Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Moving right along --

I'm going to post a lot to make up for not having blogged as much during the summer. Remember our motto: Work at your own pace!! Don't feel obliged to keep up with my posts.

If you read my last post, you know that we've embarked on a 12-week fall cleaning plan. The first step was to go through the house and identify all of the things you would like to accomplish during these 12 weeks (or however many weeks you would like to devote to this.)

Here's our second step: We're going to deal with surface clutter before we get started on deeper organizing and cleaning. The neaties among us are asking, "What surface clutter?" The mostly efficient look around and see a few things to put away in their otherwise orderly house. The overwhelmed might be thinking, "Where on earth do I start to clear away all that clutter."

It doesn't matter where you're starting from. Set a timer for an hour and work at your own pace to clear away clutter and put things back in their place. If all you can find is one little scrap of paper that's fallen at the back of your closet, throw that away and enjoy the rest of the hour doing whatever you'd like. If you work for an hour and you don't feel as if you've even made a dent in things, that's okay. Stop and take a break. Whether your house is perfect or out of control or somewhere in between, limit this exercise to an hour. After the hour is up, either rest for a few minutes or move on to the other activities of your day. If you have children in the home who are old enough to help, enlist them in doing an hour with you. Think how much all of you will accomplish in one hour!

Concentrate first on the visual clutter -- the things that you can obviously see are out of place. If your house has no visual clutter, jump to suggestion number 4 in the list below.

If you like, you can carry a basket with you as you move about the house. You can put stuff in it that needs to go into another room. Work one room at a time, if you like. Then, when you reach a room, glance inside your basket to see if you have any items in there that need to go in their place in this room.

The point of this exercise is not to think too much about it, but to get as much as you can done in one hour. If you need trouble deciding where to put your priorities, here are a few suggestions:

1) How's your laundry situation? Now's not the time to start a new load. But, if you have a load folded and ready to put away, put it away. Also, if there are worn clothes that didn't make it into the dirty hamper, either get those into the hamper or have the person who wore them do this.
2) How's your entry way? Have you and others dropped keys, papers, books, shoes, etc. here? Tidy up anything that's out of order.
3) Take one surface at a time -- a dresser top, a counter top, a nightstand, the top shelf of a bookshelf, your mantel, etc. Tidy that surface and then move on to the next. For those who are organizationally challenged, concentrating on smaller visual areas is easier than sizing up a whole room or house. Count a room's floor as a surface, as well. You can even break down a floor into smaller visual areas: the floor on your side of your bed, the floor at the bottom of the bed, the floor underneath the bed, etc.
4) If your house is already fairly orderly and you'd like to get the jump on our fall cleaning project, here are some ideas: neaten out a jewelry box. Or, go through your unmentionables and toss anything that is too worn to be pretty any more. Or, send off a few of those cards and letters you've been meaning to get to. Any light organizing that you can do now will help you prepare for a thorough fall cleaning. Even cleaning a purse or going through your coupons counts.
5) How are your bathrooms? Are the towels crumpled or tidy? Are they clean or fresh? Have people left grooming aids out on the surfaces?

Remember, if your house has gotten away from you in the past few weeks or months, concentrate on the things that are visibly out of place. Unless your house is visually tidy, this is not the time to organize a closet or re-arrange your kitchen.

Taking care of visible clutter gives us peace of mind, and it also cuts down on a feeling of being overwhelmed. Starting out with some visually tidy and appealing surfaces will energize us as we go on to other projects.

Would you like to help teach the Home Economics Project? Here's how you can participate.

1) Do a craft project, photographing each step in your process. Post it on your blog, and leave me a note about it in the comments section of this article. I will then post a link to your site so that we can all visit and learn from you.
2) Cook a favorite recipe. Either list the recipe and ingredients in the comment section or post photos of you preparing the dish on your site. Again, I can post a link to your site so that we can all visit you.
3) Show us before and after photos of a space in your home, garage, or yard that you have organized, tidied, or otherwise beautified.

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