Really, I could just post these quote-unquote “Before” pictures and call it good on posting today.
But I’m nothing if not a little long-winded, so we just can’t have that.
A brief summary for those of you who haven’t been reading this blog since 2013:
Five years ago, I decided to tackle my clutter habits once and for all and do a gigantic purge, minimalism(ish)-style in a project I called The 50 Weeks to Organized Project. Every week, I focused on a different area of my home/life and ruthlessly examined each and every item within it and decided if it was worth keeping. My goal was to be done by the end of the year with the whole apartment + car + classroom, and my sub-goal was to toss/donate at least 500 items.
I met both goals, and I left that year feeling like a truly changed woman (which really, I was—I never have gone back to being how I used to be with clutter, and even though I will always struggle a bit with being TIDY, it’s become a lot easier now that I have overall less stuff to deal with).
However, that was five years ago. That was before we had kids. That was when we still lived in an apartment and were, therefore, severely limited on space where we could store stuff, anyway.
Back in June, when we moved into our first home, I felt great for several months about the state of our new home–
We had so much storage space!
I was so motivated to clean all the time because I felt so proud that we finally had our own place!
I felt so confident I even wrote a blog post on how I taught myself to be tidy (broken down in 3 steps)!
Well, the truth is that we DO have a lot more storage space, and we’re not even using all of it.
But as for the other two items?
Well, when I got pregnant again, I was quickly reminded that I should not be expected to do too much in my first trimester because I just don’t feel well. I get the pregnancy special–morning sickness and extreme fatigue–in abundance, and those pesky hormones do something strange to my usually ever-present (and sky-high) amounts of motivation. I read less. I cook less. And I DEFINITELY clean less. So all those great tidy habits I was so good at maintaining?
Looking at these pictures that I snapped of our house (*cough* this morning *cough*), I know much of it is just a matter of me letting my good daily habits slide—a lot of this stuff isn’t clutter that’s really here to stay, but rather things like junk mail and old magazines and finished library books that just need to be dealt with. In fact, I even tried to reason that I DIDN’T surely need a whole 50-Weeks-to-Organized Refresh Thing—I just needed to clean up a little.
But then I realized that though we might have cleared out about half of our stuff before, in the ensuing years, we’ve probably gained it all back and then some. AND I HAVEN’T REALLY GONE THROUGH ANY OF IT (other than the occasional clothing purge that strikes me about twice a year).
I also clearly saw, when I gingerly started sifting through some of the piles over the past week or two, that much of it was stuff that had been acquired since we moved in, which meant that it missed the initial “find a place for everything” mode that I was in right after we moved. So basically, we had all this new/hand-me-down stuff everywhere that had never been designated to a specific spot, so…there was obviously more to my clutter problem than just easy fixes.
I also realized that over these past few years, my “decluttering muscle” has grown weak and flimsy—what used to be a hardcore, ruthless get-rid-of-stuff machine has turned a bit into a “but maybe we’ll need this someday” or “but Raven really likes this little dollar toy…and these hundred other ones” kind of weak-sauce thing.
And if I’ve learned nothing else about how to keep myself as un-slob-like as possible, it’s that I am the kind of person that CANNOT be tidy if there is a lot of stuff involved. Thus, if I get rid of most of the stuff, I get rid of most of the problem.
Now that I’ve defined the problem for you (in summary: 1) we have way more stuff than we used to five years ago, or even five months ago, and 2) most of that stuff has never been analyzed for its usability or given a particular home to live in), I’ll just jump into my plan, shall I?
First, a bit of a spoiler—
I will NOT be doing this over 50 weeks, and I will NOT be posting weekly updates (though that probably would be a rather effective motivator for me). The truth is, since I’ve “been there, done that” on the blog, I don’t want to bore you with endless details about my lifelong battle against my slob tendencies.
I WILL, however, be breaking down my project into rooms/areas and handling each and every item in those areas to see if it’s still worth keeping around. I will also be referring to the book that inspired the original project, though I won’t be following all the checklists to the letter, like I tried to before. One of the strategies that I’ll be adopting again from that book–Organize Now–for sure (that’s worth summarizing here) is that I’ll be considering all the functions that each room has and determining if the space is designed to accommodate all those functions in an effective, organized way. When I did this for the first time back with our first apartment’s living room, it was completely eye-opening to realize that the room’s actual functions didn’t always match up with my “ideal” functions for the room, so I was treating them like they were temporary uses of the space, even though they weren’t. Once I identified the activities that were honestly done in every space, it became a lot easier to make sure there were storage solutions to go along with all of it.
Along this same vein, I’ve noticed that I’m notoriously bad at finding places for certain things that I either view as “temporary” (like library books we’ve borrowed or treats that I’ve made) or “frequently needing” (like slip-on shoes to run outside real quick in or my camera, which I like to have within easy reach at all times). The goal is to have an easily accessible location for these things that’s nevertheless relatively PERMANENT, so they won’t just keep floating around the house all the time.
This morning, I got off to a good start by totally clearing off our kitchen table for the first time in weeks (maybe months?), and taking all of the items to the general places in which they belong (though some of them will be relegated to other homes once I reach that section of the house). I also recycled a bunch of papers and magazines that had been cluttering up various corners and took “before” pictures of pretty much every room and closet in the house. I plan to start in the kitchen this time (whereas I started in the front room before), as it has been the most cluttery and ignored over the past few months (with the exception of our office, which I almost don’t want to think about). I’ll be using the checklists from before as a reference, which I’ll link below.
I also plan to tally up the number of items I get rid of or donate, and I want my goal number to be 200 this time around.
As for what YOU’LL get to see of the project, I plan to post updated pics of the rooms in the house that haven’t gotten posts of their own. (For example, since our front room already has its own before/after post, it’s not going to get a fresh, updated post when I declutter it a bit. On the other hand, our horrendously out-of-control office space will definitely get its own update post, as it will be a pretty drastic makeover when it’s all finished. Etc., etc.)
Time to get organized (again)!
If you want to check out the checklists and posts I’ll be using as a starting point, I’ve listed them all below:
50 Weeks to Organized (2013):
Note the gap between weeks starting here: because of work obligations, I tweaked the parameters of the assignment, which proved to be a good move as I didn’t have 50 weeks’ worth of projects anyway (but I did have some projects that took MANY weeks!). This also marks where I started to keep the checklist in the same place as the before/after pics of that same area.
Note: I will be adding a few rooms/spaces to this list that didn’t exist last time, such as our playroom, Raven’s room/future nursery, etc. These also might get posts of their own, as they’ll have their own checklists.
Other Posts on Simple Living + Decluttering (Good for Motivation!):
- How I Taught Myself to Be Tidy (in 3 Steps!)
- Some of My Favorite Resources on Minimalism + Simple Living (GREAT list–I still use these resources all the time!)
- The Truth About Simplifying
- My Weirdly Effective Trick for Keeping the Table Free of Clutter
- Thoughts on Minimalism
- 19 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Clean the House