The Calm After the S.T.O.R.M. – Part Two
You’ve SORTED. You’ve TOSSED.
Next you will ORGANIZE. The clean clothes go in the closet and the dresser in an orderly, useful way (that’s a project unto itself, and a topic for a later post), books you currently are reading go on the nightstand, your hobby is neatly contained in an attractive container or display, and so on.
Now look again at the space and what’s in it. Does your alarm clock wake you jarringly or gently? Are the rugs, curtains, artwork, houseplants, and the room’s colors restful or stimulating? Are the bed linens comfortable and to your taste? What else do you want here to create your sanctuary? Make it, find it, buy it, or put it on your wish list for later.
How might these first three S.T.O.R.M. system steps be applied elsewhere in the home? In the kitchen, first SORT into groups the edibles, dishes, cookware, utensils, table linens, and miscellaneous stuff that doesn’t really belong in the kitchen at all (those go into the “Other Rooms” box).
TOSS the outdated food you’ve excavated from the freezer and refrigerator, and recycle the lidless plastic storage containers and the cracked tea pot (no, it won’t make an attractive utensil holder). Set aside for donation that fondue pot you’ve had since the ’70s, as well as the glass vases from every floral bouquet you’ve ever received.
Then ORGANIZE what remains by how or where it is used. Generally, things you use every day – vegetable peeler, coffeepot, juice glasses, etc. – should be within reach as you stand at the counter. Things you use less frequently can be stored lower down or higher up, and the kitchen pieces you use only once a year or less – the turkey platter, the warming plate, the giant crystal punch bowl – can be stored elsewhere in the house if your kitchen is short of storage space. Next, establish a permanent place for each item you own, containing things (grouping like with like) on a shelf, in a drawer, in a closet, in a spice rack, or on a Lazy Susan in a hard-to-reach corner cabinet.
For a bathroom medicine cabinet, first SORT the stuff in groups: nails, hair, makeup, shaving, cleansing, teeth, first-aid, and so on. Then TOSS all expired products, including cosmetics (as a general rule, they are fresh only for 12-18 months, except for mascara and eyeliner, which are unsafe after 3-6 months), plus unidentified gooey things stuck to the shelf, and half-used tubes of suntan lotion and toothpaste. ORGANIZE and “containerize” each category, using purchased storage supplies, or re-purposed things, like plastic yogurt containers, mini baking pans, shallow boxes, or jars, and put back on the shelves for easy retrieval. The most often used items will be right in front; spare parts for the electric razor can be tucked away in the space under the sink. And despite its name, the bathroom cabinet is not a good place to store medicine, especially tablets and capsules, as the humidity and temperature cause them to deteriorate more quickly.
So, whether bathroom, kitchen, or master bedroom, the next step is to REVIEW: that is, to live with your new system for a time to see how it works. If you want to keep your soiled clothes on the closet floor rather than in a bathroom hamper, that’s between you and your roommate. If you decide you liked the kids hanging out on your bed, you can change the room back to the way it was before. It’s your choice, and a REVIEW will help you decide whether things are working the way you’d hoped.
The final step is to MAINTAIN your new system and space. For an average-size home, that means dedicating about 30 to 45 minutes each day to sorting mail, putting away stuff that belongs in other rooms, moving clean clothes to drawers and closets, filing receipts, and so on. And you’ll want to make it a priority to MAINTAIN your hard work every day (or devote the equivalent time if you must skip a day) so you don’t end up with the same cluttered space with which you started. This is the one step those glossy magazines and TV shows never tell you about: being organized takes time. It is not “quick and easy,” and it is doable. And the benefits are tremendous, beginning with the calm you will feel after the S.T.O.R.M.
Creating order – especially in a time of chaos – IS achievable, if you want it and are willing to work for it.
Your comments and organizing questions are always welcome.