Have you started spring cleaning yet? We’re undergoing renovations and have my daughter’s wedding coming up in less than 2 months after which she’ll be moving to the UK so things are a bit hectic around here. Even so, I’m trying to get things cleared out and organized as I have the time. My back and hip/knee issues have worsened so I’m attempting to organize with my physical limitations in mind.
I’ve read a lot on decluttering and organization and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there is no one answer for everyone. What works for you might not work for me and what works for me in my kitchen doesn’t work for me in my art studio. Still, those books and blogs have given me many valuable tips and ideas that I’ve been able to apply to my own situation.
One person I really have found helpful is Julie Morgenstern. Her basic idea behind getting organized follows the acronym SPACE:
S – Sort
P – Purge
A – Assign
C – Containerize
E – Equalize
So, when working in rooms like my kitchen, I apply her principles. Before I get started though, I like to keep a list (mental or written) of what I do/use in the kitchen during a typical week. I sort things so that like items are together – otherwise how else will I see that I actually have 14 wooden spoons (seriously, who needs 14 of them?). Then I get rid of the excess. I find it easy in the kitchen. I know what kitchen items I use on a regular basis and how many of them I use. I’m also thinking ahead to being an empty nester and knowing that I will no longer need such items as 20+ drinking cups once my daughter and her fiance have moved out.
Next I decide on a logical spot for the items I’m keeping. Dishes and utensils closest to both the dining table and the dishwasher. Glasses near the sink and across from the fridge to make it easy to get water and other beverages. Herbs and spices are in a cabinet across from the stove but not over the stove where the heat can ruin them. I took my most used herbs and spices and placed them in a basket on the kitchen counter where they’re more easily accessible for me. I’ve chosen a spot further back in the cupboards for the coffeemaker and toaster as those are items I only use when people are visiting or once in a blue moon for myself, while the the Caphalon wok (the most used pan I have) is up front. On the counters, I’m placing my electric can opener (my hand injury prevents me from using a manual one), food processor (again an appliance that helps eliminate the need for manual chopping and such which is very helpful to me), and stand mixer (same reasons as the food processor). I find it really important to think through the kind of tasks I do in the kitchen and what tools and appliances will help me to continue with those tasks despite physical challenges.
As I’m assigning the items that I’m keeping to a home, I start planning out any containers I’ll need. Sometimes I already have the right containers but other times, I need to take some measurements and do some looking around to find just the right thing. I always start my search at the local dollar stores. I’m often surprised to find just the right thing there and for a price that can’t be beat! Other times, I’m able to cut down cardboard boxes, cover them with some Contact paper, and use them as temporary containers until I can find something better (that’s affordable!). It’s easier to reach smaller items – for example, jars of spices in the cabinet or condiments in the fridge, if I place them together in a bin. Instead of having to overstretch and try to reach the back of a cabinet, I can pull out one bin and find the item I need. I find Pinterest a great source for getting ideas for some offbeat but very clever alternate storage solutions.
Finally, I need to maintain what I’ve put in place. As I start working in my newly organized kitchen, I actually keep a notepad and pen handy to make some notes of what’s working and what’s not. My organization scheme might need a little tweaking before I get it just right for my personality and lifestyle. Is there something that I’ve started using more often but has been placed in a location that requires too much reaching or bending? I can’t get on a ladder or step stool and sometimes when I bend or crouch, I get stuck in that position with a muscle spasm, so I have to limit placing items too high or too low. Keeping the items I use on a daily basis as close to waist level as possible is crucial. This is where assessing and reassessing how things are working for me is a vital part of the cycle.
Have you started your spring cleaning yet? What tips do you have to make getting organized easier?
Be sure to check out the other spring cleaning posts from my Canadian blogging friends here: