March is a great time to do your spring cleaning, but if your cleaning supplies are scattered around your house in different storage areas or your mop storage area is dark and growing something that may or may not crawl away and you have years worth of little hotel soaps and shampoo bottles under your bathroom sink, your cleaning will take forever and your house won't have the new fresh feeling you are after. We suggest that you do some spring organizing to start off your spring cleaning efforts. It will make the job easier and more enjoyable. Do one of these tasks a week in March and you'll be off to a great year of a cleaner and more organized house.
INTRODUCTION, BODY AND CONCLUSION
Just as a well written essay has three parts, the introduction, the body and the conclusion, we believe that each task you take on has similar three parts. The Introduction is the planning and preparation for the task, like figuring out how much time you will need, gathering the tools and materials you will need and figuring out how to do the task. The Body is the task itself, which will go smoothly if you have done the first part well. You will have all of the tools and materials you need right at hand and you will have a really good idea of how much time and what skills it take to do the task. The Conclusion is checking to make sure that you have done everything and that the task is completed and then cleaning up after yourself and putting everything away. We like to take this approach to spring organizing and any other task we take on.
WEEK 1 - INTRODUCTION
Taking Stock of Storage Space
To get to the point in organizing where you can create a place for everything and put everything in its place, there has to be room in your storage areas so that you can put things away. Take a good, honest look at your storage areas in you house.
The Worst First
Seek out the darkest, messiest areas you can find. Look under your bathroom sink. Are there long forgotten and expired products and gadgets hidden there? What's under your bed? Do you store things there or are there long lost socks, remotes and dust bunnies living there? Do you have a place where you put your linens? Is it over stuffed? Do you use everything that's in there or are there unfolded or messily wadded linens that never come out and see the light of day? Is it beautiful? Take a whiff under your kitchen sink. Is there an unidentifiable unpleasant odor?
Choose a plan of attack
The worst areas you find are the areas where you will want to start your spring organizing tasks. You will want to work on one of these at a time. Figure out which one will make the biggest impact on your life and plan to start there. Will it be a major overhaul or an easy cleaning and tidying? Is it dark, dirty, hard to reach?
As you think about all of your storage areas, think about all of the categories of stuff you have to store and make sure you have a space for each category convenient to where you will be using or wanting it.
Visualize what you want and work toward that end. You may consider not only cleaning the space but painting it a light color so that you can see better and maybe add some color. You my even want to put in a light or two. Check out the before and after pictures below of Joan's linen closet.
Plan your reward
Make a plan that when you are done you will reward yourself for a job well done. What that is will be different or each of us. Rewards planned ahead don't end up being something like binge eating a quart of ice-cream or allowing yourself to let the house go for a month. You might consider having people over to enjoy your newly tidied house with you or get a household accessory you've been wanting.
WEEK 2 - BODY
Empty the space
Take everything out of the space so that you can evaluate the items. Ask yourself: What belongs in this space? Place any thing that doesn't belong in this space into a category. We like to use laundry baskets or large plastic bins labeled for each of the following categories: Throw Away, Give Away and Another Room.
If you're having trouble letting go of things, you may get something out of some of our earlier posts here and here about why it's so difficult to get rid of stuff. You might gain some insight into why it's difficult for you and how it will help you to overcome that difficulty and why you'll be glad you did.
Make it beautiful
Give the space a good cleaning and if it dark or dingy, give a coat or two of paint. High gloss paint is easy to wash. Is it light enough to see the whole space? If not, put up some lighting. If you don't have electricity available near by, consider stick up battery operated lights.
Those pretty containers
Now is the time to go out and get those pretty containers to help you organize your space and keep it organized. We recommend something that you can see through so that it's easy to find what is in the containers. In Joan's linen closet, she chose wire baskets that have a country farmhouse look and you can see what she has stored.
Organize things by category
Joan organized her linen closet by bedroom with the sheets and towels for her bedroom on one shelf and the sheets and towels for her guest room on another shelf. One shelf has extra pillows and towels and another has off season comforters and blankets. On the hardest to reach shelf, she placed some infrequently used and/or sentimental family linen.
Don't forget to leave some space. It's easier to find things and put things away if there is some extra space and you may need that space for things you find in other parts of the house that belong here.
Label, label, label!
Label everything!!! This will not only help you remember your organizing logic but it will help family or household members put things back where they belong. You can attach the labels to the containers, stick them to the shelves. Get creative and have some fun!
WEEK 3 - THE CONCLUSION
A place for everything and everything in its place
Now that you have freed up space in your storage areas, it is easy to go around your house and clear off surfaces and put everything away. Keep your labeled laundry baskets handy and go from room to room gathering up anything that doesn't belong, put it in the appropriate basket and on to the next room. Go through the basket labeled Another Room for items that belong in in this room. When you've gone through the whole house that basket should be empty. Now bag or box up the stuff in the baskets labeled Throw Away and Give Away. Take the Throw Away to the trash and put the Give Away in your car. The next time you go out you can drop this off at a charity of your choosing. If you're in the Albuquerque area, take a look at some of the charities that we recommend here:
WEEK 4 - THE REWARD
Implement your reward
What reward did you plan for yourself? While it's quite rewarding to have your organizing job done, you deserve to treat yourself now. You may find that it's more comfortable to have people over now that your house is tidy and is easier to tidy up. Whatever you do, enjoy a job well done!
The first photo is my dark overstuffed linen closet. I started by installing string lights inside the doorway so that the light goes to the back of every space. My closet was already painted white so I didn't have to paint. I then took everything out and really thought about what I actually use and what would be of better service to someone else. I packaged up a lot of bedding and towels and took them to a local charity. I took this opportunity to indulge myself with pretty, transparent containers for my most frequently used linens, my sheets and towels and put them at eye level. I found some cute labels at a craft store and labeled everything. I love to open my linen closet now and it helps me to keep things organized. - Joan
We would love to hear from you. Do you have any questions? If you follow our plan please let us know how it went. We'd love to see photos!
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