Overwhelmed By Junk: How To Get Organized And Stay Organized
Trapped In A Web Of Junk
Look around you. Let's take an inventory. Kitchen table has stack of vintage china you got off of e-bay that you've been meaning to wrap in bubble wrap and pack up for the next occasion. Dining room has stacks of files from last tax season that never got put away. Garage has box after box of Barbie stuff, but your daughter is now 21. Bathroom counters and cabinet have your Great Aunt Susie's Avon collection that you thought someone might use eventually list on e-bay, but instead your husband has been using the Great Outdoors cologne that makes him smell like someone's grandpa. Does every level surface have a stack of some sort? Is your phone ringing with a call from a producer wanting you to audition for the hoarder's show?
You, my friend, might be in need of a intervention. You, my friend, might need a little assistance in getting back control of your life. And you, my friend, will be a better person in the long run once you start controlling the clutter in your life before it starts controlling you.
Take Charge Of Your Junk!
It's time to let that ever-multiplying pile of junk know who's boss! No, it's not the junk...YOU ARE! Time to control your own destiny and if you don't see your destiny filled with clutter, then it's way past due to get ahold of yourself and slap all that junk into submission! First things first, you will need time. If you work, you will need to ask for leave time from work to get this project done. I'm not joking! If you are serious about getting this done, you need to devote concentrated time to getting it done. Depending on your level of junkdom, I would suggest at least a week, possibly more depending how bad the problem truly is and how many areas you have to cover. Yes, I know it's a big commitment, but it's kind of like losing weight. You didn't get fat overnight, so you're not going to lose the weight overnight. Same with clutter, it took awhile to collect all that junk, it will take some time to get rid of it. If you try to spread the project out over several weekends, you'll never get it done. So man (or woman!) up, and take some time off to get 'er done!
Make A Plan For Cleaning Out & Clearing Out
If you're somewhat ADD when it comes to projects (which could explain how your surroundings got in this condition!), you will need to make a plan. A WRITTEN plan, my dears. One that you can refer back to and stick with at all costs. If you just keep it in your head and don't write it down, it will just be a free floating worthless plan subject to revision at any time. If it's right there staring you in the face in black & white (in PEN, not PENCIL!), you will be more inclined to execute it. Decide in what order you will tackle the junk. Do you want to go room by room? Closet by closet? Drawer by drawer? Make the plan and stick with it.
Get Ready To Do Battle With Your Junk!
Get prepared. Go and buy garbage bags, heavy duty and lots of them. You will need them for all the junk you plan on getting rid of, right? Right?! Answer me! Yes, you will. You may also need cardboard boxes for things that are too heavy for garbage bags. If you are tackling closets and drawers, if you can afford it, there are a few things that will make this project 100% easier, more attractive, and easier to stick with in the long run. I promise. That is organizers, bins, racks, stackers, shelving units, etc. If you're tackling a closet, something that will really, really motivate you is to make it look attractive. At the risk of sounding like Joan Crawford, wire coat hangers are tools of the devil and must be eradicated from your life! They make your entire closet look like a mess, your clothes won't stay on them, they get all bent up over time and look like origami...they just need to go. If you have alot of clothing, this will be an investment over time, but the velvet flocked hangers are well-worth it. Ask family members to give them to you for Christmas. I did! They will make a world of difference in how your closet looks, truly, and no more picking up clothes off the floor that have fallen off the hanger.
I would also suggest investing in clear plastic shoe drawers. The great thing about them is they are stackable, clear, so you can see what's inside, and with the drawers you don't have to take down the other boxes that are stacked on top of them to get them out, simply pull out the drawer. You can even take photos of your shoes and tape them on the front of the shoe drawer, so you can see what's inside even better. Keep a collapsible step stool in your closet to reach them if your stacks get a little too high...just in case you have inherited a touch of the Imelda Marcos gene! Drawer dividers are also great for keeping socks, lingerie, and that cluttered junk drawer under control.
Divide And Conquer Your Junk!
`The process of actually sorting through your junk is usually the worst for most people. Besides being tedious and boring, sometimes it's just plain discouraging...how in the heck did you let your life get so disorganized and out of control anyway?! Don't despair, refer to your plan and work on a project at a time. If it helps, give yourself a mini-reward after each small task you complete. You've gone through a drawer in your kitchen and cleaned out and thrown away, then outfitted it with new shelf paper and a drawer organizer....reward yourself with a Hershey's kiss or two! Finished cleaning the weird science experiments out of the refrigerator...watch 15 minutes of trashy reality TV, you've earned it! Just don't forget to stay on task, you still have to keep to the job at hand..the Kardashian's can wait, you have a house to clean! Keep garbage bags or boxes nearby as you sort, one for absolute trash that's going to the curbie, one for charity, and one for yard sale items.
Where Will All The Junk Go?
Once you start sorting and dividing your stuff, you need to have a plan for how you are going to dispose of what you don't want. There are many charitable organizations that will actually come to your house and pick up things. Goodwill is one which will pick up larger items, and the National Kidney Foundation will pick up clothing as well as small furniture items and appliances. Many charities also have drop boxes located in shopping center parking lots so you can take them there anytime the cleaning urge strikes. An organization called Freecycle is an excellent way to get rid of things that still have plenty of life yet, but maybe you just don't have time to conduct a yard sale to unload them. Freecycle is a nationwide community of people who basically recycle their belongings among other Freecyclers and you get it from the name...for FREE. People list anything from china to clothing to refrigerators, so you will probably easily find someone to take some of your harder to dispose of junk off your hands. The trick is not to load back up with all the other cool stuff that other Freecyclers are listing!
Now Dump The Junk!
Now that everything is loaded in bags or boxes, you must make yourself follow through and get rid of it. Enlist a friend with a truck and make several trip to the dump, Goodwill, or wherever your stuff is destined to go. Just don't let it linger in your garage for months afterward waiting for a convenient time to dispose of it. The time is now! You've come so far, don't ruin your progress by continuing to hang onto stuff. Go ahead and have that yard sale, call Goodwill to pick up that old armoire, arrange for the garbage truck to pick up that broken down old mattress...but get rid of it! Now sit back and admire your clean house, closets, drawers, and garage. Take pictures of them to help you remember your house clean and organized, so you won't be tempted to let it get that way again. Last, reflect on what you value most in life. If it doesn't have two legs and warm flesh, then it's time to start the purging process again!