Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Conquering The Messies: Part Three

Are you knee deep in boxes? Wondering what to do? Welcome to part three of Conquering The Messies.

This is the third part of a four part series on winning the war on clutter. If you missed the beginning, go "here" for part one and "here" for part two.

Let's get started with today's work.

Keep sorting through your clutter.  So now you're standing in your living room, or wherever, surrounded by all that stuff, and you are starting to toss your items into the four boxes: KEEP, GIVE AWAY, THROW AWAY, and UNDECIDED (and Dancer and Prancer and Donner, and Dopey and Sleepy and Grumpy....ooooh, sorry! I got carried away).

Eventually you will sort through all the piles of stuff you have lying around or shoved under your bed or on top of the dining table, as well as your closets, cupboards, shelves and drawers. In the beginning you may not be sure where everything is going to go. Put it in or near the room or place that you think it should go or want it to go in the future. Eventually there will be room for it as you continue to sort.

Get some storage boxes together.  For boxes you can use plastic ones (with lids) or cardboard "banker's boxes." Costco sells them, so does Sam's, at least, they used to.  You really can use any box.  Those big buy-in-bulk diaper boxes are good too. Number the first box #1, the second #2, the third box #3, etc.  I use index cards to write my numbers on, but you can write it directly on the box if you want.

Make an inventory of the items that you are placing in the boxes.  Start filling your boxes up with the items from your KEEP pile.  Take a piece of paper and write down everything that you put in box number one. Once it's full, move on to box number two, and record everything that you place in there.  Do the same for box number three, and so on.

Six months from now you are not going to remember which box you placed something in. You may not even remember six hours from now. That is why you need the inventory.  You will want to either put the information on your computer, in your Household Notebook (if you have one), or in a safe place....just don't forget where you put it!

Just toss everything in the box together and don't worry about it.  You have an inventory of what's in there.  Don't store by category unless you have a huge amount of room.  When I first started storing my things in boxes, I tried to store them according to categories, such as baby clothes, maternity clothes, out-of-season clothes, hand-me-downs, etc. That really did not work for me, because that meant there were many boxes that were only partially full, and I was not making good use of my storage.

Eventually, I started filling the boxes all the way to the top in order to make better use of my storage shelves. Since I have an inventory I am always able to find what I need, so it really doesn't matter what box they are in. The only exception to this are my Christmas boxes. They are bright green plastic boxes that only hold Christmas-related items.

What kinds of things did I store back then and/or do I store now? Baby clothes, maternity clothes, a humidifier, toys (so that I could rotate them when the kids got bored), old high school yearbooks, decorating knicknacks (so that I could rotate them when I got bored), out-of-season clothes, hand-me-downs, blankets, pillows, schoolbooks to pass on to little brother, swimwear, an extra coffee carafe (bought it at a yard sale in case the other one broke), pictures, heating pad, fabric scraps, extra tealights, arts & crafts, etc.

Use your boxes for "C" storage.  I also tried to store things that I didn't use that often. That way, I could save my shelves, cupboards and closets for "A" and "B" storage items, meaning items that I use most often. I didn't want to clutter up my kitchen storage with a turkey platter that I only used a couple of times a year, so I packed it in one of the boxes. I also didn't want to clutter up the kid's drawers with summer wear when it was winter time so I stored seasonal clothes too.

Put the KEEP boxes in a closet, under the bed, or on a storage shelf somewhere.  Carry the Give Away boxes out to the car so that you can drop them by the thrift store next time you're out. Toss the Throw Away items. Your Undecided box should be decided by now and in one of the other boxes or in the trash.

Tomorrow we'll talk about maintenance and finding a routine that works for you! 

So come back tomorrow for part four of  Conquering The Messies.

(Edit: this post is taken from the archives as I am on bed rest due to my bad back flaring up again.  I am in a lot of pain so am borrowing from my archives this week!  I DO have pain pills and will also be going to PT for several weeks which I hope will help!)

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  1. Hi Nan,

    Wow, I have missed A LOT since Monday! I thoroughly enjoyed reading all three posts. Thank you for your helpful tips.

    My biggest issue are clothes - I have a hard time getting rid of clothes because I think, "What if I need this shirt someday?" or "What if I gain weight and I need these bigger pants?" and the silly one, "Surely someday I will lose 15 pounds and be able to fit in the skirt that I wore when I was 16!"

    Anyway, maybe this weekend I will take the challenge and go through my clothes......

    Thanks, Nan :) I hope your back is doing better! I have been thinking of you and praying for you.


    1. I know what you mean about the clothes. Although they always say that if you gain OR lose the weight, those clothes might not be in style anyway, lol!

      Thank you, my back is doing better. The therapy seems to be helping and of course I have the pain pills and just lying and resting it is helping it too.

  2. Hi there Nan,

    When I cannot quite bear to part with somethings, I put them in a box...eventually I no longer emotionally attached to those items (usually forgetting what I even put into it) and then I can easily discard the box. (The key to this NOT reopen the box!)


    Now blogging at:

    1. I have heard that but never have had the nerve to do it. I ALWAYS would open the box first before throwing it out, lol!

  3. Very wise idea to inventory the boxes.

    I agree with Stephanie, I struggle with getting rid of clothes. I am tall and tall clothes are not so easy to find. I tend to hang on to clothes for quite a while when I should really pitch them. PLUS having babies... losing/gaining weight, yeah... lots of clothes.

    I did read a great idea though for throwing away clothes. In your closet put all the hangers in hanging the "wrong" way. As you take clothes out and wear them, rehang them the "right" way. You will easily see which clothes have not been worn in forever and can easily (theoretically) throw them out or donate them.
    Have I done it yet? hahahahaha. no. :( BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA! Maybe I should go do it now? :)

    1. That is a great tip and is certainly an easy one!

      My friend is tall and she has the same problem with clothes. In fact, two of my dearest friends are taller than I am, and they are so thrilled that Costco now has jeans that are "tall," lol!

  4. This is great!! I did this for awhile a long time ago but things have neatly gotten out of hand since we moved. I like boxes that are clear enough to see through a bit but that takes money. They also keep moisture out in the attic. You have definitely motivated me even if I go back to spending 15 minutes a day on this project :-)

    1. Good, I'm glad! My boxes are the banker's boxes, as I mentioned, see-through plastic ones with lids, rubbermaid storage boxes (in various colors) and I even have some cardboard boxes that diapers or small appliances came in.

      Since I have the inventory I don't need to see what's inside. I just look on my inventory sheet when I'm looking for something and then I can go right to the box.

      The only exception is my decor box. I switch things around a lot so the inventory is always changing. So I just keep a list inside the box of what is currently in there.


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