Putting Things Away...a place for everything and everything in its place

Put things away after you use them.

Keep things where you use them.

Awesome guidelines. But...what do you do when you don't have the space to put everything away much less room to put things where you actually use them?

Whether you have 800 square feet or 8000 square feet there are rules of thumb that will help you feel more organized and zen in your spaces. And following these golden rules, or let's say "guidelines," the possibilities will grow. Making peace with your things and then moving them where you use them is paramount to finding your happy ending. But it won't happen by magic.

Making peace with your things requires heavy lifting; remove unwanted items, keep only those things that make your heart sing, are truly useful to you or you know you will need in the future.

"Removing things and getting rid of the excess is the first step to finding space for what you DO treasure or need. "

Begin by clearing out the trash, and boxing up the items that you will share with others, be it the friend's borrowed book or an extra toaster you no longer need. There are people out there with less than you and your excess is a blessing to them. Be honest about broken and unusable items. They have served a purpose and now must lay to rest.

You may discover after clearing a row of books, for instance, that you now have space for the stack of references for work. Just be sure that this shelf is near your work table or desk or you may forget that you have these tomes of wisdom. For many of us, "out of sight, out of mind," is a reality, reason enough to keep things where you use them.

After you have cleared out your unwanted items, you may discover that you have enough space to put everything away that has been piling up. Yay, get to it!!

I encourage you to put your things away daily, or better yet as you are finished with them. Spending 10 minutes once or twice a day, helps to manage  your clutter and is much less intimidating than spending hours and weeks less often.

Don't despair if you are not at a point where you can put everything away yet. For most of us, this process of sorting,  purging, and decluttering takes multiple chunks of time because it is both physically and emotionally exhausting. Take breaks and stop to appreciate what you have already accomplished rather than focusing solely on what is yet to be done. And then plan when you will continue working.

If you have homeless stacks of truly usable, necessary items, you may need to add organizing furniture pieces. Be sure to take measurements and be honest about your budget. If having a nice desk is not a priority but you need a place to put your work papers at the end of the day or a place for your computer or printer, consider a folding table and chair. Costco sells both at a very reasonable cost. A comfortable, ergonomic chair is a high priority if you spend hours each day sitting at a desk.

A few of my favorite places for finding organizing pieces are Staples, The Container Store, and local salvage and antique stores. You will find shelving units, and stacking carts and boxes and bins in every style, size and color.

When my children were young, I purchased Elfa Units for their toys for functional and efficient use of space. At the time it felt like extravagant spending but those carts have been used for years and for different purposes as my family has grown. They have been worth their weight in gold!

Toys and outgrown treasure...a topic for another day! Meanwhile...forge on!!

Garage Sales...the good, the bad, and the ugly

What is it about springtime weather that brings out the declutter bug?

Rather than allow clutter to remain inside the house, I allow it to find its way into the garage for final review. (garages serve as basements/attics in California, don't judge!) That said, the garage needs to be usable and it was groaning from the strain of holding too much stuff!

For several weeks, I have worked my way through the house, inch by inch, drawer by drawer and corner by corner. A growing pile of usable items collected in the far corner awaiting the much advertised annual community garage sale.

I was outside and organized before my first customer arrived and by 10 am. vowed to never, never, NEVER host a garage sale again. Ironically, as I was putting things haphazardly into boxes and bags several very interested buyers appeared and eagerly poked through the bags looking for buried treasure.

My total earnings were $27 and some priceless pearls of wisdom which I will share with you now.

1. Messy is better! People like to treasure hunt.  

2. Smile and set no expectations except to meet some very interesting people.  

3. If you are at all attached your treasures and have found purging and editing your home difficult, DO NOT have a garage sale. You will be tempted to keep things you have not even missed until you see them again on the sale table.      

4. Load the car with the remaining items from your garage sale and head straight to your favorite  charity.      

5. Better yet, schedule home pick up (AMVETS is my favorite) on a regular basis, as you have a bag or two ready to share, to avoid *purger's remorse.

* definition of purger's remorse: regret over the removal of an item from your home and subsequent reintroduction to your home with said item.