Basement.... dun...dun..dun...

emmhipJuly 8, 2011

My husband is desperate for me to go through "my stuff" that is alledgedly cluttering up our basement. I will admit that some of the stuff is mine, and some of the stuff is his. Basically he wants ME to go through everything we own and organize it. After living in this house for 8 (almost 9) years, and having not REALLY gone through the basement accumulation in a few, I guess it's time. I just don't want to face it. Any motiviational strategies would be most helpful. We have shelves and bins, and books, and some stuff I could probably let go of, but I just don't feel like going through it all. :(

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Can you set a time every week when you can do a little work? Say a half hour or an hour? Or do you do better starting a project and working on it until you finish? Figure out how you are going to find the time to do this before you start.

What I'd do first is go through everything and sort it. Throw out any obvious trash, or anything too broken to work. But just group everything else--sports equipment, old photos, arts & craft supplies, clothing, etc.

Once you have it all sorted, it is easier to go through the pile of sports stuff, say, and make decisions about what to keep and what to send on its way. It's hard to know if you want to keep a particular tennis racket, when you know you have at least two others, but you're not sure which one is the best one. Once you have all three in front of you, it's much easier to chose which one (or two) to keep.

Bear in mind that doing this will make your basement look even worse in the short term. You will have piles and heaps all over the place. But it's worth it in the long term. You can box things up as you sort. Be sure to label the boxes. I did this once while living in a small apartment. I had the Great Wall O' Boxes in my living room for what seemed like months. But once everything was sorted, the tossing and organization went fairly quickly.

The advantage to this system is that once you are done sorting and discarding, you now have all your categories of stuff neatly in one place. So you can see at a glance how much sports stuff you have, how many books, how much off-season clothing, etc. This allows you to determine how much storage space you will need for each category.

Since you should only be keeping stuff you will be using, try to find storage solutions other than cardboard boxes. Things should be easily accessible and easy to put back. If it's not easy to put stuff back where it belongs, it will tend to accumulate on the floor and table tops and anywhere else other than where it belongs. Keep your storage solutions as simple as possible--shelves with open-topped bins, cabinets, hooks to hang anything that can hang.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 7:55AM
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I find the Flylady "spend fifteen minutes a day in your worst room and in a month you'll have a room you could show anyone" to be a great one for the basement.

Now at that pace, it will probably be more than a month for a basement, but that's okay. You'll see nice progress in a month and I think that's probably what you need most.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 10:45AM
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Working a specific number of minutes is great. This method worked for me: remove ten items a day from the pile. That's 300 things in a month. Once you pick something up, you must either put it wheree it belongs or throw it away. I had a horrible dresser top I had piled high with things, important papers, jewelry, a camera, all kinds of things. I took off ten items the first day, ten the second. With just 20 items "gone" I felt so energized I finished the whole darn thing on the third day. Try my method, see if it works for you.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:56PM
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Emm, at least this is the right time of year to be sorting the basement; it should be nice and cool down there. I am about to sort stuff in my attic room; had to turn on the AC an hour ago.

I agree with the others - a little at a time will help you make progress. At least once/week, take out any trash and stuff you are donating to the thrift store. That will help you see progress.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 12:56PM
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Saw Hoarders repeat last night, I heard the hoarder say "Other people make messes. When I don't clean up after them, it becomes my mess." Ssince when does all clutter in a home belong to the wife/mother?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 8:23AM
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One advantage to cleaning up your husband's collected clutter is that you will be making the decisions on whether to keep or get rid of it, and you can be dispassionate about it.

I would start hauling his stuff to the curb with a sign that reads: "Free Stuff - Please Take." And I would post Curb Alert messages on the Free forum of your local craigslist. Getting his stuff out to the curb will make it easier to organize your stuff - ;)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 11:20AM
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Are your washer and dryer in the basement? Spend the time it takes to run one wash cycle and use that time to sort. The plus, you don't have to run back downstairs to switch to the dryer. Better yet, stay down until the load is dry. Do that a few times a week and your basement will be spotless.
Kathy G in MI

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 10:53AM
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I have tried many times to "organize" my basement and somehow it ends up looking the same after a few months.

The key is definitely getting RID of stuff.....lots of good advice here.

I take one look at the basement and get overwhelmed. So yesterday, I told myself, "do not look at the whole basement-just concentrate on these two shelves here" and it seems to have worked-those two shelves are much better and I now feel more motivated.

Any of my DH's stuff went over on one of "his" shelves. I know he doesn't want me throwing out his stuff, so if I put it all in one area, I'll tell him to go through it.
Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 9:16AM
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