50 Weeks to Organized: Week 14

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Sorry I’m posting this a day late–like I mentioned Tuesday, we currently don’t have the Internet at our apartment, and since I’m on spring break and all, I’m having to get creative with where I do my blogging.

Seeing as how I actually wanted a bit of time to relax on my spring break, I’m so glad I picked something easy to do last week. However, as I cleaned up our little “mail station,” I was reminded once again that even little changes can make a huge impact on how I feel in my home. Before, the corner of the kitchen that had been dubbed as the “collector of all things mail and paper” had been an eyesore I generally avoided looking at.

Now, every time I see it, I smile.

Funny how much this getting-organized business can affect my mood.

My problem before with the mail is that I just didn’t have a habit in place where I handled it as soon I got it (or a habit where I’d at least go through it all once every week). Therefore, what ended up happening was what you see above.

You see, this is what I’ve decided: for me, it’s not necessarily the initial organization that’s difficult–it’s the maintenance of it all. Happily, I’ve done a decently good job at many of the spaces I’ve organized already this year (like the kitchen drawers, the living room in general, and the pantry). Other areas that require more maintenance, like the kitchen counters, I’m definitely still working on.

One thing’s for sure, though–the fact that I have way less stuff now than I used to definitely helps, which is why I’m motivated enough to keep pressing on in this goal of mine to clean up my life.

In organizing the mail, I’ve decided a few things:

One, I liked the idea (from Jennifer Ford Berry’s book Organize Now that inspired this whole project) to designate a spot by the mail for postage stamps, return labels, and envelopes. It’s such a little thing, but before this week, I was keeping all that upstairs in the office, and it was so annoying to have to run back and forth all the time. Now, all the stuff I need to mail something off quick is right in one spot by the mail itself.

Two, I like the idea of having one small-ish tray to hold all the mail. Ideally, I’ll try to clean it out every week, but the small size at least necessitates me cleaning it out once every few weeks or so because it fills up so fast.

This Week’s Quick Stats:
# of Items Tossed/Donated: 0 (technically, I tossed lots of papers and junk mail, but I’m not counting things I would have tossed anyway in my count for the year)
# of Items Left to Toss/Donate Before Dec. 31st: 282
Amount of Money Spent this Week on Organizing: $0 (although I did spend $2 for the mail tray, but I counted that several weeks back when I first bought it)

Next week’s organization task has been spurred on perhaps more by necessity than by anything else. I have noticed over the past several months that my makeup bag has gotten, well, gross, and I noticed too that I was constantly wasting time every morning digging through it to try and find what I needed. So my next challenge is going to be:

My Makeup

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific section in Organize Now devoted just to makeup, so I’m going to have to come up with my own lists this week. Just so you know, I’ve taken my stats on the shelf life of makeup from About.com.

This Week’s To-Do List:
*Think of all the different makeup looks that I actually do in the course of a year, especially my usual daily makeup routines and my special occasion looks. Separate out any makeup that doesn’t get used regularly (like a red lipstick that is only used for special occasions), and keep that in a separate place from the makeup I use regularly.
*Go through all the makeup you currently own, and throw anything out that you never use, that is out of style, or that is down to the last dregs.
*With the makeup that’s left, check to see if the products should still be used based on the following shelf-life guidelines:
Mascara = 4 months
Concealer = 12 months
Powder = 2 years
Cream & Gel Cleansers = 1 year
Pencil Eyeliner = 3 years
Eyeshadow = 3 years
Brushes = wash every 2-3 months in a mild detergent
Sponges = wash weekly and discard monthly
Foundation = 12-18 months, depending on formula
Lip liner = 3 years
Lipstick = 2-4 years
*Now that you’ve pared down your makeup bag, make sure to clean out your makeup organizer as well as any brushes or sponges you use. If needs be, wipe down the outside of all your makeup products to rid them of any loose powder or dirt.
*Note any makeup you might be low on, and start watching for sales.
*Keep any makeup replacements in a designated place, so you’ll know to check there before buying any more.

Maintenance
Once a Month
*Go through your makeup case and throw out anything that’s used up
*Toss any makeup sponges that you’ve been using for a month or more
Once Every 2-3 Months
*Wash makeup brushes with mild detergent
*Make a list of makeup items you’re low on, and buy replacements
Once Every 6-12 Months
*Consider switching makeup looks, either based on the season or because you’d like to try something new. If you’ve been doing the same look for the past 10 years, it’s probably time for something different.

That last item on the maintenance list? Yeah, I’m guilty of that–I don’t think I’ve changed my daily makeup routine hardly at all for about 5 years (except for me occasionally wearing bold lipstick).

I definitely need a change.

How long have you been doing your makeup look for? And where can I go to find good tutorials on new looks?

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