This past February, I received a call that one of one my dreams would be coming true.
After a long, grueling day of work, I will pull into my driveway and dread the moment the garage slowly creeps open. My house, to the untrained eye, is clean and comfortable but deep down inside I know the truth: I own too much junk and clutter. The cabinets are busting at the seams like a button up shirt after a Thanksgiving meal, junk is swept under the rug and couches like my parents are making a surprise visit.
I have a dream that a professional will help fix my cluttered house. Someone who can teach me how to organize and maintain my home. I need someone to help me overcome my fear of opening my cabinets and closets without the dread of being overwhelmed by copious amounts of junk. I have a dream that when my husband asks me which drawer the batteries are in, I don’t have a panic attack worrying about him slamming drawers and screaming, “why do we have eight different nail clippers but no batteries?!”
I have a dream that fixing my cluttered home will help fix my cluttered life and allow me to relax and finally find those batteries.
I had entered a contest with a nationally syndicated radio show, The Kidd Kraddick Show, called “I Have a Dream” and they called me to let me know I was picked!
The clutter had finally gotten to me-the disorganization, the digging through piles of junk, not being able to find that one blue shirt that I just knew I had put over there and I just couldn’t take it anymore. My home has never been dirty-I deep clean on a very regular basis-but the clutter behind the closet and desk drawers, well it had taken over.
Not only was I going to be provided with a professional organizer, but the Container Store would be coming and redoing all of my closets to help me maintain organization. To read and see more of the entire process with lots of pictures (the “before” pictures make me want to hide in a corner) visit the links at the bottom of this post but I wanted to share with you just a few of the invaluable tips I learned during this entire process. For most of you-these will be obvious. If you are like me though, and organization just doesn’t come naturally-hopefully one of these tips will help clear a little physical space and headspace for you!
- Pick one space and commit to going through each and every item in that space and organize it by “type”. With as few as exceptions as possible, I made a rule if I haven’t worn/seen/used something within the last year-it was going. At first it was difficult to throw things in the donate pile but as that pile became a trash bag and that trash bag became multiple bags I could feel myself become physically lighter. I had no idea how much my “junk” (all usable and purposeful items-just not for me apparently) had weighed me down, literally.
- If an entire space is too much for you-start with as little as one drawer or one shelf per day. I had the extreme privilege of having a professional by my side to assist me so we were able to go through four closets and a complete built in only one day but in real life-that just isn’t plausible. The idea is just to continue to make progress, even if it is slow going.
- If you are lucky enough to redesign your closets, try low hanging bars instead of having them high up-that way you can put multiple shelves above the low hanging bar and utilize all of that space!
- Think of utilizing your spaces outside their traditional roles. My pantry closet is very deep-over two feet but only 11 inches wide. I have found that over time, I just keep stacking things in the front and older items keep getting pushed towards the back, resulting in wasted supplies and money. Additionally, two of the shelves in the pantry are so high I have to get a step ladder to be able to reach items in there. I was encouraged to think of what other things I could store there beyond food-holiday platters, craft supplies I don’t access often, or my extensive collection of kitchen hand towels (I may have an obsession). It seems completely obvious to me now, but I wouldn’t have ever thought of it on my own. I now look at all of my spaces in a new light and try to utilize them in a “smart” way.
- Honestly, I always thought that the small plastic dividers you put inside drawers were silly. I now see the light and realize that it is an inexpensive way to keep your drawers from being coming yet another junk drawer. Even my daughter was inspired and has upped her organization game.
If clutter and junk is weighing you down, you CAN make the change! I felt like I needed professional help but looking back I allowed myself to become overwhelmed and just shut everything out. Bring a friend over who won’t judge you for keeping onto that jean skirt from 2003 (or is that just me?), open a bottle of wine and get at it!