Friday, June 8

Before you head out to the store--Declutter

Necessary Things—Before you head to the store for more storage bins, declutter.

We’ll save our last installment of “Analyze This” for a later post. Let’s choose a small area that needs decluttering in our homes or work spaces.
The goal of this mini task is to see how crucial it is to declutter prior to heading out to the store for organizing supplies and containers.

I’ve included two pictures of notorious areas in my kitchen—the “whatever” shelves above my small coffeepot counter, near the back door, and my pots & pans shelves. I can tell you where everything is in these two areas, but they look awful and have looked like this for many, many years. It’s much easier for me to streamline an office or my bathroom but, for some reason, I always put off tidying up these two spots.

Think of a spot like this in your home or office. Walk over and open up the cabinet door, desk drawer or maybe the pantry door and give it a good look-over. Now, think about what nifty organizing containers, bins, office supplies you’ve seen that would really work great to streamline this one space. Write down your ideas and tuck the note in your pocket.

Let’s get to work on the one spot—for me that would mean taking out the pots and pans from the two shelves and putting them on the floor or countertop. No, no, no—I’m NOT going to get out the copper cleaner and shine the bottoms of those Revere ware pans, that’s for another session in the way distant future. Next, I’ll throw away the torn up, flimsy shelf paper and wipe down the shelves with a damp rag.

While I’m waiting for the shelves to dry I’ll retrieve the wallpaper I bought at Goodwill over 3 years ago to use for this very purpose. I’ll cut out the paper to generally fit the shelves and I won’t do what I have done before; that is, cut out every notch to exactly match the interior dimensions of the cabinet. Flashback: When I used to help my mom do this, we always nailed thumbtacks to the shelf edges through the thin shelf paper, to make sure the paper didn’t “creep” over time. These days I use heavy paper, or discount Contact paper with the backing left on it.

Now comes the thinking part. I sure do use the three sizes of my Revere frying pans, so I’ll put them on the lower shelf where they’re easy to pull out. The pressure cooker is a great size for pasta, but I don’t use it often, so it goes on the higher shelf that I have to twist a bit to reach. Boy, those Teflon-coated fry pans have seen better days and why do I need three of the same size? Take off the handle and the worst one will make a great dog-food bowl (remember, I live in the country)!

Putting rubber bands around the foil and plastic wrap cartons keeps the stuff from unraveling, plus it prevents me from slicing my fingers on the serrated cutting edges. Why did I keep this odd size of parchment paper—was I planning to use it for a 4” x 5” cookie sheet??? What should I do with the bag of coffee beans; we don’t have a grinder or other machine that would work. I’ve tried giving them away but my friends don’t have grinders either. Well, they’ll make great compost for my perennials.

When everything is back in place I’m wondering, what did I leave out? There’s extra room now on the shelves. Plus, in a few minutes I’ll have happier perennials and the dogs will be overjoyed to eat tonight from a clean bowl.

Let me retrieve my “What I need to buy to organize my shelves list.” Hmmm…rack to place inside cabinet door to hold lids, risers to create extra room, door pocket to hold foil and other wraps. What was I thinking? By decluttering first I saved myself time, gas money, and extras on my VISA bill.

Try this task in a small area of your home or work space and see what you learn from it. If, after you declutter, you decide that you need some extra tools for organizing, then you can go out and buy them to use right away. Your job will be finished. It’ll be like adding frosting to homemade banana muffins; the muffins are delicious without it, but sometimes the frosting makes them better.

Let us know what small area you decided to tackle, and your insights along the way.