Monday, August 18, 2008

Decluttering Frenzy

It was my daughter Lisa's 20th birthday on Sunday and we had arranged for a family get-together to celebrate the on-set of her Tweeny years.

I had decided that this year, there would be no home cooking (my mum usually takes control of this), instead we would have 'Pizza (a) metro'. This is gourmet pizza made in 1/2 meter lengths as opposed to the traditional and uninteresting round pizzas.

With the main food all under control, the only thing left was the salads & dips to prepare - prepared by my mum because dad grows his own vegies :-)

A vision of my mum going to the pantry for spices, oils & vinegars and then searching through the cupboards and drawers for appropriate strainers,bowls & salad spoons set me off in a cold sweat!

Mum & I work quite differently in the kitchen. I clean up as I go along whereas mum likes to do it all after she's finished preparing a smorgasbord of dishes.

And that is what sent me into my decluttering frenzy.

I didn't want to be constantly showing mum where I keep things, or discover that I had run out of essential items. I just wanted us all to have a relaxing and fun time.

It was then that I realised that my kitchen was not 'user-friendly', it was only functional to me (not a good idea when you want the kids or hubby to prepare meals)!

I was only going to do a little 'buzz clean' - the utensil drawer, the essential pantry items & salad cupboard. Instead, I went all out and decluttered the whole damn kitchen!

What a lunatic, what on earth was I thinking??? How on earth can I contemplate doing this AND the rest of the housework & laundry the day before a party?

I enlisted the help of (reluctant) kids & hubby and we managed to get it all done - and with time to spare!

Now I will be the first to admit that this is not normal. Decluttering should not be attempted in this manner.
But then again, those who know me will tell you that I am truly unique LOL. Below is how I should have done it.

Easy decluttering:

1. Baby Steps
Start with a small or problem section/area, don't beat yourself up hoping to do the entire kitchen

2. 3+1
3 boxes + 1 garbage bag - 'Sort' box, 'Put Away' box, 'Return/Donate' box + rubbish bag

3. Timer/Clock
Set at 15 minutes

4. Action Plan
Set yourself a realistic goal & time frame for what you want to achieve

5. SPAM Method
Sort
Empty the contents of drawer, cupboard or shelf and place 'like' with 'like' items

Purge

Put loved,used & required items into 'Sort' box
Put items belonging in other areas/rooms into 'Put Away' box
Put borrowed, no longer used, unwanted items into 'Return/Donate' box
Put all broken, mouldy, expired items in rubbish bag & throw out immediately

Arrange

Organise all items in the 'Sort' box into the cleared space, keeping 'like' with 'like'
Return all items in the 'Put Away' box to their appropriate areas/rooms
Return borrowed items and thoughtfully donate what's left in 'Return/Donate' box

Maintain

Regularly review & purge to maintain your organised space

6. Reward
An organised and efficient space to show off !

A Fine Mess!

I can't begin to count the many (unsuccessful) attempts I have made at clearing clutter and 'getting' organised....way too painful!

Many weekends I have exhausted myself with my 'cleaning rampage', overwhelmed, knee-deep with piles of stuff that required sorting, making last minute dashes to Howard's Storage & Officeworks for more containers and manila folders, tearing hamstrings whilst de-cluttering and trying to convince my children that divorcing their mother was a COSTLY (if not drastic) excercise!

Yep, I have gone through the paces & failed every time.

So, how does a person, whose personality relies so heavily on structure & order, end up being so disorganised?

Read any book on clutter, organisation, time management or psychology and you will find there are different personality types, disorders, symptoms and situations that lead to this fine mess.

For most people, it's one or two of these things.

I, on the other hand, don't like half measures. No, I need to go ALL OR NOTHING!

I had the scarcity belief drilled into me by my parents so I would constantly hoard, I was forever bringing things home from the Salvo's rather than taking stuff there, I would defer making decisions and made matters worse by procrastinating, and probably a touch of ADD if I bothered to see a shrink!

My Motto: If it couldn't be filed/sorted/put away perfectly then it would have to wait until it could.

Add to this lovely mix, a family business in crises, skewed work/life balance, children & family commitments, poor self-esteem and you have a recipe for disaster.

Through trial and error, I have realised that you just can't 'get' organised, you have to become organised.

I have also learnt that there is no set style of being organised. It's personal and should be tailored to work for the individual.

Just like there is no manual for parents, there is no manual for becoming organised - YET (stay tuned).

I have taken affirmative action - I am reclaiming control and have started becoming organised.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Organised Days

Bought myself a new timer from Officeworks today.

I have applied the '1 in/1 out' rule - I have a new digital timer with all the bells & whistles (1 in) and Mum will now inherit my egg timer so she can make Greek Coffee without over boiling & spilling it (1 out).

If the family thought I was anal before - you should have seen the look on their faces when I proudly displayed my new toy!!!

We all fear the unknown, they just happen to fear how they could co-exist with my new digital friend - LOL.

In order to ensure the longevity & well-being of my time-keeper, I had to convince them BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT (imaginary &/or real) that they would NOT be answering to any beeping demands.

No, the real reason for my purchase is that I am trying to better organise my days.
I know what it is that I need to do, I know the order in which I need to do things and I also have set routines. What I don't know is how long do my routine tasks take? Where do I lose time? Where can I make up time? What tasks are counter-productive and how long do they really consume?

So, I have decided to track all my activities and estimate how long it will take to complete each and every task for 1 week.

Week 2, I will actually time these activities and compare against my estimates - wonder how many surprises I will get?

At the end of this excercise, I will be able to identify:
exactly how long each activity takes to complete
which tasks I could group together in order to streamline & save time
which tasks can easily be outsourced (darling children & hubby won't like these ones)
how much time I actually have left for ME!

'ME' time is very important for me. Not only because I get to pamper myself (something that I have almost forgotten how to do), but because it means I can give more of me to my family.

I will be able to be a relaxed taxi-driver for my son from soccer to movies to friends, catch up on girl gossip with my daughter whilst enjoying her love of the cafe culture, watch TV with hubby without a nervous twitch, have coffee with my mum & dad without rushing, visit my sister and my adorable nieces whilst totally oblivious to housework, prepare a fun dinner with my brother........

ME time is Quality time.

How do YOU account for your time?

Are you doing all the things you want to be doing?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Time Management & Being Organised - Part 3

Upon arriving home, Jen & the kids unload the grocery shopping. Jen dumps the mail on the kitchen bench and the kids leave their school, dancing & soccer bags on the hallway floor.

Hunger pains are starting to kick in and focused eyes are scanning grocery bags for snacks.

During dinner, the family catches up on how their day was, what school work needs to be done, which bills need to be paid and all the school-yard capers during lunch time.

After clearing the dinner table and stacking the washing machine, Jen is absolutely exhausted and chills out by spending some time with her husband and kids watching a bit of TV. The kids quickly lose interest and the girls head off to the computer to 'chat' with friends whilst her son switches on the PS3.

As there is no set bed time, the kids need some prompting to 'brush up & get to bed'. Depending on the mood swings and energy levels, this could take between 1-2 hours before the kids are finally in their rooms, another hour or two before they are finally asleep!

Jen reflects on her day......

'Phew! What an exhausting day. No wonder I don't have time to do join a gym. Probably don't need to with all the exercise I get during the day!!!'


This is decision making at its best or should I say worst?! How different would Jen's day be if she decided to plan her day the night before?

The real problem here is this.....JEN DOES NOT BELIEVE SHE HAS TIME MANAGEMENT OR CLUTTER ISSUES!

Frozen Cherry Trees

Frozen Cherry Trees
Inspirational