Emily's Organizing Rules
So, I was just talking to my good friend Tracy the other day. She's moving for the 2nd time in as many years. Getting excited to move again is just about impossible for most folks, but Tracy has managed to almost get there.
It helps that she made up a bunch of organizing rules that she sort of learned the hard way during her first move. Moving can be like a slow death and Tracy just realized that keeping all sorts of things for "someday" projects just wasn't working out. Out of this one thought came rules for everyday life that would keep her from going back to saving most everything. Being that I am an organizer I was excited and we ended up sharing our favorite rules. She gave me permission to share her rules as part of this blog.
Here is my first post of the combined wisdom of both me and Tracy, in no particular order.
Rule #1: You get the room you have. Seems sorta confusing, but I like my rules short and snappy. Here's what it means. Say you have 2 bookcases in your home and there is no room for another. According to my rule you get to have as many books as can fit into those 2 bookcases. This rule is about you defining what is important in your life. So, if you just have to have 3 bookcases full of books, by all means, have at it. All I am saying is that before you have a bookcase worth of books lying around your home you need look around, decide what is less important than the books and get rid of it before you start buying books. This might be my favorite rule by the way.
Rule #2: Use according to purpose. For this rule, let's move into the dining room/eating area of your home. We all have a table that was bought with the intention that you, your family and loved ones would eat on it. If you're not careful it ends up being the mail, coat, keys, purse and junk holder. I have included a picture of my dining room table and it always looks just like this. This isn't bragging because the rest of my home doesn't always look this nice and calm. This is me saying that one area of my home will always be ready for me to use immediately. It relaxes me to look at my clear table when I walk by (no matter what the rest of my home looks like and maybe especially when the rest of my place is a sty) and it relaxes me when I set my plate down for dinner. It helps that I have a dedicated place for my purse and keys by my front door. My desk gets the mail and the front closet gets my coat. No matter how organized you want to be, if you don't have a place for these items all bets are off. Which brings me to the last rule of the day…
Rule #3: Everything needs a home. This is pretty self explanitory (right?).
This rule is about time, energy and what you want to do with yours. Do you want to look for your keys everyday? Do you want to eat on top of a pile of newspapers at dinner time?
Find a home for your things. Put them in that home every single time. For instance, I have room for 3 pairs of shoes near my front door. If I decide to wear a pair that don't live there, when I am done wearing them, I put them by the stairs and the next time I go to my bedroom closet I bring them with me. It does take a little thought but it's your home, your castle! You will be rewarded. Over a year you will save weeks of time. That's right. weeks.
What rules help you keep your home the way you want?
I have a few more rules coming next week, and they are just as fun!
My Grandfather died a few years ago and my family was fortuate enough that every single child and grandchild was able to attend the service in South Dakota.
His wife, my grandmother, had decided to move to an assisted living home after his death. The house was already sold so our family needed to remove everything my
grandmother didn't want in just a couple of days.
I think it was my mom (although I could be wrong here) who suggested we hold a sort of private auction for the remaining items in my grandparents home.
How it worked was each person was given a set of different colored stickers. Every child and grandchild would walk around the house, open drawers and closets and put a
sticker on any item they wanted. If more than one sticker ended up an item, an auction was held. Each person trying to outbid the other for what they wanted.
I think it lead to the most expensive coo coo clock ever!
When each person was done they would look at each item, decide on the value, and put the total amount of cash in a coffee can. The cash, of course, went to my grandmother.
This afternoon will be remembered by me as a sweet end to 2 lives with the incredible benefit of getting to reminice with one of them. My cousins and I would laugh, be puzzled, be shocked and wonder at the things my grandparents had saved in the 60+ years they were married. There was such sweetness because my grandmother was able to sit in the middle of it all and tell us about the items we brought to her attention. She was also able to laugh, be puzzled and be shocked at the things we chose to keep in the family!
I am proud that each member of my family was able to participate in a day full of generosity, memories and laughter.
Two of the items I chose are pictured here. A little garden knome and some cracker jack prizes from the 1950's (I am told) that I framed. Some of my favorite art in my home!
How have you been able to make a transition in your life with some grace and laughter?
There are never enough ideas!
It’s all about patience.
There is a temptation, a compulsion sometimes to push through to the end of a project. Just get it done, no matter the cost and frustration.
But sometimes projects benefit from some distance. I am getting a room ready to rent and I also need to ready my bathroom, currently perfect for one and now needing to service two. Days of going from store to store, looking for a double towel rack and extra storage was just driving me crazy, not to mention the cost of gas and the growing despair each day of looking at some metal to hang a wet towel costing more than $100.
Complicated projects and projects taken on in difficult times require patience, thought and the ability to leave them alone for a day or two.
So, do just that. Leave it alone.
When I left my quest for the perfect double towel rack alone, two things happened. I actually got a lot of other stuff done as well as the ability, eventually, to discuss my frustration. During that break from my quest, the best solution was there in the form of a suggestion from my mom.
The next day I bought my double towel rack, installed it and moved on with my life.
Patience paid off.
May is the month most people move or start their moving process. Moving is stressful, inconvenient and exhausting. Even as an organizer, my move last year did not go as smoothly as I would have expected. Of course, I had packed my books, seldom used kitchen appliances days in advance and thought I could finish packing my kitchen and clothing the morning of my move.
What actually happened? I was throwing pots and pans in with glasses and bowls (not even wrapped). My hanging clothes were scooped up by a friend, thrown in the back of his car and then thrown on the floor of my new closet. And to be honest? I was seriously happy for that help. By 4 pm I was ready to cry but I still had to go back to my apartment and clear out my fridge. The only consolation was that I had hired someone to do the move out cleaning so, after that, I never had to go back.
What happens to us when we move? I know what happened to me. I made lists and when I was done with each item I even crossed it off. But, in the midst of everything, inevitably I missed some really important things. I didn’t have proper boxes for my hanging clothes. I didn’t even have enough boxes to be honest. I also miscalculated how long it would take to pack up my kitchen.
I didn’t start early enough.
The most important thing I learned was to make sure someone is there to back me up if I ever move again. Someone to check my lists with me, to make sure I am not forgetting anything. And most importantly, START EARLY. You can never underestimate the time it will take to move. I promise you.
This month, sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already and I will help your move along by offering a free 30 minute in home consultation for your move.