Creating your Spring Cleaning Schedule

So you think you don’t have any time to do any deep Spring Cleaning this April?

I’ve got the solution to making that whole house cleaning easier. Scheduling. You won’t even have to take time off of work to get it done! The key is to make your calendar work for you.  Using my Spring Cleaning Checklists you will be able to break this monster task down over the course of one month with little disruption to your regular life.

The first step to scheduling your successful Spring Cleaning is to pick a place to start. Start either at the front of the house and work back or start at the back of the house and work forward. If you are lacking motivation to get started pick the easiest room. This is the one room when you look at it seems like you can tackle it with no hassle.  You’ll want to do this because it will give you a win and a sense of accomplishment to start that momentum for the harder tasks. Why not check a room off early on! For me this is the living room. It just so happens it is at the front of my house, too. So I’ll start at the front of the house and work back.

  • Starting from the first room you choose (this is how my house is set up). Use your calendar or scheduling system of choice to plan the room order:
  1. Living Room
  2. Dining Room
  3. Bedroom
  4. Bathroom
  5. Bedroom
  6. Kitchen
  7. Laundry Room
  8. Outside 
  • Forecast/Approximate how long each of these tasks will take in days. Here is a general idea of the time it will take me. Depending on how big your house is or the priorities that you’ve assigned this may vary.  Remember this is just to get an idea of how many days you will be cleaning. It may seem crazy to forecast out 2 days for the bathroom but I’m planning on doing this in small blocks of time. I can realistically clean the bathroom in one hour but I want a bit of wiggle room for the whole house. So if I decide to take a Saturday and just clean the bathroom in that hour… I’ll have more time for other rooms. Like the kitchen. Which is a bigger process. 
  1. Living Room – 3 days
  2. Dining Room – 3 days
  3. Bedroom – 2 days
  4. Bathroom – 1 to 2 days
  5. Bedroom – 2 days
  6. Kitchen – 7 days
  7. Laundry Room – 3 to 4 days
  8. Outside – 2 to 3 days 

Total of  26 Days

  • Next start with room number one. I will be starting with the Living Room. I will schedule in the first 3 days on my calendar for April that I will be cleaning the Living Room.  

Here is where you can be strategic. If a certain day is super hectic, don’t schedule any cleaning on that day. Thursday’s are crazy because of work or other engagements? Skip Thursday’s. Saturday’s are great for getting a lot done? Plan to do more on that day.   

  • Continue on scheduling each room on your calendar. Keep in mind this is just an idea of how long it will take.
  • Assemble your Spring Cleaning Kit. For the blog post on the Spring Cleaning Kit click here.
  • Prioritize: Using the Spring Cleaning Checklists, prioritize the 3 most important things you want done in the first room you are working on. Do those first. Utilize a timer for 15 to 30 minutes if you don’t have a lot of time. A little bit of time spent on Spring Cleaning adds up.
  • Work your plan. Make sure you pick one room at a time. Work in that room only. You will utilize your Spring Cleaning Kit here to ensure you are not roaming around to other rooms.
  •  When you are done with one room you will go grab the Spring Cleaning Checklist for the next room (for me it will be the dining room). Determine your top 3 priorities. Then work the plan. Continue on till you have the whole house clean!
  • Celebrate!  Enjoy a cup of coffee a pedicure or just the clean fresh air of your house! Nice Job!

My #1 Mistake

iStock_000013410716Large Oops! I did it again.

My number one possession obsession is books. I love them! I love to surround myself with them. I some times go into my room just to look at the spines and flip through them.  One of my happy places is the library. In fact, I daydream about sitting in the public or a college library when I’ve had a  stressful day. It helps me reconnect with myself. I feel as though all the wisdom I need to have is at my fingertips.  Books open up so many possible worlds and answers.  I consider my self a life long learner and books just fuel this fire.

So, what does this have to do with my #1 organizing mistake? My obsession with books leads me to collect them.  Buying books lead to clutter yes but, that isn’t my mistake. My mistake is when I got brave enough to purge my books. I was in a mind set to make hard decisions and get rid of books that have not been used and won’t use in the future.  I put them in boxes to get rid of them. Then decided to call it good. Didn’t I just expend a bunch of mental and emotional energy to get rid of these “teachers” of mine? I walked away that day feeling accomplished.  Then crazy life set in. Days passed the books sat in their boxes waiting to be donated. Still hanging out in my office.  Then came the day that I passed the boxes. One of the books caught my eye.  My mind quickly sent up flags, “Why am I getting rid of THIS book?”  “Don’t I NEED it?”  I was done for. All the work that I did on decision day went out the window. Of course, there were other books that I NEEDED to keep also. Luckily, I did remember my “WHY” of wanting to get rid of the books in the first place. My priority of a nice home. I promptly, put the books back. Closed the boxes. Marched them downstairs and drove them to the thrift store.

Why did I act the way I did?

Well first of all it starts with me knowing that my clutter hang up is books. I feel guilty letting go of books. As though I am throwing away knowledge.  Secondly, I wasn’t ready to let go. All my brave moves and pat on the back for making decisions wasn’t final until I actually physically removed the books. The task was physically and mentally draining that I lacked energy to follow through.  When I was tired of dealing with the books, I didn’t  give my self an exit plan. I only figured out part of the process and was unwilling to take the necessary steps to finish the process.

What you can learn from my mistakes. Or how to avoid what I did.

Know yourself. 

Learning about your self and knowing how you tick is important when setting up organizing systems for yourself.  I’ve learned this the hard way or shall I say the only way, because that’s how us humans learn; by mistakes. 

Tape up the box to be donated.

I know if I had taped up the box on the first day and labeled it to be donated. I wouldn’t have been tempted to start going through it…again.

Put the donated items in the car.

If you don’t have time or energy to drop them off that day, at least you get the items out of the original space and you create an automatic to-do with it in your car. Of course, this only works if your car isn’t your personal hang-up. My car need to be clean most the time so I don’t let big boxes linger.

Schedule a pick up from the institute you are donating to.

I like to donate to the ARC. A local charity that creates opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.  I’m able to call them and they gladly give me at day to have them ready for pick-up.

Ask for help.

A buddy is great for emotional as well as physical strength. Specially if you are dealing with heavy items. Books are one of those items for me that are both emotional and physical weights that are hard for me to get rid of. Your help could be a friend or a professional organizer.  A professional organizer has the stamina and wisdom to get you through any decision or mistakes you may make when organizing.  They provide more insight then a friend might to tackle some larger purging and organizing projects.

What’s your hang up when de-cluttering or organizing? Let me know. We can all learn from each other.


Favorite Where do I start?


Where Do I Start?

This is the number one question that I get asked as a professional organizer.

The easy and semi-cheeky answer is…you.

Even though the answer is kind of loaded, it rings true on 4 different concrete levels.

#1 Mind Set

In order to start your organizing efforts you need to be clear to what you want. Your priorities are your building blocks to getting and staying organized.  Ask your self these questions in order to get to the top 3 significant items that drive you day in and day out.

  1. What is really important to you?
  2. How would you spend your time if you were organized?
  3. What fulfills me above all other things?

Just as you get clarity on what your priorities are you will begin to get clear to the vision of being organized. With out a “Why” you are organizing you are sabotaging any efforts you make to become organized. No army of professional organizers could get or keep you organized with out this one piece of information. Mind set is the building block to getting and staying organized.

#2 Recognize your Limitations

Women have a tendency to beat themselves up over what they interpret as shortcomings. Yes I suffer from Wonder Woman syndrome too!  Remember there is only so many hours in the day, so many places you can be at once, only so many arms that you have. So recognize some of the laws at play that some how we think we can break.  Start doing this by forgiving yourself. Forgive your self your old habits. Forgive your self that you didn’t finish a craft project. Forgive your self that you let yourself or others down.

After you have forgiven your self a few organizing indiscretions (we all could be forgiving our selves for a long time).  Use what you have learned about your habits as data to build on your organizing system.  For example, do you always have a pile of receipts on the dresser drawer that get out of hand? Then put a box on the dresser to help corral them then file or throw them away at the end of each week.  This is what  “Change anything” book writers referred to as “Turning a bad day into good data.”

If you are still feeling overwhelmed and feel as though your limitations are insurmountable, then ask for help.  The only two people you should reach out to are your greatest supporters and /or a professional organizer.

Greatest Supporters are those who will stand by you no matter what clutter mess you are in. These are the friends and family members that will not judge but will cheer you on and work diligently side by side with you.

Professional organizers are skilled professionals that know how to organize space, processes, and put it in a workable system personalized to you. They are teachers and cheerleaders in the organizing process.

#3 Your Personal Physical Space

This is what people are really asking when they ask, “Where do I start?” They are wondering what room/area should they start on. The answer is still “ With you,

with your physical space. “ Start with where you spend a good deal of time. Start in a room that resembles you or where you work. That is a bedroom, closet, or workspace such as a desk, kitchen, or even laundry room. Do not start with the kid’s room or with hubby’s space. You need to get the “O.K.” from them or risk making everyone upset, spend the time on you. Be selfish here! Take care of your self before you take care of everyone else.


#4 Celebrate your Accomplishments

Enjoy the progress you have made! Open the closet door 10-15 times after it is organized. Relish in the work you have done.  Even if you started the bedroom and all you accomplished was clearing off your dresser or hanging up the clothes on the floor. You accomplished something. One step forward is better than nothing at all.  Consequently, nothing at all just adds to the mess so your small step is really a big one. You prevented adding to the clutter!

Grab some tea and/or chocolate and admire yourself and your accomplishment!



Perfection (Previously written on 6/1/12)

The search for the perfectly imperfect.

As I was mowing the lawn tonight with my weed eater trying to get all the stray blades of grass pushed up against the edging and having no luck. I had to settle for good enough. Otherwise, I’d have spent all my gas on just a couple blades of grass that this time next week will be just as stubborn. My yard isn’t perfect-far from it. It has dry spots where the trees get more water than the lawn, weeds no matter how much I pull them. I have to resolve myself to a perfect that’s imperfect. Beauty is naturally imperfect. The human face is not symmetrical. I remember seeing an article once that proved it. This article took photos of naturally beautify (commonly thought of as beautiful and made the faces symmetrical- took the left half of the photo and replicated it on the right side.  I remember thinking how displeasing to the eye those normally gorgeous people now looked.

Women who have children understand better than us childless counter parts. Children are messy unpredictable – dare I say imperfect. Yet, Children are loving, fun, adorable, creative, beautiful, and fabulous – in short-PERFECT.  I’m reminded of Mary Poppins-where the children weren’t allowed to be children. They were expected to be little adults by their father. As soon as the father embraced them as children – imperfect he realized how perfect they were.

The Native Americans realized that there is no such thing as perfection.  The fact that we are human is proof we are imperfect-prone to flaws. Beading traditions in some Native American tribes put a miss colored bead in the bead work to represent the imperfectness. This is an offering to spirit to recognize the perfection of spirit and the hope that we could only look upon that perfection. So as the sun is going down and magic hour has passed I realize that perfection is fleeting and imperfection is what really needs to be embraced on this earth.


Kitchen Organizing

Organizing under the sink after

 After: Under The Sink Organizing

In order to start using a more “green” way to clean up the kitchen, I’m implementing a reusable “paper” towel.  I find that we use paper towels to clean up water and other non-toxic spills then throw away the paper towel. With my composting efforts, though, I have been putting some of these in the composter.  But there are some spills that can’t go in the pile.  So I bit the bullet and cleaned up the mess under my sink.

Organizing under the sink before


Before: Under The Sink Organizing

This was the mess before. I just kind of threw things in here.

How I attacked this organizing mess:

  • Took everything out. Cleaned all the spills and one dead fly out.

  • Threw away old product/things I don’t use.

This was an easy first cull of things I knew I wouldn’t use.

  • Sorted what I use the most.

    • For the Kitchen:
      • Sal-Suds: My dish washing liquid of choice.
      • Quick ‘n Brite: My general cleaner of choice.
      • Castille Soap: My hand soap of choice.
      • Dishwasher soap
      • Sponges
      • Brushes
      • Eraser Sponges
      • Sink strainer
      • Heavy-Duty Hand Soap
      • Small Dust Pan and broom
    • For the Bathroom
      • Tilex: I don’t really use but not willing to part with it.
    • For the rest of the House:
      • Bac-Out: Forgot I even had this.
      • Wood cleaners and Wood oil
      • Carpet stain removers
      • Air fresheners
      • Cat hair sponge
      • Windex:  I also use in the cars.
  • Threw away more stuff that I never used.

A second culling of things a little harder to part with.

  • Labeled My Spray Bottles of Quick ‘n Brite.

Couldn’t believe I hadn’t done this before.

  • Put Things Back in The Space.

    • Put my labeled bucket for towels in place first.
    • I made some space decisions:
      • What location is the closest for where I use the product? I put them closest to where I use them.
      • What items do I use the most? I put these in reach.
      • What item do I use the least? I put these in the back.
      • What is the easiest way to get to my brushes? I found I was always leaving in them sink or throwing them on top of the mess.
    • Put my wire basket back and put everything in their “home”.
    • Washed my rest of the house cleaners bucket and put all those items in.
    • Hung cup hooks for the brushes and dust pan.
  • Took Pictures and Celebrated!

There is one small question mark. I’ve fixed it for now but I’m not sure how practical it is. The “Brush Bounce”. When the cabinet door is opened the bottle brush swings out to the side of the cabinet.

Here is my fix:

Organizing Brush Bounce Fix

A rubberband between two nails.

If anyone else has a better fix let me know. It was getting late and my ideas had run short.

This is just my first stop in the whole kitchen organizing project. This has got my mind working on other organizing solutions for the kitchen.

Hope this has helped! I sure has helped me!