Refresh: All That Stuff

My home contains a lot of stuff. A LOT. OF STUFF. Can you relate at all? If you choose not to be minimalist (or minimalist in spirit but not practice), you end up having to find a place for all that stuff. Once your closets are full, or if you don’t have many closets, we often end up looking at cabinets or shelves for the rest. And that is a good option for items we use often, like shelf-stable food or cookie sheets or toiletries. But the option will hurt more than help if it’s not sufficiently organized.

It helps to be able to find what you need AND cut down on visual clutter. Shelving is great because it is easy to access. It can be a problem, though, if it’s just more layers of unknown piles stacking to the ceiling. If what you need is buried, you can’t get it and you are oppressing your brain in the process!

Sort. Sort. Sort. Put like items together. Make it easy to see where things are in a split-second glance. Which items are often used together? Plastic food storage containers can be in the section next to the plastic bags for post-dinner clean-up.

Fit the items to the shelf size. Big shelf, big stuff. Push the little things to the smaller shelves. The less you have stacked, the easier it is to put your hand on it when needed. Keep the big, tall books on the taller shelves and the short paperbacks on the more narrow shelves. It will fill the space better and look neat.

Put what you use most where it is easiest to reach. The heavier, less frequently used stuff can go on the very bottom shelf. The lighter items can go on the top shelf. You will see and reach for the middle shelves the most, so save yourself a few inches.

IMG_4225Hide in plain sight. Just as in closets, this is for shelving in a room. Using baskets or bins or banker’s boxes covered in contact paper will help cut down on the clutter in the room. It is there, but you don’t have to look at it until you need it. Using a neutral color for the bins will make the shapes blend into the background — or you can take the opportunity to add a pop of color to the room.

Mix up your shelving. You can use the same set of shelves for books, a few boxes, a vase with flowers, a few picture frames, and toy storage. It looks decorative, just like in catalogs! This will also help relieve some of the pressure to fill the shelf. Keep what you need and is meaningful. If you only need enough books, toys and pictures to fill one shelving unit — excellent. If it eventually expands to two, no problem, but don’t expand just to fill space.

Find Your Keys

Lately I’ve been thinking that if I stay on top of the laundry and dishes, the house will keep running in chaotic weeks. If those things get behind, it’s hard to climb back up that hill. Everything else can fit in around it or slide a little. (In other words, vacuuming a really dirty floor doesn’t take that much longer than vacuuming a slightly dirty floor, when I get to it, but five loads of laundry will take a while.)

Laundry and dishes are my housework keys. I do a load of laundry every day I can and a dishwasher load once a day. Those covered = Success.

For you it may be different. Maybe a basic surface cleaning routine makes your days sane. You’ll figure out the rest if it at least looks clean around you. Maybe meal planning is the skeleton of your household. Full stomachs make problems seem manageable. Whatever it is, it makes a big difference.

If you know what your housework keys are, you can be successful more easily than just guessing at what you MUST do in a busy week. Take a minute to think about what your keys are, if they don’t immediately come to mind. What really helps you? What keeps everything else in line? Now you can start using that knowledge as a tool when you prioritize your day. Those keys automatically stay at the front of the line for housework.

Leverage that big impact into further energy for the next step. Less time thinking through your keys and priorities, because you have thought once and are now just reapplying, gives you more time to use each day. You have more mental space and energy to focus on what you should be doing instead of what should I be doing? Make the most of it.