By Pam Hudson
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to stop at just scrubbing, sudsing and mopping. Take “spot” cleaning to a new level, and REALLY get into the mess of things. Think of each disorganized area as a “spot” that needs to be cleaned, and tackle those disorganized and poorly functioning spots in your home, office and car as if you would a spilled glass of wine or mud on the floor. You likely access these disorganized areas over and over and over again — and each time, with dread — so check out these suggestions for motivation and dig right in!
Have a vision: Find your inspiration from “before and after” photos on Pinterest, thumb through magazines like Martha Stewart or Simple, or poke around the organizing section at Bed, Bath & Beyond or Target.
Incentivize yourself: Figure out how you’re going to reward yourself for a “job well done” so that you are working toward an organized environment, as well as a great payoff.
Track your progress; pat yourself on the back: For some, lists are useful. I prefer post-it-notes because the commitment of a bunch of small tasks seems far less overwhelming than one, big, rambling list. Write just ONE project on each note, such as “junk drawer,” “tool box,” or “glove compartment,” then place your notes on the outside of a kitchen cabinet (marked “to do”), where you’ll see them continuously.
As you complete a small task, move that note to the “completed” cabinet and bask in the glory of accomplishment!
Music for your ears: Before you upturn that drawer or box, crank up your Pandora station to Rock, Blues or beating bongos, find your rhythm, and stay focused on the task.
Pace yourself: Pluck off one of those post-it-notes, put it on the fridge, set a timer for 20 minutes, and jump right in. It’s not a huge time commitment, but knowing that you need to move quickly will push you through any sentimentality surrounding your things.
Containers: Rather than shoot the wad on expensive organizational infrastructure, be frugal on items that don’t take too much wear and tear, and spend your money on unique (corner cabinet pullouts), one-of-a-kind storage items (wire pantry drawer units) or (durable and sturdy) garage /closet shelving.
For the ultra frugal approach, you can also make use of shoe boxes, plastic clamshell fruit and vegetable containers, and recycled cardboard boxes from your recent Amazon book delivery trimmed down to fit inside cabinets and drawers.
Make others happy: My clients feel it’s easier to part with extra stuff if they know it’s going to someone who will appreciate and use it. Identify charities, friends, or friends of friends in need, and set up sorting bags or boxes indicating that group.
Sort, sort, and sort some more: Gather up a bunch of containers you already have (sizes appropriate for what you’re sorting), and use them to contain your items as you sort. I feel like a broken record, but “like things like to be together.”
If you have ONE designated place for similar items, you’ll always know what your backstock is, and can easily access whatever you’re looking for. (Unnecessary multiples, like 11 spatulas or 22 flathead screwdrivers are easy to part with when striving to edit and organize).
If sentimentality starts to creep in and suck up time, have a “marinate” container, and deal with that stuff AFTER each project is complete. Taking your eyes off those items for a while, then coming back later will typically result in greater clarity.
Party on: While unconventional, and perhaps putting you in a bit of a vulnerable position for all to see your disorganization, invite your nearest and dearest for a cocktail or coffee (organizing) party and ask (or beg or plead) for some help from each of them — just 20 minutes is all — and ply them with refreshments before and after.
Let them pick a post-it-note and tackle the project. You’ll need to supervise, and perhaps pop from spot to spot to remove any items for donation. Party gifts could be inexpensive drawer dividers, of course! You’re now on the hook to reciprocate, but you might just start a new party trend!
Move it on out: Once a bag or box is filled, move it out of your living space. The faster and more efficiently you can relocate offloaded items away from your home or office, the better. Make a coffee date with the friend who’s receiving your hand-me-downs, swing by the local donation station, or shred personal paperwork the day before recycle pickup.