Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dear Stimey—Navi

I may not be prompt about getting around to answering my Dear Stimey questions, but I am thorough. Sorry for taking so long on this, Navi.
Dear Stimey,

I have lots of junk and I know how to organize it/get rid of it, but I've no idea how to find the time to do so. I work full time, have 3 kids, one of whom is autie, and I swear my days off are full of appointments, so things tend to get stuffed out of the way, which means a mess is made if kids explore or if I'm looking for something. I have this bad habit of hiding in the bathroom when I get home.

Oh, and I should also mention that the last time I bought a bunch of locking boxes to keep said kids out of stuff (my autie likes spices and likes to spread them everywhere for example), well 90% of the locking boxes didn't get locked back up and 90% of the stuff didn't end up back in them, because certain members of my family don't realize spending an extra minute or two saves a half hour of cleaning/finding....

I've been asked this first question before, how I find time to declutter when I have so much else to do. And, trust me, Navi and I are in much the same position except I don't work full time. I will answer that question thusly: You find time if it is your priority.

Last February, when I started this blog, I decluttered every single day (with a few exceptions). I always had a list of places to declutter and I made an active effort every day to do so. As the months have worn on, you may have noticed that I no longer declutter every day. Much of that is because I don't have to because I've gotten rid of so much that my situation is less dire. As a result, it is a lower priority and I do less of it.

I'm also going through a busy patch right now, so I don't have as much time to declutter and write about it. As a consequence, I will declutter something without telling you about it. (I know! If a toy gets decluttered without being blogged about, was it really decluttered?) I find it can be easier sometimes to just do a quick sweep of an area without worrying about counting or quantifying or congratulating myself. If you're standing in the kitchen and have three minutes, open a cabinet and see if something can go.

And always, always have an easily accessible box into which you can put your donations. Not having somewhere to put things you're getting rid of is a big psychological barrier. And remember, you can check my resources page to see how to get rid of certain things.

I do agree, however, that sometimes there is just not enough time, even if you really, really want to declutter your home. That is why I decided to declutter only six items a day. It may be difficult to clean out a whole closet, and you won't want to do it on a Thursday night after you get home from work, but you CAN open that closet door and find six things you want to get rid of.

Choose one area that bothers you a lot. Make that your project for the next two weeks. Every day, remove six things from that area and put it in the trash or a donation box or wherever. At the end of the two weeks, set aside an hour to organize. If you find that you still have more decluttering to do, keep that area as your project for the next two weeks. When you're happy with that area, move on to the next one.

With decluttering, slow and steady wins the race.

And when you're hiding in the bathroom, work on the cabinets in there.

Your second question is tougher. I can't tell you how many times I've organized an area only to have members of my family wreck it almost immediately. My Tupperware cabinet is a particular source of trauma for me. I would say to try to make it as easy as possible for the members of your family to put things away where you want them. Maybe labelling shelves would help. Maybe putting the key to the spice box in a hidden but more easily accessible place would help.

Also, don't force them to make too many adjustments all at once. For instance, if I tell Alex that keeping the Tupperware cabinet organized is really important to me and ask him to work with me, then he might be willing to play along. If I ask him to keep every cupboard in the kitchen organized the way I want it, then he might get overwhelmed and not do anything. Let them take some time to get used to doing it your way and once it's a habit, move on to the next thing.

Navi, let me know if any of these tips are helpful or not.

Readers, you're very smart and resourceful. Do you have tips for Navi?


Thrift Store Mama said...

Stimey, a year ago I used to marvel at how you could de-clutter and I could barely get dinner made. I have found that I can almost always find something to declutter while I'm standing watching the kids play, on the phone, or for just a few minutes after bed. Also, if I declutter a drawer, cabinet or something and really truly only have a couple minutes, I give myself permission to just take out all the trash and donatable items. I allow myself to leave things in the rawer/cabinet if I don't have time to put them in their proper location right then.

Navi said...

oh, when I say locking box, I mean those sterilite boxes with latches, my husband doesn't need to use a key... lol...

But yes, this is very helpful.

Except for when same husband decides he's going on a cleaning strike... But maybe if I do that 6 things a day, he'll start noticing a dent, and see that I AM doing something...

Stimey said...

I'm happy to hear that, Navi. I felt a little sad for you that you had to lock up your spices with a key. I'm sorry to hear about the cleaning strike. I would be devastated.

Navi said...

He's at least agreeing to clean just the kitchen. and when I commented that I should go on a laundry strike, he offered to do the laundry, if I get a load or two together, lol.