January 8, 2011

My current clean house gurus are 365 Less Things, Clean Mama, Unclutter and I’m An Organizing Junkie.

365 Less Things has inspired me to get rid of my stuff.  My stuff I don’t need.  My stuff I don’t use.  My stuff I don’t even remember I have.  She has listed mini missions and weekly missions.  I am not entirely sure how it is all going to work, but I am going to try to keep up with it.  I am also going to try hard to keep up with my household routines.

This was the week’s mission list and what I did:

  1. Saturday – Find something that can be used up but has been hanging about in your home for too long and start using it up. This could be moisturizer, something from the pantry, a note pad etc.  I have a ton of journals, note pads, post-it pads.  I am taking several in to school to use in my classroom.
  2. Sunday – Time to visit your book stash again there must be two books that are out of date or unlikely to be read again. Put them in the donation box. Didn’t do it.
  3. Monday – Evaluate your plastic storage containers are there some you could declutter? Tupperware sells on eBay you know. There are probably some that have seen better days to or ones with missing lids these are seldom used and are probably ready for the recycling bin. Threw away a couple of pieces.
  4. Tuesday – Go to a storage area of your home (the garage, a closet or drawer for instance) that you rarely use things from there must be one item of clutter you can delete. Collected some Christmas items for give away.
  5. Wednesday – Now that Christmas is over and birthdays are on the way gather all of your greeting cards, gift wrap etc. together in one place. Weed out what you will never use and discard. Boxed up some Christmas cards I won’t send now that I make my own photo cards.
  6. Thursday – Go and find 1 “I might need it one day” item that you haven’t “needed” for years and put it in your donations box. Didn’t do it.
  7. Friday – Declutter one item from your closet that you know you didn’t use last season. Four bags ready to go.

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!  I am starting over.  Really I am.  Maybe what I need to do to keep this blog going is to set up more posts in advance.

To kick off the new year I am focusing on cleaning my house.  With a toddler running around I am finding more and more things he shouldn’t touch and things that are just in the way.  I have also been looking forward to when he is a school age kid and wants to have a friend over or when he is a teenager.  Hopefully we will have moved by the teen years (and the elementary school years, God willing), but I don’t want the CHAOS to follow us.  We hardly have anyone over now, but I want to have more time with my “new mommy” friends next summer.

I typically overestimate the amount of time it will take to clean up a spot.  I am also a perfectionist.  It keeps me from doing a lot of things.  If I can’t do it right, I am not going to do it.  Driving (I was 20 before I got my license), auditioning (I would love to be in a show, but I won’t audition if I am not going to get the part), knitting (I have no “first swatch” to show, because I ripped everything out).  If I can’t make my closet look exactly how I want it to look I would rather not put my clothes away.  I don’t cook because I am afraid of messing up.  I don’t hang art or photos on my walls (partly because they are 160 year old plaster and lathe) because I am don’t want to regret where I hung things.  Crafts, school work, packing, and house work.  These are all things I get anxious about.  I am working on that.

I have started the decluttering with Christmas.  As I got out and put away ornaments I put some aside.  I filled a bag with ornaments I have received from students over the years so I can hang them on my tree at school.  I also pulled ornaments out for my sister.  She really likes angels, so she is getting all my angels plus some that don’t really fit my newly established “themes”.  Any she doesn’t want will go to our church for the next Christmas bazaar.  I have decided to stick with some themes for decorating next year.  Snowmen, stars, primary colors, ornaments that represent things that happened during the year, and Hallmark ornaments.  I would like to get a small tree for my son’s room to hang snowmen ornaments on.  When we have a bigger place I would like to have more than 1 tree.  I envision one that is all stars and white lights, one that is my Hallmark ornaments (mostly Peanuts and Wizard of Oz), and one that is ornaments we have made or represent our years as a family.

There is so much more in my home I need to weed out, but that’s a story for another day.

It’s a process

The Organizing Junkie has some pretty good ideas about how to organize.  I am going to use many of her hints and suggestions for tackling my project.  First I looked at her PROCESS.

I have created a simple acronym to allow you to break down your organizing project into simple, straightforward steps that will help you stick to your plan and achieve optimal organizing results.

By following the PROCESS steps below anyone can conquer any space of any size. The steps allow you to do one or all at a time depending on the time you have available for the task.

Each letter of PROCESS is a step in organizing.  Hopefully I will see results with this PROCESS and be encouraged to do it again.

First up is P:

Plan of attackplan your project – which area(s) do you want to address – make a list – evaluate present system, what is working, what isn’t working, devise new system – determine budget – develop timeline

To get this part started she suggests asking the following questions that she found in an article on About.com written by Sarah Aquirre.

1. What do I want the purpose of my room or area to be?

A bedroom for my son, born May 16, 2009, who has been sleeping in a cradle in our room since birth.  I want it to be a place for him to sleep, play, and keep his books, toys, and clothes.

2. What do I need in or near the room to serve that purpose?

Crib, dressers, toy storage, book storage, rug, lights.

3. What can I remove from the room?

All our crap.  CDs, books, luggage, electronics, tools, old linoleum.

4. What problems do I see with the room?

Not enough plugs, no window dressings, ugly wallpaper, holes in the walls, old leak on the ceiling, mess, mess, mess.

5. What organizational tools might solve those problems?

Add more plugs, get room darkening blinds, bookcases, storage boxes, hanging shelves.

6. What habits need to change to solve the organizational problems?


7. What kind of a budget do I have to work with right now for storage solutions?

Not much of one.  We really only still need paint and repair materials for the walls, a rug, a ceiling fan/light, blinds, and bookcases.

8. What kind of a timeline is necessary to organize the room? (28 days!)

We are getting a little bit of a late start in the month, but I hope to have the room cleared out enough to move my little guy’s crib in by the beginning of March.

9. What is my plan of action?

Spend a few days emptying the room.  Sort through the items in the room and make keep, store, donate, and trash piles.

10. Who can I ask to help me with this?  (working with a friend can be fun, productive and encouraging)

My husband will be helping me, but I know my mom and my sister will help me too.

28 Day Organizing Challenge

I’m participating in Org Junkie’s 28 Day Organizing Challenge with @orgjunkie during the month of Feb.  Wish me luck!  http://tiny.cc/KYtro

My little boy is finally growing too big for his cradle.  Okay, he has been too big for the cradle since Christmas, but you should see “his” room!  It is full of 7 years of our junk.  We have started to hoe it out, but it just gets worse.  So this month we are going to get all our crap out of there and start to work on the walls and ceiling.  Hopefully when we return from our vacation at the end of the month we will be able to move him into his room even if it isn’t done.


Cut down your catalog clutter

I heard a story on NPR about how to cut down on the number of catalogs you receive  and then I read about it on Unclutterer.

I am sure I got 8 catalogs from LL Bean and Land’s End just since Thanksgiving.  I was thrilled to think I could cut down on the crap that comes into my house, ’cause believe you me, there is enough crap there already.  I went right away to Catalog Choice and signed up.  I currently have about 8 catalogs on my list, but I know as they come I will have more to add.  The best part of Catalog Choice is that it is FREE!  I would gladly donate a little bit each year to keep it going.  I will probably add it to my Christmas giving list.

Unclutterer also has several other suggestions (in Mar 2007 and April 2007) about how to cut down on the junkmail in your home.  I think I am going to follow them today.

Canvas Utility Totes

I am trying to organize my life.  We bought the JOYS system, although we haven’t started using it yet.  I would like to start soon, so that we can find things when we are looking for them.

I also have been collecting canvas utility totes from Bed, Bath and Beyond to organize and neaten up our office space.  Each one will hold those hard to store items like our walkie-talkie sets, iPod paraphernalia, and and other technology related crap.  We already have some shelves in the office, but we are going to put up some more sturdy ones.

Random fact:  I am not very interesting.

What brings me joy?

Kerflop is running an essay contest to win JOYS materials. I really need to get our paperwork and finances in order. Kerflop and OMSH both gush about these products and I hope with a push, I can see results. Our entry must be an essay about what brings us joy.

A lot of things bring me joy. I am lucky to have lived a good life. I have wonderful people around me (blood family and chosen family), a nice home (albeit messy), and a good job (that I love).

My husband brings me joy. I have known my husband since high school, but I didn’t know I loved him till we were adults. He has been through a lot with me and supported me through physical and emotional struggles. Every day he comes home from work and asks me how my day went. Even if I spent all day at home on my computer. He kisses me goodbye before he leaves for work. Even if I am still asleep. He brings me flowers for our anniversary (because we decided Valentine’s Day is too expensive). Even if we are leaving for vacation. He says he loves me all the time. Even when I am mean, angry, cranky, dirty or annoying. He is my joy.

My home brings me joy. We bought this house exactly 2 months before we got married. It is small (two bedrooms and a living/diningroom) but it is ours (and the bank’s). We have been adding a bathroom to the second floor for 5 years, but we are nearly done and it is wonderful. We have a pond with fish and a beautiful flower garden. My friends feel at home in our house. It maybe messy and really eclectic, but it is comfortable and clean. I feel joy in my home.

My job brings me joy. I have been teaching at Smalltown Elementary School for 9 years. In that time I have taught over 400 kids. I’ve had 9 Literacy groups over 3 grades and hundreds of Technology classes. I’ve worked with over 50 professionals. I have purchased, updated and fixed over 100 computers. I have supervised countless recesses. And I have loved nearly every minute of it (can’t love those 20 degree February recesses). Every time a student figures something out in the computer lab or makes a breakthrough in Literacy. Each time they say “Wow, that’s cool” or “I get it now!” that brings me joy. I find joy in my work.

Being creative brings me joy. I have many creative outlets in my life. I have recently taken up knitting and love making things for other people. The feeling of the yarn and needles in my hands is very relaxing. Watching something grow out of my hands is amazing. I have been working with clay since I was 7. Building things with the earthy brown clay is like therapy. I don’t even have to accomplish anything to feel like I have had a good night. When I give something I have created to someone else, I feel better than if I kept it for myself. I’ve been doing theater for over 15 years. After over 40 shows in high school and community theater I still learn things with every production. No one comes to applaud for me, the stage manager, but if it weren’t for me the show would not be as successful. I create joy.

My spirit’s home brings me joy. Star Island has been my spirit’s home since I was 14. I knew the minute I set foot on the pier I felt right. From the Summerhouse to East Rock I feel comfortable and happy every where I am. I grow spiritually each time I go to Star and the years I was away I missed it everyday. When I return from the island each year I feel like a new year has begun and I refreshed and renewed. Joy is being on Star Island.

I am very lucky to have so many things in my life that bring me joy.

Edit: Jessica also suggested we could include photos, I wasn’t sure I would have time before the midnight deadline. Here is a little of what my filing system looks like right now.