January. 31 days. Chelle’s home office organized. Is it possible? Join us on this 31 day organizing journey!! You can do anything for 31 days right?
Catch up on the other days here.
Day 6 – Assignment: Set your timer for 20 minutes and continue to sort.
This same assignment, touching each item and placing it in a pile with like items, continues as long as it takes.
Beware. You may lose track of time. We did. We sorted for about an hour without even looking at the time. Maybe it was the interesting contents we’d come across or maybe it was so fun because we were working with a friend? Maybe it was because Bridget was taking photos. We love posing (could be our photo-genic-icity!)
Today we moved past the white book shelf and sorted through those huge piles of photos and papers. Jimmy, Chelle’s husband, had made piles from the photos and papers on the floor. By touching each item we discovered there were books, important papers, loose photos, her daughter’s school papers from last year, memorabilia, etc. That is why you never assume you know what a pile or an area contains. Touch each item even if it takes awhile.
Here is a good example of why you touch every item. Chelle found this prayer her teenage son, Nathan, wrote when he was seven years old. He was talking about my son, Shale in the note. Nathan and Shale are still good friends today. This is a keeper. Love it.
Here is a list of the piles we were forming. You may have similar ones:
- Office supplies
- Photos (loose photos we put into a shoe box, empty photo books, filled photo books)
- Dry Cleaners: big red blanket needed to be cleaned
- Pile for each kid to go through
- T-shirt quilt pile
- Paper to go through
Use boxes, laundry baskets, bins or whatever you have to contain items while you are sorting. Remember, tape a note on the pile, naming the pile, so you maintain order during this step or you may confuse piles.
At the end of your sorting session be sure to put your elsewhere pile away. Make yourself do this. You won’t feel like it. Do it anyway.
We took Chelle’s decor items down to her storage room where she stores other decor items. We packed our speaking stuff into a bin. We put the comforter in the car so Chelle can take it to the cleaners. We put the Shutterfly album in their family room, safety pins in Chelle’s bedroom, Velcro strips in the school supplies area and so on.
Putting things away can be overwhelming and keep people stuck while organizing. Elizabeth, from Ready. Set. Simplify writes this:
There’s this problem I have as I go around my house trying to declutter, organize, and just clean up. I often want to put things away and there’s just no room to put it away.
- I want to put away a medicine bottle, and the medicine cabinet is already full.
- I’m working on this paper decluttering project, so I go to file something, but my file cabinet is full.
- I want to put away my pitcher, but that cabinet is already so full, it can’t close all the way.
- My daughter has some new hand-me-down clothes that are sitting on the floor because there is no room to put them away.
It’s frustrating in that moment when I’m trying to do the right thing and put something away, but it won’t fit.
Understand that at this point in the process it is going to get worse before it gets better. If you are in this situation you have two options:
- If your item doesn’t have a home ask yourself, “Where would I look for this?” Create a home for it. Now every time you find another item like it add it to this home.
- If your item doesn’t fit where it is supposed to go take a minute and grab one or two items out of that space so that your item will fit. Or, set it by the space. Or, get a bin or new box and set it near this space, labeled, “to work on later.” Then, look at your calendar and find a time to work on that space in the future. Enter it on the calendar as an appointment. For example, Elizabeth gets to the spice cabinet with a few spices. She can either grab a couple out so hers fit or set them as close as possible to the spice cabinet and schedule this project for a future date, after her current project is complete.
You can’t organize your whole house all at once. Give yourself a break. Keep your focus on one spot. For Chelle it is her office. Jumping from space to space without completing anything causes you to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. Resist the temptation to quit. Writing other jobs/areas on your calendar will allow you to focus on you current project and give you peace because you have others scheduled.
Finishing one area that you can go back and look at – beautiful and organized – is just the motivation you need to move on to the next space and keep going!
I think this part was annoying because there were lots of little things. By the time I got to the elsewhere pile I was tired of making decisions. Normally when I am trying to organize a space, I have a tendency to let the elsewhere pile sit…for months. This time the pile was right in the middle of a hallway at the top of the stairs by my kids’ bedrooms. Not a good spot for a pile to sit for a month.
Some of the items in the pile were hooks. Those are the little things that are annoying. I decided I was going to use them in my closet on the rod. That’s where I put them.
But where will I put the important memorabilia like my kids’ painted pottery tic tac toe board? Will I be X’s or O’s? Am I hyp-no-tized?
For now Chelle’s tic tac toe board is staying with her Kid’s Clay Memorabilia pile.
Use this formula for the time you have available to organize. If you have 30 minutes to organize spend 20 minutes organizing. When the buzzer goes off spend 10 minutes putting the elsewhere items away.
Total time = 2/3 spent organizing + 1/3 spent on elsewhere pile