, it’s easy to assume those that do are lazy, undisciplined, or simply don’t care. “Just put things away”, they say, “It’s not that hard”. If you have struggled with clutter, you know it’s not that easy.

So why is it so hard to put things away?

Three major reasons are:

  • Lack of time
  • Lack of motivation
  • Unsure of “proper” storage location

Lack of Time
When you’re standing in the middle of a cluttered, messy house, it can seem overwhelming. It can seem like it’s going to take weeks to put all your stuff away, and you’re a busy person. You just don’t have that kind of free time. Or do you?

Solution

Break the task down into smaller, bite-sized chunks of time. Cleaning up for 2 hours a day might be difficult for you, but anyone can find 15 minutes in a day. Get an egg timer if you like, but make sure you tidy up for 15 minutes each day. You can go longer if you like, but do at least 15 minutes. You’d be surprised how much can be done in that amount of time!

Lack of Motivation
It can be frustrating to spend hours cleaning up, only to have it seem like you’re not making much progress. You may feel like there’s no point in putting things away, you’re just going to get them out again later so why bother?

Solution
Remember that decluttering is a process, and it’s not going to happen overnight. Keep in mind that everything you put away is one less thing cluttering your house. The more you put away, the more often you’ll remember to put things away when you’re done using them. When you get up to leave a project, put it away. If you put it away in he same place each time, you won’t be tempted to leave things out in order to remember to work on them.

Unsure of “proper” storage location
This one is a biggie. If you’re not sure where something should go, how can you possibly put it away? If you set out to declutter for 15 minutes and then pick up and item and are not sure where it belongs, it can be tempting to just set it back down and let it keep being clutter.

Solution
Don’t worry about creating elaborate organizing systems just yet. Simply focus on putting like with like. Keep all your office supplies together. Paper, pencils/pens, stamps, stapler, etc. Put them neatly in a desk drawer, so you’ll always know where they are when you’re looking for them. Put batteries in one location, and keep your medications grouped together. If you’re still not sure where things “should” go, try organizing them into bins for now. If you don’t have a designated craft area, put all craft supplies (paint, glitter, scissors, stickers, etc) into a craft bin. That way, these items will have a proper home, and you’ll always know where to look for them.

Putting things away is one of the most basic aspects of decluttering, but if it were easy for everyone, we’d all have photos of our homes on Apartment Therapy. We all have reasons that make it difficult for us, but following these steps should make it easier.

What’s your biggest stumbling block when it comes to putting things away? Let us know in the comments!

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Why I Love Vacation Rentals and Hotel Rooms

9 01 2010

That moment when you walk in the door and everything is all pristine?  Oh, I love it. And I think, I could live here. I want to live here forever and ever!! WHY? Because there’s no STUFF everywhere!

And then I notice that there are no bookcases here, just like three coffee-table books on the coffee table. So I would have nothing to read (except the 6 books I stuffed in my suitcase). And there is nothing in the closets, just the clothes I brought.  But ahh it is such a clean, beautiful feeling. How can I bring this home with me? CAN I?

I was so happy for the first few hours we were here last night. Of course now it is the Day After, and all five of us are here, and we have strewn things on every pristine surface (ha ha ha, wah wah wah) and it looks almost Just Like Home. LOL

But, before we left, I did have a nice breakthrough. I was able to almost finish up my office, which I had begun over a week ago, found that nice stash of $$, and then abandoned. That was upsetting. I had joined an online site called The Clutter Diet (very helpful!!) and they have message boards, and professional organizing folks come and answer your questions and problems. I posted something called “The Eighty Percent Problem.” Meaning that I will attack something energetically, get about 80% through it, then run out of time (or energy), and then leave the 20% behind, at which point that 20% will start attracting more junk until it grows to be another giant mess. 😦

The advice I got back was very wise. It said, basically, I am trying to do too much at once. It suggested doing ONE DRAWER or one small corner rather than a whole room. Or to set a time limit. The folks at Clutter Diet liken this “mass attack” decluttering to a crash diet. It isn’t sustainable over the long run. I get that.

So, my dear friend and declutter buddy LM came over last week (we go to her house next!!). She helped me unclutter ONE CORNER. But it was a corner piled high with crap that had been there a long time.  We set the timer for 30 minutes because that’s all we had. And we cleaned the corner. Including a bag of framed photos that had been there SINCE I MOVED IN. (5 years ago) 😦

But it is now empty. And you wanna hear something realllllllllllly funny/sad? OK.

I have complained a long time that my office is too cold to work in. Well, the other day I found a SPACE HEATER under all the clutter. Which was thing one. I had had no idea where that thing had gone to. It had gone nowhere; I’d just buried it. 😦

AND yesterday I walked in and it was miraculously … WARMER. What did I find? I found that the room ACTUALLY HAS A HEATING VENT but I’d totally covered THAT up with a DIFFERENT pile of junk that I’d since cleared.

Red face. But warm feet.

And here’s the before-n-after of THAT side of the office (which I’d previously neglected to show you).





Unbelievable! It’s Contagious!!!

21 12 2009

I can’t believe it. This blog has been in existence less than a week, and already the decluttering energy is spreading throughout the country! I just got an amazing email from one of our readers, who read this blog and was immediately bitten by the declutter bug. See her incredible laundry room before and afters!!

Our friend says:

I made 3 piles to take to the garbage and 3 bags to Goodwill.  I even cleaned out the cupboards hence the Shake and Bake (expiration 2006, purchased in 2003!).  The bakers rack has been a pain since I got it and is now going to Goodwill as well.

A few things I realized in this:

I keep things that I think can be used.  I may never use them so the fact that someone may be able to makes me hold on to them.  That is why I thought of the Goodwill pile.  It does not seem like a waste.

Solution: I am going to keep a tote out and fill it up all week for Goodwill until I no longer have things to put in it. And to make sure not to have an issue drop it off once a week.

As for the good stuff I kept.  When I clean the not good stuff out of the cupboards there was room to put it properly away.  Who knew! LOL

Thanks for the motivation. I will keep going and sending you the pictures.  You really have motivated me.  I needed this so thanks so much!

Isn’t that AMAZING!?! That laundry room is incredible! GO GO GO girl (who wishes to remain anonymous) AND I invite all Clutterbrained readers to submit your photos and stories to us! Pile by pile, we will tackle this!