You want to get organized, but you have no budget and everything is in disarray. There are some old milk crates or little wooden crates in a corner in the garage. Don’t forget the plastic bins piled in the guest room closet. And your kids have an unimaginable number of pencil boxes in their rooms.
You have what you need to get started. Think “outside the box” – pun intended (I crack myself up). It’s a pencil box. That doesn’t mean it can only hold writing utensils. Use it to store rubber bands, safety pins, push pins, paper clips, a small first aid kid, etc. That will clean up your junk drawer in a hurry.
Grab those small wooden crates, screw in a shelf or two and you have yourself a little mud room shoe rack. Hang one over the toilet and store toilet paper or towels in it. Put one up in your kitchen, screw in a couple of hooks in the top, hang a couple of coffee mugs and you have a coffee nook. How many do you have? If you have quite a few, make a shelving unit for books and decorative items. Combine them with old pallets and use them to create a raised flower bed or vegetable garden.
Milk crates lend themselves to temporary storage solutions until you find the perfect piece that you are looking for. You can certainly pretty them up and use them for sweater storage, winter hat and gloves storage, snow boot storage. Place three next to each and put a bench on top for a nice place to sit and take off your shoes as you enter your home. Do you have a small garage, but need a good place for your tools? Use a milk crate.
There are a lot of inexpensive ways to get organized. If you are waiting for the right container to come along, you are not ready. When you are ready, you’ll know and you will gather all of your empty containers together and dig in. If you need help, you know who to call.
In talking to people who get excited when they learn what I do, I have learned a few things about the human experience. The more disorganized your home is, the heavier the burden on you. And not just because it’s something you have to deal with, but because it weighs on you in such a way that your health is on the line. Saving things just because somebody you loved gave it to you, or a relative who sat in judgment upon you gave it you, can be an unusually heavy burden. I helped someone let go of old letters that she didn’t even know were upsetting her by just having them in her house stuffed way back in a closet. Those letters were filled with all the things that an aged relative thought she was doing wrong with her life. She felt like she had to keep them or more angry letters and judgement would descend on her. She threw them in the trash and immediately felt lighter and, believe or not, she slept better that night.
Memories are one thing, but clinging to the past is hurting you and your body. Old yearbooks – sure save those. Old love letters – maybe not. Your college coffee mug – you can probably ditch it. Your college research papers – toss those right into the recycle bin. Old photos – don’t have time to sort through them? Great. Just gather them all in one place and put them in a bin with a label and you can deal with them later or never, but they are safe.
Study after study demonstrates the health benefits of decluttering, getting rid of things, and heading towards minimalism. “Decluttering may also help you feel better about yourself because it’s something of an accomplishment, says Dr. Robert London, a psychiatrist based in New York City. “The clutter leads to anxiety, embarrassment, family stresses – some kind of despair,” London says. ‘When you relieve the problem and learn to throw things away, you feel better.'” (Why Decluttering is Good for Your Health, U.S. News & World Report)
So, it’s good for us to declutter, but it’s hard. So very hard. It’s hard in large part because the things we possess are the things that we think define us. That client with a pile of letters detailing her failings from a relative … those letters defined her in her own mind. Once we let go of them, she was free to redefine herself. That collection of Lladro figurines you inherited from your grandmother … well, you can’t get rid of that it was your grandmothers. But they aren’t your style. But they were your grandmothers. If you get rid of them, you’re getting rid of your grandmother. No, you’re not. If they don’t match your decor, and you’ve been storing them or displaying them in a corner somewhere, donate them. Right now. Pack them up and donate them. Your grandmother doesn’t live in those figurines. She lives in you. You don’t need a Lladro to remember her. You are not a bad person if you donate the items that don’t bring YOU joy or a sense of peace. You do you.
Take a load off by going for minimalism. You deserve it.
Do yourself a favor and wrap presents as you buy them this holiday season. “That’s easy for you to say Mrs. Organization. You do this kind of stuff for a living.” Yes, it is easy for me to say, but it was only a short while ago that I had a corporate, butt-in-seat job. I know how difficult time management can be when you work in a traditional environment and have kids breathing down your neck when you’re not at work. So, here are some solutions to that:
1. Set up a card table in your home office, guest bedroom, or basement close the door, and get to wrapping. I did it this way for years and threatened the kids with no gifts if they tried to come in. They never attempted to come in, but they did hover around the door talking to me the whole time.
2. Take your gifts and wrapping paraphernalia to work and do it on your lunch hour in a conference room. Imagine how excited the kids will be when you walk in at the end of the day with your arms full of gift wrapped treasures to put under the tree.
3. Get a friend to watch your kids for an hour while you wrap and then do the same for them.
4. If you can afford it, gift bags are a super fast way to get those gifts “wrapped” and then stuff them with tissue paper. Done and done.
Also, with the stocking stuffers … if you are like me you have many collected long before the holiday season even begins. I have bins in a closet that are filled with the current year’s stocking stuffers – one per family member and no names on the bins so as not to give anything away. Then on Christmas Eve, Santa puts the contents of each bin right into the stocking and complete. This also helps me tell easily who still needs stuff.
Are you hosting this year? Is it your first year or your 30th year hosting? Are you comfortable with people standing around your kitchen while you cook? Or do you prefer that they go play tag football at the local park? Are you comfortable assigning tasks to those hanging about in your kitchen? Or would you prefer to do it all yourself? Do you fly by the seat of your pants or do you have a precise schedule of what goes in the oven and when taped to your cabinet? However you answer these questions, it’s the right answer. No matter how you slice it, hosting Thanksgiving dinner is stressful. So remember that you are allowed to kick your guests out of your kitchen, politely of course, if that’s how you prefer to get it on the table. It’s okay to put Aunt Joan to work making the salad (don’t use romaine this year) and Uncle Ricky to work grating cheese and cousin Sheila to work putting the finishing touches on the table.
Just remember, whatever works for you is right. Nobody gets to decide how you put dinner on the table except you.
And, if you already have solid traditions where everyone knows their role, don’t forget about newcomers to your table: fiancé’s, girlfriends or boyfriends, college roommates, new neighbors … help them feel included too. Create a role for them, or have them share a task with someone. Don’t park them in the corner to be held captive by grandpa’s stories from 50 years ago that everyone else has heard 100 times. Remember Thanksgiving can be difficult without family around and the fact that they are sharing yours is truly special.
I’m glad you’re here. I would like to help you organize your home so that it’s an oasis for you. Do you come home and feel tense because things are out of place, you can’t find that one thing you know you have and you need it? Do you have children who can’t seem to put anything away? Does your spouse wander around confused because he/she doesn’t know where something goes? I can change all of that for you. See my list of services for more information or call or email for help: 720-231-6925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.