Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Preparing for a JUNK RAID ... Part 1

so...we have a lot of stuff and we're sick of it.
AND we're ready to do whatever it takes to deal with it, right?

Just like with any war or battle, though, if you go in, guns blazing, 
without a well-thought out plan
it's going to be a disastrous failure.

One of the reasons people have a hard time tackling their stuff is because their plan looks a lot like:

"OK, today is the day (looking around the great room). I finally have a day where nothing is going on and I'm going to get ORGANIZED!  First, I'm going to run to Wal-Mart and get a bunch of bins to put all this crap in to and I'm going to stop by the office supply store and get me a label maker because I've heard organized people label everything!  And then I'll come home and start throwing some stuff away, putting stuff in bins and getting my house ORGANIZED."

First, can we talk for a minute about the word ORGANIZED??


verb  or·ga·nize \ˈȯr-gə-ˌnīz\
to arrange or order things so that they can be found or used easily and quickly : to put things into a particular arrangement or order

Call it a pet peeve, but in my opinion this word is completely overused. People don't really know what they are even trying to accomplish except they want everything to be perfect (which isn't EVER possible, by the way...)

As in "I have got to get organized!" 


"I wish I could be as organized as her!" 


"If I were just more organized, my life would be so much easier!"

People think that being organized means buying bins and matching hangers and label makers and somehow putting it all together to be amazing and never troublesome again.  The truth is....

(Remember? It's called the Curse of Affluence!)

THUS, you can't just get organized anymore.
That ship has sailed.
That was life in the 1800's and early to mid 1900's.

People in those days used to say
"A place for everything and everything in it's place?"

But The Curse of Affluence has changed all that for us.
And now, in our "too much stuff world" we have to say instead
"A place for every KEEPER 
and every KEEPER in its place."

And before we "organize" we have to determine what things we own are KEEPERS--things that are really adding something positive to our lives and eliminate the junk that is draining negatively. 

We need to go on a Junk Raid. 

It's a battle, people, and we need a plan....a real plan.
A plan that has specific and clear steps that we can follow to get us to our ultimate goal--even VICTORY over our affluence and junk!

SO HERE'S an idea for a plan!

1. Prepare your family.
This doesn't have to be an ultra formal family meeting but if you are anything more than a single person, you need to warn your family members that changes are going to be happening.  I'd like to think you'd say something like:

"Family! I love you dearly and life is good. But we have too much stuff. Look around and see. We are drowning. It makes me grumpy. It makes you grumpy (even if you don't realize it) and it's time we did something about it. So I have a plan to do just that. I will be going through over the next several weeks and methodically evaluating the stuff in this house (and garage and shed and storage units) and downsizing. (GASPS will then be heard from your family members--especially the "we must hold on to everything or we will die" people).  Then add this very key phrase "I promise that I will not get rid of any of your personal items--your possessions--unless I talk to you first.  But we will be going through them together at some point :)."  

If you want to, you can discuss the details of the junk raid even more, talk about it and answer questions...maybe making some really positive remarks about how this is going to help your family so much and give us more time for the important things in life instead of spending so much time worrying about and dealing with your stuff.  You choose. But prepare your family first.

2. Set space priorities in your home
When I teach dejunking and organizing classes and get to this topic, I always stop and say "If you get NOTHING ELSE out of this class and only go home understanding and applying the concepts of space priorities, I will be a happy teacher."  

The same is true for this blog. If you get nothing else out of it, pay attention here.

The reason for that is simple: setting and maintaining space priorities will not only help your home and spaces be a lot more functional but it will also help you evaluate which stuff you really like, use and need enough to keep. It's kind of a game changer that way.

To tell you about space priorities, I need to go back to 1989. I was 19 years old and had a really good job as a secretary during all of the summer and holiday breaks from college. My employer was awesome and even let me take a few classes in order to improve my skills and become better at my job. And one of the classes I took was entitled something like "Organizing your Office" (there's that organized word again).  The class was a one day class and talked about all sorts of different aspects of having an organized office.  But the one part that I remember the very most was so simple...the part about space priorities.  

In the class they showed a picture of a desk

And they labeled the top of the desk "A" or "Prime" 
and the drawers to the side of the desk "B" or "Secondary"
and the cabinets on the other side of the room (not even seen in this picture) "C" or "Long Term."

And they explained--
In an office, the area of the top of your desk is Prime space. It is where the things that you use EVERY DAY deserve to be. So the files, papers, equipment, and supplies that you use every day should be the ONLY things that reside there.

The drawers in your desk are Secondary space. You have to make a motion to reach down and open the drawer and then lift the item out, thus requiring more energy and effort. Your secondary spaces should house the things that you use every few days, or at least once a week-ish but not things you use every day.

And the cabinets on the other side of the room are your Long Term spaces. These spaces are going to house the files and equipment you need to keep but simply don't use very often. This might be files that only come out once a quarter or every 6 months or pieces of equipment that need a home but are just not used all that often.  

And here are dramatic examples of what I am talking about.  

See how this person has everything in his prime space?
And do you see why that doesn't work?
You know he doesn't use all of those papers and supplies every single day!
and yet there they sit in his prime space.

As opposed to this person who figured it out. 

This desk is not only much more pleasing to the eye but you can almost guarantee that the person who owns this desk is much more productive and happy, right?  
It just happens that way.

And the exact same principle applies in our homes and personal spaces as well!

Take a look at this:

or this:

What have these people done? 
They have let their PRIME SPACES in their kitchen be taken over and forced to house things that they do not use every day! or even every week! They have let things that don't deserve to be in a Prime Space move right in.

And yet, if you go view homes that look beautiful, charming and appealing and make you feel like you want to be there, their kitchens usually look something like this:

 or this...

(Ever wonder why you like the Parade of Homes kitchen so much better than your own?
It might not be the fancy cabinetry or $800 faucet!)

Seriously, can you see the difference?  The PRIME SPACES...the places in the room that are easy to get at with very little effort, are only holding only a FEW things.

(Now here is a disclaimer for this post and all future posts.
I personally really do try to live my passion.

So, when I write or teach about different aspects of dejunking or organizing, there will be a lot of times I show you pictures of my own home and spaces.
When I do this, I am not trying to say that I am perfect or that my home is perfect.
It's just one example of many that I could show but it's easiest to take pictures of my own spaces.
Hope that makes sense?
And that no one is offended?)

In case you are thinking that these rooms in the pictures above are all just a fake set up and not really a "real" kitchen that real people live and cook in, here is mine.

Does it look like this when I'm in the middle of cooking dinner? 
And do I profess to have the perfect kitchen or spaces? No.

But I want to show you a few things...
 On my kitchen counter 
are only the things that we use every day.
We use the Bosch mixer and blender every single day. We are big bakers and "make food from scratch" people and the Bosch is seriously used every day.

We are also big fruit eaters 
(well, my husband and I are and I'm TRYING to get my kids
to see that fruit is better than ice cream...)
so I have the fruit bowl right out there and try to keep it full of apples,oranges,pears, bananas,
tomatoes, limes.....

And over here....
 we have our toaster out.
Some people don't use toasters that often 
but for some reason we DO.
We toast something or another, usually way more than one, every single morning for breakfast. And my kids love to toast waffles or bagels for snacks after school too.  And sometimes we toast french bread for dinner or piece of banana bread for a late night snack. 
Seriously, we are crazy toast people.
SO, our toaster gets the privilege of residing in our PRIME SPACE,
along with our menu board that keeps me 
organized and honest
and helps avoid the
 "what's for dinner" question every night.

And on my third counter 
is the phone 
and a file folder for each persons "papers" to be kept in. 
(I will be talking all about dejunking and organzing papers in a future post and this file will be explained in detail there). 
The point I am trying to make is, in order to be happy with your spaces and how your home looks, you need to start recognizing what your PRIME SPACES are and protecting them, almost with a vengeance. 
(After all, we're in a war with stuff, remember?)

As a side note, REMEMBER that I (or anyone else for that matter) can't tell you what deserves to be in
your prime spaces.
Remember our family's fetish with the toaster?  There is probably no other family who eats as much toasted foods as we do. If you are one of those that hardly eats toast,
by all means put the toaster away!
Don't keep it in your prime space!

The idea of prime spaces doesn't end with a desk
or even the kitchen counter, though.
What about the bathroom?

Where are the prime spaces here?

How about the counter tops to start!

Can you see how these people have all let their prime spaces be taken over by things you know
they are not using every day?

And if you have a small bathroom...guess what?
Even the drawers and any storage spaces close by would also be considered prime.
Let me show you....

This bathroom has a set up kind of similar to the bathroom in our first home. 
It was small to say the least
with little to no counter space or storage.
So we just had to make a rule--only the things that we used every day even came close to this space.

Which means there were no 
extra tubes of toothpaste anywhere close to here..
or all of my bottles of nailpolish 
or even the nail polish remover
or the gel I like to use in my hair periodically
or the extra tube of mascara that came free with one
or the extra razor blades for my husband's razor
or, or, or....

You get the picture, right?

The only things in these prime spaces were:
toothbrushes and toothpaste currently in use
current make up in use
current hair products in use
current deoderants in use
current prescription medications
razor, shaving cream
comb and brush

That's about it.

Anything else had to be kept elsewhere,
away from this Prime space.

Here is our current master bath.

My husband I and I have compromised (another awesome future blog post topic :) and we have the products that we use every day in the mirrored tray.
My husband uses Q-tips every day so they are in the small decorative oval-shaped box. 
On this "vanity" counter we also have compromised and leave out both his blow dryer and mine
(what can I say? ...we get ready at the same time and get grumpy at having to wait for the other one to finish using the blow we got TWO!)
as well as my straightener. 
They do fit the criteria for being worthy of our prime spaces--they are all used every day. 
Our #1 message today?
Identify your space priorities
and then

PROTECT them from things that don't deserve to be there.


Your next question might be "how do I even go about setting your space priorities? 
and my answer?


I know it sounds complicated and overboard.
But I promise, it's not.
Try it.
One of my most favorite phrases is


There is something really powerful about writing down goals, thoughts, plans or ideas instead of just thinking about them.

If you don't believe me on this, just try it for ONE space in your house.

Let's say the Living Room and front closet near by.
Get out a single piece of paper and go sit in that room and write down any storage spaces you can see. This includes any space where things can be kept (no the middle of the floor does not count).

Next, give it a priority of either Prime, Secondary or Long Term depending on how easy it is to get to. Remember the desk? The spaces that are the most out in the open and easy to reach for and pick up something should house the things that you use every day. 

Then, start making a plan for the things you are going to keep there.  This is why we worry about space priorities so early in the "dejunking game." It is really helpful, as you dejunk and put things away that you are putting them away in a reasonable space for how much you use them. You need the plan in place early so you are not doing it again later. 

Here's an example of a space priorities chart from a typical living room. 

Living Room coffee table
Current magazines
Flower arrangement
Living Room end table 1
lamp, family pictures
Living Room end table 2
lamp, current newspaper
Living Room Piano Bench
current Piano Books
Entry Closet Floor
piano Books not in use
Entry Closet Rod
coats in current use
Entry Closet Shelf 1
umbrellas, adult hats, scarves, gloves, work gloves
Entry Closet Shelf 1
Floor matt, flashlights, Craig hats, hovercraft toy

So here is your next challenge....
When you have nothing better to do

(which is EVERY DAY)
give it a try!
I promise it will help in your quest to get control of your spaces and stuff!

Next post:  Preparing for a Junk Raid Part 2

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