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Day four already?! Where does time fly?
By now you know that you should Be Intentional With the Process, Make Specific Goals, and Sort the Major Areas You Use FIRST. Today, we’re going to look at not getting distracted by the details. Which is hard. Really hard. I might be a big-picture thinker, but as a vintage-lovin’, artsy-fartsy, all-around creative kinda gal, the details are what bring things to life! So when I am organizing my house, I tend to latch onto my pretty mason jars and wonder what I can do with them, or I painstakingly arrange those socks in the drawer until they … are … just … right. Ahem. Like they’re gonna stay that way! But hey, they need to be perfect, right?
Wrong. Oh my goodness. Wrong.
If I waited for my entire home to be perfect before I felt like I had done what I had set out to do, down to eradicating the last dust bunny from under our entertainment system, I’d be waiting for the a loooonnng time to ever enjoy the sense of accomplishment that sorting those major areas first brings, meeting my specific goals to clean the house, and carefully approaching each task with intention and purpose.
So, while this post might piggy-back a little on yesterday’s post, it bears repeating …
Step 4: Don’t Get Distracted by Details
Yesterday I mentioned how my mom always chided me for focusing on a small task when my whole room was a disaster area and some quick picking up of laundry would make it look so much better. My alphabetizing my cassette tapes may have been a facetious comment (although as a former library worker, alphabetizing had been known to happen), but the moral of the story is still the same.
If your home is cluttered and unorganized, don’t fall into the temptation to focus on only the details. I’ve been so guilty of this. I can arrange my coffee table magazines to the absolute perfect angles (obsessive compulsive much?) while at the same time ignoring the pile of boxes people have given me for shipping from my Creative Salvage Etsy shop that need to be stored in the attic.
My theory why it is so easy for me to get lost in the details is because details are manageable. They are small. They can be accomplished in a short amount of time, so they can feel more rewarding. They also give one the sense of being in control, whereas if a home is overrun by “stuff” it is visually distracting and overwhelming to some.
Here are some helpful tips I’ve learned in my organizational journey:
- Be systematic. If you tend to get stuck focusing on one detail here and there, combat that by sticking to a plan such as cleaning and organizing from the front door to the hall and then the hall to the kitchen and the kitchen to the back door.
- Keep moving. Sort as you move from the front door to the back door, but also keep the momentum going by not sorting in a detailed way.
- Use the box method. Bring five boxes: Keep, Sell, Give Away, Throw Away, Decide Later. If the item is a no-brainer that you love and use, put it in the Keep box. If you don’t use it or want it and it is in good shape and valuable, put it in the Sell box. If it is in good shape but not particularly valuable, put it in the Give Away box. If it isn’t in good shape, you don’t want it, and probably nobody else would either, put it in the Throw Away box. If it is in good shape, but you’re not sure if you can part with it, don’t prolong the decision making and hinder your progress, put it in the Decide Later box. Go through your area quickly and thoroughly, but don’t spend too much time thinking about the items or you begin to focus on those little details again and your work will be hindered.
And then … reward yourself. Enjoy some details. I didn’t say ignore them. I said don’t get lost in them. When your living room or hall or bedroom has been organized on the macro level, go ahead and drill down to the micro level. Buy a fabulous sock drawer organizer if that’s your thing (although consider the perfectly imperfect solution of having a sock drawer where you can just toss your socks–as in, you might actually stick with the process–instead of rolling and displaying them like sock sushi.)
Whether you choose to reward yourself with a nice dinner out, a manicure, a movie, or even just enjoying focusing on the details for once like I just mentioned, the point is that you are providing positive reinforcement for sticking to the job at hand. You’ve just begun to reprogram the way your brain thinks about organizing. That’s an accomplishment! Soon you will begin to associate the big projects with a similar sense of pride, control, and accomplishment that the smaller details bring. Congratulations!
I’m about to “keep it real” as I write this pre-post note. I have to admit I struggled writing this post because I felt hypocritical the entire time. In fact, I have been tweaking and re-writing it several times throughout the day, trying to get my thoughts right. Here’s the thing: though I’ve been working hard to get organized, I’m far from perfect. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have a magic formula. I didn’t always follow the advice I’m about to give you. So part of me feels like a fool even daring to post it and say, “hey! Here’s something to help!” But I’m ignoring that little voice and I’m hoping that by posting this anyway it will be exactly what someone needs to hear, because regardless of how I feel right now, all of this is coming straight from personal experience and the heart. So here goes …
Has this ever happened to you or someone you know–you feel overwhelmed by the scope of your organizational needs and don’t know where to start? Here’s a hint: don’t start with your jewelry box or your baseball card collection. Those things being tidy, while nice, won’t help your daily existence too much. Today’s organizational step continues the themes from days 1 and 2 of this series, in that I’ve learned that being intentional with the process includes making specific goals for the areas I use the most. You want to get the most bang for your buck, so to speak.
Step 3: Sort the Major Areas You Use FIRST
It’s a good thing to have an organized bathroom drawer. (I know I liked mine when I had it at our old house and I first organized it; I liked it even better when it had a snazzy organizer in it.) However, if the major areas in your home are a disaster area, you’ll still feel like you’re not under control. Because you aren’t. The thing is … you can be. I promise.
You just have to be willing to go the slow route and tackle them systematically so you can feel more relaxed in your environment.
Carefully consider how you use your home on a daily basis. Where do you eat, work, relax, and congregate as a family? What cupboards do you access each day? Is there a piece of furniture on which you tend to set things down? What’s your favorite chair? Where do you fold your laundry? But mostly, which rooms do you use the most? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. They just help you create an inventory to focus your organizational efforts in the most effective way.
Don’t be afraid to create an organizational structure that is non-traditional. Forget the name of the room. Focus on how you use it, not what it was called by your real estate agent or general contractor. The goal here is to simply determine how you actually use your home’s areas. Once you know this, you’ll have a much easier time sorting, cleaning, and organizing them. Simply remove the items that don’t belong with the function of an area and move them to one where they make sense, instead.
It’s a snowball effect in reverse. Instead of starting small and getting bigger, you start big and go smaller. (My mother used to tell me this all the time when I was younger and I didn’t listen to her. I thought it was waaayyyyy better to, say, alphabetize my cassette tape collection by artist than to pick all the clothes up off the floor and do the laundry first.)
Here’s why this is a good method: it makes you feel good. It inspires you. It provides a nice, tidy atmosphere for you to then take out those drawers and sort them, one by one, without being overwhelmed. It is much easier to focus on the harder small sorting when the easier big sorting is already done.
If you are ahead of the curve and you’ve already got the big spaces fairly under control (nobody has a perfectly kept home , except maybe June Cleaver) then progress right to tackling the cupboard or sideboard or linen closet you use on a daily basis.
Bottom line? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Sort the areas you use the most FIRST. Progress gradually to the areas you use only once in awhile (like that jewelry box, or the closet in the bedroom you never use, or the toolbox in your garage.) Voila! You’re on your way to being an organizing dynamo!
Did you make a list of new years resolutions? Was getting organized on your list? If so, welcome to the new year and the new opportunity to follow through! To kick-start the process, here are five tips that have helped me in my battle with clutter:
- Be Intentional With the Process
- Make Specific Goals
- Sort the Major Areas You Use FIRST
- Don’t Get Distracted by Details
- Before You Buy Organizers, Know What You Need
This week, I will talk in more detail about each one, beginning today with “Be Intentional.” By the end of the week, you will have a toolbox of practical advice to begin your 2012 organizational journey!
And so, without further ado …
Step 1 – Be Intentional With the Process
Whether it is eating healthier, getting in shape, spending more quality time with family and friends, or organizing your home and lifestyle, good things require an investment of time, energy, and most importantly, willpower.
It is no accident that people whom you admire for being successful in these things get the way they are. They make daily, tiny, hard choices that contribute to their well-being. They eat their vegetables as a snack instead of the potato chips they really want, they go to the gym instead of watching an extra show on prime time, they focus on being a good listener to their child or spouse instead of tuning them out, and they carve out a few minutes of their downtime after work to put up the laundry or clean out the refrigerator instead of playing Angry Birds. It is all too easy to allow the laundry to pile up, the cupboards to deteriorate to their former chaos, and the routines you spent so much time perfecting to be cast to the side and abandoned. As I write this, I am talking to myself, as well. Being intentional is hard. I won’t lie. I slip up in this area weekly, if not daily. It’s a process … and you have to be willing to accept that you will not make perfect choices every time you are faced with a temptation.
There is nothing wrong with splurges, taking time off, or enjoying silly games. In fact, they all have their place within reason. The problem becomes when these things take control of you instead of the other way around. So make the decision now to take action and plan in advance how to overcome the temptations that will come and regain control when you lose it. Be intentional.
Image background by jullinelli.
Wow. This week has been incredible. Spending time with family is near and dear to my heart. I think seeing the looks on my nephew and niece’s faces as they played with wrapping paper and their new toys was my favorite part by far!
Now Daniel and I are back home and we both felt refreshed and ready to get back to work. Funny how when you are doing something you truly love, work is something you can’t wait to do. There’s cleaning to be done (hello, refrigerator I neglected for over a week), but it will get done and life will return to normal.
I picked up some new vintage finds over the holidays, so I am going to be listing them in my Creative Salvage shop over the next week. I can’t wait to show off the colorful 60’s canisters I found that can be used to help organize a kitchen, craft area, or home office! I’ll be taking pictures of them and adding to them to the shop very soon.
In the meantime, here’s a few things that caught my eye this week the few times I was online:
- A lovely fairytale-esque look book video featuring three fictional characters (Pixie, Fleur and Lula) wearing the clothing of British designer Nadinoo, by WishWishWish, and filmed and produced by Clothes, Cameras, & Coffee.
- Thrifting hilariousness over at Thrift Horror. I laughed until I cried when I spotted the bird/fly/mouse painting. (Okay, so I saw this more than a week ago. But I had to fit it in somewhere.)
- And, spotted via Pinterest, this article about how to make your own custom makeup organizer in a drawer. Nice!
Is it Friday already? Ka-razy.
This year I am very blessed to spend time with Daniel and my extended family for Christmas, so I am looking forward to that already. If you are blessed in a similar way and find yourself with some time to browse, here are a few things online that caught my eye this week, followed by a lovely treasury full of organizational goodies over at Etsy.
- Modern architecture that integrates nature makes me smile.
- This is a bathroom I’m pretty sure I could live in.
- This guy’s slow-mo dance moves Daniel called Kung Fu pop locking.
- Ever wonder how candy canes are made? Here’s how.
- Free, free, and free! Lovely DIY gift tag printables, just in time for last-minute Christmas wrapping.
And now … some Etsy Organizing Love:
Vintage 1960s Wooden Na…
Black and White Key Rac…
New Years Resolution – …
wooden suit hangers. Se…
Perpetual Calendar, Wal…
Vintage Italian industr…
Vintage Small Industria…
Weekly Planner Chalkboa…
Desk Organizer CRAFTING…
COUPON ORGANIZER – Love…
Yellow and White Pencil…
unique journal -handmad…
LINOCUT PRINT – Radiohe…
Retro Globe Lamp
Desk Accessories in Ash
Ribbon rack organizer …
Do you have holiday plans this weekend? I’m going to be spending some time with friends and preparing for the week ahead. Christmas is coming in only 9 days, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to enjoy the company of family.
We are already looking forward to the new year and Daniel and I are continuing our efforts to fully get organized, despite moving this year. I am so excited that our downstairs of the house is almost completely set up as of the time I write this. I even added a new “landing” strip in our entryway today that was comprised entirely of items we already owned. Cheapskates for the win! I hope to post about it soon. For now, though, here’s a brief list of things that caught my eye this week:
- Several magazines have released their new organization issues. I just picked up my January copy of Better Homes & Gardens. It’s not online yet, but they have articles to share that are similar in nature. Here are 17 Ways to Make Organizing Fun.
- Hidden Water Pools? Sign me up!
- If you want to share your Christmas photos with some extra flair, why not make them into a View-Master reel?
- Make a lovely little printed nativity.
- Oh, and in case you didn’t hear, the baby sloths are coming. And they are either creepy, or adorable; take your pick!
Enjoy! And have a wonderful weekend.
As I type this, I am freshly home from our first-ever cruise and my second and Daniel’s first visit to the gorgeous blue-green waters of the Caribbean. I am happy. I am content. I am de-stressed. I am tired. And I am feeling renewed and so happy to be sitting on my couch.
The down-time was so needed. In this day and age of super-connectivity it was such a relief to be completely and utterly removed from social media, email, smart phone use, and Internet browsing just for the heck of it. My phone was not only off, it was in two pieces. On purpose. I removed the battery for fear of international billing rates.
I was reminded on this trip how important it is to pack just enough. Things I didn’t need but thought I would: extra tank tops (none allowed in the dining rooms or cafeterias on board the ship), walkie talkies (we ended up doing everything together anyway, but if we hadn’t, they would have proved invaluable), and the travel pillows meant to wrap around your neck (they weren’t as comfy as I thought.) Things I should have packed more of but didn’t: extra t-shirts, underwear (we got rained on A LOT during our trip during hurricane season, so this got changed out a bunch), and a journal to keep track of the trip experiences as they happened. Things I brought just enough of: sundresses for dinner in the formal dining room, an umbrella (came in handy in Key West), workout clothing (yes, I’m that hardcore I actually used the on-board gym), and shoes. Ladies, it is actually possible to get by with 1 pair of dressy peep-toe strappy sandals, 2 pair black flip-flops (1 to wear while the other dries), running shoes, 1 pair of flats, 1 pair of leather sandals and a spare pair of colorful flip-flops. That’s all ya need!
We took a bunch of pictures, but we also just let ourselves enjoy the experiences without documenting them to the nth degree. I had to let go of guilt, as well, when we didn’t make use of every moment available to be on the various islands we visited. Our goal was to relax. If at any time we were exhausted, we rested, even if that meant “missing out” on an activity on board or additional time on the island. Honestly, one of my favorite “activities” was simply sitting on chair the seventh deck, by all the life boats, staring out at the ever-changing sea. Whether in sunshine, sunset, dusk, late night, or in the middle of a storm, it was all incredible to absorb. Particularly exhilarating was the time we sat outside during a storm and saw distant lighting all over the sea. It was like watching nature’s version of the 4th of July fireworks.
We stayed in a richer-than-our-blood hotel (a well worth-it splurge!) the day before our cruise, almost got run over by crazy Miami drivers, enjoyed the islands of the Bahamas and Key West, Florida; laughed so hard we cried from the comedy routine of a comedian on board the ship, sailed and snorkeled in a reef off the coast of Nassau, Bahamas; got sunburned, got stung by jelly fish in CocoCay, Bahamas; walked through hundreds of butterflies and ate Key Lime pie in Key West, and nearly went crazy in our lay-over hotel in the Miami Airport on the way home (24 hours in a nearly window-less white-walled room. Yikes!)
And it was all wonderful. Well, okay, except the jelly fish part. That stung like the dickens.
But other than that? All good. And now I’m home, with two more days to my weekend remaining (thank goodness for Labor Day!) and I couldn’t be happier to sit on this couch and veg and brainstorm for adventures to come.
I worked on organization of a different kind last week and planned out a two day Disney park whirlwind tour. We left mostly happy. There’s a thing or two I would have done differently, beginning with ask the entire group of grown-ups what their “must-see” list includes, not just my husband. All in all, though, it turned out well. I think it would have been even better had we not hit Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the afternoon during Star Wars weekend. Granted, I am a bit of a fan and was thrilled to be there during that famous weekend, but it did make for more attendees and crankier crowds in the hot Florida sun.
I planned it out strategically, based on lots of Internet and book research. For 4 adults, with only one girl (me) in the mix, our priorities were slightly skewed to the technological and thrill rides, but I didn’t mind. I still say Disney isn’t just for princesses. Especially if the girls are like me and their favorite park has always been Epcot. Bring on the science!
We’re having our living room rug and ducts professionally cleaned on Saturday. Sometimes, you just have to do the boring stuff.
Life is crazy. But who am I kidding? Whose isn’t?
I’m working on a couple of posts that I hope will be worth the wait. Stay tuned!