Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Let's Clear Something Up...

I think it's time for me to clear up a common misconception. It's one that seems to be perpetuated by home magazines and pretty much EVERY publication in January (trying to capitalize on New Year's resolutions). It's also one that "they" don't want me to tell you:


I've been questioned about this by several friends and/or customers and what makes me crazy about this philosophy is that it just leaves you with more stuff to manage and find a place for. It's a very good marketing program, selling you a promise of organization, no clutter, and a perfect home if you just buy the products. (Look what I just saw an ad for!)

Okay, so maybe you do want to color code stuff for each of your kids to keep it straight, or you need a basket to corral shoes in the foyer. There is nothing wrong with that. Go shopping with a list, or better, repurpose something you have around the house. You could also pick up a pretty container at a yard sale or thrift store. A hundred pretty boxes and magazine files only encourage you to accumulate clutter rather than sort and use it. I promise! There's room for cute things, but function has to trump design.

Just remember to let YOUR home, lifestyle, and personal habits dictate what you buy.  Don't work to maintain a system; let the system work for you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Cheap Motivational Device

Like many parents of toddlers, I've learned how useful timers can be. Something about that third party timekeeper makes life more fair and alternately speeds things up or encourages patience.

I'm in awe at how this device--which I used to think was merely intended for monitoring baked goods--can settle the score between siblings and make a game out of cleaning up.

Your timer doesn't have to be digital, or anything fancy, really. Oh how I loved winding these up and then forcing them down to zero to hear the ringing as a kid...over and over again.

You might not have kids in the house, but if you find yourself procrastinating, overwhelmed, or with a few idle minutes, I encourage you to "trick" yourself using a timer.

You see, we often over- or under-estimate the amount of time we need to do a project.

The other night I cleaned the bathroom (everything but the shower) while my husband was taking a shower and I was awaiting my turn. For some reason, this was a task that I'd been hemming and hawing about starting all week, but I finished it in the typical five-minute-guy-shower timeframe.

I've encouraged you before to try and time your weekly tasks so that you can better budget the time you spend on cleaning. But today I wonder what you could accomplish if you set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes, and tried to beat the clock. (That's why I like the constant tick-tick-tick of the dial timer.)

As you work, remember the left to right, up and down technique so you can stay as focused as possible. Good luck!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gloves, Hats, and Mittens, Oh My!

It's been snowing off and on all day today. I was glad to spend some time with my oldest son playing outside this morning. There is something so peaceful about a snowfall. My favorite part is that it's incredibly quiet and reminds you to slow down and savor the change in routine. And snowstorms are one of those few sacred times in our modern era where you are allowed to cut back on obligations and just stay home with family. So precious.

So after all the fun of sledding and making snow angels, forts and snowballs, you come in and have all sorts of clothing to deal with: hats, gloves, boots, scarves and other stuff strewn all over the house in various states of wetness. Yuck! Kind of takes the fun out of it.

May I suggest the following ideas (none of which really apply to my house at present)?
  • Have a laundry basket or other container available for things that are wet or dirty enough to require a washing. Encourage family members to drop things in here as they shed layers.
  • Set up a drying rack or improvised clothing tree (a.k.a. folding chair) near a heating vent or fireplace for the items that are merely damp.
  • Set out an extra throw rug or plastic mat near the door as a safe place for boots to dry. Keep this around until the snow melts and salt is no longer being tracked in.
  • Use an over-the-door shoe organizer to corral small items for easy grab-n-go next time. This includes hats, earmuffs, scarves, gloves, etc. and will help keep paired items together. Consider assigning a row to each family member, making sure that kids items are closest to the bottom where they can reach them. At the end of the season, make sure everything still has its partner, and pack the whole thing away until next winter.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

In and Out: Entryways

I've talked a lot about the importance of having a place to go with all the things you bring in the door. You need to be able to "stage" things so that you can sort and redirect them.

At the same time, there's an equally important need for figuring out what to do with stuff that needs to leave your house. Not only does this include your keys, phone, coat, purse, etc. but can also include other items that are easier to forget about: clothing to donate, cloth grocery bags that need to go into the car, items to return to family members, gifts you need to take somewhere, and so forth. You get the idea.