One of the biggest mistakes I think people who are trying to get organized make is thinking that once you finally get organized you are done. If only that were true. I hate to say it but the only thing that can cure clutter is to stop bringing things into your home unless they are absolutely necessary. If you aren’t ready, capable or willing to do that then you have to realize clutter is a living thing that thrives on chaos, busy schedules, having children, having pets, bringing work home etc. etc. Only when you realize clutter like fire, is alive and ever changing can you then begin to understand how to control it. Notice I said control not cure.
Lesson Two of the DIY Organizer Series: Changing your mind about clutter.
In my opinion, the only way you can ever control clutter is by making it an ongoing process. You have to constantly be aware of what is going in and what needs to go out. Rotating the items you need to fit the stages of your life. If you’ve ever had to take some time off you know how quickly day to day things like laundry, messy rooms, and dishes in the sink can pile up. That’s exactly what happens every time you think you have beaten clutter. Even if you have the best weekend getting your entire home de-cluttered and cleaned, I can guarantee you that unless no one leaves the house Monday you will have clutter somewhere by the end of the day. Kids paperwork to sort, new mail to go through, or husbands work stuff dropped on the counter.
There are a few absolute perfect spots in your home where this living thing called clutter can survive for years! The three most perfect spots for clutter are your garage, your attic, and your basement. Things often get boxed up with you thinking you will use them later, look at them later, or need them later. Later simply never comes. Over the years more clutter filled boxed gets stacked on top and you think one day I will go through all of these. But it’s just so much easier to shut the door or turn off the light for now.
We just moved across the country to Colorado three years ago. While I thought I did a good job of getting rid of junk, clutter, and items we didn’t need to cart across the country before we left, I am realizing as I take a closer look I have more work to do.
I’m going to take you on a private tour of my basement that is about 75% organized. Let’s go on a clutter hunt and see what we find shall we?
1.) Saving old items you don’t need that aren’t really sentimental- This is one of the storage areas in my basement. This is the one I have never really gone through since we moved. I’ve circled two items I am sure I don’t need anymore. A phone from when I was in high school (look it actually has a cord) and a canteen from when I was in the Air Force. Maybe I could justify the canteen as we do hike a lot, but why is it just up on the shelf hanging out?
2.) Cardboard Boxes– One of my biggest pet peeves about working with clients is when they keep things stored in cardboard (oopsie) boxes. Cardboard can get moldy, wet, bugs, and you can’t see what’s inside. Yes, I have no idea what’s in these boxes as they are not labeled either. Sigh…no one is perfect right? I actually prefer colored bins over clear ones. I like to use a certain color for certain things. However, I have a lot of bins given to me that I certainly won’t refuse, so over time my system gets a little nutty. As long as they are labeled and stored in the same area I am okay. You could even use the same colored labels on bins with like items if the bins are different colors.
3.) Old Paint Cans– If you love to craft or DIY decorate then you can feel my pain on storing old paint cans. I have read some wonderful blog posts on how to store old paint more efficiently such as this blog post from I Heart Organizing. I just haven’t made the time to go down there and get this done. I’m sure we don’t need half of the paint and and what we do need can be transferred to a touch up jar. Yes, this sounds like a future blog post to me too.
4.) Items not efficiently stored or labeled- A. Is a Thomas the Train box that we may or may not need to sell the train set. B. Are my very important, most special baby items I saved (bin needs labeled). You can read about my journey and process going through all of my son’s baby items HERE. C. An unlabeled bin that I think contains outdoor decor. The rest of the outdoor decor is stored in another part of the basement. They should be together. D. Seasonal items that need to be placed in their storage homes. E. A bin of stuffed animals I rotate in my sons room. Half could probably be sold or donated in spring (bin needs labeled). I also noticed the random lids to shoe box bins. I have about ten more of those in another closet. Makes me wonder where all of the plastic shoe boxes are…
Wait, hold on…I actually found a clear, properly labeled bin! 😉 I just had to show you.
5.) Storing like with like and making sure you buy the right size bins for the shelves- This is our main big storage room and I am actually quite organized in here. Everything is labeled in this area (maybe not pretty, but labeled). I have stored like with like and I have put each bin in the proper space. The person who lived here before us made each shelf a different width and I have no idea why. Make sure you measure the width of your shelves before you buy storage bins. I try to keep seasonal items in here, items that rotate, and our most sentimental items in here.
6.) Keep Rotating- This is the other side of my main storage area. While mostly up to par I do need better labels in this whole space. A. Is a bin full of decorations for a pool party we had at our last house…where we had a pool. Those can go. B is a box full of pictures and frames from a lakes we visited in TN. I’m sure I could archive the photos and either use, sell, or donate the frames. C is a bin full of stuffed animals from MY childhood. I was going to see if Sam wanted any and donate the rest.
Those are the main storage areas and clutter catchers in my basement. Yes, I have made some progress but it is still a battle. The more toys we don’t need, the more pictures, artwork, and home decor we want to store all just keep coming. So do yourself a favor and change the way you think about clutter! It’s a battle and you have to always keep a critical eye open, try not to bring more in than you are taking out and pay special attention to the secret places clutter likes to hide like your basement!
Hope you enjoyed the tour and the tips!~Autumn
In case you missed it. Here is Lesson One of the DIY Organizer Series: Finding Clutter Catchers