"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."

Anne Frank

Monday, July 25, 2011

How Do You Eat an Elephant? One Spoonful at a Time

"Listen up, people. You did not gain the weight overnight. So you can't expect to lose it overnight, either."
If you've ever attended a Weight Watcher's meeting, you've heard this.

Well, listen up,people. The same principle applies to clutter. All that stuff took time to accumulate. So it's going to take time to dispose of it. Whether you do it a little each day or have a marathon declutter with family and friends helping, it still takes time to sort, decide and purge/put away.

So where do I start? 
Beginning a new project, be it writing, cleaning out the storage shed (yes, I have one, sigh), or going grocery shopping, I find I do best if I take time to analyze the situation first. Yes, I know. I'm well known for jumping in feet first, eyes closed. I said it works best if I analyze first. Checking out the refrigerator before I go shopping keeps me from bringing home yet another carton of milk.

Once I know what needs to be done, why what I'm already doing may not be working, and what is, I can develop a working plan. This includes breaking the project down into manageable steps.

So what are those steps?
The SPACE formula is something I learned from Julie Morgenstern. It breaks each project into five steps.

  • Sort: Pick up each item and ask if it will help you reach your goal of a serene, happy home. If not... 
  • Purge: Out it goes either to Goodwill, the trash or someone who asks for it.
  • Assign:Keeping it? Give everything a home and put it there!
  • Containerize:Need containers to hold the keepables? List what you need, measure to be sure things will fit into the containers and the containers will fit where you need to put them. Take this list and a tape measure with you. Nothing is more frustrating than getting those boxes and baskets home and finding they won't fit. Remember to label.
  • Equalize: This is a fancy way to say maintenance. Map out a simple plan and set up a workable schedule. Now stick with it. It takes practice but before long your home will be clutter free and it will stay that way.

                                              Now grab that spoon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's Resource Time Again

Being a former librarian, I know how important finding new resources can be. Sometimes we find them by accident while surfing the net or browsing a bookstore. Other times, someone we know suggests a book or website, even a movie or television show. Maybe that someone is a librarian.
So check out the following resources.

Are you a list maker? Need a schedule to keep you straight? Then Jennifer Ford Berry's book organize now! is the one for you. This week by week guide is divided into 52 chapters (don't worry...they're short!). Every chapter covers a different area to be organized from our minds to our finances to our homes. She even covers topics such as parties and vacations. Each one includes a checklist for that week's goals, special tips to reach those goals and a stay organized list. The introduction alone is chock full of ideas.
She also has a website organizethislife. So check it out and get your pencil ready to check off your to-do list.

Two weeks ago, I announced the beginning of Bren's Den.  One of the many resources I used in creating my new business was
How to Start a Home-Based Professional Organizing Business by Dawn Noble. Even if you aren't interested in going into business this is a great resource for getting organized. It will even help you with whatever career you may be currently in. My copy is threadbare, striped with many colors of highlighters and marked with bookmarks and post-its.

Magazines. How does anyone live without them? Good Housekeeping, Country Living, Woman's Day, are only the beginning of a long list of periodicals which cover the subject of organizing on a regular basis. No need to clutter your home with hundreds of copies. Borrow from family and friends, including your local library, or check out the website almost every magazine has now. This is also a great way to check out an unfamiliar mag before subscribing.

So check out these resources. Each one will help you in your quest to be organized. Don't forget to check back here next week for more organizing tips and ideas from Bren's Den and me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Holidays: A Special Challenge

Holidays are wonderful, fun, exciting, hectic, miserable, insane, overwhelming.
In other words, a real challenge, especially for those of us who are organizationally challenged.

Cleaning the house, mowing the grass, (raking leaves, shoveling snow), hiding the clutter before letting family and friends inside your house. All of that takes time, energy and planning. Who has energy left over to decorate? Besides, finding where the decorations are hiding is next to impossible. (I know I bought minature flags on sale last year. Now where did I put them?)

So this week's challenge is to locate all those Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July decorations and finally designate a special place just for them.
  • Gather them all together in one place.
  • Sort them out by holiday.
  • Throw away those tree lights that haven't worked in three years. They won't miraculously work this Christmas either.
  • Repair the repairable. Dispose of the unrepairable or the things you don't love. Even if it was a Christmas present from Great Aunt Bea. She probably gave it to you to get rid of it herself!
  • Now go shopping! Look for see thru, stackable bins in sizes to fit your decorations and the space where you will store them.
  • Label each bin. Only one holiday per bin.
  • Stack the bins in order. Which holiday will you decorate for next? Halloween? That bin will be on top of the stack.
Feel better? I sure do. Now maybe next holiday my blog post won't be late because I wasted time looking for those blasted flags!

Happy Birthday, America! May all your holidays be wonderful, fun and exciting!