Organizing your home can be fun! Improbable, but true. Like so much in life, it’s all about how you look at it. And an expert on the subject is here to tell you one easy trick: Treat home organizing like a scavenger hunt.
Professional organizer Jeni Aron is the Clutter Cowgirl and a contributor to the new book The Real Simple Method to Organizing Every Room: And How to Keep It That Way. She was also one of Watson Adventures’ earliest all-star hunt hosts. In a delightful-yet-practical mash-up, Jeni has five tips for completing your own de-cluttering scavenger hunt.
1. Find and eliminate your bad-mojo mementos
Did your mean ex leave her college sweatshirt in your apartment? Did your not-so-nice dad write you a letter that still makes you boil? Find these bad-mojo mementos and gather them up in a shopping bag. Say thank you and goodbye, as they are not adding anything good, sweet, nurturing, or beneficial to your home. Only keep items around you that make you feel uplifted, supported, and heading in the right direction. On to the next hunt!
2. Cull the kitchen in 10 minutes
Not only are cracked, chipped, or broken dishes and cups unsightly, but they can be dangerous, too. I’m not sure you’d let a friend drink out of a broken glass and risk a cut lip, so why are you drinking out of that sucker? Set a timer for 10 minutes to look through your kitchen cabinets and find any past-their-prime coffee cups, drinking glasses, cereal bowls, and plates. These are not donation-worthy items and they are not adding any energy to your home that screams “I’m worth it,” so wrap them up in newspaper and banish them to the trash.
While you’re at it, unload any freebie water bottles, radio giveaway mugs, and the like if you’re not a fan of what they’re promoting or you simply don’t use them. You’re welcome!
3. Suss out the smelly stuff
Your refrigerator is a marvelous ecosystem bubbling and purring like a living creature. That means you have to take care of it by pruning out the decaying waste and cleaning the shelves every now and then. (Once every month sound okay?) Find old leftovers, well-intentioned packed lunches, and expired cheeses. You’ll know them when you smell them. If you don’t have someone on hand to shove a Chinese food container under their nose to ask if it’s good, you’ll have to trust your own schnoz.
Once the bad bananas and rude-smelling dairy are in the trash, wipe down the shelves and put back your fresh items that you know you’ll use. Condiments live on the door, eggs go in one section, veggies and fruits go in their assigned drawers, and most-used stuff goes front and center. If you want to corral like with like, use a clear plastic container to section off your stashes of cheese or your olive collection. Bon appetit!
4. Patrol for old paper
Mail and bills and doctors invoices are the main villains of any home. Nobody wants to tackle this stuff, but let’s deal with it. When mail comes into your home, look at it immediately and make a split-second decision about it. Catalogs repeat themselves over and over, so those can be tossed. Invitation to a first birthday party? Check your calendar and RSVP within a week. The invite can live on your fridge or you can take a photo and keep it in your phone. Action is key! The only papers that you should be hanging onto are taxes from the last seven years, unresolved medical issues, car paperwork (like insurance, car repair bills, etc.), and every single piece of “art” that your six-year-old brings home. Just kidding, that was a test.
Make sure you have a small file box with labels that make sense to you, and hold onto important papers for only the amount of time you actually need to refer to them. Your lease from 3 apartments ago? Bye! Your dog’s vet bills from 1997? See ya!
Papers will pile up until you’re buried alive, so it’s your job to head them off at the pass and be the hero of your own novella.
5. Find five minutes in the bedroom
Every morning, in your rush out the door, find five minutes to make your bed. Making your bed starts your day off on the right stiletto, and it’s a very well-earned visual reward when you come home at the end of a long day. Making your bed also prevents you from piling up magazines, books, clothes, and stuffed animals (what?) in a messy heap. A freshly made bed has been said to lead to a happier life and millions of dollars in the bank. That’s what I heard. Just go with it.
You can find Jeni Aron at cluttercowgirl.com.