Greetings from my home, where I've been hunkered down 24/7 while my family and I ride out this freaky pandemic. I'm sure that you, like me, never imagined you'd be spending this much time at home, and yet here we all are.
I haven't worked since mid March. Besides the social distancing aspect, the actual infrastructure that allows me to easily do my job - donating, recycling, and securely shredding documents - have all closed down, and may not reopen until sometime in June. Or later. Who knows.
At this moment in time, my hands are tied.
So I've had no choice but to stop working and simply stay home. And cook. And catch up on laundry. And attend goofy Zoom calls with my extended family, And work in the garden. And read. And take neighborhood walks with the dogs. And rest. And snuggle with my pets.
If I'm being totally honest, let's just say I'm not mad at it. I've put a lot of thought into the curation of our possessions and various systems that make living in our home easy and enjoyable. It's nice to experience the fruits of my labor.
For several weeks, I didn't get one single call from a client. Not that I was surprised. We were all in shock and more than a little freaked out. But as time wore on, and we began adjusting to our new normal, people began reaching out to me for help in any way, shape or form with issues in their homes. One sweet woman who called lamented the irony that she finally had all the time in the world to work with me, but given that we are all in quarantine, couldn't have me inside her home.
And again, if I'm being honest, I was truly at a loss at how to help clients while we were stuck all at home. My work is super intuitive, super collaborative, and hippy dippy one-size-does-not-fit-all. I found it a challenge to guide anyone over the phone, or even translate my advice into words. Plus, with the donation and recycling centers closed, I felt like the easiest thing to do was simply recommend that people wait until things open up again.
Then my former client Kathy reached out through an email to ask if I would be willing to coach her developmentally disabled friend on how to declutter her tiny apartment. All she needed from me were some simple steps that her friend could follow. She also added this compelling glimpse of her friend's cluttered book shelf.
I resisted helping. I mean, I didn't say no. But I didn't say yes either. However, the more I looked at that photo, the clearer I became. This was less about too much stuff, and more about clutter, and a lack of organizational systems. Before I knew it, I had the decluttering steps mapped out. and typed up
And much to my surprise, my advice was good! And helpful. And totally doable. And, best of all, could be applied to any small area of the house.
I titled it Zone Decluttering. Attacking one small area of clutter at a time.
I used the bookshelf as my example, but here's the thing. These steps can be applied to any small area that bothers you. And it doesn't take hours and hours. Following these steps can take anywhere from 10 minutes for a junk drawer to 1 hour for a bathroom.
The key to success in Zone Decluttering is moving items to a neutral location. This allows you to see everything and process the individual components efficiently and with less emotion.
And because I want you to succeed, should you endeavor these steps, keep these questions in mind:
Do I need it?
Do I use it?
Do I like it?
How many of each item do I need?
How much is enough?
Ideally the goal is to keep only what you need, what you love, and if you have multiples, a reasonable number, and only the best.
But if that's too much, just do your best.
So without further ado, here is -
Choose one small zone. I'm using the bookcase as an example.
Move everything from the bookcase to a neutral location, such as a table top, bed, or the floor.
Sort out the recycling, such as cardboard, loose papers, junk mail, etc.
Throw away any garbage garbage, used up products, and broken items.
Sort out what does not belong there and relocate. Silverware and cups back to the kitchen. Money into your purse. Toiletries back in the bathroom. Jewelry in your bedroom. You get the drift.
Group Like with Like. Books together. Decorative objects together. Candles together. Electronic devices, cords, etc together.
Remove anything to be donated into a shopping bag. Set aside to donate at a later date.
Remove E-waste and old batteries, and set aside to be disposed of at a later date.
Contain smaller loose “like items” such as chargers, ear buds and cords. These can be put in temporary containment such as a ziplock bag, a basket, or Tupperware.
Dust and reload the bookcase.
Take note of categories that have no “home,” Find them a logical temporary location but do not purchase anything special to contain them yet as this pile may grow.
I'm happy to report that Kathy responded favorably to my steps, even suggesting that she'd apply them to clearing off her own desk.
Granted there are still organizational system and layout/furniture issues to address in this space, but I think this will be an excellent start!
And while I have your attention, here's a photo of my California state flag that I am flying in solidarity with my state and local government. This current federal government has me feeling less and less like an American, and more and more like a Californian. I've decided to only fly my state flag until this current administration gets voted out. #berkeleygirlforever!
Stay strong and stay safe my Friends!
Here's to better times for all of us!