By Caroline Bujold
This is the third edition of Peter Walsh’s #31Days2GetOrganized Challenge. Since I had done it before, I decided to post on social media daily to share each task, do as many of the challenges as possible and share my progress. You might have seen the pictures if you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Here is a recap of the first 10 days, as well as some thoughts on how to go about them.
I encourage you to try some of the challenges; they are great motivators.
Day 1 – Fold your laundry
Task: Start small by folding your clothes
Time: 27 min.
This was an easy start. David (my husband) had done some laundry over the weekend and three loads were waiting for me. Perfect timing!
The idea with a project like this is to build momentum, to prove to yourself that you can commit just a little bit of time each day to get things done over the long run.
I took a bit longer than the prescribed time of 10 minutes because:
- I like folding laundry, so why stop after 10 minutes (I know, I know, who likes folding laundry – ME);
- I often do this task while I watch TV, so I can be folding for a one-hour show and don’t even notice I’m doing it.
Day 2 – Conquer your Master Bedroom
Task: Find items that don’t belong in your master bedroom and put them away where they belong
Time: 3 min.
Here is my small collection of displaced items.
As soon as I got my own place, I got into the habit of not having much else than a bed, dressers for clothes, a lamp and a few books (that are being actively read) on the nightstand. I think it was sometime after university and my first solo apartment where one could see my entire bedroom from the living room. When guests can see an unmade bed and clothes on the floor, it’s really embarrassing. In university, I also practically had my whole life in my bedroom: books, computer, printer, radio, plants, etc. It felt somewhat overwhelming.
It’s still pretty much the same today and this is the one space in our home that practically never gets cluttered. It might have something to do with the fact that our bedroom doesn’t get visited by children or pets, that we don’t have an ensuite bathroom attached to it or a TV. Also, somewhere along the way, we decided that our bedroom had primarily one function and it wasn’t for watching TV or working on our computers.
Day 3 – Donation bin
Task: Set up a donation bin, basket or tote and put 2 items inside
Time: 1 min.
I had to pull ours from last year’s challenge.
The principle of the donation basket is to have a place to gather the things you don’t need anymore and want to donate, instead of just moving piles around.
Also, if it’s by a door or in another easy accessible place, it’s a visual reminder that you need to take that junk out ASAP.
Day 4 – Table linens
Task: Part with table linens you don’t use
Time: 1 min.
Just as for bed sheets and towels, ask yourself how many table linens you really need to cover your daily use? Add maybe one or two extras for special occasions like the Holidays and you’re all set.
Not much extras here, hence the limited time. I used to have more linens and some I didn’t really like. So some time ago, I downsized the whole thing. Here is what we have:
- 2 sets of placemats (grey + blue/green – these one are new and were handmade by a friends … aren’t they lovely :)),
- 1 table cloth,
- 3 table runners (2 aqua + 1 gold).
- We also have a few tablecloths we use in the summer only; they are stored in our shed. And finally we have one other tablecloth and 2 placemats that live in our camping bin.
Day 5 – Lower Third
Task: Examine the lower third of a pile of clothes. Chances are you never wear those items.
Time: 0 min.
This is a good one, but we sort through our clothes twice a year, so I was pretty confident that we already parted with the unused items. You can read about it here.
Day 6 – One stack
Task: Take one pile of something (clothes, magazines, papers, dishes, etc.), sort and put them away
Time: Emmm I went a little overboard … I took the afternoon!
I decided to sort a stack of Holiday and postcards that I had taken down, and one thing led to another, I ended up reorganizing my MAIL and TRAVEL boxes.
These boxes live on the top of my bookshelf. They are all cute and labelled and serve as limits for different things like snail mail, holiday and birthday cards, postcards, maps, travel journals, etc., meaning what I own in these categories must fit in those boxes.
This is my Emotional Clutter, people. THIS is the stuff that trips me up the most. I have a hard time (read I don’t want to) get rid of old hand drawn birthday cards from my grandmother, or the multiple postcards sent from friends from all over the world, or tickets stubs from the Tower of London we visited two years ago.
I realize I have no one to give this too, no children that would be interested to see my handwriting or discover what my friends had to say. So these sentimental remnants are just for my own enjoyment.
To make sure I could keep these tidbits of past events, without having them overrun my life, I found a way to limit myself. I have a few boxes that hold these treasures and I make sure I revisit them once in a while. Cards from someone that was once important in my life might hold less meaning 10 years later and I might feel OK by then to recycle it.
Day 7 – Plastic containers
Task: Declutter your food storage containers
Time: 0 min.
Those can be a pain for sure. They are sometimes wonky and don’t always stack very well.
We’ve limited ourselves to a plastic bin for the most part. We don’t use the plastic containers from foods like yogourt, cheese, etc. because you can’t really heat them and mainly because you can’t see through them, making us forget what’s inside and waste food. We recycle them instead.
I’ve also started replacing the plastic with glass containers, both for liquids (jars) and lunches (containers). It’s an investment, but they are more durable and better for our health anyway. They also stack up better.
Day 8 – Declutter under one sink
Task: Clean out the mess that is shoved under a sink
Time: 15 min.
I just realized as I looked to do this task that we only have ONE under sink storage in our house. Huh! But you’re not careful, stuff can sort of multiply in there.
I organized it last year during Peter’s challenge and it has pretty much stayed the same. That’s what’s good about systems. Once they’re in place, it’s easier to maintain the area.
Day 9 – Pets and kids artwork
Task: Declutter and organize pets’ toys or kids’ artwork
Alternate task: Declutter art, craft and gift-wrapping supplies
Time: 20 min.
We don’t have kids or pets, but I do have a stash of craft supplies. I’m not big on DIY, but I like collages and crafts using papers. Since I hadn’t sorted through my materials in a while, I pulled everything out and discarded quite a few items.
I managed to empty an entire cubby on my bookshelf. Yay!
Pretty much all of our books, magazines, office supplies and other craft material are stored in my home office. It’s the space that contains the most organized items in our house (I’m not counting our dungeon of a basement or the garage, aka – Dave’s domain), so it’s quite ‘’busy’’ compared to the rest of the house. I try to purge it regularly so I can pull whatever else is downstairs that should be in the office and actually use it instead of storing it (souvenirs and photo albums are on my list of future projects to purge and bring upstairs).
Day 10 – Tame Your Magazines
Task: Discard old magazines
Time: 2 hours while watching TV
I was expecting that challenge and was glad to dive into the task.
First pass – I looked quickly through the pile and recycled any magazines or catalogues I didn’t want to go through.
Secondly – I flipped through pages and ripped any I wanted to keep. I have a few binders for recipes and inspiration. I make sure I go through them at least once a year as well so as to purge stuff I’m not interested in anymore. I did that during the Christmas break.
Third – Some time ago I let my subscription run out, I didn’t have time to read the magazine I was receiving. If I were to get another subscription I would get the online version to save the paper.
Hope this motivates you to tackle a few projects. Stay tuned for the rest of the challenge in future posts: Getting organized little by little – Part 2
Source: Peter Walsh has been putting this challenge together for three years. You can see all the videos of this year’s challenge on his YouTube Channel and also access previous challenges.