30 Days to Neat!
De-cluttering, Organizing, Cleaning and Functional Design Tips
From The Mountain Clutter Coach
From The Mountain Clutter Coach
It's Day 1 of our Declutter Challenge and we are starting with you, not your partner, not your kids, not your housemates.
If you want to see your whole house decluttered, and you want your family to join in, you must lead by example. You must tackle the process of decluttering in a way that you will feel the immediate results and develop a system that you will stick with without rebounding. Starting in your space with your things will have the most effect on how you start your day, how you end your day, and how well you sleep at night. And because it will effect your mood in such a positive way, you will be more likely to keep going with the rest of your house.
We're going to start with your clothes. Why? From my experience cleaning houses and helping others organize, clothing seems to be the biggest eyesore of clutter in most people's bedrooms. Its on the bed, sometimes baskets full of it, its draped over the end of the bed, it's hanging on over the door hooks, it's laying on top of nightstands, dressers, chairs and ottomans. There's clothing on the floor, and it's oozing out of your dresser drawers and the closet door won't close. Clothing is the main source of clutter in adult bedrooms. Clearing that clutter, along with making your bed everyday will have the most visual and energetic impact on your life. We're gonna start with socks and underwear.
Why? Again when I walk into my client's homes to clean them, inevitably I will tuck socks and underwear into drawers, so that I can close them. Those drawers are always open or have something peeking out of them, even if the other drawers are closed.
We're going to use the Konmari Method for going through and folding our clothes this week. So let's begin.
Step 1: Collect and Wash
Go around your house and collect your socks from everywhere they may be stashed, even the lonely orphan socks. Again, not children's socks and not your partner's socks, just yours. Collect your underwear while you are at it. If you have dirty socks and underwear, wash and dry them.
Step 2: Dump Them Out
Dump all of them out onto your bed or your dining room table and sort them into pairs.
Step 3: Decide What to Keep
Pick up each pair of socks, hold them in your hands, and ask yourself three questions: 1) Do these fit right? 2) Are they comfortable to wear? 3) Are they worn thin or do they have wholes in them? If the answer to one and two is yes, put them in the keep pile, if the answer is no, discard them. If the answer to number three is yes, discard them.
Step 4: Create a Bag for Recycled Clothes
You will use this bag or bags over the course of this week for more than your socks. No one wants old hole filled or uncomfortable socks. So to lesson your carbon foot print recycle them! I don't mean into another use in your house though. Old stained and torn clothes can be recycled and reused for their fibers in the creation of many different products. Here in Asheville, we have a antique furniture market, The Regeneration Station that has a dumpster for recycled clothes that they send off. Call around in your city or town to see if you have a business that does this. IF you don't, just toss those socks now and forget the recycled clothes bag.
Step 5: Fold the Socks You are Keeping
You are going to use the Konmari Method to fold your socks. Check out my video recorded this morning on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/theneatfreaks . The folding tutorial starts at about 6:20, if you don't want to watch the whole video.
Step 6: Find Shallow Boxes or Storage Baskets
Look around your house. Do you have an old iPad box? Do you have other small shallow boxes that would fit nicely in your drawer, grab them. You will use them to separate ankle socks from mid-length socks and knee-high or ski length socks.
Step 6: Place the Socks Back in Your Drawer
Step 7: The Lonely Sock Basket
If you didn't do this when you went through all your paired socks, now is time to dump your lonely sock basket on the table or bed. I bet you will find more than lonely socks in it, if you do, put those things where they go. Lay them all out and look through them to find any pairs. All the socks that don't pair up, go in the clothing recycle bag with the socks that no longer serve you. The ones that do go in your newly remodeled sock drawer.
Here^, you see that I still have socks in the lonely sock basket? These are my daughter's socks. I know, I said do you, not your children. But, I did this to my socks sometime ago, so I couldn't take pictures of the process for the blog. Today is laundry day in our house, and I know that the few socks in our left in our lonely sock basket have matches that I will find in her wash. I found three pairs of socks that matched, and the pile on the right is all the socks and tights we are discarding.
Tonight, I want you to do this to your socks, and then I want you to go through your underwear and bra drawers. There are lots of videos on YouTube on how to fold clothes the Konmari way. Just search "Konmari underwear" or "Konmari boxers," etc, and you will find a video that suits you.
Happy Purging and Folding! I'll see you all tomorrow for Day 2 of our Declutter Challenge.
What is a house?
Well, that's a silly question. The answer is easy, right? A house is a building. Maybe we don't call it by that exact name, maybe we call it an apartment or a condo or a mobile home, maybe your house is an RV or a tent, but regardless of what descriptive word we choose to use, a house is a physical space that a person or a group of people live in. But I believe a house is more than that. I believe a house is a living breathing thing.
A house plays a role in our lives just like people do; it holds space for us just like our families, our friends, and our pets do. The most basic role of a house is to provide us with physical shelter. It's a place for us to go to be protected from the elements. That's quite a big role, deserving of respect, but a house is more than a physical shelter. It shelters us from the harmful behavior of other people, of animals, it provides us with a safe place to store our things. Now, obviously, in a certain percentage of cases a house fails at that role, just as people sometimes fail at their roles, because some people are just not good people, but for the majority of our lives it succeeds at those roles. Besides just physically protecting us from bad people and animals or storing our things safe from theft and damage, it also shelters us from the negative or over-whelming energies of other people and of our busy modern world. And yet still, a house is so much more than a physical shelter and a shelter from chaotic energy.
A house is the first environment that we start our days in. It lends its energy to how we will go about each day. Just like making our beds sets the tone for the rest of our day, the space that the bed sits in also sets the tone for how our days will go. A house is most often the place where we prepare and eat our food, and the condition of your kitchen can dictate what energy we directly put into our bodies. A house is the environment that we come home to and end each day in. It's where we land ourselves to unwind, to decompress, to relax. Like starting our days in it, the condition of our house can influence our ability to unwind, to relax, to let go of our stresses. A house is the space where we often cultivate our deeper relationships with others in life. It's where we fall in love, it's where we make our children, and it's the environment that we bring them home to in the first precious days of their lives. We learn and grow as parents in our home, and we raise our kids in them for 18+ years. The energy in our house plays a role in who they will become as adults, and how they will raise their own children. We play games, we read books, we build forts, we watch movies, we play dress-up, we create art, we cook and we snuggle; it's the place where we spend most of our quality time with our kids. We celebrate birthdays, and holidays and coming of age moments. We create and pass down traditions in our homes. We welcome pets and friends into our homes, and we create memories and love with them too. Our houses are the places where we celebrate when we've had a great day at work, or school, or someone calls and gives us good news. It is the physical place where we dream and plan for our futures. If you are lucky enough to own your own home, it will provides a more secure future not only for you, but for your children and possibly your grand-children. A house is where we cultivate our creativity and our goals. It's also a place that holds space for us when the world is all wrong and unfair, when our lives are chaotic and stressed and sad.
A house is where we vent our anger and our frustration when we've had a bad day. It's where we heal when we are sick and where we nurse our family members and pets when they are ill. It's the place we come to to hide when we are filled with anxiety or suffering from depression. It's the place where we will contemplate and make the hardest decisions of our lives. Sometimes, it's the building where we must witness the people and the animals that we love transition out of this world, and then it becomes the place where we grieve their loss. It's the place where we too, will eventually become sick or grow old and die in. A house holds space for us to feel safe through the tough emotions of living.
A house plays a huge role in our existence. Our house holds energy! It holds warm air in for us in the winter, and cool air in the summer. It has active power wires running through all of its walls that move energy from outside of our homes in, to power the machines we use to make life easier or more entertaining. It has cables running through its walls and wireless signals beaming through the air to provide us with a means of communication or entertainment. It has pipes filled with water throughout to give us hydration, a method to cook our food, a way to cleanse ourselves and the house itself. Our homes are alive with moving energy even when we are not present in them. It's not only physical, tangible energy that brings it to life; it's alive with the unseen energies too,the energy of every person and thing that has come through its doors.
Every item in our home carries with it an energy. Every memory or moment, good or bad, carries with it an energy. And those energies influence our own energy levels and moods, either positively or negatively. The energetic alive in a house influences the way we live our lives, the way our children, our pets, our plants and and the people we invite in live theirs.
A house is a very special and powerful place. It is a sacred place, a very sacred personal space. It's the thing that we work hardest to keep in our lives, and the thing that most of our hard-earned money will be spent on. When our homes aren't treated with respect or cared for, neither are we. And vice-versa. When our house is chaotic, so our our lives. When our house is stressed, so are we. When our house is cluttered, so are our minds. When the places we eat and go to get clean are unhealthy, so are we. And the opposite, when we are unhealthy, our house often falls into an unhealthy state. A house isn't just a building. It's an organism with its own unique ebb and flow of energy.
I want you to think about your life and what people, things, activities, and qualities you hold most valuable. Write them down. Make a list of five to ten things that you value most. Then, based on your values, write down five to ten goals you have for yourself over the course of the next year. Where and how do you want to be this time next year? Sit with those two lists for a minute, and then get up and walk through your whole house room by room. Does your house carry with it an energy that reflects those values? Does the energy of your home support your goals in life? What areas or things in your home participate in holding you back from living your core values and attaining your goals? And what area or things in your home energetically support your vision for your how your future unfolds. Write those things down too. Put them on your refrigerator, your chalkboard, or your vision board if you have one.
If you find yourself stuck in undesirable pattern in life that doesn't support the highest version of you, chances are when you walk through your home, you will find lots of areas and things that are preventing the flow of energy and no longer serve you. It's time to remove those things that distract us, that make us sad, that stress us out, that remind us of our failures, of people who were unkind to us or hurt us, of things that keep us up at night making lists of all the unfinished projects we must complete tomorrow and prevent real quality sleep. It's time to remove all that doesn't help us to make our dreams become our reality.
Tomorrow, our 30-Days-to-Neat: Declutter Challenge begins. Commit yourself to taking ten to twenty minutes of your day, each day for the nesx thirty days to create more space, time, energy, and money for the things you value most in life. Join me as I go live tomorrow, March 24th, at noon eastern time to lead us through the first small step to decluttering our lives. www.facebook.com/theneatfreaks
“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” –Tony Robbins
As the owner of a residential cleaning business and organizing coach, I have a unique lens into the homes of many different types of people. I walk through someone else’s front door roughly 800 times a year, and each time I do, a different set of emotions and observations presents itself to me.
I can tell by the homes of my clients when life is flowing freely and I can tell when life is stressful. I can sense the joy in their homes and I can sense the depression. I can sense the calm days and I can since the busy and overwhelming mornings. I watch the moods of my employees as we move from one house to the next, and how each house effects their energy levels and productivity. I know before they ever step into a new house whether they will love it or dread it. And as I observe my clients’ lives from the perspective of where they rest their heads and my employees behavior and attitudes in each, I can draw a direct correlation between the homes that are clutter free and orderly to feelings of calm and motivation. And one thing I’ve noticed in the homes that are neat and tidy, where everything has its place, is that the beds or at least the master bed is made!
I see making the bed as the first and most foundational habit to transform your life from clutter to simplicity. Before you ever start asking if things spark joy, making trips with a car full of stuff to Goodwill, learning special methods of folding your clothes, creating a capsule wardrobe or redoing your pantry with neatly organized clear bins, you must learn to make your bed!
When I moved back to Asheville from California and started my residential cleaning business, the first thing I noticed about the bathrooms here versus bathrooms in California was this mysterious pink slime that seemed to form in virtually everyone’s bathroom. It builds up in the grout of tile, it builds up around the drain of the tub, it builds up around the faucet and drain of the sink, and leaves a ring in toilets, and in rarely used toilets the entire surface covered in water turns pink. In some houses it builds up heavy, it some lightly, and some seem to escape it’s disgusting aesthetics all together. After noticing it, my inner Sherlock began to develop theories about this stuff. I knew I could google it and find an answer, but part of me just didn’t want to know about my possible impending doom. Somehow, it was easier to just theorize about it instead. So, my first theory was they are treating the water here with something weird that one of the nine billion environmental laws in California just wouldn’t allow in your home. My second theory was that there was some scary amoeba in our water just waiting to enter my ear, and devour my brain. After a while, I got brave enough to ask a client who inspects homes for a living if he knew what it was? He told me it was some bacteria in our water, and it was harmless. I decided to ride with that answer for a year, and regurgitated it to several clients when they mentioned it to me. But eventually, I had to do my own research. What did I find?
Well first off, it’s not some crazy biological warfare chemical to kill all the liberals in Asheville! (Well actually it could be, but I’m just going to be the cleaning lady, not the conspiracy theorist.) And it’s not some flesh or brain munching amoeba, we can all be glad about that! And it’s not in our water! Wait what, but it occurs in places that water pools? Nope, it’s an airborne bacteria, Serratia marcescens, and it thrives in a damp environment, hence why I never saw it in dry northern California. It’s a gram negative, anaerobic bacteria, anaerobic means it does not require oxygen to live. And though it was once thought to be harmless, that isn’t true.
Serratia marcescens is a human pathogen, that once established in the body, can be difficult to get rid of as it is resistant to certain antibiotics. It has been known to infect babies, small children, and the immuno-compromised. Serratia m. can cause urinary tract infections, pneumonia, meningitis, conjunctivitis (pink-eye), endocarditis, infection to open wounds, among other dis-ease. Wow! Right? Glad I looked this up, and now I bet my clients are extra glad that I’m the one scrubbing their bathrooms.
For those of you who don’t have a cleaning service, how do you clean it? Well, bleach is an option and one that works really well. Using a product like Clorox Clean-Up Foamer that will sit on the surface for a couple minutes will kill the bacteria 100%. If you have bad buildup of the bacteria, I suggest you do this initially on and in all surfaces that are porous, like grout or scratched porcelain. It can be maintained with natural cleaners after the initial killing of the colony. If you don’t have a bad build up, you can start with the natural stuff. Any cleaner with vinegar, baking soda, tea tree, lavender or thieves essential oils will usually do the trick. We use Mrs. Meyer’s all-purpose spray in the bathrooms we clean, which all contain bacteria eliminating essential oils. When I spray it in the toilet, I watch the film dissolve and lose its pink color in about five minutes. Then, I scrub with a plastic bristled brush, and flush a couple times. When it comes to showers, tubs, and sinks, I use a baking soda cleaner with essential oils, and a toothbrush to get around the drains and faucets well. It is important to disturb the entire colony and then rinse it away thoroughly. Never use a metal brush or scrubber because they will scratch porcelain and tile surfaces and create a larger porous surface area for the bacteria to thrive in.
Can Serratia marcescens be prevented? Yes, there are things that you can do to reduce the growth of this airborne bacteria in your bathroom and throughout your home, and help prevent human infection from this pathogen.
So….. are you totally grossed out now, and completely paranoid? Yep, I am too! Part of me wishes I had never done my research on this one, but the other part is so glad I did. I couldn’t not share it with you too. Health is wealth, and cleanliness is godliness!
Being a "cleaning lady" is, to be honest, a dirty job, there is nothing glamorous about it, and the "tmi" of people's lives can not be ignored. My day consists of toilets covered in the pee-splash of six year old boys mixed with the remnants of their dad's five o'clock shadows. I encounter sticky surfaces from the jelly-covered hands of toddlers and bananas and cheerios lost in bed-sheets. I find penicillin worthy of science experiments in the back of refrigerators and lost in "catch all" piles on counter-tops. I pull logs of hair out of people's sinks and tubs that look like they should have come out of my dog in the backyard and scrub green and brown boogers off doorframes. I pick up dirty underwear and dirty diapers stuck in random corners. I clean all the old tissues, busted toothpaste tubes and cotton swabs mixed with gum stuck in the bottom of trash cans. I know what my clients eat, the medications they take, what they wash their bodies with, and what personal care products they use. I find pregnancy tests, condoms, and the occasional sex toy in the strangest of places.
Some of my clients keep homes so immaculate that I question why I'm even there or if they are ever there. Some of my clients have households that look like a tornado of dried peas and oatmeal blows through them every morning. It's not glamorous, but it is enjoyable on many levels.
I have the pleasure of relieving some of the stress off the shoulders of busy modern families. I help people in simple ways that truly affect their days in a positive way, I give them more time with their children and friends and to pursue hobbies and interests, and that makes all the pubic hairs and spaghetti splashed cabinets worth it. I like to work alone, I work best alone, and I get lots of time to myself when I am working. I work with a team, but we are rarely in the same room and often on different floors. It is, in a way, my meditation time. I listen to music on days when I am dragging, but most of the time I opt for my thoughts. Sometimes I even find myself chanting, "wax on, wax off" while imagining my hands belong to ninja turtles. When I am really stressed out and have a lot on my mind, my job clears my head with it's rhythmic and repetitive nature. I plan for the future, and contemplate the troubles of the world. I also notice a lot of very random things most people do not notice in their homes or the homes of others. I have a hyper-eye for baseboards and cobwebs, and I can tell you why the bathroom is the most dusty room of every house, most people don't even contemplate why bathrooms are dusty. I have houses I clean, that are my favorites, and houses that have become my red-headed step-children. I love all of my clients; I attract some awesome people, so I often contemplate, "why is it that I love being in this house and loathe walking in that one."
The answers lie in design and clutter. There are some design trends that are beautiful, yet unpractical or a pain in the you-know-what to maintain, and there are some that are beautiful and so easy to maintain that I sing them out-of-tune songs of praise as I scrub-a-dub-dub. There are some homes with boxes and piles everywhere that clearly haven't been touched in so long that my clients have forgotten what's in them, and some that are so well-organized that any stranger could walk in and find the needle in the haystack. I have been remodelling my own home and purging and changing my daily habits. Some of the homes I clean inspire me in my own home, and some have led to a complete change of mind in the design of my own home. I am addicted to HGTV, and though I love Joanna Gaines, and Jonathon Scott, I find myself shaking my head at the functionality of their beautiful designs, and wishing I could grab their clients by the shoulders and say, "no, don't let them do it!" There are things I wish I could say to my own clients and tips I love to share with other busy families, so I decided I would start blogging with tips on functional design, ideas for helpful and realistic home organization, and tips for cleaning efficiently without wasting your whole weekend on chores or whole wallet on ineffective gadgets and over-rated cleaning products. I hope my dirty job can provide you with useful advice to keep your home an oasis of relaxation instead of a reminder of how gross your beloved spouse is. I love questions and comments, and the sharing of ideas that work for you.......