Do you have a dedicated space for homework or to work from home? Is it functional?
What does your bedroom closet look like right now? How much time does it take you to find something to wear each morning?
Is there a junk room in your house or apartment? Or has every room turned into a junk room?
If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions above, you have room to create some efficiency in your life (pun intended). The phrase “clear the clutter, clear your mind” is so true! I speak from experience!
Let’s start with the bedroom closet. There are 2 humongous walk in closets in my master bedroom. One could have been turned into a small bathroom with a stand up shower, had the original owner added that feature (or us, if we felt the urge and found the money to do so). My husband took the smaller of the closets, the long and narrow one; whereas I took the larger, more square shaped closet. I’ll tell you about my closet space and experience, because his still sits piled high with baskets and boxes of clothing and other stuff. I decided to tackle cleaning up my closet last year, and was able to fill 6 large trash bags with clothes to donate and 1 bag with clothes to trash. I made room to add shelves, a necklace hanger the hubby made for me, and 2 dressers – one small and one large. It is quite nice now, and I can easily find what I need quickly, without much searching around. It’s also much easier to put clothes away after washing, as everything pretty much has its place. So, how did I get it from piled high and not able to step in the doorway anymore to cleaned up and manageable?
The first step I took was to get two large boxes and write ‘Keep’ and ‘Donate’ on separate sheets of paper and tape those to the boxes. I also got a large trash bag and hung it on the door knob for trash. I started at the first pile near the door and began to sort. If I couldn’t decide where something should go, I either put it in ‘Keep’ or put it on the bed so I could decide later. This process took many hours and was broken up into several days. When I was overwhelmed and ready to take a break, I stopped, piled the boxes on top of each other in the corner of the room and took the trash out. One rule of thumb that can be used is, if something hasn’t been worn or used in 6 or 12 months, donate or trash it. This was helpful to me, and other than a few sentimental items, made it easy to sort. While it is a tiring exercise, it is well worth the reward at the end – the ability to use that space and find what you need to keep moving throughout your day! Consider all the other things you could be doing during the 30 minutes it takes you to find the perfect shirt or pair of pants to wear in the morning.
I have tried several times to arrange a work space within my larger spare room that made it inviting to work in and spend time in, especially outside of a work from home kind of day, when I needed to concentrate on writing a blog post or other Beyond the Stone Wall business needs. I used to have two 8 foot tables that met in the corner of the room. This provided me with a significant amount of desk space, but swallowed up much of the room and ended up getting cluttered very quickly. I started throwing extra boxes/buckets/etc. on the floor and piling up papers on one end of the desk. It became extremely uninviting, and I ended up working from home several days during that time at the kitchen table instead of in the dedicated office space I had! I took the same approach to my office space as I had my closet, with the two boxes (keep or donate) and one bag for trash. I decided to take out one of the 8 foot tables, install shelves for my books (and remove the three large bookcases that were crowding in the room, and added a cubed shelving unit (3×4) and a half-sized bookcase unit with doors for my printer.
Although it sounds like I added a LOT, I took out so much! I had to make sure that what I put back into that room wasn’t nearly as much as what I took out (or I’d wind up in the same predicament). With the pieces of furniture, I have now, I was able to hide my ‘keep’ items nicely. Not only did I remove three large bookcases, I narrowed down my book collection to what would fit on three 6 foot shelves. I also went through all of the scrapbook and crafting materials I had, and filled my entire trunk full of items to give to a friend for her two young girls to enjoy. Even recently, I went through two file cabinet drawers (that are in the office closet) and purged about 80% of the paper there. A majority of that was from my undergrad and graduate classes – notes I had and papers I wrote. I kept a few, but realized I would NEVER look at the rest (and had not really looked at them since I graduated with my MBA in 2006)!
The feeling I had when I was able to use that space again was amazing. It is much easier to keep clean, I make an effort to put things back in their place after using them, and trash items that are only temporary or no longer needed. It is a space that I enjoy spending time in, and typically go to when my husband is at work. Instead of watching TV in the living room, I enjoy spending time in the office with windows open, a candle lit, music in the background, and surrounded by an organized area. It has allowed me to focus on what is at hand, instead of holding on to the stress of a pile of paper here, or boxes of junk in the corner, bookshelves gathering dust, etc.
Have you taken the time in the last six months to do a good cleaning of a space in your home or apartment? I’d love to hear the process you used, and how that space makes you feel now!
After pictures of my home office, and how it remains today (including the one at the top of this post)…