Are you living in what Marla Scilly, aka The Fly Lady, calls CHAOS? (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Well then, join the club there are thousands, perhaps even millions of us!

I have struggled with organization in almost every area of my life for, well, my entire life. By starting this blog I hope to encourage others that they too can get and stay organized!

While it will probably embarrass my children for me to air the dirty laundry here, in full color photos, if it helps just one person along their own journey to getting organized and staying that way, it will have been worth it!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Are We Born This Way?

Are some people born slobs and others born organized? Well I'm not sure there is an actual genetic link but it sure seems like it sometimes. And Pam Young and Peggy Jones, in Sidetracked Home Executives certainly thought there might be. The original edition of From Pigpen to Paradise was certainly helpful to me in coming to understand my side tracked nature.

I realized that I always have lots of plans and ideas in my head and I can't seem to get to them fast enough. Or I underestimate the amount of time it will take. Or, a recurring theme in my life, A needs to be done before B but I can't do B until I do C and I can't do C unless I've done A.

So lately I've been pondering, what do those 'born organized people do? How do they think that is different than the way I think?"

Could it be that they are more 'left brained', more linear and logically thinking than I am? I am very much a visual person and reading something is often more helpful to me than hearing someone explain it. In fact I have discovered that if I read it I will understand and retain more of the information than if I hear it.

Now I know that doesn't work for a lot of people. Especially those who have difficulties with reading or understanding and retaining what they have read. But I digress. My whole point is that we all think in different ways and while the scientists are mapping which parts of our brains are doing what, we still have to figure out how to get to where we want to be in our lives.

So how do those organized people do it? And most important, can the rest of us learn how to do it too? I think we can. It will take some time and some work, but we can 'retrain' our brains to work in new and different ways.

One thing is to be prepared. Prepare today for tomorrow. Check and see if you have an appointment or are you going to work or will you have a day off? So what will you wear? Choose tomorrows clothes tonight, making sure you have everything you need from the skin out.

If you are leaving the house tomorrow where are you going? What do you need to take with you? Set up a small table or something near the front door. Keep your purse and keys there. Put your brief case, diaper bag, kids backpacks, whatever you need tomorrow there. Marla Scilly, The Fly Lady, calls this your launching pad. My daughter had her kids leave their school shoes there along with their coats and back packs. Sure helped organize their mornings.

Make sure you write down all of your appointments  in your planner or on a large wall calender. Pick one day a week to do all your errands and buy groceries and such. Have your list and coupons together on your launch pad, along with the mail you are taking to the post office, the library books, et. And tell your family that you will do things for them on your errand day, if they tell you the night before. Otherwise they can figure out how to get it done on their own.

Another thing that born organized people do is that they effectively use small blocks of time. Instead of being overwhelmed that the job will take 8 hours, they put in ten or fifteen minutes when ever they can, nibbling away at it. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

In conjunction with that organized people never waste time. Sitting and waiting at the doctor's office, take your bank statement in and work on balancing the check book while you wait. Write a note to a friend. Start on that list of 100 things  you want to be, do or have. Brainstorm and doodle about the latest project you have in mind. This is a great way to constructively pass the time.

Organized people are also very time conscious. They have a really good idea of how long something is going to take them, whether it's revising a web page or driving to an appointment or tidying up the bathroom. For those of us who are trying to learn to be organized a timer can be a great help. 

I have a timer similar to this one. It has a pocket clip, easel stand and magnet and it counts up from zero (in case  you want to time how long it _really_ takes you to mop the kitchen) or counts down from what ever time you set. I know I would be lost without my timer as I do several 15 minute sessions for different areas of my life each day.

Speaking of working on things 15 minutes at time, today's declutter session was back on the dresser top. While it still has to much stuff on it, it's good enough for the time being.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

15 on the Dresser

Today I'm back on top of the dresser, wow, there is sooooo much stuff on there and being little and some of it I want to keep so I have to find places for it as well as wash the dust off of it. 
dresser top after a second 15 minutes
So I did get rid of some stuff; a whole handful of nuts bolts and screws went  to a pile of them on the back porch to be sorted out later. I wiped off some dust, tossed some trash. Put some little things that were on the dresser into the display case. Put away some lotions and potions into the bathroom. Made a pile of all the keys until I have time to see what they go to.

Yes, that's me in the mirror back of the display case taking the picture.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Declutter in the Kitchen

Now I know that everyone of you has a cabinet that looks like this! You know the one that is full of all your little plastic storage containers or yogurt cups or whatever you collect to put your left overs in.

So tonight I did just 15 minutes in this cabinet, took every thing out, half a shelf at a time, wiped it out, sorted the containers out and matched up the lids, tossed everything that didn't have a lid and put it back. On the other side I decluttered the two meat grinders. I love these old things, great for making home made sausage and such, BUT I don't have the strength to do it for very long any more. So they are going out. When I'm really raising a lot of my own meat again I'm going to look into buying an electric one. Probably something like this one, with different blades and some sausage stuffers.

I used to use a hand grinder and made rabbit and goat sausage; one meat or the other mixed half and half with pork and flavored with pineapple sage. mmmmm that was a yummy time in my life.

Oh yeah, you are waiting for this picture, aren't you? So now I can find the right container and a lid that fits to put my lunch in!

So don't hesitate, just set your timer and see how much you can accomplish when you are focused for just 15 minutes!

Monday, June 27, 2011

In the Bedroom

Whew! What a day 106+. Hot and blech! So when I was thinking about where I would do my 15 minute decluttering tonight I wanted something simple and easy that wouldn't require a lot of energy or thinking. I decided to work around and on top of my dresser.
dresser before

The dresser itself is a hand me down, I painted it around 2004. This was before I had learned to properly do One Stroke painting. I've thought of painting it over, but it does serve to remind me how far I've come.

You can see part of a rose border above the window that I painted about 2007, much better! The window area itself has been under construction since last summer. It used to be a smaller window in the space and I replaced it with a larger one. Just haven't gotten it all finished yet!

The clothes on the floor were ones I was getting rid of because they were really ripped and torn. The pile next to the dresser has a lot of curtains and table linens that I do plan to use. I just need to finish out the window so I can hang a rod so I can hang the curtains! Lots of projects go just like that around here. I have to do 5 other things before I can actually do the one thing I really want to get done. Is it like that at your house too? Oh yeah, that pile of linens is sitting on a box of old records, which I do still listen to.
dresser after 15 minutes

Well after taking out a bag of garbage here it is. looking a bit better, don't you think? I even did a little bit on the dresser top after I took care of the rest, you just can't really tell it yet. I think it's going to need at least a whole 15 to itself.

dresser top

Does your dresser accumulate such stuff? This is where I clean out my pants pockets and depending on what I've been doing there may be change, keys, screws, nuts, bolts, all kinds of seeds, who knows what else!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

In the Studio

Today's decluttering mission is in my studio. It is soooo bad in there, I am really embarrassed. I don't even know how I get any painting done!
Studio paint table, before

Studio, shelves installed, only 10 minute job!
Studio shelves and paint table after 15 minutes
First I spent only about 10 minutes installing the shelves. Super easy with my portable drill!

Handy Home tip: hold the shelf up to the wall and make a small mark where you want the top of it to go. Then use a level to draw a line along that mark. Set your screws into your shelf and screw to the wall,  start with one in the middle, with your shelf top lined up with your straight and level line. Then do each end screw.

After I set the shelves in place I set my timer for 15 minutes and began cleaning off the paint table. There are still a few things on each end of the table to deal with, but at least the middle is empty and ready for a painting session. That is a very good thing because I have another pet portrait commission to work on!

If you don't have a portable drill, you should get one! I have tendonitis in my elbows. My portable drill can drive screws easily which would otherwise take me all day and make my elbows hurt really bad.

This one is very similar to mine. (mine is just older)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weekly Home Blessing Hour

One of the best tricks I've learned from Marla Scilly, aka The Fly Lady is the Weekly Home Blessing Hour. This is just a fast run through your house doing seven tasks. If you have a really huge house it will probably take you longer than an hour and if you have a small house of course it will take you less time.

The tasks are:
  • purge newspapers and magazines, you know you aren't going to get around to reading the paper from two weeks ago, so you might as well put it in the recycle bin. Ditto those months old women's magazines.
  • Dust your house. Now Marla does not mean the old fashioned get out a rag and the furniture polish. She recommends a real ostrich feather duster which will actually collect a huge amount of dust and spiderwebs and I concur. When I shake my duster outdoors the cloud of dust that flies out is amazing. Now don't fall for one of those cheapo feather dusters at the discount store. They will not work the same, for this you must have a real,  honest to goodness ostrich feather duster. If you have really high ceilings you are going to want that one with the 6 foot extension pole.
  • Take out the trash. Get the big trash bag from the kitchen and go room to room, emptying all your smaller trash cans into it. I have small trash cans in my bathroom, bedroom and under my desk.
  • Vacuum but just do the middles! This is not meant to be move all the furniture in the room and vacuum every square inch of carpet. This is just the middles of the rooms and where you walk all the time. This is what gets the most dirt and wear any way. 
  • Mop all your tile and linoleum floors, especially your kitchen and entry way which get the most traffic. Personally I prefer an old fashioned cotton string mop and wringer bucket, but use what ever you like.
  • Change the sheets on your bed. Marla suggests that you have two sets of sheets for each bed and that you store the extra set, not in the linen closet, but between the mattress and box springs! Isn't that a handy idea!
Declutter all those old worn sheets taking up space in your linen closet, put the spares under the mattresses and revel in  your new found storage space!
  • Polish your mirrors and doorknobs. Mirrors collect dust and in the bathroom attract a lot of other things. Doorknobs collect germs and dirty fingerprints, especially if you live with small children or a mechanic.

Since I am most often off on Saturday and Sunday, I make my WHB list on Saturday and start then. On Sunday I try to finish it off. Other folks do one task each day of the week. Work it out however you want, but DO IT!

You will be amazed; never again will the garbage under the bathroom sink be overflowing, your carpet will look new longer, your mirrors will sparkle, your living room won't be overrun with old newspapers and magazines. It seems simple and it doesn't seem like much to do, especially in short, 10 minutes bursts, but it will make a big difference in how your house looks when you get in this habit each week.

Today's decluttering mission was to finish up the shelves I started on yesterday so here's the pictures!

Wow, the front room is almost empty! And that is a very good thing, because once I have the clutter under control I'm planning on moving my front door from the center of the 'L' (red curtain on the left in the photo) to smack dab in the middle of that far wall. The reason for that is because the roof line on this part of the house is quite low and where the door is now I cannot install a screen door. Moving the door to the other wall means I will be able to put in a screen door and on nice evenings I'll be able to turn the cooler off and enjoy a fresh breeze.


Yesterday (June 24, 2011) I was very sidetracked after work. The grand kids had trashed the kitchen and living room while I was gone and left stuff everywhere. I did a quick run through and picked up and got the kitchen under control in about 15 minutes. Then I got side tracked on the computer doing other things. It was late, I was thinking about going to bed when I realized I hadn't checked in with my buddies over on the FlyLady forums.

As I began to write my post and make excuses I thought, well why don't you just DO IT! So I did. And then I went to bed, so that is why I'm posting this morning, instead of last night.

I looked around for something quick and easy to do and saw these shelves full of stuff.
This one is in the front room where I've been working most of this past week or so.

What is this stuff?? Most of it is powdered pigments from which you can make your own paint, along with the things needed to make my own ink and lay gold leaf. I plan to work with these materials again, so they went into a storage box.

These are the shelves in my bedroom, most of what is on them is more paint, ink and gilding supplies. Along with miscellaneous stuff. So some things went in the give away box and the rest to the storage box. I plan to move these shelves into my studio to help get my buckets of paint brushes and small supplies up off my work table. Then I can go to bed at night without the thought of things falling down on my head. (which happened once!)

Here they are after just one 15 minute session.

I made the small wooden shelves quite a few years ago myself. They were pretty simple and easy to do.  The shelf in the front room is just a wire rack like you would put in a closet. I'm not sure what I will do with it yet.

If you needed something a bit bigger, perhaps in your entry way or mud room, here are the plans for a storage bench and a really nice wall shelf complete with hanging pegs.

I'll be back later with today's 15 minute declutter session!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Temporarily De=railed

Well, due to a miscommunication with my daughter, I was inundated with small children unexpectedly last night. So no 15 minute sessions were done at all. I _thought_ they were going to the doctors today and spending the night tonight. Apparently it was spend the night on Thursday so they could go to early doctors appointment on Friday. Such is life, so I just enjoyed my grand daughters being here, I don't see them so much any more.

The nice thing is that since I have been doing my 15 minute sessions in different areas, the house was pretty tidy and it was easy to pull out the sofa bed for them. I just wasn't so easy to get them to go to sleep!

If you are just joining me, this is my journey from CHAOS to being organized, ala Marla Scilly, aka the Fly Lady. I recently began a pledge to do 15 minutes each day of work in each of 4 areas of my life: my kitchen, my garden, my desk, paperwork and business and 15 minutes of decluttering. You can see the results of my garden work over in my garden blog, The Edible Garden.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Still in the Spare Bedroom

Spare bedroom from the door after second 15 minute session

Today's requisite 15 minute session is again in the spare bedroom. Since this room is usually closed off from the rest of the house I don't dust or vacuum in here often. But my daughter says she might come spend the night this weekend with her girls, so I thought I'd better knock down the dust today.

spare room after second 15 minute session

So what I did in 15 minutes, rearranged a few more things to take up less space. Stripped the bed and put the sheets to wash. Dusted the ceiling, walls, molding and window blinds with my feather duster, washed the window and the window sill, ran the vacuum. Now the only thing I actually took out of here today was a small storage table, more about that in a minute.
spare room after second 15 minute session

When I realized that this little storage table was empty I realized it would be perfect in the living room as it is smaller and will take up less space than the old coffee table. The other great thing is that I can use it to corral all of the grand kids crayons and pencils, coloring books and papers in it.

Pine wood storage table with painted decoration

I made this little table about 20 years ago (which is probably a whole Squidoo article I should write!) You see I used to belong to a historical recreation group and was camping out every weekend.

 The top of this box is not hinged, it just sits down over the body and the lip of the table top keeps it in place. The table top is wood grain formica over press board, with a real oak band. It is recycled from a local fast food restaurant. (A friend was shift manager during a remodel and acquired several of these.) It is about 24 inches square.

There is a lift out tray in the top of the box

 The box was built of scrap lumber I had handy, 1x12 pine boards make the body. The bottom of the box is a little smaller, a frame of 1x4's with a piece of plywood on top. The plywood is probably luann or some other imported wood. I scavenged it off a pallet that was used to ship computers on. small pieces of 2x4 layed on their sides gave me a good place to attach 4 casters so the little table can be rolled around. The lift out tray in the top is made of 1x3s with a piece of 3/8 inch plywood for the bottom.

painted table showing inside cleats that tray rests on
 There are two small bits of wood in the inside that act as cleats for the lift out tray to rest on. The outside of the box has two handles for carrying.

 While I designed the box using the materials to hand, I kept in mind the purpose for which I was making it. I wanted a small table in camp to put by my chair to hold my lunch and drinks and maybe a bowl of fruit. I also needed someplace to store all the plates, cups, silverware and what not.

In the bottom of the box I stored my fruit bowl, my plates, cups and bowls, a few snack items like tinned meat and crackers, along with my napkins. In the lift out tray I used a plastic cutlery tray in the large section to keep my silver ware in. In the narrow section I kept my knives and bottle openers. It was very nice to have something nice to look at that could serve so many functions at once. Another nice thing about it was that when I went home and unpacked it could just sit and be a handy table in the living room.

 I've taken so much time to show off the box to encourage you to look around at your 'stuff' with fresh eyes, see how you can make, fix or refurbish something to better suit your purpose.

Oh yes, the decoration? The designs were taken from Medieval Folk in Painting. Quite a fun book with easy to follow photographs and instructions for a number of different projects.

Now I was so excited to have gotten some space in the spare bedroom I went and did an additional 15 minutes working in my front room.
Here it is afterwards. Mostly today I used my feather duster to get the majority of dust and cobwebs off my loom and other weaving equipment and shifted those items to the spare bedroom. I knocked down spiderwebs and dust off the walls and swept up the floor, though looking at it I think I need to run the vacuum and mop too. Well, I'll save that for another day!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More Decluttering; There Is A Method To My Madness

spare bedroom from the door, before
Now today I spent my 15 minute declutter session in the spare bedroom. I know that those born organized, logical folks will be like "Hey, why don't you finish in the front room before you go elsewhere?"

Well, there is a method to my madness. You see a lot of what is still in the front room needs to go in the spare bedroom, but there is no space. So before I can finish the front room I have to go make space in the spare bedroom. A lot of decluttering my house is going to go like this!

I used to do a lot of spinning, weaving and natural dyeing and I really want to be able to do this again, though I am holding the brakes on my impulsive nature to start up a project NOW! and am working to get everything cleaned up and organized first.

spare bedroom before

Now what you can't see in the pictures is that there is a dresser hiding behind the door along with some other stuff. All those plastic boxes in the corner aren't mine though. That pile belongs to my daughter who is out of the country right now.

spare bedroom from the door, after
spare bedroom after

Now I actually only got rid of one thing in this room today and that was the clothes rack. We got it when my daughter was living here because this bedroom has no closet. But I don't expect anyone to be living with me any time soon, so out it goes. The rest of the fifteen minutes I just rearranged things to be a little more compact and take up less floor space.

The clothes rack was pretty handy while my daughter was staying with me, since there was no where else for her to hang up her clothes. In the future, should I decide that this room really needs a closet to hang clothes in, I will probably look for a wardrobe cabinet like this one.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today's 15 Minutes of Decluttering

Here's where I left off in the front room the other day. Some of this stuff hasn't seen the light of day in years. Some of it is for spinning, weaving and natural dying and most of those items I'll be keeping because I do have the intention of starting again in these crafts and I would not want to have to replace all of them when I do.

So what did I find besides an humongous herd of dust bunnies and a million little spiders and some mouse evidence? (Though I'm pretty sure I caught that mouse last winter, I'll be on the look out for any fresh evidence)

Well, there are some heddles for a loom I don't own anymore, which I will bundle up and post for sale.

The cardboard box is a chick brooder which I bought at a yard sale for $5, still in it's original shipping box. I looked up the model online, it will accommodate 300 CHICKS! OK, I will never need a brooder lamp this big, so that too is going to be posted for sale.

A box full of Presto glass canning jar lids, which are also for sale. A lot of scraps of sheet rock saved from re-doing the spare bedroom. Some were deemed beyond keeping so I tossed those and re-stacked the larger scraps against the wall.

Hiding behind the sheet rock was several plastic tubs, mostly full of natural dyes and mordants. I wiped down the boxes and put them back after I swept and mopped.

A big surprise however was the tub full of books. I used to belong to a historical recreation group and sold books and other things. This is leftover stock and I will be working on a good way to sell these for their full retail price.

 So now I need to add another 15 minutes a day to the schedule for selling all this stuff! If you've just joined me I'm whipping my house into shape 15 minutes at a time. My current schedule is 15 minutes every day in each of four areas, the kitchen, garden, decluttering and my desk, paperwork and business.My garden antics are being chronicled on my garden blog

 And here it is after just a second 15 minute session. Oh yeah, got rid of two wig heads that I used to use to display hats on. They were really gross with spider webs and dust.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Decluttering 15 minutes at a time

One of the most powerful lessons I've learned from Marla Scilly, the Fly Lady is the power of doing things just 15 minutes at a time. We all seem to be waiting for a big chunk of time to tackle that big project. But we never have a whole day or even a couple of hours to devote to it and probably never will.

At the same time we don't seem to realize how much we can accomplish in a short period of time. If you are a procrastinator, or have time management issues it is very empowering to become aware of having 10 or 15 minutes and what you could be doing with it. (If you are a major procrastinator you might want to read this article about Chronic Procrastination)

Marla encourages us to tackle our big piles and problems just 15 minutes at a time. You set the timer and go to work on it and when the timer goes off, you get to quit! That's right, even if it's not 'finished' you can quit and go do something else.

And if something is so overwhelming that the thought of even doing 15 minutes is paralyzing, you can do less! It's OK! Maybe to start on that basement dungeon all you can stand is 5 minutes. Or maybe all you can do is reach in and grab one item and deal with it. That is ok. Because the whole idea is to get you started; get you going in forward motion. Because after a short time, days or weeks or maybe a couple of months, you will have built up some wonderful momentum and then you will be eager to dive into it and get it accomplished.

I am currently digging myself out from under years of clutter. I'm doing it 15 minutes every day. That sounds like I'll never be done with the house doesn't it? Well I know eventually there will be nothing in my house that I don't need, want or love. Half the battle has been making up my mind to do it each and every day.

By working in these short periods of time on a daily basis I am building in some new habits. I'm also changing the way I think about my stuff and my definition of 'need' has changed too.

Now some people will argue that this is a paltry bit of work in comparison to what needs to be done and perhaps your house is one of those that is one step away from an appearance on Hoarders (and in that case you might think about seeking some professional help). In that case you might want to work 15 minutes daily in each room, or at least in the most important ones.

Of course we all want instant gratification and perhaps your mother-in-law is coming for a visit. In that case you could do a crisis clean ala Fly Lady. For this you concentrate on the main rooms that your company will see, front entry, living room, kitchen and one bathroom. You do 15 minutes in each room, going as fast as you can, then you take a 15 minute break, and begin again. The first time around in each room you are basically throwing out the garbage and getting all the dirty dishes corralled near the sink to be washed. You aren't going to dust all the nick knack shelves or wash the baseboards. You are just going to get the major junk taken care of as quickly as possible.

We have all cleaned house this way in the past. The problem is, it doesn't stay clean because you aren't changing your mind set or developing new habits. You might do the stash and dash today, but tomorrow you are still going to leave your shoes under the desk and your coffee cup on the desk, breakfast dishes on the table and the kids will leave who knows what in the family room.

And here is the result of my 15 minute declutter mission today. A small corner by my front door, next to the filing cabinet that sits by my desk.

Mmmm what have we here? a walking stick my friend left here 10 years ago, one, oh no, two extension cords, a wooden shelf board (I'm wondering where that was supposed to have been) the keyboard trays from THREE computer desks (because I was supposed to have trimmed the bigger one down to fit this desk....which I've had for .....8 or more years). A couple of peices of hard board, probably saved for backing paintings, 3 old [broken] 3 ring binders, miscellaneous papers and such on top of the filing cabinet and a photograph.

Oh, not to mention a whole herd of dust bunnies and a tribe of spiders.

Well, it actually only took me 10 minutes to do the part that's on the floor, then another 10 to clear off the filing cabinet, including wiping up the dust, then a quick swipe with the broom and put back just the things I need here.

So what did I keep, the extension cords, because this is the outlet I use when I use my power saw, most of the time, my good flashlight, to investigate strange noises in the night. I did set the case of printer ink that just came in over there because the cubby in the desk is not big enough for it all.

On top of the filing cabinet is the computer paper and a picture of my grand kids from about 3 years ago.

Taming the Laundry Monster

Marla Scilly, the Fly Lady, calls it Mount Washmore. You know, that giant pile of laundry that never seems to end? Well folks, that's just it, laundry is a never ending chore. If you wear clean clothes every day then you are going to have dirty ones to wash every day. Now that I live by myself it's no big deal, maybe 3 loads a week and not always full loads of whites. But when I had 3 kids at home I too had Mount Washmore.

One of the things I've learned though is that sometimes the kids have way too many clothes. And kids tend to do things like pull out something, decide they don't like it, it doesn't fit, it's ripped or stained, so they just toss it on the floor and get out something else. Then when you yell at them to clean their room, they stuff it all in the hamper.

So one of the first steps to taming the laundry monster is to get rid of everything that is ripped, stained, out of style, doesn't fit or that you just plain don't like. Now I hear some of you saying that you just can't get rid of something that you paid good money for. Well, yes you can, because it has served it's purpose to you and now it is time for it to go somewhere else. If it's in bad shape cut it up for rags or just throw it away. If it's still good but doesn't fit or you don't like it, find someone that can use it. If you don't have friends that you can hand clothes down to, take it to a charity thrift shop.

Now I don't expect you can accomplish all of that for a family in one sitting. It will take some effort, but if you will go through their dressers and closets 15 minutes at a time every day, then soon you will see a difference. When ever you are doing laundry, look at the clothes before you put them in to wash. If they need to go, trash them right then. It will only take a few seconds and will save you the time and money of washing something that should have gone to the garbage.

Because dear friends one of the reasons that you are pulling clean clothes out of the laundry basket instead of the dresser or closet is because the dresser and closet are jam packed full of things you aren't wearing! Don't believe me? Go have a look! How can  your kids put away their clothes neatly if they can't even wedge anything else into the drawer? If they don't have any empty clothes hangers?

For babies of course you probably do need 24 outfits to get through a week, but older kids don't need so much. I would suggest, if they are potty trained, that you keep no more than 10 regular outfits, plus of course a couple of things for special occasions. I was a tom boy as a child and I had tops about 8 outfits to wear to school, probably about 5 outfits for church and some worn and stained play clothes. Every day when I came home from school I had to take off my school clothes and put on play clothes. Mom would wash school clothes after one wearing, but play clothes got two or three days use before they went in the hamper. This method also works for grownups. I have over the door hooks on my closet door where I keep my pajamas and bathrobe on one hook. On the other I keep the current set of gardening clothes to change into after work or to wear on weekends. This certainly helps cut down on daily laundry.

Now another problem is that we are falling down on the job. There are actually 5 separate parts to doing laundry: sort, wash, dry, fold, put away. Most of us fall down on that folding and putting away bit. But here is how you can get rid of Mount Washmore once and for all: Do one load a day and do all 5 steps!

This is easy, even if you don't have a dryer. I have never owned a dryer but my clothes line will accommodate 2-3 loads of laundry at a time, depending on what I'm washing.  So in the afternoon I collect what ever is dry and get it put away. The rest just waits until the next day and gets put away then.

Once you have made some space in your dressers and closets for your clothes to live and you begin to get the hang of a smooth stream of laundry in and laundry out, Mount Washmore will be gone forever more. In the beginning and especially if you have a larger family you might have to do 2 loads a day, but for a family of four or five people, one load a day will keep it done up.

My house is small with only one bathroom, so I have always just kept a hamper by the bathroom door. If you have the space, you might consider one in each bathroom and one in each bedroom, depending on where your family is undressing the most.

This is a really nice looking wicker hamper which will match many decors.

When I was washing for four or five, I emptied the hamper each evening into a laundry sorter by my washing machine. Now my sorter was a pretty plain jane and has since bit the dust. What I would have given to have one of these back then!

I think this one looks like the Cadillac of laundry sorters. My mom has one like this and it's very handy for her. When she's done hanging her clothes on the bar she can wheel it through the house to put the clothes away, empty the hampers into the sorter on the way back to the laundry room, very efficient!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

To Catch You Up With Where I'm At.

So where am I right now along this path? Well, I have been in a profound state of CHAOS for quite a few years. I really couldn't tell you when it all began but I'll hit a few highlights. My oldest daughter graduated college and moved home with all her stuff that she'd had at school, in addition to all the stuff she had left behind in the first place. I will say she did try and whittle it down, but at first there was a lot of it. My son and his girlfriend (now wife) lived with me for a bit, they were both in the National Guard and went to boot camp about 9 months or a year apart.

Then my daughter-in-law stayed with me while my son did a tour in Iraq. They got their own place and took most of their stuff with them. Though I have found some of my son's things from when he was younger stashed in various places.

Between then and now my younger daughter, her boyfriend and her 3 girls moved in with me, then out, then she and the girls moved in and out.....and her older sister comes home about every 12 months to visit. She even works on reducing the pile of her stuff in the spare room.

In the meantime, in 2009 I spent most of the year working 48 hours a week away from home, keeping a big garden and babysitting those three grand daughters 7 days a week. (Their momma was working full time and going to school full time) At the same time their grandpa (we've been separated over 20 years) moved to the area when he retired. They were supposed to fix it up so that he could stay in a trailer out back but he ended up spending most of 18 months in my spare bedroom. The room I use as my paint studio became a dumping ground for everything I couldn't deal with through all of this.

By the way, did I mention? I'm a huge pack rat! I save all kinds of stuff. Mostly because I never finish a project. Or I finish a lot of projects, then something else is going on in my life and my attention is pulled elsewhere. In the meantime all those special tools and supplies languish in a corner or a pile or a cupboard awaiting my attention again.

In 2010, everybody moved out, my job mostly went to 40 hours a week and the girls and their mom moved away where I don't see them much. Reveling in the peace and quiet I spent most all of 2010 focusing on my artwork.

Well, Marla Scilly, the Fly Lady says "Focus Makes Me Fabulous", and yes it does. But I can't focus on more than one thing at a time! If I'm painting, the house is trashed and the garden is dead. If I'm gardening the house is trashed and I'm not making Art.

So I decided, about 21 days ago to begin trying to find some balance, to become more organized in all areas of my life. So I pledged to do 15 minutes each and every day in each of these four areas: my garden, my kitchen, to declutter and my desk, paperwork and business.

At first you couldn't tell much difference. It took most of the first week to get my kitchen in reasonable shape and it still has a long way to go. But gradually it is paying off. There is less clutter and fewer cobwebs in the house and fewer weeds in the garden.

Here is part of the front room, before
and after I worked in here for 15 minutes. While not completely finished, you can see a difference.
By pecking away at the mess on a daily basis, things are beginning to look better.

I haven't read Regina Leeds book, One Year to an Organzied Life but looking it over on Amazon, it looks amazing! A week by week plan to organization, along with some techniques to work through the emotional barriers we sometimes have to time management and begin organized. I'm certainly adding it to my wish list!

Welcome to the First Day of the Rest of Your Life!

I have begun this new blog to chronicle my own journey from CHAOS to Organization with the hopes that this time I will discover the magic formula to staying that way! I have struggled my entire life with being organized. I do not know the root cause of this difficulty and at this point in my life it really doesn't matter. (I'm old enough to have 5 grand children). At this point all I want is to have a clean, tidy house, with a place for everything and everything in it's place.

There is however a theory that we are either born organized or born slobs. For much of my life I thought of myself as a slob. Occasionally I even reveled in the idea of being such a non-conformist. I was an artist, I have a creative mind. All creative people are slobs. Such are the things that often rumble in the back of my mind.

Many  years ago I discovered a book called "Side Tracked Home Executives; From Pigpen to Paradise" by Pam Young and Peggy Jones. I laughed and cried with them and in some chapters I thought, "Well, now, I'm not that bad!" In fact I still have that book and re-read it occasionally. I've even thought of late that perhaps I should resurrect that old system.

Pam and Peggy's system was to use 3x5 inch recipe cards, with a single household job written on each one. They were filed in a card box in 31 dividers according to when they should be done, every day, week, month or seasonal. If you are really easily sidetracked and need a concrete reminder system in front of you at all times this is one that you should probably look into. It did serve me pretty well once upon a time. But then in the ways of easily sidetracked, disorganized folks the little black box on the kitchen counter was soon overcome by a pile of stuff....

In 2001 Pam and Peggy, with a couple of other ladies published a revised edition of Side Tracked Home Executives. I haven't read it yet, but I imagine it is just as good as the first edition.

Now a long time ago another lady that was having trouble keeping up with her house also discovered Pam & Peggy. Marla Scilly joined their Bulletin Board, which was the origination of our modern forums. Marla's screen name was 'Fly Lady' because she liked to fly fish and it's stuck.

Marla's journey from CHAOS to Organization has become a complete network of websites, blogs, online radio shows and forums around the Web. Marla documented her journey in her book, Sink Reflections

Marla began her journey by working on one basic habit each for a month. Her first habit was to shine her kitchen sink every night. She then went on to things like making the bed, doing the laundry and many others.

On Marla's original website, http://flylady.net/ she gives you 31 baby steps to getting your house in order. Marla has many other resources on her website. After getting the clutter under control and developing routines, Marla divides the house up into zones. She even sends out reminders each day with special 'missions' for the zone you are in. You work in one zone each week, doing those jobs that are unique to that zone. This is in addition to those daily habits that keep things running smoothly.

For company and encouragement, Marla and her friends have numerous radio shows at Blog Talk Radio. There is also a large forum for "Flybabies" who are also trying to get their lives in order. There are lots of fun and friendly folks on the forums and we all have a good time posting out accomplishments as well as our disasters.