Friday, September 9, 2011

A Home For Everything

Once upon a time there was a cozy little house that was home to a nice little family. All was well there except a few stacks of things that kept getting in their way, making the whole house feel cluttered. While nobody really liked the piles very much, it made the mom particularly unhappy (and sometimes grumpy)! Often, family members couldn't find what they were looking for because they really didn't know where to look for a certain item.

Photo Credit

Okay, obviously this is my house, but could it be your house, too? Stop right now and look around. Any piles of stuff laying around? Papers, kitchen items, school stuff, clothing, toys? Maybe books or electronic gadgets? I'm not spying, I promise, but if you're like most of us, there's often something stacking up around the house. Take a minute and ask yourself why it's all there and not someplace else.

Here's my guess as to the top 5 reasons for piles around the home...

#5  lack of time to deal with it or bad routines
#4  you plan to use it in the immediate near future 
#3  you're afraid that out-of-sight means out-of-mind, so you've left it where you can see it
#2  one of the kids left it laying around when your back was turned and now it has sat there for a week!
#1  you're not sure what to do with it because it doesn't have a "home"(and other family members are suffering from the same dilemma)

If lack of time or poor maintenance routines are an issue, give yourself 10-15 minutes each day to tackle the piles and you'll find they're shrinking fairly fast. Do it for 30 days and you'll have that habit in place. If you plan to use it in the future, there are ways to manage it that will keep the item at hand while still keeping them "in mind".  If it's the kids, you have a parenting issue, not so much an organizing one, UNLESS... they're like you and they don't really know where to put it.

I've tried to make a home for each item in the house for a few years, but seems like I avoided a few items because they were tougher to find a good location to park them. This summer, my goal was to find a home for EVERY LAST THING!!! That's right... every item down to the last paper.

To do this, I found I had to go back and do a little purging... again. But, purging needs to happen on a regular basis anyway. I got my donation box all set up and items are headed to the thrift store. Next I had to do some creative problem solving for these tough to place items.

I found that if I narrowed down WHERE it should go, based on where I use the item, then I at least had a starting place. Next I usually took everything out of the space where I wanted to house it and just stared. Yep, you read that right... stare. And think. And imagine. Sometimes I'd google some ideas on the Internet, but usually I thought about how I WANTED the space to look with the item in it. Then I worked backwards thinking how I could get it that way. Sometimes other items had to be relocated to make way for the new item.

One area in particular that was an issue for me was my jewelry. It has been in some trays in a drawer for years, yet I really did NOT like this solution. I wanted it in my closet where I actually dress, however, my shelves were full of books that had no real home. So I imagined how I wanted my closet to work and started to work. The books came out and went to the room where they should have been in the first place. Then after a deep clean, I moved the jewelry in place and started organizing. I had a bunch of old boxes with some sentimental pieces handed down to me, but they didn't look too good.

A large basket with a lid hid them all nicely and stayed in keeping with my "vision"...

Notice it gave me a little more space on the shelf as well. Always a nice bonus. But I'm going to be careful not to fill it too quickly! The remaining trays were stacked neatly on the shelf to the right (sorry, I don't have a photo!) and are easier to accessorize with my outfit. 

What about those books I had to relocate? Well, for 8 years I had been holding out for some built in bookcases. I finally decided that a few dollars spent on a movable bookshelf of lesser quality was worth my piece of mind and I ordered two to solve our book dilemma. All the books are finally in the school room or upstairs in the girl's space with a few cookbooks in my kitchen office. Oh, the joy of having a home for my books!! Now when there's a book lying around, I actually have a space to put it in!

Be sure the new home...

• fits your item and doesn't have to be stuffed in there!
• is actually where you use it or need it
• is labeled or is easy for everyone to remember what belongs in that space
• announced to the entire family!
• looks attractive or pleases you in terms of feeling neat and organized
• gives you room to grow if it's something that will accumulate over time

As the summer wore on, I found homes for all kinds of things... electronic chords, computer disks, toys, ... I feel like I'm on a hunt now to find a home for any remaining item that is "lost". It's kind of addicting!

So the moral of this little story... if you have a stray item that's been lying around, find a home for it... right now!


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