Thursday 13 – 140th Edition: 04/10/2008

13 Steps to Organize Your House By the End of This Weekend

So. It’s Spring. (Well, maybe not to the WEATHER!!!) This means Spring Cleaning.

Throw away your image of Martha Stewart here, guys. Let’s play this a different way. Let’s play this like this: your mother (or step mother, or wicked aunt, or your boss – you get the idea) is going to be coming by Sunday evening to pick up something. IN YOUR HOUSE. Crap! So you rush through the house, throwing everything into the hole you cut into the floor, and covered up with plywood and put a carpet on so no one would notice.


Clean living space.

So, who wants to join me? We have the Sven Sweating thing, the March FAD thing, all of these are related to writing. To which I say Poo! THIS is related to SANITY! So, who’s with me? (Why is there suddenly an echo in here?)

So, without further ado and entirely too much use made of the word, “So,” let’s begin!

1. Franklin Covey

This is one of the best places to go for all your organization needs. Their training is stellar. Much more than an organizer, their approach is to total-life management. I love them. I’ve carried a Franklin planner since 1994. (Yes, the year BEFORE I went on sabbatical and completely changed my life. You want that story? Tough. We’re getting organized by Sunday night! We’re busy, here!)

2. Sidetracked Home Executives

These ladies are even goofier than I am, and that’s saying something! A no-nonsense, simple approach to managing a home. Their book by the same title is a must-have for anyone trying to keep their **** together. Check them out. Very non-judgemental, fun and creative, AND organized! A lovely combination. (Reminds me of me… but I digress.)

3. The Brat Factor

Bonus site! This is awesome. Written by one of the dynamic duo behind the S.H.E. system (see #2 above), this is along the lines of the Artist’s Way meets your Drill Sargeant meets Martha Stewart. If you’ve ever procrastinated, go here. (Just finish my list first.)

4. The “Don’t Move” Technique

Yes, DON’T MOVE! Just stand there. Okay. Now. Cleaning in a rush. This is one way: figure on everything you need right where you are. Go get a box for “to be filed,” one for “to be put away elsewhere,” one for “to be given away,” and one for “to be shredded.” (Don’t have a shredder? Shame on you! Go buy yourself a cross-cut at Office Despot for $20. Identity theft is NOT a laughing matter. These people go through your trash, guys! Your TRASH! [Like, ICK!]) And a trash can. (No, that’s not a sentence. Shut up and get your boxes!) Okay. Standing where you are, grab everything within sight that doesn’t belong where it is. Put it in one of the boxes, or the trash can. Then move your standing station to the next section or room and repeat until entire living area is done.

Notice I said living area. We’re after the “Oh Crap!” method here, so no fair disappearing into the bowels of Storage Level III to clean out stuff you haven’t looked at for ten years or remembered you had. Get the major living areas – living room, office or where you do your computing, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom(s).

5. The “Staging Area”

Okay. This is unorthodox. I use a staging area. I put my boxes, MARKED AS TO WHAT’S IN THEM – shredding, to be filed, etc., in a staging area, neatly stacked. I use a spare bedroom and a corner of my laundry room. This is because we’re trying to get a clean space for Sunday, AND because…

6. Baby Steps

What we’ll tackle Monday is the Baby Step method of a box a day. You’ve heard of “one day at a time?” This is like that, only better. It’s one box at a time. We’ll do a box a day until we’re done. But for now, the baby step is to get the accumulated crap out of your way so you can pretend you’re Martha Stewart.

7. You’re done.

8. But, that’s not thirteen steps! And this is Thursday Thirteen, so what do I do now?

9. The ABC Method of Organization

THIS is what you do now. You have eliminated the crap, taken out the trash, and assigned shredding to your children. (Grab some WD-40, spray the place where the paper goes, and run it on “reverse” for 30 seconds every 15 minutes of shredding time.) Now you need to put stuff back.

A is for stuff you need within reaching distance without leaving your chair or moving away from your workspace (like if you’re in the kitchen). EVERYTHING else goes away. On a desk, this means you have a telephone and your computer out. All other stuff goes in a drawer or a shelf, not on the desk surface. In the kitchen, this means everything is put away and you have clear counters. (A “counter” is that flat space used usually for dish storage. You can actually prepare foods on it, put out cutting boards, stuff like that. Cool, huh?)

In an office, A is for stuff like: pens, stapler, tape dispenser, ruler, pencil, white-out ribbon, printer, etc.

10. Section B

This is for stuff you get up to get, but don’t have to go far. An example would be: stamps, envelopes, and greeting cards for family. Create a small section of a drawer somewhere for all your mailing supplies, so that when you go to send something you don’t have to hunt. Grab some good clear packing tape and put it there too. Other stuff for B in an office would be courier (i.e. Fedex or UPS) supplies, spare pens and office supplies, a printer/copier/fax machine, etc. Stuff you use, but not all the time. Kitchen B would be appliances like a blender, popcorn popper, etc.

11. Section C

This is for stuff you need to keep, but don’t need to access every day. Office: files that you don’t reference every day, printer toner, backup paper for printer and/or stationery. Kitchen: fancy dishes, extra glassware, specialized equipment (say, for canning). I actually use a couple of cabinets in a completely different room for this purpose, since I don’t have extra space in my kitchen. Household: backup toilet paper stash, non-seasonal clothing, guest bedding.

12. Put together a home plan

Since we’re only working toward Sunday, this would be something to do after the baby step box plan is implemented. But come up with some kind of home management plan. The S.H.E. system is perfect, but there are others. The point is, have a plan. Menu plans, cleaning schedules, all that kind of stuff. This is simple work, and repetitive. AND causes a majority of fights between housemates, married or not. Eliminate the stress by putting a plan in place so the plan, not you, is doing the work.

13. Emergency plan

In today’s day and age, it pays to have an emergency plan. There are lots of things you can do, but some easy ones are: have photocopies of your wallet/purse contents; have a list of emergency contacts; have 3 days’ supplies put together in case of loss of power/transportation; have an up-to-date estate plan and communicate this to your next-of-kin. Emergencies don’t need to be stress producers IF you are prepared. Stay calm, read up on what to put in an emergency kit, and talk to your family about what to do.

So. Sunday night, let me know how you did! Leave me a comment, tell me if your house is ready for a snap visit! And let me know if you want to do the baby step box plan – I know I am! I could use the moral support. And immoral support. And partial support. (Getting a theme here? Oi!) We don’t have to be disorganized, but if we are, we don’t have to do it alone! Let’s get organized together, so that next Thursday 13, we won’t be caught off-guard! (And Martha Stewart will be coming to US for ideas!)

Happy TT!

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5 Replies to “Thursday 13 – 140th Edition: 04/10/2008”

  1. Yay! I’m not sure which plan I followed – but my house is pretty clean today 🙂

    I like the “Don’t Move” technique – I’ve got some piles of junk that need to be sorted and that’s probably a good method to use when I tackle them.

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