I've Decluttered My House..Now What?

The choir of angels singing.

You've decluttered the house and taken loads and loads to Goodwill, now what? 

First and foremost, congratulatins on making it through the sticky, muddy phase of letting go and creating space. Organization can only be achieved when 1) we create space and 2) we begin to slow the pace of things coming in the house. 

You are feeling quite proud of yourself as you look around the house and don't feel the weight of "too much".  

WARNING: MOST PEOPLE STOP HERE

Organizing is a very simple process (just four steps in fact), but most people stop after step one. Let's review.
Step 1: Declutter and create space

Step 2: Create a flow in your home.
Group like with like, and marry with similar types of items. Batteries and lightbulbs in the laundry for example. Decide where you want all of your items to live and then move them there.

Step 3: Sort and declutter again
SURPRISE! It is so much easier to declutter the second time around. You are stronger in your resolve to let things go without worry and hesitation. Now that you are looking at the space you have coupled with the stuff you are keeping, things start to come into focus.

For example, it may have been a few months since you created space and decluttered the kitchen. With that length of time and lack of use or need for an item, it becomes easier to let a new thing go.

Step 4: Install your system.
Clutter leaves clues. It could be hooks by the door for keys, purse, and things that need to leave the house like returns. It could be a Follow Up File in your office to manage all the papers that still wrestle their way past the mailbox.

Look to the pile and the behavior behind it, then create a system to keep it in check.

Keeping up vs Catching Up

When you are organizing your home you are catching up to even par. You are going from negative fifty to zero.

Keeping up is something that you will do on a daily or weekly basis. For example, the kitchen may get out of hand as the week moves along because you were at soccer practice on Monday night until 8:30pm and had PTO on Tuesday and Sarah went to the vision therapy on Wednesday. Just because the pace of life might have quickened throughout the week, doesn't mean all of your organizing efforts have been twarted.

It just means that you need to pick up to keep up.

TIP: Picking up usually takes 15 - 20 minutes at a time.

Put the things back where they belong. Unload the dishwasher. Empty the fridge of expired food. Fold the laundry. Hang the bookbag in the coat closet. Put away the lunch box.

Done and done.

This is the feeling that we all strive for when we start to organize our home. Unfortunately we try to skip through the process and joyfully arrive at organization bliss with minimal effort. I'm here to tell you that the effort is worth it.

The time you spent making all those decisions about what to keep and what to donate will make you one heck of a watchdog of items coming in.

"Honey, do you want this free notepad that you picked up from that conference last week?", you ask.

Honey will probably reply with something of an indifferent remark, which gives you full responsibility to decide what to do with it. Over you walk to the drawer of notepads and realize it is already full so need for another. Out it goes!

Bonus points if you point this out to him and ask him to not bring home any more notepads for awhile. He may break from his sports game to acknowledge the recommendation and then it is back to the TV.

Meanwhile, you are changing the habits of yourself, your home, your stuff, and your family. Do you hear that? Wait, get closer.
It is the organizing angels singing in unison.

The point of organizing is to make life easier. We move so quickly through our days and our life that having one more thing trip us up is not helpful.

Allow your home to support you. It's what it has wanted to do since day one.

Jennifer Burnham