Spring Cleaning-It’s really all about the clutter

 

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Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

 

It is that season.  The temperatures begin to rise, the sun comes out, green emerges in our gardens and we feel this urge to “spring clean”.  And if you are like me, the picture above makes you take a deep breath and feel a sense of relief.  You want your whole house, whole office, whole life to look and feel this serene.

I realized years ago, that my bent towards organization and that spring cleaning urgency, which frankly hits me about every three months, was really a longing for space-white space.  It was a need for room to breathe.  It was a desire to be able to find things, keep up with my schedule and have moments to breathe.  In the end it meant I simply wanted SPACE- space to live, laugh, relax.

I came up with the following acrostic to help me organize and manage my time.

  • S-Sort
  • P-Purge
  • A-Assign
  • Contain
  • Evaluate

We often begin the process wrong, and so in the end, we simply do little more than move things around, finding ourselves a few months down the road, handling the same items, shifting them from one space to another.  If you can embrace my SPACE method, I promise you will find exactly that-space to live, to play, to breathe, to rest.

Step 1 is to Sort.  You can begin as small as one drawer, one closet or as large as one room.  Simply sort the items into categories:  like items together.

Step 2 is to Purge.  Take a good look at what you have.  Get rid of duplicates, broken items, the unknown…  Elect to either throw the items away or donate.  Either way have a bin or bag for both.

Step 3 is to Assign.  All that remains are the items you have elected to keep.  These should be things you use or enjoy.   Decide where you are going to put each item.  Some may find a home on a shelf, some in a drawer, some a closet.  What matters at this point is to simply decide where the item is going to live.  If the item is going to be moved to another room, take it there and simply leave it in a holding space until you are ready to address the space.  Once you have assigned each item a place to reside, step back and determined whether or not the space is sufficient to hold the items you have assigned to it.  If not-yep, hate to tell you, but it’s time to purge a little more.

Step 4 is to contain.  So many of us want to rush out and buy all these cute bins, containers, labels BEFORE we begin organizing.  PLEASE DON’T!  You will waste money and simply find yourself trying to organize the items you bought to help you organize.  Once you know what you are keeping and where you are going to put it you determine how it will be stored in the space.  If you need extra containers, hooks, boxes, etc. you will know what size and how many.  Make a list of any items you need to purchase in order to effectively contain the items in the assigned space.

Step 5 is to evaluate.  This is the step most of us want to ignore.  We want to organize our space and have it magically remain organized.  But that sweet friends is simply not reality.  We live.  Our families live.  Items make their way into our homes and at some point many of those items need to find their way out of our homes.  It is important to periodically (maybe once every 4-6 weeks) evaluate your space.  Is there an area causing you frustration?  Do you find yourself distracted each time you set out to begin a project or work in a particular space?  While this step can often be the most difficult to do, it really is the key to success.  The more mindful we become about our spaces, the more we stop to think about the impact of our spaces on our lives, the more intentional we become with our purchases and our decisions.  As we begin to live with intention and focus, we find that space we have longed for, and in that moment we take the deep, rejuvenating breath.

*this same process works for your calendar and time management system, but that’s a whole other blog 🙂

 

 

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January-It is All About Linens

January is typically the month retail stores put linens on sale.  I kind of like the idea-new year, new sheets!  However, as we all know, linens aren’t cheap to begin with, so even on sale, they can still be pretty expensive.  So each year, as much as I’d like to run out and get new sheets, new towels, and refresh my home, I have to stop and really consider my needs.  I have also learned, as I carry out my organizing services, that all too often it is linens that take up valuable space in a home.  So, I thought I’d share a few of my linen tips and challenge you (as well as myself) to do a little January linen check-up over this next week.

As an organizer my desire is to help people uncover their spaces-get rid of the clutter, unveiling the beauty of their favorite spaces and items.  All too often the things we value most, the things holding memories, the things we saved and scraped for, sit buried in a storage bin or at the bottom of the closet under piles of items of lesser value-both monetarily and sentimentally.  I find that sad.  I am a firm believer in using and living daily with the things we value most.  Why not?!  What are we waiting for, saving them for?  Using my mother-in-laws vintage pink china brings fond memories and prompts wonderful conversations with my girls about the gentile lady they never had the chance to know.  I’d rather risk a broken piece or two than never use it, never share in the memories, never honor her.  Pulling out my Japanese tea service reminds me of my “second home”, the hospitality of a people I grew up living with, and the love my paternal family has for Japan. Again, great conversations take place as I reminisce with my daughters, sharing stories of a country and world that seems so very far off to them.  And this time of year, pulling out family quilts, hand knit blankets, seeing the names of kinfolk  I never met, again reminds us of our heritage, propels us to inquire, look back.  Things, stuff-we can accumulate too much.  We can hoard our things, never enjoying them or sharing them and their stories with others.  OR, we can live with our things, let them serve their purpose and bring value to our lives.

So, what do you have hiding in the closet?  What things do you have packed away for the “some day”?  I bet a lot of them are in the bottom of the linen closet.  That, or they are in the attic sight unseen because you have no room in any of your interior closets in which to store them.  Get busy, get ready.  Clean out your linen closet (wherever or whatever that looks like) and make some room for those items you love, those special items holding memories and value.

First, know that you only need two sets of sheets per bed.  Seriously, that’s it!  And in all reality, unless you have a different size bed in every room, you can get by with only one extra set of sheets per size of bed.  (ie-if you have 4 twin beds, you only need 5 sets of twin sheets)  In reality most of us strip the bed, wash and dry the sheets, and put them right back on.  Genius!  There go, minus a middle of the night bed accident (illness, bed wetting) you will rarely pull out the “extra” set.  This means you can invest in better quality sheets, purchasing fewer sets.

Second, you only need two sets of towels per person.  Again, most of us throw the towels in the wash, dry them and hang them right back up.  All those decorative sets we purchase stay in the closet gathering dust.

Third, if you really want to simplify, purchase all white linens.  They go with everything.  They can be bleached.  You don’t have to keep up with matching sets.  Now, I will tell you, I lived with this rule until my girls reached school age.  Now, as girls we just can’t resist the cute chevron, polka dots, vibrant sherbet colors…  I gave up the all white towels (except for kitchen dishcloths), but I have NOT given up the two sets per person rule and we still have cream or white sheets for all.

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Fourth, remember linens are expendable.  They are meant to be used.  Whether we are talking about bed linens, kitchen linens or bath linens.  They are made to be hard working items.  They are meant to be of service to us, to bring comfort to us, to add some “pop” to our decor.  They can’t fulfill their role if we leave them in the china cabinet, back of the pantry or bottom of the linen closet.

Fifth, when it comes to bed linens please know that higher thread count DOES NOT mean better for you.  The higher the thread count the tighter the weave.  Now, this does make the sheets feel silky smooth, but on the negative side, it also means your skin can’t breathe.  That’s not good.  And if like me, you are entering menopause, that REALLY isn’t good.  400 thread count is actually the ideal count.  Some added softness, but a broad enough weave your skin can breathe.

Where to begin.  Start wherever you keep the majority of your linens.  Pull them all out.  (or go one room at a time)  Throw away any thread bare or incomplete sets.  Throw away anything stained (especially place-mats, napkins or kitchen towels)  If you don’t want to throw them away take them to the local animal shelter.  (But please, please do not take them to Goodwill.)  Next, pick your favorite two sets.  All the rest I hereby give you permission to take to Goodwill or your favorite organization.  Do it!  I don’t care if they are in perfect condition.  I don’t care if  the napkins and place-mats would be perfect for a beach themed pool party.  If you have never used them, haven’t thought about them in a year, you don’t need them and they are robbing you of the space for something else of value.  You will be amazed at the room you create in your storage space-be it drawer, cabinet or closet.  If at the end of the process you are left with nothing, then go out before January 31 and purchase some fresh linens on sale.  Just make sure you keep in mind the rules above!

I’m tackling my spaces tomorrow!