Many times when we go into a client’s home, we see that it is not just organizing help they need, but a fundamental cleaning system they will stick to. Nothing pains us more than checking in on a client and seeing the beautiful closet organizers and bins in their places, but their contents back on the floor or tabletops. Fortunately, if this happens to you, we have our maintenance plan to get you back on track!
Put on your favorite radio station or CD and pick a category. In my case, I put on some Pink Floyd (I cheat a little bit with the longer songs) and I jump straight into folding clothes. You MUST finish sorting through the various obstacles in your room before the end of the song. You can sort through and determine piles by process of elimination, or during your first song, throw everything into a different part of the room. Clothes by the closet, shoes by the door, papers by the desk, etc. From here on out, your songs are a pile. You’ll have anywhere from 3-5 minutes to get through these piles. Set your own goals and penalties. Obviously, you think cleaning is punishment already, but say “If I don’t clear these piles within five songs then I’m going to _____.” You could treat a friend to a movie, announce to the house that you’re on dish duty if you fail, or put a dollar in the “Organize Jar” to put towards something to prevent this in the future!
Go to your front door as if you are just getting home from work. Walk in to your home and seek out the first thing that bothers you. All those shoes stacked by the door? Put them in their place or call upon the other members of the house to come get what belongs to them. If there are other things in this room that bug you, ignore them. Move on. Pick another room, or stop there. Train yourself to spot what is out of place and clean just that. Pick the towel off the bathroom floor and straighten the rug. If you go into the kitchen for that late night snack, clean just the dishes in the sink. You can tell yourself to do one “eye spy” a night, or you can set a timer for an hour and jump room to room looking for things. Walking around and staying on your feet will help you from feeling fatigued or getting distracted by reading a letter or looking through old photos.
- Old notes, photos or other things you will get distracted reading and admiring
- Reuse in another area of the house (get it out of the closet, suddenly that old picture frame is retro-chic)
- Belongs in a different room (see my hammer in the bedroom reference from earlier)
When you come across these things, look at it long enough to make a decision on which basket to put it it. It should take less time to decide than it does to say “which basket should this go in?” When you’re satisfied with the dent you’ve made or everything is out of the closet, start with the basket that has items that belong elsewhere. Clear that basket and reward yourself with another. Throw away the stuff you decided to get rid of, move the donation box to the garage so you can continue to add to it and when all is said and done, take a break, rest your back and enjoy going through the old memories. As you go through cards and pictures, sort them into piles and file them away accordingly.
Any child has a desire to be better than the other one. It is braided into their DNA. To be harder, better, faster, stronger style. Create a reward – one that is equally pleasing to all kids involved or something of equal value (a doll or an action figure, the remote to the TV for an hour, immunity from bedtime for 30 minutes, etc.) Tell them the rules of the game: it is not who cleans their room faster, but rather, who cleans their room better. Then, there is no debate on who had less to clean or who’s job was easier. You’ll find that the more regularly you do this, the more your kids will start organizing on their own. (Just don’t tell them that.) If they had nothing but some dirty clothes on the floor and a messy bed, they will line up their shoes or straighten a drawer for extra credit. Have a tissue ready when you hear “Mommy, look! There’s nothing under my bed and I folded the shirts in my drawer!” Those are tears of joy.
- P.S. You are not allowed any last minute fixes like scooping up dirty clothes and throwing them in a cabinet! Create a place for everything and put everything in its place.