Saturday, February 25, 2012

February home projects update: on eating frogs

February was a very busy month.

You see, next month I will change my office days from two to three. I won't increase my hours so that basically means more time with my kids as I get to pick them up from preschool in the afternoon instead of coming home at (or past) dinnertime. But it also means more time spent commuting and getting up before the crack of dawn. And it means a lot less time for projects of any kind, be it organizing, photography, sewing, party preparations or blogging.

So what does a crazy list-maker do? Prepare herself and make a list of what really, really needs to get done and then try to cross as many things off that list before March.

So February was a very busy month.

While reading a chapter or two in Tsh's 52 bites book I came across the concept of eating frogs. Frogs are those things on your list you don't really want to deal with, the ones you keep putting off. Eat your frog first thing and you'll feel much more productive. Sounded good. So instead of tackling my photography goals or start working on my annual family photo book, I tackled the things that I've been dreading and that really are best done in bigger chunks of time. A lot of them from my home projects list.

Like that small storage room / walk in closet, a.k.a. catch-all clutter magnet. I've cleaned this one out what feels like a zillion times after moving in not even three years ago. It always started to get messy again soon. That's a fairly sure sign that there simply is too much stuff in there, so no matter how you organize it or what storage bins you buy, it will get messy again.

Ironically, I did start by finally putting together the white storage boxes I got months ago. With some help, of course. 

Then I took a deep breath and dragged most of the closet's contents out. What bugged me most were the recycling stuff I kept in there for possible future craft project use (in a cabinet that I hadn't opened in weeks. Or months?), all the cleaning supplies that I purged before but that still looked cluttered sitting on an open shelf and the general lack of space to even walk in there.

So this time I was ruthless. All the cardboard boxes saved for mailing packages were tossed, other mailing stuff like padded envelopes and such was purged until it fit into a nice little white box. I kept 10% of the paper bags I had, and those are probably still too many. Then there was the bin where I keep things to be fixed. Broken toys and other household items. Some of them have been sitting in there for months. Apparently nobody was missing them enough to fix them, so most of that got tossed, too. I could keep going, but the bottomline is that I really tried to stick to that simple, number 1 decluttering rule: Love it, use it or lose it.

You know what happened? The rest of my house looked like a disaster zone. And the closet? Well, that one has empty bins now. I even took out one third of the shelves and will eventually replace the remaining ones with something that takes up less space. Not only can I walk in there now, I can also turn around and put things back where they belong.

I labelled all the boxes, drawers and cabinet doors, although I have to disappoint you: no scrapbook paper, fancy scalloped edge labels and not even a labelmaker. Nope, just some simple white paper cut into crooked pieces, the contents written on in my very own handwriting and stuck down with simple clear tape. Yeah, I know, I'm not going to win any make-it-cute awards here. But I don't care. Besides, I was busy getting rid of the recycling, donation boxes and other miscellaneous items no longer needed.

Ahhhhh. I can't even begin to tell you how great it feels.

So, on to the next frog: Kid's clothes.

Twice a year there's a local market where you can sell used clothing, and the great thing is that you don't have to stand there and sell your stuff, instead you get a number that you stick on your items together with a price and you bring it there the day before and pick it up after. It's only a very small fee and usually a lot of the stuff gets sold. I always wanted to do that but last Fall was the first time that I actually found the time to get it done. So now I try to make it a routine to sort through ALL of the kids' clothing before that date, purge what they've outgrown or simply don't wear, store what we're keeping for little brother and sort through the stuff previously stored to make sure he has the items that fit in his dresser. The remaining things directly go in the pile to be sold.

Again, I was ruthless and put everything in the sell pile that hardly gets worn. I know my mom and mother-in-law won't agree with me here, but I really, really don't think my kids need that many not-so-good longsleeves for messy projects. I have boys: every day is a messy project over here, really. And I don't buy designer stuff for them anyway. I also made lists of what they need. Luckily they always seem to have growth spurts right before I purge their stuff so it's easy to remove things that no longer fit and be strategic about buying new things. I'm getting much better at this, too, not replacing all the stuff I purged with new stuff right away (I'm entirely capable of that).

I also found two plain longsleeves in the pile of stuff that big brother had outgrown at age 3. He had hardly ever worn them, so I decided to pretty them up a bit for little brother, adding simple stamps I had on hand with my new fabric ink pad. I added circus stamps to the yellow one and a simple row of cars to the blue one. A five minute project and he loves wearing his "new" shirts.

Now I still have to get that mountain of clothes labelled for the market (unfortunately the labels weren't available yet when I did the sorting) and get the stuff over there, but that's ok.

My next frog actually deserves its own post, especially as this one is getting a bit long. So I'm just going to tell you that I sorted through that messy cabinet in the living room and also the glassware and dish cabinets in the kitchen.

As for the frogs, that was enough for a month. There are still things like paper pile sorting and doing taxes on my frog list. And I also did a lot of non-froggy things this month, such as preparing for little brother's birthday party, making lion costumes, tackling sewing projects and making more wreaths.

From my home projects list I also did some smaller things, such as decluttering my recipe binder and finally put up that one Expedit door add-on that had been sitting in that closet ever since we moved and now nicely conceals my far too rapidly growing fabric stack in my home office. Now I only have to find a way to automatically clean up the chaos on my desk after projects...

Next month I'll likely focus on small things. Tiny things. Nice things.

As effective as that frog eating thing is and as good as it feels to get it out of the way, it's also fairly exhausting. I don't know about you, but I get tired just writing about it.

What frogs did you eat lately? And what's the biggest frog still sitting on your list? Do tell me in the comments, I'd love to hear.

Happy organizing,

1 comment:

  1. I am so inspired!
    As soon as I can get back to normal and get my back to start hurting, I am going to tackle some grogs of my own.
    Your little green office/studio looks great!
    Love it all.
    Love from,


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