The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: how to organize using the PROCESS

The Mother of All Crap Magnets.

It’s week # 11 (eleven!!!) in Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing challenge. This week Org Junkie’s topic is “Consolidate & Conquer.

Eeeek. That makes me absolutely quiver with fear. Quiver I tells ya. And not in a good way.

You see, I already know how to consolidate… that’s easy. I toss massive piles of crap into bags and boxes and buckets all the time! It’s the conquering that baffles me.

The reason people like me have so many piles of stuff everywhere is because we cannot make decisions. Wait, let me rephrase that. I am great at making quick decisions about really important things like what to major in (history! sure, why not? there are probably TONS of jobs for history majors!), what house/car to buy (this one doesn’t smell too bad!), whether or not to take a job in another state that would uproot my family and leave us in financial ruin (yes! let’s do it!). But when it comes to whether or not I should toss a plastic milk jug cap? Hmmm. I’m not sure. You know what, I think I’ll keep it. For now. You never know when you might need something like that.

Which leads to having a bag like this in your basement:

On the count of three:





But you know what? I’m getting better. I am. I am gradually seeing some improvements around here. And those improvements are boosting my confidence. And that confidence is helping me to not keep every piece of paper or plastic that touches my fingers. Want some proof?

Here’s what I conquered this week: the outside of my fridge. Also known as the MOTHER of all crap magnets.

Ick. Nothing screams “I totally do NOT have my shit together” like having your most used major appliance completely buried under a bunch of junk. In fact, I’m pretty sure there must be a direct correlation between the number of decorative magnets on one’s fridge and that person’s insanity level.

Well, not for me, anymore! I conquered that sucker! Well, the fridge part… still working on the sanity.

How’d I do it, you ask?

Naturally, I tried to follow Org Junkie’s PROCESS (Plan, Remove, Organize, Containerize, Evaluate, Simplify, Smile). However, after 11 weeks, it seems as though I have developed my own slightly less effective version, which I like to call ROACHES: (Remove, Organize, Attack (toss as much as I can), Clean the dust buffaloes I’ve uncovered, Hide rest of crap I couldn’t bear to toss, Evaluate, Shop for cute containers.)

Here is a picture after my “REMOVE” and “CLEAN” steps:

This is totally my favorite part.

The rest of those middle steps were not quite as photo-worthy this week. But let me assure you that I did a bunch of tossing and recycling this week, and did not need to resort to very much “crap HIDING.” Especially because most of the junk on the fridge was outdated paperwork that was a no-brainer even for a gal like me.

Now I’m in the “EVALUATE” and “SHOP” phases, and here is what it looks like so far:

I put all the bread products on top of the fridge into a bigger wicker basket that I already had somewhere else in the house. Isn’t that so much better looking? Very easy to grab the whole basket and just get/return what I need.  I also designated one magnet for each kid to display their ONE favorite piece of artwork for the week. (Still waiting on my third child to choose something for our “gallery”). I’ll have to vigilantly enforce the “One In, One Out” rule here so we don’t backslide into the dumping ground it was before.

On this side, you will notice three “Responsibility Charts,” courtesy of Org Junkie, and a pen hanging from a (sassy pink leopard print) shoelace. We just started using these charts this week. So far, so good! I’ll let you know in a few weeks if we are keeping up with it.

And on this side, I’ve got ONE decorative magnet (the blue polar bear with a picture of my husband and youngest son) and one baggie for coupons and one baggie for those evil Box Tops I absolutely abhor with a passion.

At some point I’ll buy or make some cuter storage containers for the coupons and Box Tops, but that’s just gravy. I also need to find a magnetic paper catcher for new recipes that I haven’t added to my recipe book yet. But I haven’t found one I like at this point.

Now of course, my children cannot STAND to see uncluttered spaces. Those are just blank canvases to them. So not one day after I achieved this marvel of organization did I find this piece of crap on my fridge:

If I were a better mother I’d probably be celebrating their creativity for making a flower out of K’Nex and lovingly participating in the decorating of our home. But no, I’m just annoyed they are mucking up my pretty kitchen with their plastic CRAP. Why I oughta….

Fortunately, I can just employ Org Junkie’s Ten Minute Tidy at the end of the day and quickly spot and remove any stray objects from my newly organized spaces! Foiled again, my uninvited little decorators!! HA! I guess I need to put some kind of bulletin boards or magnetic surfaces in the kid’s rooms so they have a surface they can decorate as they please. No prob, I’ll just add that to the “SHOPPING” list!

Have a great week, everyone!


PS – to see the rest of the 52 Weeks projects I’ve tackled so far, click here.

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved.


The PROCESS of Getting Organized and Changing Habits

For the past few weeks, I’ve been participating in a very exciting program called:

To participate, all I had to do was create a list of 52 organizing projects or habits that need to be done or developed around my home, and then tackle one project per week for the year. Piece of cake… creating the list, that is. I could think of 52 things that needed to change just in the room where I am sitting right now!

So I made my list and got started!

My "52 Weeks of Organizing" List

If this sounds like a cool idea to you, it’s never too late to get started. You can get a free copy of this cute list at

Thus far in the challenge, I have checked the following projects off my list:

  • linen closet
  • dining room table
  • kitchen island
  • the kids’ Legos
  • the pantry
  • the coffee table drawers

This week, I vowed I would chose a project from my list that required I spend NO money, that I could do in an hour or less, and that was IN MY FACE all the time. Having a clean drawer and pantry is all well and good, but most people can’t see those things when they come to visit. If you were to ring my doorbell right this minute and I was startled (or drunk) enough to invite you in, you would see some crazy sh*t, believe you-me. And you’d judge me immediately and would be out the door before I had the chance to say “But wait! My pantry is SO CLEAN!” Or, “I know this looks really bad, but you should see my kids’ Legos!” Or, “But I know where every single DS cartridge in this house is!

So before I get thrown in a padded cell or my kids get taken away from me while they film the next episode of Hoarders! Buried Alive!, I thought I should just suck it up and tackle one of my “hot spots.” And by hot spot, I don’t mean my swollen middle toe that has been throbbing for three days, possibly due to a flesh eating fungus. No, I mean an area of my house that is an honest-to-goodness dumping ground. There are many to choose from, actually, but I picked the one that is the most IN MY FACE: the window sill above my kitchen sink. Take a gander, my pretties:

Kitchen Sink Window Sill Dumping Ground... BEFORE.

Oh yeah. Soak it in. What a visual cornucopia of CRAP. Just in case you can’t really make out all the fascinating goodies that have been randomly dumped here over the past few months, let me just point out some of the highlights for your viewing pleasure.

EXHIBIT A: coupons, Thanksgiving turkey wishbone, one slutty Barbie shoe, an empty baggie, and a soap carving.

Perhaps we would have remembered to break the Thanksgiving wish bone if it hadn’t gotten buried behind so much other crap.

EXHIBIT B: Christmas Pez Dispensers flanking Our Lady of Guadalupe and some Beano Meltaways, plus some rocks, two buttons, a frowning Lego head, and a pen. HOLY CRAP.

“Hail Mary full of grace, please protect me from my husband’s extreme flatulence and the creepy Pez Dispensers that won’t stop staring at my boobs.”

EXHIBIT C: 8 OTC medicine cups, Carmex, a burned out lightbulb in a votive candle holder, two batteries, and my dog's antibiotics for some nasty skin infection he probably got from one of my kids.

And there was more random stuff… some jewelery (Fair Trade!), some rogue coins, a Tooth Fairy Bag. You get the point… this is a dumping ground for lots of small things. Have I mentioned that I have a dog with an eating disorder and a very mischievous 3 year old son who likes to stick things in my computer ports? Also, I’m a bit on the lazy side. There, I said it.

Anyhoooo… using the tips and tools I found on, I followed the PROCESS for organizing my space:

P – plan your attack
R – remove items from the space
O – organize stuff into piles; sort and purge
C – containerize
E – evaluate your plan
S – solve and simplify
S – smile, relax, and enjoy your hard work

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Plan – yep, got one: gonna put my sh*t away and try not to let it get like this again.

Remove items – easy. Just moved it all to the counter below the sink and to the left.

Organize/Sort/Purge – this is the step I always get stuck on. If I knew how to purge, I wouldn’t have spaces like this in my house, now would I? But enough with the excuses already. I divided all the stuff I removed from the window sill into piles: like with like.

Sorting, purging, putting things where they belong.

Then I put on some KC and the Sunshine Band and shook shook shook my booty as I ran around and put things away where they really belonged. Did I actually purge anything? Yes indeedy! I got rid of 7/8ths of those old medicine cups and the burned out light bulb. Big whoopdie-do. Everything else had real homes though.

Next step – containerize. Didn’t really need to do that here. Next!

Evaluate plan? Okay. Now here is where I had my big AHA moment. I bet I’ve been cleaning this kitchen sink window sill off every two months or so since we moved in 7 years ago. But it always seems to go back to being a dumping ground, so how could I end this cycle and keep it clean once and for all?

I needed to change my habits.

So I started doing the Org Junkie “10 minute tidy” at the end of each day, paying special attention to the window sill. I found myself policing that sucker like a new mother protecting her two day old panda cub. Every time my husband would put something there, I would be there like white on rice to say “Um, excuse me, but where does this really belong?” It was incredible. What a shift in thinking. Maintaining this little space everyday was surprisingly easy once all the clutter was gone!

Solve and simplify? Yes and yes. The simplifying was my favorite part. By removing all the clutter and putting away all the things that had real homes, I could decorate the space with the one or two things that REALLY matter to me, like my Blessed Lady of Guadalupe statue and a rock my friend gave my daughter that says “love.” I could also easily clean all the water spots off the window. Bonus!

But the solving was an important key as well. I created a “coupon bag” to hang on the fridge as a catch all for coupons that my husband and I cut out on the fly. Now there is a real home for coupons and they won’t end up on the window sill.

And finally, smile, relax, and enjoy your hard work:

Kitchen Window Sill: AFTER! Day one...

This last step, the smiling and enjoying part, is much easier to do when your hard work lasts longer than one hour. So just to show you how hard I’ve been working to keep this former “hot spot” clean, here’s the same shot, taken 8 days later:

Kitchen Window Sill Makeover, 8 days later!

And THAT, my friends, is how a lazy mama like me changes a habit in 8 short days! Let’s just compare that before and after again, shall we?

BEFORE - dumping ground!

AFTER (8 days later... still clean & clutter free!)

Well, that’s one more thing to cross of my list! Yeee-haw! Tune in next Friday to see if I can keep this motivation going and tackle my desk. I’ll also keep you posted about my progress with changing my habits and keeping the clutter at bay.

Off to do my 10 minute tidy!


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

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