… And, I didn’t do quite as good of a job as I wanted to. Like all experiments, I started off the assignment totally gung-ho! I was just going to clean it and keep it clean – how hard could that be? As it turns out, harder than I thought. They say it takes 21 days to change a habit – apparently I didn’t make it 21 days as my habits have not really changed. I did keep the bedroom neat and the bed made for about 2 weeks and, in that time, some cool things happened. On the first day of the experiment, a friend of mine was cleaning out her closet and gave me a bunch of clothes that didn’t fit anymore. I felt like this was prime example of ‘make space in your life so better things can enter’. Score 1 for me! I also noticed that my husband and I seemed less tense and more relaxed – coincidence? We’d have to wait and see if keeping the room clean and organized would continue that trend. And then we had a morning where we slept in and I felt I just couldn’t spare 30 seconds to make the bed. And then another morning passed and another…. and soon, old habits had returned. And I thought “I can’t write a blog about this. I failed! What kind of an organizer am I?” And then I remembered that I tell my clients all the time: Changing habits does not happen over night. You need to continue to do as much as you can, when you can and soon it will become easier. And stop expecting yourself to be perfect. So I will give myself a break, but will continue to aim for a tidy and neat Master Bedroom because who knows what it will bring?
I will admit I feel a small pang of guilt every time I walk into our master bedroom. No matter how hard I try, it always seems to be a bit messy and attract strange clutter (a running theme for my clients as well).
I know people say that the kitchen is the heart of the home but I really feel like it is the Master Bedroom. The way you keep that room says a lot about, not just who you are but, if you’re married or living with someone, who you are as a couple. And, as a good friend of mine put it, how you tend to that space is likely a reflection of how you tend to the relationship. (However, if that is the case – uh oh! Our relationship needs some serious tending!)
So, I am challenging myself and asking you to do the same. For one month, I will dutifully ensure that that our room is clean, organized and clutter free. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Bed made, floor clean, dresser clutter free. Through the month, I’ll keep track of how this directly affects my relationship with my husband. I am going to also take into account what that does to our family as a whole and the mood that it sets.
I’ve added one ‘before’ image. It’s the place that bothers me the most and it’s the dresser. As you can see, it just collects random bits of clutter…
… All of which will be put away right now!
See you in a month!
Recently, we marked the 2 year anniversary of my Mom’s passing. She was diagnosed with liver cancer in November of 2009 and died exactly 3 months later in February of 2010. In the time that has passed, I can’t say it has gotten easier, but maybe a little less raw.
Since then, we had our first child, which would have been her first Grandson. It has been tough knowing how much she would have enjoyed watching him grow and I can honestly say that not a single day goes by that I don’t think of her and wish she was here.
It has also made me think about my job a lot, as I come across this scenario so often with my clients. They are dealing with either an illness or loss that has prevented them from keeping up with their regular routine. Often they are dealing with their own clutter or, in some cases, clutter from a loved one and the uncertainty of what to do with it.
There is nothing more difficult for some people than letting go of things either gifted or bequeathed to us from loved ones. We feel it is our duty to hold these items sacred. We feel appalled at the idea of throwing away or giving away items that were once held dear by our friends or family members that are no longer with us.
And then, as I sat in the audience when Organizing Master Peter Walsh came to visit us, he said something that resonated very deeply with me:
“No one who has loved you wants you to feel a stranglehold from the other side.”
In other words, our loved ones would never want us to feel captive to their things, as that’s not what really matters and that is honestly not where the memories of them lie. It is in our hearts and the way they treated others and what their passing has taught us.
But that also doesn’t mean that everything has got to go. Choose 5 items, 5 wonderful treasures from the person that meant a lot to you and frame or display them. If they had a favourite shirt, cut a piece from the material. If they had a favourite book, frame the cover. Do what you can to honour them in a way that brings happy and peaceful memories.
I love photos and have begun filling my house with them, as I find that is my favourite way to honour to my Mom. She was all about her family, so filling our home with not only pictures of her but our family brings me great joy. Here is one of my favourites – it was taken the day after my husband and I were married in Maui and the joy in her smile brings me peace.
For all of you out there struggling with loss, I hope you can find a way to let go of some of the things and find a way to honour your friend or family member in a beautiful and peaceful way.
I used to tell my clients, “Just take 5 or 10 minutes every day to do a little bit of organizing and you’ll be able to keep on top of it.” And then I had a baby And I haven’t had 5 free minutes ever since.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but even when you have what feels like free time you’re so busy just keeping up with day to day tasks, it feels impossible to tackle anything more than that. So, to all those that have come before me, let me say, I get it. (And, to any new Moms on here, ignore this post. Please stop reading, just go lie down and come back when the baby is 1.)
However, for all of those on the other side of baby’s first year, the fog has started to lift. Things are returning somewhat back to normal, and you may now find yourself with those 5 or 10 free minutes. Well, maybe they’re not necessarily ‘free’ (it never is when you’re a parent), but you may be able to find a tiny bit of room in your day to make a dent in the clutter. But, now the question is “Where do I start?”
For today, let’s just focus on what I like to call a “Top Level Purge”. This is often a task I’ll give my clients for homework (if they want some) or what we will often do in a larger area so we can see results more quickly. Below is a Before & After of one such room that we did this in:
As you can see, there was a lot of miscellaneous items to go through so before we even thought about containers or what to do with the room, we walked around and purged the larger and more obvious items, making the sorting and organizing process that much easier.
To start your Top Level Purge, pick a room (or even just a certain space in a room like a closet or even a drawer) and quickly go through it and get rid of anything you know is donate, garbage or recycle. If you get stuck on making a decision, move on. We only have 5 minutes so we want to make the most of it.
If you can manage to do this, even a couple of times a week, you’ll rid yourself of unwanted items and excess clutter, clearing the way to make a larger scale organizing project that much easier.
But for now, go! Take that extra five minutes and do a bit of “Top Level Purging” and let me know how it goes!
One of the most important things I wanted to do before baby arrived was cross off some of those long-standing ‘to-do’ items. They consisted mainly of things that I wanted to do but weren’t pressing like hanging curtains, changing out a light fixture and hanging pictures.
When it came to hanging pictures, I had bought a bunch of frames from Ikea over a year ago, but had yet to get them hung. I wanted to do a picture wall grouping and was not looking forward to how long it would take me to figure everything out. But then a friend who works in design gave me the best advice for hanging them and I wanted to share it with you! Some of you will likely be familiar with this technique, but I had never heard about it and thought it was fantastic – it easily saved me a couple of hours of work and, more importantly, frustration!
Basically, the best way to do a wall grouping is to start with a large sheet of paper. Place your frames on the paper in the layout that you want to use, then trace their outlines.
Next, tape the paper to the wall where you want to hang the items. I was able to easily measure out where the middle of the wall was and used a level to ensure the paper was straight.
From there, hammer the nails directly into the wall through the paper. Be sure to note where on the frames the nails will sit. If you’re using wire to hang them, make sure you take note of where the string will sit once the nails are in.
Once all of the nails are in, pull the paper off the wall and hang your photos!
It was so simple and easy and took less than half an hour from start to finish! And, because I saved so much time on this project, I was able to tackle even more items on my to-do list! It also meant one less thing for my husband to do, so I could put him to work elsewhere 😉
Always remember that organizing isn’t always about clearing the clutter – sometimes it’s about ridding yourself of the weight of unfinished projects, whether it’s finally completing them or, in some cases, just letting them go.
For the past three weeks, I have been preoccupied with one thought – “I have to get this house organized before the baby gets here!”. I would say this is nesting but, considering my profession, it’s really just an excuse to organize.
But organizing for baby has been a bit different. It’s not just about making sure things are purged and sorted, it’s about finding space and re-thinking certain areas to make sure there is room for a new person to move into.
I see this often with my clients. They have one child, then another, but fail to consider that, with the addition of these new people, no matter how small they may be at first, it requires you to look at your home differently and make sure you’re opening a space for them. And I’m not really talking about toys and baby items. I’m talking about the day-to-day spaces like closets and pantries.
With that said, I broke down our home into different areas that needed to be re-evaluated. My starting point was the hub of most houses, the kitchen and, from there, I broke it down even further into the following categories with the expectation that I would tackle one of these areas every couple of days:
b) Under the sink
d) Phone nook/Utility drawer
The pantry was probably my biggest accomplishment. I purged unwanted or expired items, donated food that we weren’t going to use and then labelled everything, including the shelving.
When I was finished, I had created a large empty space that is now ready for baby!
In the other ares of the kitchen, my main focus was looking at our current spaces and how I could adjust them for baby once he got a bit older. We will eventually need room for toddlers dishes, cups, etc so I kept that in mind as I was reorganizing and sorting. So, although I didn’t clear out a cupboard for this (I’m organized, but hey, the baby isn’t even here yet), I did consider what space would be ideal for them and where I could make adjustments.
It’s important to remember that one of the vital elements to organizing isn’t getting the right bins or even throwing a ton of stuff away. It’s about re-evaluating spaces and seeing them with a fresh eye and using that insight to make adjustments that make sense for you here and now. Just because something worked for you 5 years ago, doesn’t mean it applies to your needs now. Lifestyle and priorities change and it’s important to make adjustments as that happens. And, if you can’t do it on your own, call in someone who can help! Friends, Professional Organizers, family – whatever you need to feel like you’re making the most of your space and ensuring that you’re home is the sanctuary that it needs to be.