Getting Your Act Together in 2010 (and a Giveaway!)

Well, I’ll bet many of you within the sound of my voice…uh…er…I mean within the reach of my typing fingers :-) have vowed to get organized in 2010. I have chatted here in the past randomly about both managing your time and organizing your stuff. Well, this year, I want to talk more purposefully about both of those topics; topics which often trip a sister up, causing her frustration and resulting in lost items, missed appointments and late fees.

I hate to see tripped-up sisters. And I hate when I trip up in these areas too, which I still do more often than I’d like.

GettingOrganizedSo, to kick us off here in 2010, lets pinky promise that we will be intentional about getting our acts together. And let’s make it fun too. I will be giving away a signed copy of my book The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized to one gal who leaves a comment on this post. ( It is worth a quarter more at your garage sale someday if it is signed ;-)) Along with it, I’ll include a Fresh Linen Soy Candle by For Every Body’s. (It is too cute. It has a little clothes pin floating in the top of the wax and smells like freshly laundered clothes. It just screams ‘clean’!) And I’ll tuck in an individual packet of Chocolate Supreme Hot Cocoa Mix from Private Selection.

So, the winner can burn her candle, causing her house to smell all fresh and tidy while she sips on the cocoa and reads the book. Oh, and at some point you’ll actually want to get up and implement the organizational ideas, so don’t get too comfy!

I covered today’s topic once before a long time ago, but it is so foundational that it is worth repeating. So, here we go….

I have the immense pleasure of chatting with hundreds of women every year at my events. So many of you are at such a loss as to what to do with your ”stuff”. And by “stuff” I mean the many piles I see. Piles of paper, piles of kids’ items, piles of assorted kitchen clutter, why, even piles of fabric!!! Do you know what all of those piles are? They are the result of two little words that you have ingrained into your homemaking vocabulary. Two words that you must rid yourselves of if you want to bust up those piles. Those awful two words ladies are….

“For now”

You know, “I’ll set this junk mail here for now.”

“I’ll place these toys and trinkets over there for now.”

“I don’t know what to do with all of this ______(you fill in the blank) so I’ll lay it here for now.”

Girlfriends, our “for nows” are ruining us! And do you realize that every pile is just a stack of unmade decisions? The first time I read that statement years ago in an organizational book it was a revelation for me!!

Part of the problem is that you have not made a decision about where it will go. Thus the piles of “for now”. The bigger part of the problem, however, is not where to put the stuff. It is that you have too much stuff. So, first let’s learn to do a little de-junking, ridding ourselves of the unnecessary clutter.

With what is left, we’ll find a place other than the dreaded culprit piles of “for now” where they currently lodge. And take note: the following system can be used in one room—for you gals with that cluttered home office, messy toy room or catch-all kitchen—or for the really brave at heart, in the entire house!

De-junking Basics

So here is how this works. First, you’ll need five boxes, (Or, if you are tackling a really big room or area, bins or laundry baskets.) They will hold items that you come across that belong somewhere other than where they are at the moment.

Label the first box Put Back. Inside of it place another small lidded container such as a shoe box or plastic tote. This box will be used to collect the items that are out of place in your home. The smaller container will hold items such as pens, pencils, barrettes, and coins so they don’t get lost in the bigger box.

The second box will be labeled Take Back. This will corral all of those items in you home that don’t belong to you and need to be returned somewhere. You know, library books, rented DVD’s, a shoe from your son’s friend who spent the night last week, a pan from the sweet lady from church who made your family brownies two months ago, etc..

The third box will be used for garbage. Label it Toss or Trash. Line it with a garbage bag so that when it becomes full, you can tie it up and transport it to the trash can. If you are a family that recycles, you can also have a box or bin for that purpose too.

Next, you’ll want to have a box for those items that are still in good shape, but no longer needed or wanted at your home. Label this one Charity or Garage Sale. You can even place price stickers on your things at this point if you will be holding a sale. If you will donate your belongings to a charity or homeless shelter, as a box fills up, seal it and put it in your vehicle to be ready to drop off next time you are near a donation center.

The last box in the bunch will be labeled Nostalgia. More on this in a minute.

Before starting, please determine that you will be ruthless. Promise yourself that if you have not used it, needed it (but couldn’t find it), worn it, or enjoyed looking at it in the past year—then you’re going to LET IT FLY!

Haul your boxes into your problem room. Position the boxes in the middle of the floor. Beginning in one corner of the room, pick up an article, and ponder the following:

• Is this item out of place? Place it in the Put Back box.

• Does this item need to be returned to someone or somewhere? Into the Take Back box it goes.

• Is this item in such dire shape that it is no longer usable? Then place it in the Toss box. If it is made of metal, glass, paper, or plastic, it goes in the recycle bin if you are going to add this step too.

• Is this item in fine shape but no longer needed by anyone in our family? Into the Charity or Garage Sale box it goes.

• Now here is the final question: Is this item no longer needed by anyone in our family, but one of my children (or my husband) is so attached to it that if I pitch it now, they’ll be emotionally damaged for life and, yes, someday they will be on national TV spilling their guts to Dr. Somebody about my cruel actions?

Then into the Nostalgia box it goes. All of your kiddos can have a few nostalgia boxes with favorite “keeper” items. I like to attach a note to the item such as “You wouldn’t fall asleep without this stuffed turtle by your side” or “You carried this little lunch pail on the first day of school.”

Once your question and answer exercise is finished, look down in your hand? Is the item still there? It must be:

A. Something you actually want or need and ….

B. It must be located in the proper room of the house.

Continue making a sweep around the entire room, following the same procedure with each item you encounter. Check every drawer, shelf and closet. Make certain you are taking inventory of everything you own. Be ruthless!

Every so often empty out the boxes—put back the out of place items, throw out the trash bags, transfer the storage and nostalgia items to a box that can be placed in permanent storage, and keep on truckin’! What seems like an overwhelming task will soon gain momentum.

Crank up some music you enjoy or pop in a book on cd to help the time pass more quickly. And if you are like me, you’ll discover that this concept works best when following the buddy system. Junk busting is easier with a friend who is, unlike you, not emotionally attached to your stuff. They will help you decide objectively what you will keep and what you will pitch, give away, or sell. When you come to the Tupperware deviled egg holder your Aunt Tillie gave you ten years ago that you never use, your friend will grant you the courage to get rid of it, offering their full assurance that Aunt Tillie will not suffer irreparable harm because of your decision.

It feels so good to de-junk. Every time I do it, (which for me was two and a half days last week–you know, putting away those new items received at Christmas, sorting through clothes that my kids have outgrown and ones I no longer need or wear; turning old wash clothes into rags and washing and putting away the new ones my mom got us for Christmas, etc..)

Yes, every time I do it, I understand why John Wesley said “Cleanliness is next to godliness”

It feels like a brand new start.

Try it. You’ll be glad you carved out time to do it.

And, next week, I’ll post more about what to do once you have dejunked; how to re-set up your rooms in a logical and user-friendly manner, so tune in!

Now, I will leave this post up until the end of Monday giving lots of you a chance to leave a comment for the giveaway.

It can be a comment about your worst cluttered ‘hot spot’ in your home; your biggest organizational challenge- time? paper? kid’s items? your kitchen pantry?

Or, if your are pressed for time, just leave a comment saying “I’m in!” The drawing will be random so you’ll still be entered. You can leave comments up until Monday at midnight EST. The winner will be announced Tuesday morning.

Happy organizing!!!!

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  • I’M IN! We just moved to a different state and got rid of a lot of stuff before we moved to make it easier (and cheaper!), but it still seems like there’s more to go through and more stuff to get rid of! It IS easier to keep the house cleaner with less stuff (even with 3 little boys in the house and homeschooling!) :)

  • Oh my.. this topic is so close to my heart. I have three sweet boys that bring home piles of paper daily, along with all the other “things” that seem to pile up on my counters! I will definitely be implementing this and hoping to start the New Year out organized! Thank you!!