As most of our followers know, we are located in Portland Oregon. Last week, Portland experienced soaring temperatures above 100 degrees for consecutive days. As a result, many of us have been stuck indoors.
One great activity to do during extreme weather events is to get some organizing done. As pro organizers, we are sort of addicted to organizing throughout the year, but we recognize that not everyone else drank the Kool-Aid. Regardless of how organized your home currently is, being stuck indoors is a great time to get ahead on those projects.
The idea is to select areas of your home that aren’t going to tear your whole house apart if you don’t finish (like the garage or an entire kitchen reorganization). Think small projects that can be taken on and completed in an hour or less.
If you have young kids, this would be a great activity to get them involved with too. We all tend to feel a bit claustrophobic when we are stuck in doors, which is actually a great catalyst for decluttering – it motivates us all!
Here are some of our favorite quick and dirty organizing projects to tackle when you’re stuck indoors.
Get in your Drawers.
Drawers are a great area to attack one at a time, because you can just organize one and then stop*. Start by pulling out the drawer (if possible), and dumping it out on a flat surface. Take a damp rag to the drawer and get it nice and clean. Before putting things back, declutter! Make sure you know what function you want the drawer to serve. Has it been working? Maybe you will decide that batteries should go in the utility closet instead of that drawer, because they keep falling out and driving you crazy. Assign a task to the drawer and it will serve you much better. Go after a drawer when you have 20 minutes to kill, or invite kids to help clean out a drawer in their room or playroom.
For more tips on drawer organizing, check out our blog Got Drawers? Leverage them for More Organization.
*NOTE: Drawers tend to connect to one another (eg: I’ll move the pans to that drawer, which means I have to move the appliances to that drawer, which means I have to move the…etc). Maybe sure you check in with yourself at the end of one drawer and make sure you have the time to keep going. Start a timer if you need a reminder of when to stop!
Do a Paper Round Up.
Everyone has bits of paper in various places around their homes. Some of those require an action, some are just there for reference, others to be filed, and still more to be recycled or shredded. When I work with an organizing client, I always separate paper from household items as we organize. This is because the brainpower needed to make a decluttering decision about an item in the home is somewhat different from how we think about paper. If we come across paper as we are organizing a drawer, for example, we put that aside into a “paper to sort” area.
A great, quick activity is to grab a basket and walk around from room to room and gather all of those bits of paper. Instructions, receipts, sticky notes and household communication all tend to hang around, and we stop seeing them after a while. Gather them up. Then you can do a quick sort. Separate them into piles such as “recycle”, “keep for reference”, “requires an action,” etc. Depending on how much paper you have, this shouldn’t take more than an hour, but if you need to, plan a second session when you can finish up if you run out of time.
For instructions on creating a Quick Sort organizing file to keep these papers from building up again, check out our blog on the topic, Organizing the Household Paper Trail: Tip #2.
Declutter your Books.
I have always really struggled to let go of books. My new rule of thumb is that if I think I won’t read it again or borrow it, I let it go. Once I had this formula down, it was quite easy to let go of books that were just sort of taking up space. For those of you who have piles of books, I recommend the Marie Kondo approach of getting all the books you own gathered together before making decisions. Before you start, think about how much space you have for book storage, and then approximate how much you would like to donate before you start. Setting a goal is a great way to motivate yourself.
This is also a great time for kids to review their books and put aside those that are too young for them. Don’t forget to box up the ones that are special – so long as it’s a reasonable amount. Children’s books are a nice keepsake that don’t take up too much room if you can limit how many you keep.
For some awesome suggestions on how to donate used books, check out our friend and book blogger Sara Gundell’s blog article on the topic, 7 Places to Donate Books and Arcs. She is awesome.
Jump in Your Closet
Closet organizing can be tough – but you don’t have to do this all in one day. Behind each closet organizing project, you will find multiple smaller tasks. These often include the following categories: “to mend”, “to dry-clean”, “to consign”, “to donate” and “to try on.” We recommend setting up several containers to sort items into ‘action’ categories. This will give you some new tasks to keep busy, and it will feel great to get yourself started on the closet, even if you don’t finish in one sitting. And you can always contact us if you need some help getting it done!
There are so many areas of the home that can be organized in small bursts, and tons of checklists out there on the web to give you even more ideas. The trick is to keep checking in with yourself to make sure you are ok with the work you are doing. And remember to stay hydrated – it’s hot, after all!