A blogger that I follow is doing a 10-day organizing challenge on Instagram with her followers based on the book Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider of The Art of Simple fame. My house is in desperate need of some organization AND some simplicity, so I decided to join in the fun. I am about half-way through the challenge, and this is what I learned along the way … so far.
What I learned doing an organizing challenge … so far
- It’s never too late to start. The challenge started on Monday, but I was not ready to jump in until Wednesday. At one point in my life, I would use this as an excuse to blow the whole thing off, but the recovering perfectionist in me thought “better late than never.” And it was totally fine. I was able to squeeze the majority of the first three days’ challenges into my first day, and caught up with the challenge by Thursday morning.
- It’s about progress, not perfection. There is no way, NO WAY, that I am going to get my home completely organized, cleaned, and simplified in two weeks. It’s bad, y’all. Three years of homeschooling have taken a toll. But that’s OK (says the recovering perfectionist) because no matter how much or how little I do in the challenge, it’s more than I would have done otherwise. And that’s a good thing.
- Not doing too much is my spiritual practice … and I need more practice. Of course, Wednesday I pushed myself too hard. And I kinda knew I would. I am not as young or as fit as I used to be, and 10+ hours of cleaning, bending, carrying, etc. takes a toll. By the end of the day, I was tired (tah-erd in Texas speak). Like, bone-weary tired. But I managed to throw some chili together for dinner and take a super-hot bath before bed, and by the next morning, I was ready to roll again. Still, I need to work on pacing myself. Always.
- We have way more stuff than I think we do. After we decluttered most of the surfaces in the common areas, the first major challenge was basically emptying, cleaning and decluttering the family room. I didn’t think this room had a lot of stuff in it. There is only one cabinet full of games and photo albums, and a couple of shelves for media. Boy, was I surprised when we moved most of the contents (apart from the furniture) to the dining room. It’s a LOT of stuff. We did manage to go through all of it, and purged maybe 10% of it. On the one hand, I am glad that we actually like and use most of what is in here. On the other hand, I wish I could have been a bit more ruthless about getting rid of stuff, because it IS a lot. But a task for next time.
- The house was not as clean as I thought it was. Although it was a huge effort, I am glad we “emptied” the room. It gave me a chance to do a really deep clean, including vacuuming under furniture, cleaning baseboards, and dusting inside of drawers, shelves and the cabinet. And it was gross. It didn’t look dirty to the naked eye, but the large pile of filthy rags tells a different story. But that’s life, and we have lived in this house for over 18 years without a major remodel, so dust and such will pile up. The room does feel SO much cleaner now, so it was totally worth it.
- It is possible – and sometimes necessary – to completely dismantle the interior of a refrigerator. On Thursday, we moved on to the kitchen. Since we were short on time due to some outside obligations, we did the counters and a super-deep clean of the fridge. This is a relatively new fridge, but it was still overdue for a deep clean. We emptied it out, and removed every shelf, drawer, and bin, and even took out the frame at the bottom that holds the crisper drawers. We cleaned EVERYTHING, sometimes using Q-tips to get gunk out of cracks and crevices. And when we finished, we got everything reassembled and put back where it belongs. Bonus points for no parts left over.
- I like clean surfaces. The first step of the challenge was to remove all visual clutter, clearing countertops and surfaces of collectibles and knickknacks. Now, intellectually I know this makes a big difference to how a room looks and feels, but like I said, I like my stuff and don’t mind having a few things out on display. But in keeping with the challenge, I cleared a lot of surfaces, and reduced the things on top of my kitchen counter by half. Wow. What a difference it makes. Not only do the rooms look cleaner and brighter, I feel like I can breathe easier, if that makes any sense. It’s also a lot easier to spot things that are out of place, and quickly put them back where they belong, so these surfaces are STAYING less cluttered. It’s only been a few days, but I like it so much more already. I will probably be doing more of this when I pick up the challenge again next week.
Bonus: Community makes all the difference. This is hard work, hence the “challenge.” I am not sure I would be sticking with it, and certainly not writing about it, if it weren’t for the fact that I am following along with other people on Facebook and Instagram. People I don’t even know in real life, by the way. It still surprises me at times how motivating being a part of a community can be, even an on-line community. I guess we are all hard-wired to be a part of something, whether it is something big and profound, like a church community, or sometime as simple and mundane as a group of women who all want to make their homes a little cleaner and brighter. And that’s really a nice thought.
Once again, I am linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and buy a book, I get a few pennies for referring you but it doesn’t cost you more. It helps me keep this blog up and running, and you get a shiny new book. Win-win.