I was talking with an acquaintance the other day; she asked me how my organizing business was going and then asked “So are you one of those people who like to have everything just so?” I told her that I am not a perfectionist if that is what you are asking. But I do like to be able to find things when I need them.” So if having everything “just so” means having a specific place for everything I own, and being able to find things easily when I need them, than yes I am one of "those people". But if you are asking me if I am particular about having everything perfect, this is definitely not me. I like things to be simple, not perfect.
I actually have become an organized person out of necessity, due to my ADHD and the fact that I have a low tolerance for juggling tasks and remembering things. I get flustered easily, and my short attention span makes me forgetful and flighty. I need to keep things really simple for myself in order to keep all my ducks in a row, lest I forget a duck. When I was in college and living with several roommates they found it quite amusing to tease me about the fact that I could not leave our dorm room without returning at least once to grab whatever I forgot. My car keys, purse, books, sometimes I had to return twice...it was embarrassing.
I learned early on that everything in my life needs to have a permanent home in order for me to keep track of things. Though my home is not perfectly organized all of the time, we can keep it looking fairly presentable without much effort simply because we have less stuff and everything has a home. In addition to having a home for everything, like items are stored together. That’s pretty much it, it is a simple system; Less stuff, everything has a place, like items together. Since everyone in my family knows where everything belongs, things are usually put back when we are done using them. Nobody does this perfectly either, and as you might guess, some family members are better at it than others. But we have established the habit of doing it most of the time, which goes a long way in maintaining order overall.
I like to get things done with the least amount of effort possible, so when complicated tasks are presented to me, my mind automatically starts figuring out how to simplify the job at hand. This comes in handy when getting things done. I'm always looking for ways to consolidate errands, or save a step when cleaning. I much prefer simple organizational systems to complicated ones because they are easier to maintain and use. When it comes to my schedule, I keep that as simple as possible too. This may mean having to say no when I am asked to take on too much, but it is important that I do this for the sake of my sanity since I get overwhelmed so easily. I limit my involvement to the things that are most important to me, keeping my priorities in check, like family time.
I don’t spend a lot of energy fussing over and making sure everything is in perfect order at home. I do make a strong effort to frequently get rid of things that we are no longer using, and this is really the biggest secret to staying on top of keeping order in our house. Being organized has less to do with trying to achieve perfection, and more to do with keeping things simple, lightening the load, and establishing and sticking to helpful habits and routines. We should always ask ourselves the same question when we are overwhelmed with household tasks, with staying organized or with adding things to our calendar; How can I make this easier for myself so that I can minimize my stress and feel more peaceful at home?
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free Professional Organizing Services
Summer has come and went and autumn’s colors are popping up everywhere. Soon it will be time to dig the hats and mittens out of the basement. The key to staying on top of seasonal wardrobe changes is to keep your routine simple. The following Do's and Don'ts will help you save time and stay organized as the season's rapidly roll by.
Don't - Store off season clothing in any location other than your bedroom.
Are you tired of dragging totes up from the basement, rifling through them and washing and folding or hanging each article of clothing with the changing of each season? This system takes a lot of time and effort to maintain and if you have children and do the same with their clothing, the job gets even more overwhelming. If this describes your routine, it may to time to simplify your closet by paring down what you own. Most bedrooms have enough closet space to hold a reasonable amount of clothing for 1 -2 persons. It is also important to note that statistically, most of us wear 20% of our wardrobes 80% of the time. So take the time to evaluate your wardrobe and be selective, keeping only the clothing you or your child are truly wearing. Letting go of those items that no longer serve you will save you time again and again each season.
Do - Move heavy winter items in and out of storage each season.
It makes sense to get heavy winter gear like boots, heavy coats, scarves, hats etc. out each winter and place them in an easily accessible area for convenience. Storing these item in your basement or storage area in the summertime, frees up space in your garage and mud room so it is a worthwhile task, just don't do the same with winter clothing that resides in your bedroom.
Don't - Keep clothing in your closet that does not fit you.
One common reason that individuals struggle with fitting all of the clothing that they own into their bedroom space is that they also store clothing that does not fit them there. Think about it, if you lose weight, would you really want to wear those old tired clothes from 3 seasons ago? Or will you want to celebrate by going out and buying fresh stylish new ones? Why not plan to reward yourself for your success? If your weight tends to fluctuate and you feel that you must keep clothing that does not fit, these are the items that I suggest storing elsewhere, such as in a plastic bin in the basement. Don't let these items that you are not currently wearing take up precious space in your closet. Children's hand-me-downs that you are keeping for a younger child should also be stored in a storage space outside of the bedroom.
Do - Rotate seasonal clothing to the back of the closet.
Move out of season items to a less accessible location within your bedroom each season. The back of the closet, bottom drawers or upper shelves in a closet are good places to store out of season clothing. Also, don't forget to utilize under the bed space by using plastic bins specially sized to fit underneath. This is the perfect place to store shoes like flip-flops and sandals. When its time to switch seasons, they can be quickly retrieved and replaced with winter shoes. This is also a great place to store bulky items like heavy sweaters in the summertime. This rotation can be done with minimal effort to make easily accessible space available for the clothing you will be wearing frequently.
Don’t - Keep keepsake clothing in your closet.
Another common habit that steals closet and drawer space is keeping sentimental items that you don't wear there. Do you have sweatshirts and T-shirt's residing in your bedroom that you haven't worn in ages? Perhaps a T-shirt from a run you participated in or that old college sweatshirt that holds so many memories? Unless you are wearing them regularly, these items are actually keepsake items and should be stored in a keepsake bin outside of your bedroom.
Do - Beware of the "Out of sight out of mind" tendency.
If you are not yet convinced that storing out of season clothing outside of the bedroom is ineffective, consider the following. We tend to forget about clothing that is stored out of sight and therefore risk spending unnecessary time and money shopping for items we already have. Have you ever purchased an article of clothing for you or your child just to discover later that you already had that item at home in a storage bin? This is a frequently made mistake due to the fact that when clothing is out of sight, we tend to forget we have them.
The less clothing that you own, the simpler the process will be for keeping everything organized. Periodically taking the time to go through your closets and dresser drawers to eliminate clothing that you no longer wear is well worth your time effort and will keep your closets and clothing organized and at your fingertips as the seasons rapidly roll by.
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free
Professional Organizing Services
Most of us spend our lives growing and accumulating belongings, we start out with an apartment, then a small house. As our families grow and we experience more success, we acquire bigger homes. As time passes, we continue to collect possessions. In fact, owning a big home with many possessions is how most of us define success. But sometimes, in our quest for a sense of achievement, we actually end up with more possessions than we really need or use. If this is you, it may be time to take inventory of your home and its contents, and decide if your belongings are serving you, or just weighing you down.
I often work with older adults who have lived in their homes for 30+ years, and have reached a stage in their lives, where they own more than they can manage. They are in the process of moving to smaller homes and have collected so much stuff throughout the years that the task of dealing with it all is overwhelming. Unfortunately, this process of “downsizing” into a smaller home with less stuff is often viewed in a negative light. Many individuals feel that they have spent their whole lives working to acquire what they own, and now they have to let it go. For this reason, many put off the letting go process for too long, dreading the day it has to be done.
What most individuals with this kind of mindset do not realize, is that letting go of what no longer serves our needs or fits our lifestyle can actually add to the quality of our lives. There is responsibility that goes along with managing our home and of all its contents. Letting go of that responsibility, can simplify our lives and can be liberating and inspiring. Moving from a large high maintenance home to a smaller one that better fits our present needs, can feel like lifting a large weight off of our shoulders.
So why do most of us avoid doing it? Part of the reason is that our natural inclination is to seek more, whether that is in the form of more success, or more material belongings. But that mentality does not always serve us well. If we become mindful of this, and periodically take the time to assess and reduce our belongings throughout our lives, we will avoid ever having to tackle an insurmountable, dreaded “downsizing” job in the future. Another reason that many of us are unable to let go of what we no longer use is that we let our busy schedules take priority and we never get around to getting the job done. Meanwhile, the piles grow ever so large, taking over storage areas, closets and even active living areas. I have worked with numerous individuals whose home environments have become so disorderly and chaotic that they don’t even want to spend time at home, because no peace can be found there.
Whether we are age 25, or 75, it’s never too early to start to simplify our homes and our belongings. Examine the contents of your home, and be willing to let go of everything that is not functional or does not inspire you. Evaluate the way your home feels; is there plenty of open space for energy to flow within your home? Or have its rooms become suffocating, with too much furniture and other items? Do you feel peaceful when you are at home? Do you spend more time than you would like maintaining and cleaning your big home and yard? How would it feel to be surrounded only by the things that you cherish and use and nothing more?
For those of us struggling with clutter, I suggest reading a book on Minimalism like Joshua Becker’s, “The More Of Less.” You don’t have to become a Minimalist to acquire an appreciation for living more simply. Learning to understand the concept of Minimalism can help us develop a more balanced attitude towards what we own, and help us to gain awareness of the unconscious drive to seek more.
The added bonus to switching our mindsets from “What more do I need?” to “What don’t I need any more?” is that many who develop this way of thinking and living, find themselves so motivated that they find that they are able to let go of clutter that complicates other parts of their lives as well. They learn to simplify their schedules and lifestyles and to let go of unwanted obligations that cause unnecessary stress.
These days, we live in a world of... do more, have more, be more, and we never stop running. This mentality leaves us feeling perpetually overwhelmed, but we don’t have to live this way. We can learn to be satisfied with a simpler life, and come to cherish this carefree, less burdensome way of living.
Write It Down
A calendar and a to do list are wonderful helpers when it comes to staying organized. Put EVERYTHING that you need to get done on your electronic or paper calendar. Even routine chores like washing the bedding is more likely to get done if you write it on your calendar. Daily TO-DO lists are great for getting those nagging thoughts of what you need to get done out of your head and on paper. Be sure to keep only ONE list, and have fun crossing items off your list as you complete them!
Everything In Its Place
Everything in your life should have a place to call home. Where do your car keys go? Do you have one designated spot for your check book? Assign homes to everything you own, start with your purse and work all the way down to your fingernail clippers.
Put It Away Now
Practice the 2 minute rule, if it will take less than 2 minutes to put something away, then do it now. Don’t set it down on the dining room table and leave it there. It will be easier to do now than to wait until you have an enormous and overwhelming pile of mess to tackle. Your home will stay clutter free if you can master this one good habit.
Establish Helpful Routines
We all function better once we have developed a system. Forming habits like doing chores at the same time every week, and having other set routines can help you feel more in control. Routines give us a sense of security and predictability that makes our lives feel less chaotic. Establish a work routine and stick with it. You will find that life runs smoother when you have set routines in place.
Less Is More
Look around your home and evaluate everything you have, it is serving you? Is everything you see pleasing to the eye? If you have a surplus items in your home that you have not used and/or they no longer lift you up when you look at them, it is time to say goodbye. A peaceful and welcoming home is one that includes plenty of open space. Too much décor and/or furnishings creates stress on the eyes and makes a home look smaller. Less stuff allows energy into your home and creates a peaceful environment. So less really is more!
Written By Laura Coufal
Clean & Clutter Free
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.