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This was originally posted yesterday as comments on facebook. I think it's useful enough to put here. I've figured a lot of things out in the last few months!


I have decided it's a negative feedback loop. More stressed, more mess. More mess, more stress. When you just do the work, and see it done, and relax, it's so much easier to keep it that way. Having the house for sale has taught me a lot about running a household, that's for sure. Instead of stepping over stuff, I pick it up and deal with it RIGHT THEN, because I know what hell it is to have to do that plus every other thing at the last minute before a showing. Easier to save myself the last minute grief and spread it out. I feel like if I had thought about this years ago, life woudl have been much calmer.

My house was always the same, until I had to do something about it. Now I know so much better what I'll do in my next house.

First, I'll get a bunch of really sturdy shelves--like those industrial metal rolling ones you can get at Lowe's or Sam's--and line the basement and garage walls with them. Then a series of bins or baskets or whatever to fill the shelves. Every one will be labeled. The best way to get organized is to establish a place for everything, so there's no ambiguity where something should go when you're cleaning up. Anything that isn't used on a daily or weekly basis would go there, sort of an available storage area. Right now I have knitting works in progress in a box in the basement, and I know where they are, they're labeled, and I know I won't be wanting those particular ones in the next couple months, so they're better off out of our living space, for example.

I think that's the main thing, actually, getting stuff out of your immediate living space...

So then the stuff you are surrounded by are things you want to have on a regular basis, and everything else is out of that space, but you know how to easily get at it if you want it. Boxes of yearbooks and stuff like that really don't need to be in your closet, KWIM? I finally got all that stuff down to the basement, and now our closets only have stuff in them that we want regularly, and they're not crammed full at all.

Same for kitchen stuff. I only rarely entertain enough to have all my serving pieces and extra dishes taking up space in the kitchen, so all that stuff is moved to the basement too.

Oh I could go on and on, I am thrilled to finally have seen the light. Baskets, labels, and priorities--this has been an ongoing process for ages, but I'm finally getting there. Once you have a plan, and a bit of fundage for storage shelves and bins and stuff, it's not nearly as overwhelming as it seems at first.

It too me a long time to decide to actually spend real money on things to get organized. And there's still a lot I would do if I could come up with extra money. But in general, it has helped a lot. Piles look like a mess. Piles in a designated basket look like order. Jake will never, ever get any of this. He sees a room full of crap and thinks, ooh, homey and comfortable! I see a room full of crap and see divorce papers. It's nothing to him to leave things wherever is most convenient to se them down. I've started giving him my latest analogy--he'll complain that I never give him credit for doing whatever task he did, harping instead on how he left his tools out where the kids could get them and disassemble the house. It's like knitting a sweater. Spending a lot of time on it and doing a great job. Then sewing the pieces together half-assedly, crooked, and ruining all that work. Now he announces to me that he sewed his seams straight. Give the man a cookie.


To make it more digestible, here's a bulleted list:

*Like with like! Tools go with all other tools. Knitting stuff goes with all other knitting stuff. Etc.

*Things in logical places. Like, where you would want them to be, where you would go looking for them.

*Prioritize what you will use daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.

*Establish shelving and bins with labels, so everything has a place, no ambiguity.

*Things you only use monthly or yearly should go out of your living space, i.e., in the basement or attic or garage. Closets, for example, should not have camping gear if you only camp once a year. Everything should be clearly labeled and accessible.

*Only things you use on a regular basis should be in your living space.

*Don't leave things for later. Instead of stepping over something out of place, deal with it right then. Clutter won't accumulate. File things right away. Recycle things right away. No piles of mail to sort through later, unless they are in a FILE for such purpose. I bought a portable file from Target and sometimes do this. File categories include things like...To look into later, to take care of soon, to file, papers to fill out, recipes to try, places to check out, etc.

*Make sure everyone knows where things belong. Again, places have to be logical. Also, a way to make it easier for others--buy them a nice decorative box or file box or something, and anything of theirs you find, put it in there for THEM to deal with later. I stick mail for Jake, papers he brings home from work, newspaper clippings his mom sends over for him, all that stuff goes in HIS designated file box for him to sort through.

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valancystirling

December 2010

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