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Have you ever wanted to find a buried treasure? Maybe the thought of something hidden sparks the spirit of adventure and curiosity within you. You feel like Davy Crockett ready to head west, coonskin hat and all.
Well, saddle up, my organizing explorers. We have treasure to find.
If you missed the first part of this column that ran Oct. 15, let’s review:
Step 1: Get a notebook
Step 2: Figure out the type of Clutter Collector you are
Step 3: List the rooms in your house
Step 4: List your life goals
Steps 5 and 6: Break down each room’s components in a table format.
Step 7: On the next blank page of your notebook, draw a basic picture of each room (the perimeter with doors, windows and niches). Sketch ideas to rearrange existing furniture so your natural habits are reinforced and items are located near their points of use. Refer to the columns you filled out starting on page five; keep only the furniture that is necessary and functional.
Step 8: Set a date to get things done. On the next blank page draw four columns. Label the first column with the current month, then label the remaining columns with each subsequent month. Along the left side of the page, label the rows 1 through 31.
Step 9: Decide which room will be first and write the name of that room beside the date you will start. Keep in mind most rooms take an average of one to one and a half days. Offices and rooms with large amounts of paper take more time; closets and bathrooms take less time.
Step 10: Gather your supplies. 1) Large, durable trash bags in two colors: black for trash and white for unbreakable donate or consign items; 2) A permanent marker to label bags and boxes with a “D” for donate or “C” for consign; 3) Empty boxes to sort and transport breakable and bulky items to donate or consign; 4) Basic cleaning tools; 5) A box of plain manila folders; 6) Banker’s boxes to sort and store paper and photos; 7) Post-it notes; and 8) Snacks to prevent crankiness and maintain motivation throughout the day. Now you’re ready to unearth a treasure.
Step 11: Look at your chart in Step 9 and see which area is first. Take a picture of the room then pull everything out. Identify each item as trash, donate, consign or keep. “Keep” items should be categorized with like items. If you’re working on the bathroom, keep toiletries together, towels and washcloths together, etc.
When everything is cleaned out, take a few minutes to clean the empty spaces. Re-evaluate items you’ve decided to keep. Ask yourself: “Do I really need it? Do I need it in this room?” Check with your life goals from Step 4.
Find a home for each item. Remember you are not making a life or death decision, you are deciding where you should keep your towels. When it comes to deciding where to keep things, my general rule of thumb is this: Find a home for the larger things first, keeping in mind that like things ideally should be stored together. Place small like items in bins and label as desired. Do this with all items in your keep piles.
When all the items have homes, make a list of baskets, bins or boxes you need to complete your room. Be sure to measure the spaces so you’ll know exactly what size you need. Write this information in the “Storage” column on the chart you made in Step 5. Once you are finished with that room, move on to the next until you are a completely organized and relaxed goddess of order.
Step 12: This is actually the easy part. Take five minutes every day to maintain your new system. Have a nightly family ritual of PIBWIG (Put It Back Where It Goes). Your family may not be super-excited to do it, but they will not have to ask you where anything is the next day. Thus you will gain a little more freedom from the exhausting task of maintaining everyone else’s life.
Good luck searching for your buried treasure. Following the twelve steps of your Clutter Plan of Attack will reward you with a priceless treasure of peace of mind and ultimately a little time to relax.
Amy Keeling Walton is owner of The Neat Freak Professional Organizing in Bardstown. If you have a question for this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org.