Incredibly overwhelmed! (Long, sorry!)

munkosOctober 22, 2007

Hi, newbie, visiting from pets forum!

3 years ago I inherited my fathers house that we've lived in since I was 9.

So there was already 9 years worth of stuff here. Then I met my boyfriend, and he moved in. Then we got two roommates for a year. Obviously when you move 3 people with their own belongings into an already completely furnished house, there will be unavoidable amounts of clutter.

But they've been gone for a year, and theres still a lot of clutter.

I went from just having to take care of my room and my mess, to a full 3000 sqft house, all by myself, more or less. Most people my age (21) start out with a small space, like an apartment or a dorm to take care of. I never really got that transitional stage of learning organisational skills

BF helps out a bit, but he works a lot, so it's mostly up to me.

On top of it I take care of a 17 month old all day, so I don't have much time to dedicate to every room. It seems like I'm cleaning and decluttering the same rooms every day, and in the mean time the other rooms just get more and more cluttered.

It's an organised clutter, but it's still clutter and I'm having a hard time tolerating it anymore. But I've got no clue how to start when I don't have much time, especially since I'm unable to leave the little guy alone for more than 2 minutes before he gets into something.

Any tips on how to get started, and quick ways to de-clutter??

It seems everytime I de-clutter an area, a new one gets cluttered up. For instance, last week I bought a huge shoe rack to put in the hall closet. Cleaned out the closet and put all the shoes away. Now the front entrance looks great. But I have nowhere to put my vaccum, or some of the larger items that were in the closet. So they're just adding to the clutter in already cluttered rooms.

I know once everything is in order I'll have a much easier time keeping up with everything. It's just a real lack of motivation, and being incredibly overwhelmed. I just don't know where to start.

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Hi Munkos! You're in the right place. In fact, there are many threads here devoted to answering the questions you posed, and I'm sure they won't be hard to find if you look. Here are some links to get you started:

OMG! Where do I start???

Things You've Bought That Have Really Made an Impact on Organizing

Best Organizing Tips/Worst Mistakes

Contemplate, Collect, Count & Cull...

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2007 at 7:16PM
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You say you think you'll be able to keep up once you get the place decluttered, and better organized. So let's go w/ that. You have an advantage that it's not so much routines but maybe infrastructure that is your problem.

However, in your case, maybe your problem is too MUCH infrastructure? It sounds like the problems is not small clutter but BIG clutter.

Extra furniture, the vacuum being displaced, stuff like that.

I'm also betting that, since you inherited a lived-in house, you've got "squatters" galore--stuff that's IN a storage space, and has always been there, but doesn't really deserve to be there. But, because it looks like it "lives" there, other stuff ends up not having a home to go to. (often, the stuff you use frequently ends up sitting around the house on the surfaces, because the storage spaces are filled w/ stuff you never touch)

If these assumptions are in fact true, then:
Maybe you need a plan? Think first, action later?

What is sitting out that shouldn't be, that you use daily? And think of the things you touch most often (vacuum cleaner, etc.), even if they aren't actually sitting around but are nonetheless in constant use.

Where SHOULD these things go? What's in that space instead? (that's the "squatter") Do you NEED that squatter? If so, where SHOULD it be stored, and what is squatting in THAT place?

I had a situation like this in my home that was about 10 items deep. In order to put something away that was in my bedroom, and I had to clean out and donate extra clothes that were way up, deep, in the big closet on the other end of the house. Then move something into that space from the LR, which opened up space for something from elsewhere in that closet, which opened up space for something from the DR, which opened up space for something to move from the bedroom......

You may also need to take a deep breath and just empty out a room or two. Or a closet or cabinet/cupboard or three, or ditch a piece of furniture or two. It might be hard, bcs the home has always looked like this, and this stuff was your father's, so maybe it'll seem hard.

This is your house now, and you need to empty it out a little so that you can start to shape it according to your own life.

But if you have nowhere to put the vacuum, then something is "squatting" in the place the vacuum SHOULD go.

(a note: the vacuum doesn't *have* to go in a hall closet it just needs to go somewhere that it's easy enough to get out and use)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 10:16AM
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Yes -- start by literally "re-thinking" the whole place. It is YOUR home now --- so start a list of ALL of your rooms -- and spaces .... a separate page for each room.

Look at each room -- get a friend to help you measure each space -- including the windows and the closets. Write that down on the page. Keep this information handy in small notebook -- those measurements can sure save time, steps -- and even tears!!!

And don't forget to measure doorways and hallways too!! Just imagine finding a wonderful item for your home AND then it won't fit through a doorway!! Happens all of the time! So keep your "Homework Journal" handy! (or on a Blackberry etc.)

Next -- literally re-think and re-work those spaces.

a --- How do need this space to work for YOU? (reading? TV? entertaining? eating?)

b ---- So -- what kinds of things would help this space work out those goals?? (lamps? shelving? an area rug? more color on the walls? artworks? a desk or table in a corner? maybe a console table with a couple of tall lamps)

Talley Sue is SO right about things like infrastructure -- those items that MAKE a space WORK -- like measuring a wall or closet -- and finding shelving (check stores like Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Lowes) that fills EVERY inch. And then adding baskets (plastic or wicker) with labels to hold lots and lots of stuff!

And do check out the Decorating Forum here at Gardenweb too -- post some pictures of your home -- there are lots of folks who can help out!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 11:32AM
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Hi there! Welcome to the organizing forum! I'm new here too and just want you to know that if you take a few minutes out of your day to read these posts and jot down progress it helps alleviate that overwhelmed feeling you are going through now. Believe me! The people here know what they are talking about! LOL!

My little trick is to commit myself to 15 minutes per day and if I can squeeze in more time, then that's super! A lot can be accomplished in this amount of time, but once you get on a roll...well, you get the picture.

Two rules that work for me (feel free to use these two rules or come up with your own plan of attack)----

1. kitchen sink must be kept clean at all times
2. devote 15 minutes per day for decluttering/organizing/cleaning

Wishing you the best of luck! Just know that you can do it and have many people here that are willing to help you succeed!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 12:20PM
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Thanks for the tips, guys!

Our biggest problem I think, is we have too much space. Two people with 4 bedrooms, 3 living rooms, 3 bathrooms, a loft a whole finished basement with rooms. 2 dining rooms etc, etc. We use one bath, the master bedroom, the breakfast nook in the kitchen and one living room. So everything else ends up being forwhatever, because we don't use the space.

Also, our main floor has 2 living rooms, the dining rooms, kitchen, laundry room and bathroom. And all we have for storage between 7 rooms is ONE hall closet. Which on one side is full of shelves that aren't even high enough to hold my cleaning products upright. There wasn't even a shelf in the laundry room to put our soap and dryer sheets on.

Our storage room downstairs has NO shelving. It's huge, yet all wasted space. The garage only has two shelves, and you can only get to them with a ladder.

So all of our storage space that should be used for daily use things, are full of barely used things that have no where else to go. So our rooms end up being cluttered, like you said, with everything we do use.

Adobe I always, always keep two rooms clean and clutter free. The kitchen and the bedroom. Once those two start to get a little cluttered, they get REALLY cluttered. So I try my best to not let anything pile up in the sink or on the counters. And not to let any clothes hit the floor in the bedroom.

So heres a rough plan: I'll forget about where everything SHOULD go, and focus on creating places for things to go. And then once we have lots of storage, I'll decide where everything belongs. Hopefully it'll be a lot less overwhelming.

Right now it's "These need to be packed up and put downstairs. But we need a shelf or two for it downstairs, so we have to go buy/build a shelf, put it up, pack it up and put it away" I'll try breaking it into separate jobs instead of looking at it like one huge overwhelming job.

And then I'll go room to room packing things up/tossing/moving where they belong in the right room.

And THEN put the bins away all at once, so we don't clutter the storage areas.

And talley, I think you're right. I'm still having a hard time with thinking of all of this stuff as mine now. It has always been here, and it was my fathers. A lot of this stuff isn't what I want in MY house, but it doesn't quite feel like its mine to get rid of, yet. Maybe is a good sign that I've finally had enough and am ready to think about getting rid of these things.

It's a very fine line between making this space mine, and feel like mine, and work for ME while still preserving a little of my parents.

Hehe, I think I need to find a personal home organiser with a degree in psychology. Then they can counsel me on the couch, while they carry it out of the house LOL.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 2:15PM
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Just because you have those rooms, doesn't mean you need to put stuff in them. Or even GO in them.

If they have furniture, it can just sit there, ignored. Or, the furniture could be sold, if you don't think you want it. Or you could designate one bedroom to be the storage room, and you stash stuff in it that you really don't need, and deal w/ it later when you actually *do* need that room.

And just because something is a room, doesn't mean it can't become a closet--or partly a closet.

Maybe that extra living room can become a "household functioning" room, w/ armoir/tall cabinet type storage somewhere (to hold cleaning supplies, vacuum, any other sort of "store it on the main living floor" stuff that won't fit in the hall closet).

Right now it's "These need to be packed up and put downstairs. But we need a shelf or two for it downstairs, so we have to go buy/build a shelf, put it up, pack it up and put it away" I'll try breaking it into separate jobs instead of looking at it like one huge overwhelming job.

this sounds SO much like my game of Tetris, or RubiksCube or whatever that was that I played w/ moving stuff around.

It really helped me to make a list of one major goal, and then all the "moving stuff around, putting up shelves, getting rid of other things" I would need to do to get it done.

It sounds like there is some medium-size infrastructure to be created--shelves in the laundry room (unless you did that already), better spacing on the cleaning-products shelves, etc. Can you rethink your laundry room so part of it can become storage? (vacuum cleaner, ironing board, whatever else?)

A list of what would make the space you *do* have function BETTER for you will help you figure out what would be the most important thing to do--or where the pressure point is that would free up so much more.

As for not being able to get rid of stuff: What if you made one bedroom the "I'm not sure" room, and the stuff you really struggle w/ tossing, goes there? I'm not a big fan of just putting it off until later, but sometimes that sort of safety valve is useful.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2007 at 3:15PM
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Having furniture is a must in most rooms in my house, as none of them are closed off. My house has a completely open floor plan, save for the bedrooms.

I've re-evaluated my initial plan.

I can't deny that I am an all or nothing type of person. And the lay out of my house only encourages that. So, heres the new plan.

This weekend. Absolutely everything on the main floor that isn't in use (aside from furnishings) DOWNSTAIRS!

But the catch, no sorting or separating. For two reasons:

1) There is a good possibility that there are several things in storage downstairs that we also have up here, that will go into storage. This way we don't have multiples of the same thing, taking up storage downstairs.

2)I know myself, and my problem. I am unable to look at one room and go "Okay, declutter, organise" and leave it at that. If I can see the clutter in another room, I HAVE to do both. And so on. And thats when I get overwhelmed, and don't do any of it.

If I can put it all in the basement for now, without having to go through it, it'll be quick and easy. No decisions being made.

Then I think once I see just how much stuff we have that we aren't using, from up here and down there, I'll have an easier time just getting rid of things.

We'd have to go through everything in the basement anyways, before putting anything away from up here. So I may as well break it into two main goals.

Declutter upstairs, by moving it all downstairs.

Sort and separate through all our junk, in one room. One big dose of "Stay or go". And in turn, the basement will become organised as well, and we'll have a better idea of what kind of storage is needed.

Plus, it won't frustrate me so much cause it won't be in my face all day long, and guests never go down there. And I'll be more motivated if it's not as stressful. And I'll have an easier time leaving it for a bit, if I cant do it all. Instead of just not doing it.

Oh, and we have put shelving up in the laundry room. As well as a coat rack. I'm getting the boyfriend to put up a door on the corner, to keep the vaccum and such in. And a cabinet over the wash basin to put cleaners in.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 6:38PM
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