I have a good Twister and FlyFriend, Diane from Denmark, who has been facing things she has been putting off for one reason or another, but ultimately needed to give herself a dose of courage to begin. She has been working past her excuses, trying out things that are new or tackling tasks that have been on her to do list for far too long. She calls these Scaredy Cat Challenges. Then she blogs about them. Thank you, Di, for the inspiration to challenge myself.
In rising to the challenge, my goal is to follow Unclutter Your Life in One Week. Day one, Monday, asks me to focus first where I begin different parts of my day; my personal closet in the morning, my desk when I arrive at work and the entryway when I return home. Closets are the places where things can be stowed away, unseen by anyone passing through the room. Why am I so reluctant to deal with these spaces? Why the fear? My personal walk-in is large for a closet, and holds far more than what I need in a simpler life. And scarier still is the fact that my home has many closets. I had them built into the design as I have lived in several homes without adequate closets. In hindsight, I did omit a couple of important closets in our current home, an entry closet for coats and backpacks and a linen closet for the boys bath and linens. In my personal closet I have clothes that fit from all seasons, clothes that fit well just two years ago (and now do not *insert heavy sigh*), shoes, coats and jackets, an iron and ironing board, mending tools, gift bags/boxes and many items that are my personal belongings that just don't have another home. This closet has thirty square feet of floor space with ten feet of hanger spaces and above that 10 square feet of shelving. Joe has his own, identical closet, that seems mostly empty, and his also contains his dresser and most of his personal items. My dresser, in my bedroom, has drawers that contain more clothing and the very large bottom drawer stores my collection of purses and bags. How do I find the courage to take on the "Monday" challenge? Knowing I can conquer anything for 15 minutes at a time.
Where did I start? Being a follower of FLYLady, I had a difficult time taking everything out. The rule is you should never take out more than you can deal with and return in an hour or less time. But I had a different plan to follow and was determined to complete the task. First a sorting of the clothes. They were all laid out on my bed. Everything. Every piece of clothing that I have was laid out. Nothing left in the laundry or seasonal storage box. All was being considered. The sort resulted in about two-thirds of my clothes going out the door. Some, my mother reminded me, I have had for far too long.
After the sort I returned the items I wanted to be keepers to the closet. Most of these are now sorted by type of clothing and then by color and are hanging on colored plastic hangers. All that remain can be worn this season, fit and have actually been worn in the past year. My work clothes, following the same guideline, are also hanging there ready for mid-August to arrive. Only 3 things are on the floor; a line of shoes, an ironing board and a bag of gift wrapping items. I am looking for something that will work for my closet to get the shoes off the floor, and my shoes are down to where I can live with the "one pair in/one pair out" rule. I have two pairs that could use replacements, but I need to find the perfect fit and style before they can be trashed. I should also be searching for a hanger to put the ironing board on the wall and off the floor and hang up the bag of gift wrapping and then the floor will have nothing on it. On one of the shelves above the clothes-hanger bars I have one large Space Bag that I’m using to store clothes that are out of season. Also on the shelf there are jeans and shorts folded neatly in a pile, although the jeans very well could end up on a hanger since I don't have an overabundance of clothes in there now. The other shelf stores my iron and mending tools, a couple of hats and a few other personal possessions that live best in their long time home in my closet.
For those things that were in the closet and were not clothes, they either were trashed, passed on or found more appropriate places in my home. There was a large bag of clothing that was trashed and a large box and bag of clothing that was loaded into my van and taken to the donation drop-off dock.
The next stop in getting uncluttered was my desk at work. I really can't set it up right now, as the items and tools that normally sit on the top of my desk in my office and the desk in my classroom are packed up, but I did prep everything so that I can come back in early August and just pop everything out as Unclutter Your Life in One Week, Day One outlines. I will revisit that part again when I am ready to set up my desk, but for now getting everything ready to flow helps. I look very organized with my desks completely cleared. During any given school day though, it can seem a bit of a mess. I have also considered buying a product called WonderFile Portable Workstation, but I haven't found any reviews from people that have actually purchased one, so I am yet wary of making the purchase. It is a desk area that folds up to a portable size. I think that would really work for me, as I carry my work home almost daily, and spend more time than I like reorganizing things as they move from school to home to the school desk again. I'll keep researching this, including keeping my eye out at the As Seen on TV stores, as a television commercial is where I first saw the product (watching the History Channel).
I have already established the habit of clearing my desk before I leave work every day, having the things I need set out and ready for the next school day makes a very smooth start to my day. It is also nice to be prepared in case I have a substitute the following day, as no one can know when illnesses are eminent or when something is going to come up and I end up dealing with a student situation or have an unscheduled meeting first thing in the morning.
I spent my work day in early June getting the supply cabinets in my classroom organized and even labeled. I still have a couple of file cabinets with paperwork and plans, etc. that need to be organized, but after two years in my present classroom and five years at my present school, I finally feel that all that I have are the resources that I actually use and not a lot of extra materials from my predecessors. My paperwork files need some work this summer anyway as my class structure is going to change drastically in the coming year. I will need updated assignment lists, activity materials and assessments, but I am spending at least a day each week this summer to work on getting ready to gear up.
The last area of the "Monday", day one, assignments in Unclutter Your Life is the entryway. It is the area I first see when I walk into my home when I return after work, and is the last of my firsts. For this house our entryway is the “back porch”, which is essentially a mud/utility room. This is where shoes are removed upon entering and put on again before leaving. It also has a washer and dryer with flat surfaces that have proven to be real hotspots for items that belong either out the door or inside the house somewhere. I have a functional shoe rack and a chair for people to sit on as they take their shoes on or off as they come and go. There are three doorways that take up a large part of the wall space and need to stay clear. One door leads out to the outside patio area, another leads to the kitchen and the last is a doorway only (as we removed the door) that leads to my pantry. When you walk into my home you can see the porch and pantry, so they both really need to stay clutter free. Kids frequently leave multiple pairs of shoes, boots, flip flops, etc. in the floor and not neatly on the rack. The rack was overfilled as each of the family members has multiple pairs of shoes that they believe should live on that rack, and several pairs of shoes were really trash as they had been replaced. There was even a pair of shoes that had been on the rack since my last clean out and still no one claimed them. Out they went. My shoes are stored in my closet unless they are dripping wet, muddy or covered with grass cuttings. I clean them off and return them to my closet regularly. I try to encourage the rest of the family to put the shoes they don’t wear frequently in their own closets, but it doesn’t always work.
I do not use the porch as our launch pad as the book suggests. I already have a system that works for me. My launch pad is next to my desk, a place where I keep my purse and workbag. Keys always stay in a pocket of my purse. There is a place for my laptop and cell phone to charge and my iPod to sync and charge when needed. It is close to where I work on projects and plan or prep for work, make grocery lists, catch up on personal or work e-mails, and just about anything else that may need to be added to things that come and go from my home. The boys have their own launch pad, locker that we keep at the end of the hallway near their bedrooms. This is where they keep anything that does not belong to them (i.e. library or school materials), and things they take out the door including backpacks, coats or jackets. a drawer for hats and gloves, and there is a space for visiting cousins to stow their belongings when they come for a sleepover.
So I am now on a search for an attractive shelf with hooks or pegs to hang in the back porch above the shoe rack and a more sophisticated piece of furniture to use as a launch pad to replace the locker the boys are using now. Also on my list is a nice shoe holder and a hanger for the ironing board/iron in my closet. It would be nice if the portable desktop turns out to be legitimate as well. I guess I have some shopping in my future.