Some people seem to be gifted with organizational skills, motivation and tidy tendencies either through natural predisposition or up bringing. I am not one of those people. I am however irritated by clutter and disorganization and dirty messy rooms. I have not allowed myself to be completely desensitized to a messy household or rather, I have purposefully re-sensitized myself. In my journey to turn my messy habits around I have developed strategies, to if not completely alter my messy ways, to at least work with them and keep my household responsibilities manageable. The real key to this turnaround was to realistically assess what I would be willing to do and capable of doing on a daily basis. That means managing clutter not eliminating it. It means having some basic “rules” to keep my self in line and strictly adhering to them. And it means making some concessions too. Here is a basic strategy that works for me and might for you too. Clutter Catchers - These are various decorative baskets placed strategically throughout the house in areas particularly prone to clutter items. Near the door is one. For keys, and pocketfuls of receipts, coins, chap-stick, cell phone and whatever I might have in my hand when I walk in the door that needs to be set down. I have conceded that I will not put that wrench away or the dogs leash when I walk in the door, and have a designated basket to toss it in. On top of the dryer sits another basket to hold the various items that I pull out of pockets before washing. The bathroom has another clutter catcher. Combs, elastic bands small tubes of what not all get tossed in the basket as an alternative to setting on the counter. The kitchen table has one as well. This often collects pens, pencils and note pads. In a relatively inconspicuous spot in my kitchen (on top of the fridge) sits a basket for “important not to lose” things, such as a phone numbers jotted down in a hurry, a particularly important bank statement, or information. Actually on the fridge with magnets are placed time sensitive items like checks to cash, bills, or various things that must be taken care of within a short time frame. This makes them more visible to jog my memory. I have a basket near the back door. This tends to collect hand pruners, sunscreen, hats and sunglasses as those are the types of things that often walk in the back door with me or that I want when coming in the door. In the living room sits a large basket with a lid for movies, remote controls etc. I know that they will not be tidily put away at their time of use so they have a temporary holding place that is just as easy to access as the floor which is where they alway ended up before. Also in the living room is a basket for pet items. It sits near the bird’s cage and holds his food as well as bunny food, dog toys and brushes, things that are often used nearby. After awhile you get a pretty good idea of what basket it likely to hold a needed or missing item. They tend to end up in the same basket again and again. As a result they often find a permanent home there for convenience sake I have various smaller decorative baskets to hold more specific items. Near the coffee maker is a small basket that holds the coffee filters, grinder and scoop. Things that would otherwise end up just left out on the counter near the coffee maker. Also nearby is a crock with all my tea bags and hot cocoa packages. Having them contained in something makes three items look like one, vastly reducing the cluttered appearance of my countertops. And I believe storing things near where they are commonly used is a key component to keeping things neat and organized. I’m realistic. I know that I am not going to walk to the pantry to put away the box of tea. Having things contained also simplifies actual cleaning. It is much easier to move a crock and a basket to wipe the counter down than to move three boxes of tea a coffee grinder and a package of filters, or to pick up a basket of “living room items” to sweep or vacuum than to collect and move each one. A quick pick up of the house can be accomplished by stowing odd ball items in clutter catchers. You might find out where some things are better stored. Strangely enough fingernail clippers always ended up in my living room clutter catcher. So I work with it, they just get to live there now. It is their official place and they remain accessible near the place they are commonly used and I am not always trying to figure out where they are and being mad at myself for not putting them “away” in the bathroom drawer. Having clutter catchers, while not ideal, at least cuts in half the daily chores related to cleaning and picking up the house. When something is missing you only have a few baskets to rustle through to find it. Cleaning and dusting is made easier by reducing the shear number of item that need to be moved to get it done. This way a quick cleaning can be accomplished regularly as opposed to tackling a long and tedious project every so often and living with the dirt in between. There are some rules that must be adhered to though. At some point the baskets get full. A big rule is that if you can’t put something in because a basket is so full and are tempted to set it down nearby it is time to go through the basket and officially put stuff away otherwise its purpose is defeated. If you allow yourself to start letting things collect outside the basket you might as well have no basket (and you might be on the way to becoming a “hoarder”) A related rule is that if something of this nature needs to be done it must be done before any “fun” stuff. For me that means I don’t get to read, or watch T.V. or do optional work in the garden or projects until the job is complete. This unfortunately is simply a discipline thing. No amount of clutter catchers can make up for sheer laziness or lack of prioritizing and follow through. Also a big rule is that there has to be some limits as to what can go in where. My “important things” basket holds just that and only that. Those items can be as disorganized as possible but those are only things in there. Only un-opened food items are allowed into clutter catchers, and things that are potentially dangerous are kept out such as razors and needles so that the baskets remain safe to dig through. My clutter catchers as well as a daily morning routine of needed surface cleaning, dish duty and putting way of large “un-basket-able” items has allowed me to keep my home relatively clean and tidy for awhile now. Dishes still get left in the sink overnight sometimes and I still haven’t worked out something brilliant to make folding the laundry more appealing but I feel much more free to tackle fun stuff guilt free when my home is at least sorta’ clean.
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