I have to admit. 2012 was a difficult year in a lot of respects. I found myself feeling very overwhelmed, disorganized and paralyzed to begin any project because I did not know where to start. It was October when I finally sought help and discovered I was suffering from generalized anxiety . It has not been an easy path and certainly there has been bumps in the road, nevertheless I have learned a tremendous amount about myself and some of the sources of my anxiety.
Here I am some five months later and I am finding it much easier to give myself a break and silence my inner critic. Instead of the intense feelings that everything has to be perfect, I am realizing that nothing has to be perfect. That has given me the freedom to start somewhere. The first place I started was the massive stockpile of items in our donate space. It took a few hours to fill up the car (multiple times) and to drop the items off at the charity of our choosing, nonetheless we now have space to add more items to purge.
Since taking that step, I have been nearly unstoppable with purging, purging, purging, organizing, organizing, organizing. Have I used this in the past 6 months? Donate. Does it need to be fixed? If it’s not an easy fix—toss and replace.
Do I really need six of these or will one do? Donate 4, keep 2.
Am I going to read these books again? No? Donate.
For me, getting started was the hardest part. While fighting the flu, I decided it was time to start in my kitchen.
This is my junk drawer now. I don’t have a before picture, but trust me—it wasn’t pretty.
These are pictures of my miscellaneous utensil drawer. It was a disaster. It is really deep and it was incredibly difficult to find ANYTHING when I needed it.
This was part of my solution. I put many of my utensils in a pretty flower pot on the counter. Now, I can quickly find whatever I need!
The silverware drawer. What a mess it was! I donated a lot of duplicates and found homes for stuff that didn’t belong in the drawer.
I had to use some imagination, but now our silverware drawer is much cleaner!
I don’t have any before photos for this either. My linens used to be all over the place. I spent some time ironing and sorting all my napkins, placemats, tablecloths and napkin rings. This is where the napkins and napkin rings live now. Much more organized!
My table cloths and placemats are now neatly organized in our coat closet, where I can find them at any time. It’s a beautiful thing! I have nothing much to say about the rest of that closet, except to say, it’s on the list!
Here are the five strategies I used to kick-start my de-cluttering and organizing:
1. Start with something small that can be done easily and/or in just a few minutes. For example, I worked on only ONE shelf in the refrigerator, which only took a few minutes instead of starting on our office that was a completely overwhelming and scary space to start in. Once I cleaned one shelf and saw how sparkly it was, I couldn’t stop
2. Set a timer and do no more than 15 minutes a day. It makes the task less daunting. Everyone can do 15 minutes!
3. Get three separate containers—one for donate, one for toss and one for items that need to return to their place (or need to find a place they can call home). Label the containers clearly. For example, if it’s a cardboard box, write clearly what it is. I’ve been using laundry baskets as my containers or bins and it makes it simple to toss items into the respective bin. After the bins get filled up, I put the items where they belong.
4. Donate unwanted items frequently! We have a growing kiddo and she is constantly getting too big for her britches—and shirts, and shoes, and socks, you name it. We have a donation area in our mudroom. For a while, the pile was getting higher and higher. It was overwhelming because I would see it every time I rushed out of the house and again when I returned. It was downright depressing. Now, I try to grab up as much as I can as often as I can and take it over to our favorite charity. My goal is once a week, though I have only been able to make a trip or two a month. Baby steps!
5. Start SOMEWHERE! Stop planning and get going! Just do it! Start now! It doesn’t have to be the biggest project in the house. Find that pile of papers that needs to be sorted. Dust that table, without worrying about getting the whole room done. I remember being so overwhelmed, I was paralyzed trying to figure out where to start. I was being a perfectionist pain in the neck. If it wasn’t going to be done today and done perfectly, it didn’t seem worth the effort. Today, I try to pick a task and get it done the best I can. If I need to put it down and pick it up later—well, that has to be okay. Every little bit helps!
How do YOU handle your biggest organizational tasks?