"For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned."
If you are like most of the world right now, you are probably barricaded in at home. Social distancing and self-quarantine have become the new normal. Face masks and gloves an international uniform. Jobs are being performed at home, or work-at-home jobs are being hunted down. Careers once demeaned are now essential, and every parent is a homeschool teacher.
It may seem like everything is going out of control, but there is one place you do have control—your home. Even though being stuck at home may be driving you crazy, this is the perfect time to set some things in order.
The truth is that many of us now have either excess or extra time. Whether you used to work at home, now work at home, or are on extended leave, there’s time now available that would have been swallowed up by something else, usually not a priority. Previously during that time, you might have allowed your home upkeep to fall by the wayside. Staying safe at home presents the opportunity to maximize time for management of domestic affairs.
So, what can you throw yourself into right now?
Well, that’s easy. You’re already in it.
Of all the things we can work on right now, we can start right at home. Your home should be your sanctuary and if you are like me, being stuck at home every day, I’m seeing all the things that I need to work on from organizing to decorating. It’s time for the dust bunnies to go, piles of books to be organized, and blank walls to be filled. This means—home projects.
Remember all those times you said you were going to do something for your home? You were going to replace the wallpaper... change the hose behind the washing machine... Now’s the time to get it done! In fact, there’s probably no better time. So, let’s get started on refreshing and updating your home.
This “Stay-at-Home Projects” series is broken up into parts to easily cover various target areas for sprucing up your home. The target areas are cleaning, organizing, and designing. Let's move onto the second target area.
We will, now, get into one of the bigger headaches when it comes to the upkeep of a home—organization. For many, it is just as hard to get organized as it is to stay organized. However, for your home to be functional and not cumbersome, organization is vital. You want cleanliness for purity and you want organization to add fluidity and function.
... putting everything in order.
Pantry overhaul and cupboard clear out. Over time, our pantry and cupboards collect so many things, it’s impossible to know what’s actually in them. One would think we would use everything in them, but we don’t. Usually, this is because we don’t have time, overbuy, or impulse buy. Who eats that many Oreos anyway? It never surprises what I find in them during spring cleaning.
Go through your pantry and cupboards to discard expired items or other items you no longer want. If they are still good, I suggest donating them. After this, you are left with the food items that you extensively use—or a lot of space. Decide how you want to keep your goods. You may want to put everything into clear containers or keep them in their original packaging. How ever you do it, make sure there’s a place for each item and a structure.
Organize the pantry and cupboard for convenience and function. For example, I am barely above five feet, so items that I frequently use are at eye level in pantry and up front on the shelves in the cupboards. I also bake a lot, so all my baking essentials are grouped on a shelf in my pantry.
To help keep these areas organized, constantly face your shelves. Bring old and open items to the front then move new ones to the back and rotate them in this manner.
No more miscellaneous. Okay. Maybe one. We all have that one drawer that is reserved for items that don’t exactly fit elsewhere or are frequently used. But that should be it! Only one free-for-all drawer. All of your other storage spaces ought to be organized. Create a system so items can be easily grouped and found. For example, all measuring dishes in one drawer.
Out with the old. Make space for new things (literally and figuratively). Just as we don’t like it when our minds are overburdened, our spaces shouldn’t be either. Old things pile up easily. It’s time to sort through clothes, shoes, accessories, books, linen... everything. While I don’t have enough time to go through every household item, here are some things to keep in mind when clearing the old and creating space for the new...
Discard broken, torn, and non-functional items. If you haven’t fixed in the last year, you probably don’t need it. Yes, this includes clothes. If you are not a seamstress, it’s time to get rid of that blouse with a hole in the elbow.
Discard items whose function is also encompassed by another item. There’s no point in having two of basically the same things unless it is an item you use frequently or simultaneously with another item.
Have you gone through your closet yet? This is an easy place for things to be lost and forgotten about. Pull out shoe boxes and garment bags. Collect old clothes, shoes, and accessories that are still in good condition, but you haven’t touched in more than a year. It’s time to part ways with these items and send them off to Goodwill or resell on apps like Poshmark. Give your closet a functional system, separating bottoms, tops, footwear, and intimates. You may even want to go a step further by categorizing by season and colors. Further considerations may include seasonal capsule closets and wardrobes.
Recycle or resell old books. Particularly for academia due to the fast pace of technology, it is not recommended to hold on to publications more than a decade old. The only exceptions are for niche topics and classical works and materials.
Apply these ideas to whatever is in your home and taking up space. Things you have been meaning to go through and the like.
Get the idea?
Some items to not forget... old pillows, mattresses, rugs, mats, bathroom curtains, shades, valences, and so on. When planning to replace these items, it is important to ask these following questions: Is it necessary? Does it spark joy in my life? Is it helpful?
File and fill. Create a filing system for all your old important documents. It does not have to be an overly complicated system. It can be as easy sorting through your papers, strapping a rubber band around them, place a sticky with a date on them, and using a cubby space in the closet or under the bed. I’m a firm believer in reusing; so, if you’re up for it, you can use large boxes that were heading for recycling as under bed or closet storage. Creative? Spruce up those boxes with paint and dividers.
Perhaps you don’t want to go all out and, in fact, want to completely clear your space of loose or collected papers. This is where a little bit of tech-savviness comes in. Create a folder that you can easily get to on your desktop. Scan all your documents and input them into this folder. For those that are critical or sensitive, I suggest enabling a passcode entry. After your documents are now digitally secured, recycle and shred important documents.
This concept of file and fill also applies to things that we use in our home, but on occasions. This would include seasonal decorations, cookware, linen, and the like. Securely store items that are used intermittently throughout the year. I recommend clear storage bins for easy identification and wheels for heavy items. You can also scan old photos, childhood artwork, and similar.
Tips and tricks. Organization is all about maintenance and efficiency. When you get organized, you want to stay organized. For this reason, it is important to implement systems that ensure just that. Check on your large appliances and additional purchases. There are recommendations for when to update these items.
Organization helps simplify your life. At the end of the day, you want to be able to find things easily, know their function, and that they work. You don’t want to be overwhelmed by your space or struggle to find needed items.
It’s time to get started organizing.