Happy July! I hope you’re having a good summer so far, I know I am. So, if you followed my last post, you should be enjoying your tea and games comfortably in a relatively clean space, and if a friend showed up unannounced with a half gallon of ice cream and two spoons, you wouldn’t be embarrassed to let them inside (Is that a thing? Friends showing up at your house with ice cream? It should be a thing. 🍨)
So you may feel like cleaning more is extra innings, and I might agree, except…well, you wouldn’t wear a fancy ballgown with dirty underwear, would you? Does it matter if your car is a Ferrari on the outside if when you pop open the hood, all you see is this:
So it matters that we take care of common junk traps lurking behind closed doors so the junk trapped within doesn’t come spilling out. To put it into gaming terms, we have to destroy the crystal that spawns the mist (that spawns the baddies…ok, game plots don’t always make a lot of sense.) So today I’ll focus on three common problem areas and a few quick tips for each on how to punish your clutter.
C’mon, you knew this was coming. The drawer, the closet, whatever that space is where you store all the things you don’t know what to do with. Almost everyone has one, hopefully you don’t have more than one. How you tackle the space depends a lot on what’s inside, but I’ll try to provide some helpful hints.
- Empty it out. Just dump everything out, maybe on a sheet of newspaper (in case anything gross is inside). Spread it all out so you can have a good look at what you’re working with.
- Identify trash. Old receipts, candy wrappers, empty packaging, broken stuff. All that stuff should be plucked out and thrown in the garbage right away. Always recycle where possible! ♻️
- Put away things that actually go somewhere else. A good place to start is stuff that isn’t yours should go in a pile by the door to be given back to the rightful owner. Then, try to group like things together by category (e.g. art supplies, computer software) and designate a “home” for that category of items. 🏠 It makes sense if an item’s home is in the place where it will be most often used. For instance, my video games live near the TV, and my makeup lives in the bathroom.
- Limit yourself to ONE box of memorabilia. I know it’s really hard to part with items that have sentimental value, but the more stuff you hold on to, the less room there is in your house and in your heart of new special items and experiences. For that reason, I strongly suggest you allow yourself one tub for old stuffed animals, Pokemon cards, gifts from your grandma, etc. 🎁 If your items is some kind of media, like a letter, a photo, or a video, you should try to scan it and get it digitized on your computer. That way you can back it up and have it forever. This is also a good thing to do with important documents.
- Wipe out your drawer and put everything back neatly. It really helps if you have shoebox lids or other small boxes to help keep everything sorted out so you won’t be tempted to just throw any old junk back in there. While you’re putting things back, be sure to ask yourself if you really need each item. Chances are if it was buried in the bottom of your junk drawer, you even forgot you had it. Consider tossing things you probably will just forget about.
Before we get started on this one, I should first mention, if you don’t live alone, don’t throw out any food you didn’t pay for without asking. Trust me, your roommates or parents will be very, very annoyed with you. Actually, you should probably never throw away anything that isn’t yours (
unless you’re prepared to be very sneaky about it), no matter how tempting it might be. Cleaning out your fridge and pantry is actually pretty similar to cleaning out the junk drawer with a few extra concerns:
- Check the expiration dates. Okay, I know there are some people out there who think expiration dates are just corporate scams designed to get you to buy more product sooner. If you believe this, please let me know so I can never come over to your house to eat. I mean, okay, maybe your expired baking soda is totally fine, but also a fresh box of baking soda is about 99 cents and hasn’t been absorbing whatever is in your fridge for the last 6 years. I know it sucks to throw away something expensive just because it’s expired but seriously, if you loved it, wouldn’t you have eaten it before it went bad?
- Figure out the proper storage technique. It’s important to check the label on your food for things like “refrigerate after opening”. As it turns out, a lot of soy sauce and other condiments that people leave in their pantries actually belongs in the fridge, at least according to the manufacturer. Similarly, some fruits and vegetables need to go in the fridge while others like to sit on the countertop. I printed this chart from SparkPeople and put it on my fridge to help myself out (click to expand)
- Toss out your junk food! Okay, okay, now I’m just getting crazy; but seriously, there are so many great foods you can make and eat that are pretty good for you. The best case scenario for junk food is you eat it, and then you’ll probably feel bad about it; you can save yourself the pain by just tossing that half eaten package of Chips Ahoy right now. 🍪
- Donate unopened non-perishable foods. So your friend said quinoa was healthy and the PokeMart was having a sale and before you knew it, you cam home with 12 packs of barely edible birdseed. The good news is, you don’t have to make yourself eat that, and you can feel good about getting rid of it because, wherever you are, there are likely people in your area who do not have enough to eat. In the USA, you can click here to find a local food bank that would be happy to take your unwanted non-perishable foods. 🎁
I know usually ladies have a bad reputation for carrying around a bunch of garbage in their purses, but I think men can be just as bad with their backpacks. As always, start by emptying everything out, getting rid of the trash, and putting away things that belong somewhere else.
Now there’s a million different opinions about what constitute day bag essentials, but carrying around a bag that is too heavy can cause pain or injuries, so I urge you to consider whether your really need the things you decide to put back in your bag. I’ll list some suggestions below:
- Wallet 👛
- Credit/Debit cards 💳
- Cash 💸
- Medical cards
- Membership/ Gift cards (but only the ones you actually use)
- Cell Phone + Earbuds 📱
- Keys 🔑
- Sanitary Products/Birth Control (you never know!)
- Pain Reliever 💊
- Glasses/Sunglasses 👓
- Handheld Gaming Device
You can reduce your load by choosing to bring things in your car’s glove box (if you have one), and using apps on your phone to take the place of a proper camera, note-taking device, and etc. If you use them, it might also be nice to carry a hair tie or any makeup you feel like you might need to reapply during the day. 💄 Bumping around in your purse isn’t an ideal storage solution for makeup, so try to limit yourself to 1-2 items.
Alright, if you made it though and are still with me, congrats! The cleaning series is more than halfway over, so hopefully you’re getting some good ideas on how you can take control of your spaces. Until next time! 💖