Guest Blogger: Darla DeMorrow, Certified Professional Organizer ®.
You know the drill. Company’s coming, so you quickly grab the nearest bag, box, or bin, swipe everything from the table and counter top into it, and stash it in the closet. There, you’re organized, or at least appear to be so for the next 30 minutes.
But deep in your heart, you know the “stash & dash” doesn’t work. It produces guilt (Why can’t I get organized?), anxiety (What if there’s something in there I really need?), and shame (If friends only knew what really goes on in my closets, they wouldn’t believe it.)
There is a better way. There might not be a magic potion you can apply, but believe it or not, there is an overnight solution. Yes, you can really change things in just one or two days, and decide never to use the old “stash and dash” again. Here are the things you must do:
1. Don’t bring anything into your home that you don’t absolutely need. That includes things you shop for, things people give you, children’s items, and mail. Getting organized at home starts before you even get home.
2. Be ruthless. Recycle, recycle, recycle, and throw away when you must. Admire the kid’s art, frame the best immediately, and recycle the rest. Get on the “do not mail” lists, and take unwanted mail directly from your mailbox straight to your recycle bin, never letting it stop on the counter top. I have said, “No bag, please,” so many times in the store, than my four year-old now says it at the checkout line.
3. Stay out of the stores. Stop shopping online. Yes, really.
4. Set up a designated spot inside for papers to land, like this tiny home office. You have an outdoor mailbox. You should have an indoor mailbox, too. Don’t let your papers land anywhere else except your inbox, and don’t let anything but papers go in your inbox.
5. Decorate the space where papers seem to land. If your dining room table never seems to have space for dining, then bring out the fine china and tablecloths, and set it up for a party. It’s hard to lay paper clutter on a beautiful table.
6. Pull out those bags, bins and boxes in your closet. The older they are, the less you’ll keep from them. You can sort and empty a paper shopping bag in an hour or less if you really focus on it.
7. Be ruthless. If you don’t need a paper right now, then place it in recycling. At worst, you’ll have to fish something out of your recycling pile in a day or two. At best, you’ll keep your counters clear and avoid the “stash and dash”.
Try these seven steps for a month, and see if you have more room for cooking, dining, and happiness.