New School Year Prep Days 3 to 5 – Cleaning and Home Organization
Cleaning and Home Organization
When I was writing my dissertation, I often put off work by cleaning. “If only my refrigerator were cleaned out, I could concentrate,” I would think to myself. I convinced myself that the clutter in my home was so distracting that I could do nothing else. If you are like me, a good cleaning and organization of your home will clear a lot of small items from your mental “to do” list. (If you missed Day 1, you can read about it here. Day 2 was revising and revising your budget which you can learn to do here). Warning: This step will probably take multiple days.
My general cleaning routine goes something like this: bathroom, refrigerator, rest of the kitchen, declutter the rest of the home, dust, vacuum, then I clean off the glass and windows and take out the trash.
But this post is about more than cleaning to remove distracting clutter. It is about organizing and getting ready for the new school year. You may have noticed that the tips given on Day 1 were ones that would eliminate a lot of errands in the fall so you can clear your schedule for work (and some fun). Organizing your home will free up even more time (and in some cases money).
When I do home organizing, seven things usually happen.
- I find things that I forgot I had.
- I will think, “Wow, I have a lot of X.”
- I remember what I have and where it is.
- It is easier to do the routine cleanings in the future.
- I save money because I find “extras” of items and use them before I shop for them.
- I feel less stress.
- It surprisingly stays more or less organized.
Here is how I’ve tackled this:
Start with the bathroom(s)
- Take out any dirty laundry and wash it.
- Remove items from any closets, counters, and drawers.
- Trash/recycle empty containers, medicines, and broken accessories/equipment.
- If you have items that you no longer use, but still have life left in them, put them in a donate/resell pile. I have a designated area for donations and reselling items in my home.
- Sort the items into categories (towels, hair care, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, travel sizes, etc.).
- Make a shopping list of items you need to restock.
- Think of your bathroom like a mini store. Create zones in your closet, drawers, and under the sink. Cleaning supplies? Under the sink. First aid? Third shelf in the linen closet. Cosmetics? Left top drawer. You get the idea. Everything has a home.
- Keep the surfaces as clear as possible. It will make your home look neater. It will make it easier and faster to do routine cleaning.
Move into the bedroom and hall closets and dressers
- Remove any dirty laundry and wash it.
- Remove clothing, shoes, and accessories from closets and drawers.
- Throw away pieces that are beyond repair.
- If there are pieces that you don’t use anymore, but someone else can, consider donating or reselling them.
- Sort the clothing into categories.
- If you have seasonal clothing in storage, you will want to go through these, too.
- Make a shopping list of what you need and how many of each. Keep in mind what you will need for upcoming events, such as conferences.
- Like the bathroom, assign areas for specific items.
- Repeat this for non-clothing items. Remove, cull, sort/organize, and replace. With any luck, you will have more space in your closets.
Other storage areas (garages, attics)
- Go section by section and cull trash/donations/resell items.
- Create zones for specific items, sporting goods, holiday, tools (and types), heirlooms, etc.
- Reorganize the items, so they are in the correct zones.
- Does anything need to be brought out into other areas of the home for use?
Bedrooms and living areas
- Remove anything that needs to be laundered.
- Collect and return misplaced items.
- Clear up surfaces by removing and sorting items (mail, books, decor, plants, pens). Throw out/recycle any trash.
- Consider donating or reselling things that you no longer want (do you need all of those CDs?)
- Think about the items that you have left. What do you need and want to have out? What can go someplace else to make the room look less cluttered? Does anything need to be stored?
- Are your storage areas, such as shelving, TV stands, end tables, used efficiently after you have replaced items? Do you need better solutions?
- The junk drawer. If you have one of these, start there. Clean it. Trash, recycle, donate.
- Flatware drawers. Trash, recycle, donate, clean surfaces, reorganize.
- Cookware, storage containers, dishes, other cabinets. Trash, recycle, donate, clean surfaces, reorganize.
- Remove items from the pantry. Throw out expired items. Donate things that you do not want that are still good. Create zones for categories, such as snacks, canned goods, dry goods, sandwich bags, etc. Return items and make a grocery list of things you might need.
- Clean the counters. Put things away. If there is any fruit of food out that needs to be frozen or put in the refrigerator, now is the time.
- End with the refrigerator. Start with the freezer. Remove the items. Clean the surfaces. Throw out what is no longer good/wanted. Return the rest. Move on to the rest. Remove, toss, if there is anything that you should move to the freezer* (such as shredded or sliced cheeses, bread, lunch meats, sauces, pizza delivery, vegetables, or fruits that are still good but you won’t use it soon) do it now.
- Complete your shopping list.
*You are probably wasting a ton of money on food by not buying in bulk and not storing food correctly. Most foods can be frozen. Ask yourself, “have I seen this food in the frozen food/frozen meal section?”If the answer is yes, then you probably can freeze it without a much of a problem. In a lot of cases, such as with spaghetti sauces and salsas, I separate them out into sandwich bags and put them in the freezer immediately when I open a new jar.
Considering automating your shopping
Using a service that delivers groceries and office supplies to your home on a regular basis, can save you even more time and money. Check out this affiliate link to learn more:
OK. This will probably take several days depending on what you have. If you decide to undertake this whole task, you might want to break this up over several days in the future. Schedule the time now. I usually bring my laptop with me from room to room while I do this and turn on youtube while I work. Audiobooks are also a go-to for me.
You may have also noticed that I did not touch on the home office area. That is worthy of a separate post.
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