When was the last time you re-organized?

When we moved into our apartment, we had completely renovated the place, right back to the exterior walls. Being two organized people, we took the time to think through our designs and make sure everything had a place, and we didn’t fill up the house with too much stuff.

Fast forward two years…

The spacious walk-in closet feels cramped. There are expired packages of food in kitchen drawers and cupboards. We can’t see the floor under the sink in the bathroom. CDs have found their way off their shelves and onto various surfaces throughout the house, and random computer cables have snaked their way over the spare bedroom/office.

How could this have happened? We tidy up and clean our flat every week and we both adore being organized!

Well, life happened. Familiarity bred blindness. And so, bit by bit, the house has lost its shiny-new look and feel.

It doesn’t have to stay that way, however.

Some things are simple to re-organize, like the CDs and computer cables. We’ve added them to our weekly cleanup tasks and they no longer threaten to invade spaces not specifically assigned to them.

As for the rest, it’s required a series of weekend projects (or in our case, a series of mid-week projects as we like to keep our weekends free for fun activities).

To start with, my husband tackled the walk-in closet paring down our clothes and reorganizing what we had left. It’s something that needs to be done periodically as clothes come in and out of fashion, our weight goes up and down, and more obviously, the seasons change, requiring different sorts of outfits.

He then cleared out what was below the bathroom sink. It turns out that when we moved in, we put a bunch of things that we weren’t quite sure what to do with down there in baskets and then forgot about them. And in the manner of all disorganized spaces, the clutter attracted more clutter. To find space for what was there, he reorganized the drawers in the bathroom and managed to carve out room for everything else and make it all more accessible in the process.

Our next task is the kitchen. In our house, it’s probably the most used room as we both love to cook. You’d think that would mean that it’s the most organized space, but no. I’m not sure if we’ll attack it one drawer at a time, or go all out and reorganize and clean everything at once. Given how much better the first two spaces turned out, it’s not something we’re going to let slide much longer.

And now you say: “Great, thanks for the personal story, Alex, but what does it have to do with me?”

Well, how long have you lived in your current abode? How long since you’ve taken a look at the various places where things get stored? Can you access everything easily and do you even know what’s there? Because if you’ve forgotten you have something, you might as well not own it.

So tell me, what mini re-organizing project are you going to take on?

9 Comments for “When was the last time you re-organized?”

  1. posted by Eileen on

    At the end of the winter season, I was ruthless in sorting through my clothes. Two large shopping bags of no-longer loved clothes went to Salvation Army before the rest went into my storage cabinet. Summer wardrobe is now out, any any item that doesn’t pass the “joy” test will go to Salvation Army, too. Next, purses and totes.

  2. posted by Kenneth in Virginia on

    It is a constant struggle. It was driven home when we cleaned out my wife’s parents house where they had lived for 35 years, more than anywhere else. Unfortunately, some of it came to stay at our house. There are no tricks, no short-cuts.

    My wife is retiring in two months and I am, too, two months after that. She is planning to go through the basement and get rid of things with our daughter. Half of the stuff down there belongs to her anyway.

    My only suggestion and it’s not a trick, is to go through every storage box at least once a month. Once a year just isn’t good enough. The idea is nothing more than keeping what you have stored away fresh in your mind, more or less. Nothing should be boxed up and forgotten. But a working life tends to cut into the theory considerably and there are all sorts of things lying around “just in case.” The biggest problem is knowing that tossing out two or three or four boxes of anything won’t make you feel any better. Ultimately, it will take a relocation to another house (or retirement home) to cause serious downsizing. And downsizing is forever.

  3. posted by G. on

    I’d guess it’s been 12-14 years. Some of it, like kitchen items, were put in their current locations when we moved in. Some of the boxes took a couple years to unpack, sort and put away. I have gone through and looked for things like expired medicines, suspect cans & boxes in the pantry, gone through craft & sewing items and gotten rid of solidified paints/glue and rotted thread and elastics. But I dare not move items around in the kitchen or bathrooms, I’ll never hear the end of it from spousal unit, even if I do show him where the new locations are. OTOH, he’s never had an issue with shoving “my” stuff around the basement and not letting me know where it went :-/ I’m STILL looking for my smaller adjustable paint pole and a set of sweeper pipes and attachments.

  4. posted by Her from There on

    I’m a doll collector. I have no problem with being a doll collector. I don’t drink or smoke or party hard so my spare money goes into what I enjoy, rather than what other people think I should enjoy. I have my own doll room and its beautifully decked out with adjustable shelving on one side and display shelves on the other. So, its an organised space and I can close the door when my son’s friends come over because they don’t want to see dolls. However, as you do when you have a confined non-TARDIS area, I ran out of space and changed the configuration of the shelves so that the dolls in boxes were stacked, with the idea I’d have one doll at the front showing what the collection was, and that doll would change monthly. Yeah… Anyway, 6 weeks ago the ceiling in that room only sustained damage from leaks from a dodgy aerial removal. I had to take all the dolls out for the ceiling to be repaired. I had to take out all the shelves too. Once I had everything out I realised I had a lot of dolls I hadn’t looked at, or had bought because they took my fancy but which ended up in a stack, or because I thought they’d have resale value eventually. I decided to only return to the room those dolls that I definitely wanted to see often. All the ones I liked but didn’t feel very sad about not keeping got put on sale pages. Its an ongoing process, and it means the games room is now full of dolls because its easier to move around them there and list them and pack them when they’re sold but I just explain to people who come over what I’m doing and they think its a good idea. So its a bit inconvenient for now but the pile WILL reduce and eventually not exist, and my doll room will only have the dolls I valued most.

  5. posted by Good luck and best wishes on

    I am solo but in midlife after a divorce, changed career and home. Up-sized because I could and wanted to. 2nd bedroom my office. Views of the park one way and lower Manhattan the other. My mom came in and said “This, THIS is a home.” I had her furnishings and my own. One year later I injured my hand in an accident and couldn’t finish unpacking boxes (a problem anyway after moving) or file my paperwork. I tried paying an organizer but they’re expensive and it was taking forever, a page at a time and only kept accumulating. At some point I had to dismiss my housekeeper due to finances. On the other hand (no pun intended) I couldn’t keep up with my work or myself or pain. Things happen? The best laid plans. All the above.

    My mother said “when you get rid of all the boxes, you’ll have a (large) home again.” She’s since passed away. Took us over 2 years to undo her home of 60 years (and the comment with parental home Of 35 yrs thought they had it bad). My folks had stuff going back to the flood. I felt, as the family archivist, a need to save some and go thru. Other items of potential value – but at what price? My “large” apt has not been a home since, for all reasons above. I’m older now, at a revival stage in my work but would rather not be, have to be. Still would like my home to be my home and my work to be more productive. 10 years of this. Tired. Years pass and I want other things. Freedom from the junk everywhere partly sorted. Recently gave up 20 pairs of shoes that don’t fit. That is my Start. This stuff destroys focus, limits visits to the few that know about the mess. Like to cook and want to have dinners here again. So books will go next. Not all. And the storage costs more than my housekeeper ever did. Enough is too much but it isn’t easy. And twice as easy with twice as many years worth, only one person. It also requires consistency and constancy. And reaching out for help. That is continuous. Hard to find that kind of help. But I urge us all not to give up. This column gives me
    Hope by letting me know I’m
    Not alone, the situation far from bizarre or rare, and hopefully some
    Really critical hints will kick in that take into account that we work, we grow older, we have accidents and so forth each of which impair the ability to do it all. Though we do have too much of “it all.”

  6. posted by Christy King on

    I reorganize every space every year. I’ve calendared myself to clean out every cupboard and closet once a year. It’s a good time to declutter, organize and actually clean (vacuum, wipe down, etc.) Because I spread the tasks throughout the year, it’s never overwhelming. For instance, the garage is calendared for 4 weekends one month and the kitchen cabinets are handled over two weekends.

  7. posted by Kenneth in Virginia on

    “Spousal unit.” That’s good. I’ll have to remember it.

  8. posted by Sue on

    ” if you’ve forgotten you have something, you might as well not own it”

    Words to live by. Moving definitely prompts me to declutter, as I did last year. I have the best of intentions of keeping things as organized as they were when I initially unpacked. But already I have had two major upheavals (someone moving in and someone moving out) which has caused haphazard reorganization.

  9. posted by Rebekah on

    Kitchens are tricky; when I moved into my husbands unit I had him take what he loved and used out of cupboards onto the bench. I packed up the rest, cleaned, and moved my things in – we have room for all necessary and no junk – we fit two slow cookers even with limited cupboards and it is the best thing I’ve ever done for frugal meals and easy preserves.

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