May 15

Organizing Your Home: Are You Up for It?



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Organizing your home is probably right up there on most people's to-do lists. Just before "organize my entire life".

Organizing your home is really one of the best things you can ever do. It keeps your home neat, which means it's less cluttered and therefore easier (and faster) to clean, and it gives you such a feeling of peace and well-being.

I remember the first time I finally got my act together and got our home organized. My parents had gotten used to coming over now and then to get me out of whatever mess I happened to be in: getting the laundry caught up, cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floors, whatever.

They never thought that I was capable of very much, and though they loved them, they never really approved of me having three children. (I am an only child.)

Well, they had retired to Florida, I had three kids under the age of five, and they decided to come for a visit. Little did they know that I had been busy while they were gone. I had finally figured out how to get my act together!

Sidetracked Home Executives

I found the book, Sidetracked Home Executives (affiliate link), at my local library and then later went out and bought my own copy. That book was a life saver for me! I carried it with me everywhere!

I didn't know I was a slob until I "met" Pam and Peggy! Their writing style was so easy to read, I could relate to so many of their stories, it was like finding long lost sisters! Here's one of my favorite quotes: "We were never on time, but we always made an effort to be late earlier". 

Well, with Pam and Peggy's help, I started (as they say) getting my act together.

When my parents came to visit, my whole house (basement included) was organized. When my mom needed a Band-Aid, I was able to tell her exactly where it was, while I was attending to the baby. Nothing ever felt so good!

Life Happens

Since that time, a lot has happened in my life. We've moved twice; out of state the second time. And gradually, things get out of control. And you accumulate stuff. 

When we moved to this house, we had next to nothing, especially in terms of furniture. We had tried to move as little as possible in order to save expenses (we had stuff in storage for a while, and after you put your personal belongings in one of those Pods, there's no room for anything else.).

So we've been here fifteen years and the stuff has piled up. We have had kids moving in and out, leaving stuff behind. And I take credit for some of the stuff that has ended up here.

Both my parents have passed away since we moved here, and almost three years ago, we lost our youngest daughter. So in addition to our own stuff, I've had to deal with theirs as well. That's not always easy, as I'm sure you know.

Getting Started

One of the biggest pieces of advice that I can give you when it comes to organizing your home is to start with a realistic plan. And part of that plan would include giving yourself plenty of time to get the job done.

Of course, you have to be committed to the project. Giving yourself plenty of time to get it done doesn't help if you don't work on it regularly.

sticky notes

Other than some small areas in the main part of the house, our biggest challenge was the basement. We have what I consider to be a large home - about 2200 sq. ft. In addition, we have both a full-sized basement and a crawl space. The crawl space is under our family room. I had never heard of such a thing until we moved here; it was either one or the other, but it certainly gives you a lot of storage space!

My organizing project last fall was the basement area and the crawl space.

That's your first part of the plan: figuring out where exactly you are going to be organizing your home, because, while the intention is to eventually do all of it, you need to divide and conquer. Choose one part at a time, work on that, and then plan your next one.

Write It Down

You know that I am big on planners, both personal ones and home planners or binders. I think a project as big as organizing your home - or at least a part of it - needs a written plan. You need some sort of guideline and checklist to help keep you on track and see the bigger picture.

One of the things - and this may seem silly - but one of the things that I did was figure out why I wanted to get the basement in order. Because of the crawl space, we didn't have a lot out in the basement itself. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

But Christmas was really weighing me down. I had ornaments and decorations that had belonged to my mom. I had all of the ornaments the kids had ever made. Every year I had to bring out the glue gun as we decorated the tree just to put things back together. And because our daughter had passed in November, that year we got a lot of memorial Christmas ornaments.

There were too many boxes, things I didn't want anymore. And to top it all off, our grandson wanted to help every year and put ALL of it up!

Writing some of this down helped me remember my purpose in clearing out all of this stuff. Because I did most of it myself. My husband is afraid he'll throw something away that he shouldn't.

Make a Plan

Whatever you decide to use as your project planner should have a calendar in it so that you can make a plan, attach some dates to it, and take a look at what's coming up. You don't want to make plans for organizing your home when you've got a vacation planned!

Planner, sticky notes, photos, highlighter

For whatever reason, my basement project started in September. I knew it was going to take a while - a few months - and I knew that I was doing it just as the holidays were coming up. I planned on taking a break during the latter part of November and part of December, but I also wanted our Christmas decorations weeded out before a certain someone got here to spread them all about the house!

There has been more than one summer when I unexpectedly find a Christmas decoration still left out, often in the oddest place. And just so you know: potpourri is not meant to be placed in a bowl for decoration and scent. Each individual piece of it is a decoration in itself. And if your trusty dog Baloo is with you, they can be tasty snacks as well.

So anyway, I mapped out my plan from September to January, with breaks in between. The biggest part of the stuff in our basement was home decor, and much of it was for that time of year. As each season or holiday box came out, I would go through it and weed out as much as possible. And then as I was decorating, I would continue to sort things out and get rid of them.

There May Be a Mess

Depending on what you're trying to organize, you may end up with a mess before things get better. I guess I should have clarified this earlier. In my Decluttering System (that you can get in my secret library for free if you sign up below), I try to help you find ways to finish and start in whatever space of time you allow yourself.

Obviously, this is for smaller projects. But you could still do the same here: break your project down into bite sized pieces that take an hour or two and do it that way. 

Since I was doing the basement, and it was a big project, I went ahead and made an organized mess. LOL. Trash got thrown away at the end of each session, but the items I intended to donate sort of piled up in one area until we had enough to put them in a box or a garbage bag and drop them off.

The things I intended to keep went back into storage totes. I limited myself to two totes for both fall and Halloween. I love Halloween and that was really hard to get rid of things, but I did!

I think I ended up with maybe three totes for Christmas, but I probably had seven to start with. And I got rid of two trees. I never put them all up; one year we tried to downsize to a much smaller tree and our kids had a fit - grown or not, they turn back into little ones when they come home.

In addition to that, we had two totes full of pictures (which I haven't gone through yet), a tote full of hockey and baseball cards, and maybe one with quilts. I think we ended up with seven empty totes, plus we used one to donate some stuff.

And with taking time off for the holidays, I finished the job in January. It was a massive project, but breaking it down the way I did, it didn't seem bad at all.

Your Game Plan

So if you have plans in the future for organizing your home (or just a little part of it), here's the plan broken down into steps:

  • Decide where you're going to start organizing your home. Remember - you can start small.
  • Get a notebook or use your planner to work things out and keep track of your progress. You might want to make notes on what is stored there after you're done.
  • This is optional, but you might want to note your "why" in your planner. Maybe you could find a picture of a clean room that looks calm and peaceful and glue it into your planner as inspiration.
  • Decide how long this will take. Be reasonable and don't forget to check your calendar for any special events during that time. Also allow for breaks if you think you will need them. I mean, that stuff has probably been in your house a long time; it can wait a little more.
  • Be sure to stick with your plan! Give yourself a reward or some motivation to keep going. Maybe taking a picture of the area before you start would be a good idea.
  • Clean and organize as you go. Remember, my trash gotten taken out after every session, and donations were boxed and removed as well. Go so far as to put them in your car if that will help.
  • Put back what you're keeping as you go.
  • Try and keep your sentiments in check as you do this. Remember how long it's been since you've seen some of this stuff. Don't get caught up in reminiscing and keeping things out of guilt.
  • Keep track of your progress. Maybe take some pictures as you go or weigh the amount of stuff you're getting rid of.
  • Get a friend to do it with you. You can each work separately, or team up. Or post your plan on social media and keep friends up to date with your progress. Whatever motivates you!
  • Once you finish (yay!), make a note in your planner to revisit the area in a month. How's it doing? Does it need a little refresh? If it does, it will probably take you 30 minutes or less. Won't that feel good?

Are You Up for It?

If this sounds like something you want to tackle, now or in the future, be sure to Pin it so you have all the steps for organizing your home where you can find them.

And be sure to sign up for my newsletter! There are a lot of useful printables in the library!

About the author 


My name is Brenda and I was born without the "clean gene". I believe that you can keep your clean and tidy in minutes a day and still have time for yourself.

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