Get in the ZONE

houseLook around your home; are you happy with the condition it is in? Can you find what you need quickly and easily? Or do you suffer from C.H.A.O.S. (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome)? Well, stop living in fear of the doorbell (or cancelling play dates) and take back your weekend at the same time.

Often times we feel the “need” to clean the house weekly and many people spend their Saturdays doing just that. The problem with that is, if you have a special event to go to or your child is on a team your Saturday is not your own.  I know you have limited time and that there are lots of things competing for your time and attention – especially your children. Our home is our oasis from the outside world and should be comfortable and relatively stress free – it does not need to be dust free. De-cluttering and organizing are often very helpful and if the family gets involved, they’ll learn habits that will benefit them their whole life. So, here’s a plan that takes 15-20 minutes a day that the whole family can help with.

First: divide your home into 5 or 6 zones. A zone can be one room or a combination of rooms but don’t make it too big. You want to be able to do a bit of de-clutter, organizing and/or cleaning in the 20 minute block. For example, zone 1 for me includes the breezeway (because most people enter there), entry way and ½ bath (which is right near that back door). Zone 2 includes the kitchen, dining room (which does not get used very often) and the foyer. The idea is to create small enough areas that you can work on for 15-20 minutes each night and feel like you are making progress. At the same time you can have the rest of the family doing the DPU (15 minute daily pick up) and picking up and putting away in other rooms or get them to help with the current zone.  At first, you may only have time for de-cluttering, later on though as you keep at it each week, you’ll not only get to clean the areas but you’ll have time to deep clean or go one step further – whatever that is for you.

Next, figure out what time of day would work best for you and the family to take those 20 minutes. Will it be before dinner, before getting the kids ready for bed, after the kids are in bed or different each day? It’s okay if it is different every day but I feel it is important to “plan” it into your day somehow. So schedule it for the first week and then each day work on one zone. Monday is my zone one, so it is the breezeway, back door entry and ½ bath that get my attention. The biggest thing here in the winter is the sand and grit that gets carried in. So, with a shake of the rugs and a quick vacuum (using a cordless stick vacuum because my central vacuum has a 20 foot hose that is just not convenient for me), I change the towels in the bathroom and clean the fixtures and I’m done. One week I also had time to clean out the medicine cabinet and another week I cleaned out the drawers in the vanity. Even if your cleaning service comes each week, you can still de-clutter and organize and save the cleaning for them.

Lastly, only you can decide what things are important in your home. You may want to focus one day on just mail, or paying the bills, or collecting the recycling for trash day. Whatever works for you is what is important and you’ll need to consider why it is important to you. Life is full of so many “shoulds” that we often don’t stop to consider the “whys”.  Why take the time to do this? Only you can answer that.

How to Organize Any Space in 4 Easy Steps

Less work, more fun.
Less work, more fun.

Summer is coming – that’s the good news! We want to enjoy the summer but with graduations, weddings and bbqs happening every weekend, things can get ahead of us because we don’t have the time but we also don’t want to use what little time we do have on decluttering, so things can pile up- that’s the bad news.

You know that pile of mail (oh that’s right you handled that in last month’s newsletter) maybe it’s the family room or the kitchen that is frustrating you. If your very busy, overscheduled life is causing you to tolerate clutter then it is likely that you are losing valuable time dealing with its effects. The following four steps can be done separately or in tiny pieces depending on the time you have available. It’s easy to crack the C.O.D.E. to an organized life.

Each letter in the word CODE stands for a step in the process. The “C” is for Collect. Collect what needs to be organized or de-cluttered into one space. If it’s video games, cooking utensils, magazines, or laundry it doesn’t matter, just pick one and collect it all. You can get the whole family involved by having each person pick a “thing” and collect it in a laundry basket or plastic bin.

The “O” is for Organize. Now organize the collection into sub categories by putting like items together. In the case of video games it might be by gaming platform, or separate kid’s games from teen games, or like and don’t like. With kitchen utensils it might be those you use often and those specialty items or the ones you use by the stove and those you use at the counter. As you do this with your category, you will notice what can be recycled or trashed, repurposed or removed to a different room. What is left is the important stuff – those things you love, use and/or need in your life.

Now “D” is for Decide. This is often the hardest step of all. Asking yourself questions like, “What do I do with this?” or “Where is the best place for this?” can be difficult. Having the important things close by and the not so important (but still necessary) things away from the every day items will give you more space for the things you use daily. Some things may already have a place but began to overflow into the surrounding area. Now that you have collected those items you can sort, toss or pare down to suit your needs.

Wherever you decide to put things be sure to “contain” them. Things have a tendency to expand to fill all available space and by containing them you can curtail that. Draw dividers, kitchen organizers, bins, baskets, empty jars, storage bags, use whatever fits your need, will contain that category, and keep it from spreading. Now decide where each category is going and deal with them.

Last in the four step process is “E” for Evaluate. After a week or so of using your new organization check the surrounding area to see if it is “contained” and evaluate if it is working for you. If not, then try something else. Keep trying until you find what works for you and your family. In order to maintain your organized home, be sure to evaluate each drawer, cabinet, closet or shelf periodically and use the C.O.D.E. to get it back under control. This is the key to staying organized – maintenance. It’ll also give you more time for summer fun. Enjoy!