Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Clutter Battles and How to Win - Part 1

A few weeks ago I attended a presentation by a professional organizer. Kathie England has an organizing business called Time for Success. She presented some excellent ideas on how to get started taming your clutter. I don't know how much clutter you have but dealing with my overwhelming amount of clutter / stuff is one of the reasons I started this blog. I have a serious paper problem. I have a crazy, messy coat closet which doesn't work. I have a tiny garage that needs some serious organization. And the list goes on.

Kathie taught us a method for organizing based on an acronym that she learned in Julie Morgenstern's book, Organizing from the Inside Out. The acronym is SPACE. Forgive me if I hack this...I took notes but haven't gotten the book from the library yet.

First, S, you Sort like items with like items.

Second, P, you Purge. Once you can see that you have 5 potato peelers, you can pare down (pun intended).

Third, A, you Assign an appropriate home. For example, Christmas ornaments or your menorah don't need to be easily accessible. On the other hand, stuff you use every day should be right where you can get at it. A tape measure is going to be invaluable in this step and in the next step.

Fourth, C, you Containerize. I cringe at this word but basically, you find appropriate containers for the homes you assigned.

Fifth, E, you Equalize. This is maintenance where you make sure that your system is integrated into your life. One thing that she suggested is after you finish a project, you set an appointment with yourself in the future to make sure that you system is still working.

As you go through the process, she suggests having a "Quandary Box" (or bag or bin). This is where you put the stuff that defies sorting and that you don't know what to do with. You can go back to it later and make decisions. You may not be ready yet to let something go. This gives you an opportunity to get used to the idea of letting it go.

Another thing she mentions is to be sure to take before and after photos. She cited a client who had a 5 foot stack of papers to go through. During an organizing session with Kathie, she reduced the stack by 2 whole feet. The client was so excited! The problem was that when her husband returned home, he couldn't see the difference. It still looked like a huge stack of paper. A before photo would have been great proof of progress.

As a mama with 3 under 4, I really liked her idea of bins for kids with the word and the picture so kids can help clean up. Granted, I wouldn't even know how to categorize all our toys but it is still a good idea. One of the other ideas she had for kids was to take a photo of how you want a room (a bedroom, a playroom) to look. Then, set a timer, turn on some music and make it a game to get the room back to looking like the picture. Are you overwhelmed with toys? She suggested making it a fun event with your children to purge toys. You can build social awareness by talking about who would get the toys and why they might need the toys.

This post is getting super long so I will break it into Parts 1 and 2. Look for Part 2 in the near future.


Rebecca Schroeder said...

Go Erin! Your blog has me one step closer to reducing my clutter. Now that I know your notes are on-line, I can throw away my notes on paper that have been sitting on my desk, creating more clutter, since that night at Amelia's. Good luck with your garage!

ering said...

Great point Rebecca! All the rest of you can throw out your notes, too. I will keep you posted on my garage. And thanks for reading and posting a comment!