Thursday, August 20, 2009

Decluttering, Organizing and Cleaning- Oh my!

Does the thought of housekeeping give you goosebumps? When people say they’ll stop in for a quick visit do you go into a panic? Well, I’ve been there- I spent pretty much my whole life as a non-domestic person (though others in my life used the term slob!) I wasn’t lazy (not much, anyway) it’s just that I really didn’t want to spend my whole day cleaning up. Sure, I wanted a clean house; a simpler, more organized life free of clutter. I just didn’t know how to get to that place from where I was. Everytime I tried, I sabotaged myself (I am a huge packrat- everything has sentimental value to me.) Finally one day, I broke.

I was pregnant with my second child, and just couldn’t take the mess anymore. Mr. Shelley and I were fighting about it, and our first boy, about 1 1/2 years at the time, couldn’t go anywhere in the house- it was a disaster. In last week’s DOC article I talked about finding your motivation- this was mine. I wanted a decluttered, clean house for my family. This is the first step, but a goal, no matter how strong, won’t empty the junk drawer out. So now it’s time to take action.

Decluttering is the best place to start because with less stuff, there won’t be as much to organize. The first step is to get an idea of what you have, and where you have it. I used the method of starting with one small area, but preferably in a widely used room- seeing it all decluttered will give you motivation to keep going. There are many systems for the process. Some of my favorites are on FlyLady. I incorporated many of her methods into one combined system that worked best for me. Here are some highlights of the method I put together:

1. Pick a number (Flylady uses 27; I prefer 10 to start, or 20 if you have lots of stuff!) and go through the house. Pick up that many things to throw away, and then go through a second time for things to give away. This is a brilliant, quick-paced fix.

2. Go through and clear out one place at a time- one drawer, one shelf, one cabinet. Limit yourself to only this one place, that way it won’t be overwhelming to start. Take a short break before resuming with another area.

3. Set up baskets, or containers in each main room (or area) of your house, including any outer room (mudroom, porch, etc.) While going through your house on a daily basis, pick up items that do not belong, and bring them to the container for the room they do belong in. Done regularly, this will return everything to its place. If things do not have a set place in your house, bring them to the room they seem most well-placed in. Used in combination with rule #2, there will be a place to put everything with time.

4. Don’t get stuck up on details- the most important thing is to find methods that work for you and take action!

These tips will set you on the way to a clutter-free home. Next in the series will be organizing: a multi-article section. The first post will be on systems management- stay sane with systems.

If this helped you, please share it and subscribe to MAHM for more tips and tricks on homemaking. See the newest article in the DOC series at 3 best organizing tips.

Leave me a note with any comments or questions, thanks for stopping in! I'm happy to post this at Works For Me Wednesday- visit for lots of great organizing tips!

3 comments:

{ L } said...

Great tips, thank you! My mom played the "6 things game" when we were kids. That meant we each had to pick up 6 things really fast. ;)

mahmommy said...

Lisa,
thanks for stopping by, glad you enjoyed the tips. there's lots more in the DOC series coming up.

Kaye Swain said...

Great tips! :) I, too, love FLylady and before her - S.H.E. when I was a young mom - Sidetracked Home Executives. With no kids, I do much better, but do need to de-clutter constantly, as do many other senior home care givers. So I will use this as good encouragement and go do that right now! :)

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