The satisfaction of a still-clean kitchen table

This strategy is evolving as I’m experiencing and observing it simultaneously. It’s alway been a conscious effort to deliberately watch and document how I interact with my space. I’ve read about tactics where people carry around colored dot stickers and they place a sticker on everything they touch for a week. For me, it’s easier to just write about my space.

I’m pleased to report that things held together during a busy 2 weeks. We hopped on and off the wagon throughout two illnesses and a whole lotta hurricane stress. Is it perfect? No. But I’ve accepted that it’s on its way.

The landing pad concept is working for me. I’ve identified all of them, and then decided it if was my landing area, my husband’s or shared. I’m starting with mine, I should focus first on what I know I can control. After the clean kitchen table success, the landing area next to my meal spot is the perfect first landing pad in need of my attention. Mail, magazines, meeting notes, coupons and all sorts of just stuff collects there.  I’m hyper focused on keeping it clear, and making time bound rules about what comes through that area.

This doesn’t mean that another landing area in my home isn’t picking up the slack, some of the stuff is homeless, and is being added to a growing pile in the living room! But other stuff is not. Newspapers now have a time limit, if I haven’t read them, oh well. I don’t know what has changed in me that I’m now able to to do that. I do hope to figure it out though because accepting the obvious isn’t my forte’. I figure one landing area at a time, one room at a time, every day and eventually I’ll have enough information myself to figure it out, and if I don’t, a cute basket will suffice.


A clean kitchen table and a quick dinner

My landing area plan has been working in fits and starts. The truth is, I rebel, I’m rebellious and I rebel against my own plans. It’s absurdity at its finest. And, I had strep throat, so combine the two and no, I have not been regularly addressing each landing area in each room. However, I have been consciously paying attention. And I think that may be the difference this time.

The bullet journal people are onto something, habit tracking helps. Blogging helps, they both bring a kind of accountability even though it’s anonymous and rarely seen.

The schedule helps too, especially in the menu planning. There are 10 basic meal types that we rotate through, Monday is Pasta and Sauce and Monday 2 is a Buddah Bowl. Easy as that, the choices were limited to those two categories, making the choice much easier. Pasta a sauce it was, I had home canned sauce from our summer harvest, and italian (soy) sausage ready to just be tossed in with the sauce. Before my new approach, I would have spent way too much time on Pinterest looking up exotic possibilities.

So, the biggest landing area in the house – the kitchen table. It’s a catch all for everything and slowly, things build until the amount of space that we have to eat gets smaller and smaller. Small walls of magazines, mail, receipts, screws and pruners, butt up against the napkin holder until finally, one day, I lose it. Except, not today.

Today, was the culmination of many weeks, slowly editing, slowing visiting week by week until today, it was a quick, “hey – do you think we can get the rest of this stuff off the table by dinner?” was all that it took.

So tonight, I’m going to bed having made a homemade dinner from our own farm produce AND a spotless kitchen table.

Now, I am going to test the “broken window” theory, the idea that one unfixed broken window gives “permission” for the upkeep of the neighborhood to go downhill. According to Home Comforts, the same applies in the home so if I refrain from clutter, the other clutter bug will, too until one of us gives “permission” and the others accepts it. This is a shared landing pad and it feels good to have it cleared.


Goal Success

The summer got away from me, and now I’m staring at the end quickly arriving with a few big goals still not achieved. But today was a good day. One of the things that I said I wanted to get done by the end of the summer was to develop (and stick to) a housekeeping plan. I’m jealous of the folks for whom housekeeping comes naturally, or is even sought out. I am not one of those people, neither is my husband. We’ve learned to maintain an unacceptable minimum for just long enough until we spend hours cleaning before people our guests arrive. It’s not only unsustainable but it more importantly makes me unhappy.

I had the book “Home Comforts” by Cheryl Mendelson on my Amazon wish list for a whole, it took a long time to move it to my Christmas gift list, and I was genuinely excited about it when I unwrapped the package. But then, like many others, it sat. But then I took the summer off and integrated into my time bound achievable goal!

Mendelson has a lot to say, and I’m not going to go into all of it, but I used her template as a guide and developed my own strategy based on her “landing pad” concept. In short, accept that life is different than it was in past generations, and develop neat landing pads throughout that house that are dealt with on a regular schedule.

This is what I was looking for!

I sat down with my pink binder and came up with this.

  1. Set aside perfection and do something in one room six days a week.
  2. Assign each area of my home a specific day
  3. Identify the landing pads in each room
  4. Identify a list of washing tasks that apply to each room, i.e. dust the baseboards, vacuum the floor, etc.
  5. On washing day, “deal with” at least one of the landing pads in the room on scheduled for tomorrow
  6. Identify and keep track of “special projects” that are needed in each area of my home.

What I’m really doing and thinking about visiting each area of my home on a regular basis and really looking at it, really paying attention to how it functions and bit by bit identify way so make it function better. The immediacy and speed of the Konmari method has been a blocker for me, I know the faster that it is done, the sooner I will enjoy my home more, but for me, this is a process that I am still learning.

Of course, in true procrastinator fashion, I set aside my cute pink binder and forgot about my carefully mapped out plan. That’s not true, I didn’t forget about it, I actively rebelled against it. That’s a whole other story, but I got over my rebellion and today, I did it. I set aside perfection and decided that the swiffer duster and the roomba were acceptable for today. Felt so good about it that I tossed in another task and wiped down the sofa with a Weiman’s Leather wipe. AND, I didn’t have to remember that the couch needed to be wiped down, I had already created a list. I’ve also been reading about the bullet journal concept, I have already become accustomed to Franklin-Covey, and I love my planner, but the concept of a tracker tool has obvious benefits so I decided to track my daily plan to develop good housekeeping habits.

I seems weird to write about learning to keep house but it’s important for me to consider it carefully. We are not true hoarders like you see on television, there aren’t piles of garbage and lost cats. But I do worry what a tragedy would bring. So instead of lamenting, I’m celebrating. I said I was going to do it and I did. Tomorrow I have an opportunity to develop habits.

Celebrate Sucess

The idea that I am writing about organization is comical, its just not something that I am very good at, yet I’ve been trying and trying and one thing that I’ve discovered is  writing about it, either on a keyboard or with a pen, keeps me motivated to continue to do it. Not sure if it works that way for anyone else, but it does for me.

So this year I embarked on #Konmari, or maybe dabbled is a better way to put it. I started diligently and like so many times before, I slowed down and thing started to build back up again. I just skipped over a ton of categories and edited my Christmas decorations. I went from socks to sentimental – and it feels pretty darn good.

One of the motivations that I am discovering is that I want to entertain in our home more. We had an Independence day party this year, we invited people over and served them ice-cream and showed them fireworks and had a good time. And now, we’re even thinking about having some sort of December holiday party. Over time, I haven’t been acknowledging my successes. I haven’t taken notice that while I have not completely transformed my home – we’ve made considerable progress and that is something. I’ve also been inspired somewhat by the invitations I’ve received into others homes of others, some of my older friends, who have presumably learned the lesson that life is too short to not invite people over simply because you’re home is cluttered!

The in-law’s came to visit, friends came over a few times, and we’re considering the idea of inviting people over for a New Year’s event. I’d say that’s progress in the right direction.





Konmari, step 2

I finally finished step 2, pants and skirts.  I still have a few steps to go before I’ll be able to move my hamper.  Why is anyone blogging about where to store the hamper? I’m blending methods from a few key books, and publishing progress is a recommended tactic. So back to the pants and skirts.

It’s not easy. There are still pieces that do not bring me joy that I’m struggling to part with.  The reward of more space wasn’t enough to motivate me to take onthejob for another two weeks, but I finally got started.

It’s done,  and with each step comes a refresh of the previous  steps,  so some tops that should have been let go, are in the pile. The hardest part is admitting the mistakes,  the bad purchases that just didn’t work out as intended.  The pants that I know we’re just a bit too short or tight, those are tough.

But konmari works,  I’m starting to see it for myself.  Now onto sweaters and jackets.

Adding a carrot to the joy question

Do you know why your hamper is where it is? I don’t. It’s probably there because that’s where it fit. It’s definitely not there because that’s where I get undressed. And it’s only here because it’s the hamper that was handed down, no thought had ever been given to if it’s even the right hamper for the job!

Thinking about how I go about my day, how I interact with my space, is not something I am used to doing. But it makes perfect sense. My laundry basket is tucked away in a corner next to my bed, but my pajamas are in the walk in closet on the other side of the room. What happens? I get a pile of dirty laundry in the closet! There’s a book that says if you aren’t doing something that you say you want or need to do, make it 20 seconds easier and see what changes. Remove a barrier and happiness increases. Add an incentive (carrot) to do what is needed to address the barrier.

So if I don’t want dirty clothes piling up, how do I make it easier to put them in the laundry? Move the laundry basket to the closet so it is close by when dressing.

Now, I have a specific tactic that will help me answer the joy question. I don’t think the joy question is quite enough to get to where I want to be.  Keeping what I love isn’t enough, “love” gets loosely defined, “I love this because it fits and extends the time between laundry” isn’t what she meant.

Now, if I add the new incentive to the question, the process is easier. Combine, “do I love this”  with the idea that if I don’t, I am rewarded with space for the laundry basket.

Why so many tops?

I’ve been living with konmari baby step 1 for about 2 weeks. Every top was washed and sorted and what I thought were the joyful tops were put back, space is tight, very tight. I paid careful attention to what I chose to wear first and what I left behind until later. Conclusion, a good portion of my tops serve only one purpose, to delay the doing of laundry, I kept them only because they fit. They are not joyful, they are back ups that aren’t worn out, they are what I wear when what I really want to wear is dirty.

Live with the first konmari baby step before moving on. It’s 90 degrees and I’ve still got winter clothes on my closet, but had I rushed through, I would not have realized that I was keeping more than what is joyful to me.

I’m moving on to “bottoms”, again, it feels easier to just go through what’s hanging in the closet, but I took it out like the book said. Konmari says to do this work all at once, I agree but must point out that everyone’s definition of all at once is different. Don’t go months between steps, but at the same time, enjoy the fruits of your labour and live with your accomplishment for a little while. 
In my case it showed me that I was holding on to much more than what truly brought me joy. That revelation will make baby step 2, bottoms, much much easier to finish.