Un-organising

I read a recent article about certain spaces you shouldn’t bother trying to keep organised in your home. They included the junk drawer, kids’ toyrooms, laundry cupboards, your utensil drawer and photos.

It had an impact in my industry, with lots of Professional Organisers saying “WHAT??? WHY?? NOO!!!!” to the ideas expressed in the article.

But I agreed with the article (most of it, anyway, I DO think the laundry should be fairly well organised because having an efficient clothes-washing system and routine has a flow-on effect to the rest of the house). I agree because I think we place too much pressure on ourselves to have our spaces organised to the “nth degree”. To have all our drawers neatly divided and our books colour-coordinated. To have all the kids’ Lego sorted by colour. To have a house that looks like the ones on Pinterest.

I think life’s too short for that.

To show you how it’s possible to let go on some of these high standards, I’m going to show you my stationery drawers. They are sorted into broad groups (writing, drawing {my art}, attaching, labeling, personal and technical) and labeled all neatly on the outside. Now, that’s pretty organised; I always know what’s in those drawers (or what should be in them if I’ve been good and put stuff away!).

When you open the drawers, however, it looks like a bit of a shemozzle; it’s all just chucked in. And I think that’s fine. It still takes me no time at all to put my hands on what I want, and isn’t that what organised really means? I can see there are a few things that shouldn’t live in a couple of those drawers, but they aren’t bothering me right now so I don’t really care. I can find what I want when I want it.

Organised chaos. That's my thang.

Organised chaos. That’s my thang.

The same goes for my son’s Lego, which is in one big long, shallow tub. Not sorted. Not at all. He doesn’t care one iota. And neither do I.

And my utensil drawer – everyone just throws the stuff in anyway, so why bother trying to keep it tidy? I keep it decluttered so that it only holds what’s necessary, but… tidy? Not worth the effort!

So chill out. You don’t have to have everything lined up with the labels all pointing outwards to have an organised home. You just need to be able to find things when you want them, and have only what you can fit easily in their space.

So, if you want to throw stuff willy-nilly in your top bathroom vanity drawer, go for it. If you want to just throw your undies in with your socks all messy and unfolded, feel free. If you want to have your hairbands in the same box as your clips and bobby-bins, go your hardest. If you can’t be bothered putting your books in order of genre or author, that’s completely okay. You are free to have a jumble if you so wish.

You’re welcome.

How to ditch your ironing basket

I used to iron most of our family’s clothes. I didn’t bother with underwear, sleepwear or linen, but ironed pretty much everything else. My friends used to tell me they never ironed, and I couldn’t believe it – I expected they’d be all wrinkled up, but they weren’t!

I would spend around 3 hours a week ironing, and I hated the ironing basket. It was always full and always there, staring at me and reminding me I had to do something I hated doing. However, I was compelled to iron because the clothes were always so creased. I could not conceive not ironing.

Then my life changed when we went on a 4-week family road-trip style holiday. We lived out of suitcases the whole time, frequently moving and therefore frequently packing and unpacking (and never hanging anything). I realized that we didn’t look all wrinkly all of the time, and that it wasn’t so bad, this No Ironing Thing.

So when we returned home, I repurposed my laundry basket (it’s now our shopping bag basket) and never looked back. I got hints from my best friend, who had some great ideas (thanks Kym!) on how to prevent creases, and I’ll share them with you now.

Firstly, I still try not to use the dryer. It doesn’t rain much where I live, so we dry outside on the clothesline most of the time. We do this to save on electricity usage, mainly – cheaper and more environmentally friendly. When I do, I just apply the same rules as below, essentially (except for the drip-drying).

– I set my spin speed on my washing machine to the lowest spinning speed that I can
– I often don’t spin at all (especially in summer) and instead drip-dry the clothes
– I give them a good shake when they come out of the machine and hang them on the line as soon as possible
– I smooth them out on the line and leave them as smooth as I can to dry
– I always peg socks together in their pairs (this isn’t an ironing tip but it saves time later)
– As I get them off the line, I put them in the basket in this order: undies, socks (paired immediately), sleepwear (folded), shorts & pants (folded), things that don’t crease (folded). Then finally I lay flat out over the top of the basket the clothes that usually crease a little like t-shirts dresses and shirts (hanging stuff).
– Once inside, I take the hanging clothes off the basket and lay them on the back of the couch. I put the most creased pieces on the bottom of the pile. I smooth them out individually as I add each one to the pile (sort of like ironing them with my hands)
– I put all the other stuff away in the wardrobes
– A few hours later I hang the hanging items – they have ironed themselves on the back of the couch (sometimes I lay them flat on the bed, too).

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Sometimes I’ll get something out of the wardrobe to wear and it’s a little creased – so then I give it a quick iron, but this is rare.

I have also learned that your body heat will also smooth out wrinkles once you’ve had it on for a little while, too.

It’s also useful, of course, to buy clothes made from fabrics that don’t crease easily!

Finally, ditch your perfectionism – no one will notice, trust me! And you’ll be a changed person!

Product feature – “narrow spaces” trolley

3-tier trolley

I’ve decided to add product features to my blog, and I hope it helps you in your quest to get more organised. Many of my clients buy an organising product without thinking about its intended purpose so I thought if I help you do the thinking first, you won’t have to buy anything unnecessary!

The first product is rather exciting – I couldn’t wait to try it out!

The narrow trolley (pictured is the 3-tier version – it also comes in 4-tier) is a clever way to gain storage in an otherwise unusable spot. It’s on wheels, so it can be moved in and out of spaces easily – this means you can even put heavier items in it without having to strain to pull them out.

Some possible uses for it:

  • Keep pet food and accessories in it (this is what we use it for) either in the kitchen or laundry.
  • Put all your cleaning products in it and wheel it around with you when you clean (and then hide it away in a narrow space when you’re done!).
  • Take off the wheels and put it in the under-sink cupboard for some extra shelf storage that doesn’t get in the way of the pipes (note, it could be too tall for some cupboards).
  • Use it as a portable nappy-change station. Slide it behind a piece of furniture in the room you do most nappy changes in so you have everything on hand when you need it.
  • Keep tall bottles that won’t fit in the pantry in it alongside the fridge.
  • It’s great for storing craft materials like paints, cups of pencils and paintbrushes and tubs of glitter, sequins, pins, eyes, pipe-cleaners….the list goes on!
  • My husband wanted to grow seedlings in it. I talked him out of it (not that it’s not a good idea, but I’m sure there is a cheaper way to grow seedlings!)
  • Keep your washing items in it between the washer and dryer (powders, softeners, bleach etc) – great if you have no room for over-head storage or want to keep the top of the dryer free for folding.
  • Spare soft-drink, water or juice bottles that you aren’t refrigerating yet.

What I wouldn’t use it for (feel free to try anything though!)

  • Toys (it’s not stable enough and most toys aren’t the right shape)
  • Paperwork
  • Small stationery (you’d waste the vertical space)
  • CDs and DVDs (same as above – they’re too short and although they’ll fit, they’d waste space)

Other stuff to know about it:

  • It has nice tall shelves, so even the tallest bottles and jars will fit in it easily.
  • Note that it’s specifically designed for small spaces – if you leave it out in the open it could tip over if you have heavier items in it (or small children who tend to look one way and walk another) because it’s tall and narrow with a high centre of gravity.
  • Note also that the wheels are quite small, so they work best on hard surfaces. They don’t get along overly well with carpet.
  • They also don’t turn, so if you have a spot that you can’t put it all the way out straight in a line, you might want to re-think the space (although it will happily slide sideways if you force it to).
  • It washes easily, and is easy to put together and pull apart if necessary.
  • It’s strong and solid, not flimsy.

You can get this particular one online at Lifespace – no need to even leave your comfy chair!

Here is ours in use:

Hidden away in the laundry ...

... and voila! There's all our stuff when we need it.

 

Are you Dame Washalot?

My daughter loves reading the Faraway Tree books. In it is a character called Dame Washalot, who spends all of her time doing laundry.  Today, sitting on the floor in the laundry, sorting my own pile of washing, it occurred to me that most women (sorry guys, but usually the women do the majority of the clothes washing tasks!) spend far too much time keeping their family in clean clothes. Unlike Dame Washalot, however, they don’t really enjoy it!

I go into people’s homes just about every day. One of the most common causes of clutter that I see is clothes. Clean or dirty (or of unknown status!), they overtake the house! I see it time and time again – and it really bothers people but they don’t know how to deal with it.

Here are a few tips I implemented at home, and recommend to clients, to reduce the task a bit:

  1. Wash regularly and, if you have a good machine that adjusts water usage, with small loads. Don’t save it all up for the weekend.
  2. Reduce the amount of clothing you have by setting boundaries. If I can’t fit any member of our household’s entire wardrobe in their cupboard and the washing basket (and on them!), I cull their clothes (and mine, too, of course!). There should be no overflow whatsoever.
  3. Avoid ironing as much as possible. In summer I drip-dry, then shake and smooth them out before hanging or folding. In winter I either use the dryer (and remove and hang immediately) or I line-dry and then lay them flat on each other for a few hours before putting away. For the perfectionists out there who say this is impossible, let me tell you that this has made the single biggest difference to the efficiency of my washing cycle. I save around 2-3 hours a week, not to mention the elimination of the stress of that ironing pile waiting for me! I was once just like you, ironing everything but underwear. After a month on a family road-trip last year, I returned home realising that I will survive without ironing. And I have ironed only a handful of times since. If I can do it, so can you!
  4. Finish the cycle before starting another.  If you have mounds of clean clothes waiting to be put away, finish that job before you put another load in the machine. “Clean” is not the end of the job. If you regard it as such, you will find yourself and the rest of your family perpetually dressing themselves from the pile of clean washing taking up half of your living or spare room. Regard each load as a singular task, with “Away” as the end of the task.
  5. Engage the help of the family. Have them fold and put away their own clothes, or a load each.  It’s a simple job – one that can be done in front of the TV if there is a need to make it less mundane (although I have found it a great opportunity for meditation when done as a solo task).
  6. Have routines.  Choose a time to put a load on every day, and follow through the entire cycle (wash -> dry -> away) on the same day. Stick to the routines until they become a habit.

Do you have any tips or tricks of your own to help keep on top of the washing? Do tell!

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