Happy Spring, friends! Warmer weather has arrived and it’s a seasonable time to focus on those areas that tend to become a dumping ground: garages, basements and attics. Does yours bring a sense of anguish each time you open that door? How would it feel to enter in with a plan of action and some healthy anticipation instead? With daily signs outside of the newness of life, I am reminded of Isaiah 43:18-19, which says to “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” What wisdom. What encouragement.
In His word, God is constantly offering us promises and hope, and this can be applied to our everyday clutter. We can indeed turn these areas into promising potential… and I daresay as a welcoming oasis.
Let’s take a peek into how this can actually happen as we consider a few time-tested steps:
Jot down. Make a list of the specific reasons you want to reclaim your garage, basement or attic (focus on just one of these spots at at time.) This first part in defining goals is crucial. Include all family members in the brainstorming session. What are the essential things you’d like better access to? How have things been working well? What is clearly NOT? What is causing disorganization? Often, clutter develops when items have no homes or there are strong emotions attached to things that we don’t want to let go of.
Zone out. What are the actual storage areas that are needed? Some typical ones are: Sports, Gardening, Holiday, Tools, Outdoors, Seasonal Clothing, Memorabilia, Party, Kids Clothes, Recycling, Auto. Think about the frequency of items you need as you decide which specific area to put them in; consider the easiest places to access things so you can grab & go. Keep in mind the moisture or humidity that could potentially lead to damaging your goods.
Step back. As you focus on the functionality of the entire room, look around and see if there is any vertical space available to increase storage. There are so many unique solutions out there: racks, drawers, loft-like shelves, hooks, pegboards and racks. This a great time to think outside the box and come up with creative ideas!
Plan through. Estimate the REALISTIC time it will take you to purge, process and reorganize. Set aside enough of it, as well as helping hands to finish the entire project. Assign who will be taking care of tasks like: removing items out of the space (which will create room to move around); moving things into categories; bagging up trash, recycling, donates; and putting items away. Make a list and gather needed supplies such as boxes, trash bags, bins, scissors, utility tape, post-its.
Dig in. The core of decluttering is to decide to either keep or let go. Of course, I would strongly encourage you to hang onto only what you currently use, love and need. So often we surround ourselves with what was once important, which is often not relevant in the here and now. Clutter can quickly build when we delay, so have a sorting system as you start to attack those piles! I like to use the SIMPLE acronym, which can be used to organize anything.
S = sort like with like (grouping similar items)
I = identify the keepers (what’s important now?)
M = make homes for keepers (assign one location)
P = put in bins or baskets in an attractive way (measure before you buy)
L = label (so everyone can help put things away)
E = establish routines to maintain system (habits take time to build)
Remember rewards. At the end of any organizing session, I like to remind my clients to reward themselves somehow, with a little treat for all the hard work accomplished. This positively reinforces efforts (am I hearing a trip to Diary Queen?) Once clutter is cleared, creating a maintenance plan for a newly organized area is really important – stuff just tends to build quickly when things are not put back where they belong. I have seen possessions grow like weeds, so scheduling in time to “prune away” is vital. Building in single, specific tasks to our life lead to automatic habits.
So friends – close your eyes for a moment. What would it look and feel like to have that basement, attic or garage finally transformed from an everyday eyesore to a place that beckons and serves you well? Take a few minutes to think through your vision. It makes a big difference in motivation and you will likely begin developing some new awareness on what’s been holding you back. As you begin to let go of the past and look ahead to claim back your space, may you be filled with hope. Focus in on your goals (one at a time!) as you take bold steps to restore some order this beautiful season. As always, I am just a call away if you need extra support to reach your goals.