In EC&I 831, Social Media and Open Education, we were asked to embark on a major learning project that would entail acquiring new skills. We were encouraged to find online resources, as well as personal and in print, to help us along the way. I had thought of many different skills I could learn including sewing, yoga, and meditation. However, there was another important skill that I needed to develop and hone. I needed to organize my home with the view to living a more purposeful and mindful life in a very materialistic culture. My reading on the subject of disorganization and overabundance of stuff confirmed my suspicion that it can affect decision making, increase stress, and negatively impact the environment.
As I explain in my first post, I set out to create sustainable organizational systems and processes to create an efficient and healthy household while involving my toddler and preschooler and doing so with the least environmental impact.
In my second post, I share how overwhelmed I was with the plethora of resources online, and in print, to help a person become more organized. After some study, I was able to take away what I found to be most helpful in my journey. Including the questions to help decide what to keep, toss, donate, or sell.
Here are my top five takeaways I have learned throughout my journey:
Takeaway #1: Get connected!
My success this semester in getting more organized was connecting with like-minded Youtubers to keep me motivated and accountable. I loved Cassandra from Clutterbug and Kathryn from Do it on a Dime. What was especially helpful was Clutterbug’s Facebook page specifically for her followers to swap advice by posting photos of their own hot messes or reorganized spaces. This group was closed, which means posts are not shared on a member’s main social media feed. I appreciated this separation.
Takeaway #2: Declutter
I quickly learned that before you can become organized, you must let go of the things in your home that no longer serve a purpose. Items that no longer serve you will only take up valuable real estate. I followed Clutterbug’s 30-day declutter challenge on her Facebook page in October as described in my third post. It was only 15 minutes per day in various areas of my home. The best part of following along was posting photos of my progress. Also, I was able to get some great tips on how I could upcycle or repurpose some of my items. When decluttering a space, I found categorizing the items into bins labeled keep, donate, toss, sell and relocate. It is amazing how many items you will find in your bedroom closet that belong in the kitchen. Especially if you have kids who like to wander off with things.
At this point, I also started working on my do it yourself (DIY) skills by installing a garbage can under my kitchen sink. Youtube was helpful in navigating the features of my cordless drill. The old school illustrated instructions that came with the garbage can were very helpful in this DIY project. Although the instructions said it would only take 15 minutes, I believe it took me over an hour!
Takeaway #3: Recruit household members in organizing efforts
When I was organizing my clothes closet I didn’t expect my husband to tackle his clothes as well, but he was bitten by the decluttering bug. He was even motivated to reorganize his office space!
My little ones were excited when I moved their dishes to a cupboard they can reach and therefore help to set the table or put away when clean. In my fourth post, I learned the value of involving my little ones in helping unload the dishwasher. My son was able to work on his problem-solving and fine motor skills while trying to get the utensils out of the top rack. Recognizing the need to encourage my children to become more self-sufficient I also implemented a system in our front entryway they could use to store their outerwear.
In my fifth post, I take you on a tour of how I organized this space, including hanging a shelf for the first time. The tutorial I viewed on Youtube was helpful – to a point. I learned that context matters. This is also where I discovered that math is an integral part of placing a shelf on a wall correctly.
Takeaway #4: Designate a space for everything
This has been my biggest challenge in getting organized. With four people living in my household there seems to be many things that do not have a designated space – otherwise known as homeless! These items left in the open, or placed haphazardly, can suddenly sprout legs, or with the help of your little ones, even your furbabies, be transported to obscure places.
I realized early in my learning journey that items needed a designated space to not only prevent them from walking off but to make sure that they could be found easily. It was in my sixth post I share how disorganized my master bedroom closet had become. It was time to tackle it! In this space, I installed an ironing board hanger, created designated bins, and paired down my wardrobe. I found it overwhelming at first, but I had an opportunity to reflect on our culture of thinness and the impact on a mother’s body image. I also realized it takes courage to be vulnerable and share our imperfect lives on social media, but at the end of the day, this vulnerability leads to a connection with others.
I video documented my learning adventure demonstrating my ability to install the install the ironing board hanger. It wasn’t as easy as I first thought! I also give a video tour of my reorganized closet here.
Tip #5: Labels, Labels, Labels
Since my new mantra is “a place for everything and everything in its place,” I have found the suggestion of Clutterbug to label bins or baskets a key element in getting and staying organized. Before labels, a bin could house anything I wanted….. and anything anyone else wanted as well. This created chaos and the bins just contained random stuff. With a label, it is can only house one thing….. whatever the bin says is in it!
In my eighth post, I share how I reorganized my daughter’s closet. I allocated labeled bins for her clothes, toys, and accessories and placed them on the Rubbermaid FastTrack system I installed. I am becoming more and more comfortable sharing my projects on social media as I demonstrate in the closet video tour here:
With the development of my DIY skills, I am also starting to become more comfortable with the math involved to install shelves. However, I am still not the best at finding studs, which I thought would be the easiest part. Balancing the tools, the vertical standards, and a level is very tricky when doing a DIY project like this alone. Interestingly, putting the brackets in the verticals was also tricky!
These are the top five takeaways that have assisted me in becoming more organized. Decluttering really set me on my path to efficiently organize what was left. The major areas that I tackled this semester were the kitchen, entryway, my and my daughter’s closets. These areas are so easy to keep organized now!
Thoughts Regarding Online Learning Resources
I have come to appreciate the value of learning online even more as a result of this learning project. So many tutorials on Youtube and mommy bloggers were instrumental in my learning journey. However, the topics we spoke about in class helped me to take a critical view of the sources I used. In my seventh post, I contemplated whether the home organization tips and tricks offered by the mommy bloggers I followed was less valuable if their messages were sponsored by corporations. I concluded that being aware of this possibility was enough to allow me to be a critical consumer of the advice given.
In my fifth post, I also talked about the dark side of sharing on social media. During Clutterbug’s declutter challenge she encouraged us to post on her Facebook page before and after photos of what we accomplished. Unfortunately, not all of her followers were encouraging. In fact, I witnessed the negative effects of trolls. One post, in particular, was met by a very negative comment. My dismay of this shadow cast on our community was quickly lifted when 300+ positive comments were posted to counteract the negative one.
Although my official major learning project has come to end, my learning journey has not. With my newfound DIY and organizational skills, I am ready to tackle the other closets in my house and start labeling more bins!
Thank you all for your encouraging comments and support! Have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy your break.