There I was last weekend at Lifefest, a women’s lifestyle show, watching a constant flow of people dragging their luggage between booths as if they were at the airport.
I figured out that these pretend vacationers were actually seasoned freebie collectors. Rather than stuffing bags and having aching arms, they simply drag the goods in a rollaway luggage.
The trick for the avid freebie collector is to take as much as you can, regardless of whether you need it or will use it.
I asked many of the collectors I saw what they’ll do with all that stuff. One said, “I give it away, when I go to Cuba.” Another said, “I put all the bathroom products in a wooden bowl and use it for a year, then come back to the show to replenish.” Well, most such products have a shelf life of six months.
Ironically, I was at Lifefest giving a presentation on how to get organized and get rid of the clutter. Ha!
Speaking of which, this week my team and I have been spring organizing for an average kind of family. A husband, wife, three kids, two dogs, some fish, and Great Auntie Marina, who has been trying desperately to get this family organized.
When I arrived, the storm door opened with a string that was attached to the hole replacing the missing handle. That foreshadowed the scale of the job ahead. The garage was completely packed, and the finished basement was so stuffed that I couldn’t make out what type of flooring there was.
The main floor had enormous mismatched furniture and the top floor was … well, it was full.
It was hard to imagine so many people living in the little space that was left.
The family members were eager to get help organizing their home. They wanted to start in the bedroom, however we advised them to start outside and work their way in.
• We began clearing out the cars, ensuring they were empty so the Mr. and Mrs. could make many trips to the dump, storage facility and charities.
• Then we attacked the garage, grouping items on the grass and driveway. The largest categories were charity and recycling. It turns out the garage had become a hotel for wildlife — not anymore.
Unfortunately the single car garage will never be a home for a parked car, but at least it’s a functional storage area.
• Down to the basement we went. We first cleared the pathway on the stairs. To our surprise we found a side door behind a bookshelf on the stairs. They hadn’t opened that door in a decade.
• Sorting must always start in broad categories for fast results. We used clear large bags and boxes for grouping. Our broad sections were clothes, new boxed toys, crafts, pantry, hardware, toxic waste, broken & bits of toys. Once the sections are containerized in bags or boxes, we had floor space to work. Then the editing process began one category at a time, one bag/box at a time.
• Category zoning begins with logical placement. This is easy to determine once the items have been filtered.
• By this time things are falling into place. The momentum is fierce and the main floor isn’t as overwhelming now.
• Items from the main floor are easily categorized and filtered into the basement zones as necessary. We emptied the large furniture and put it on the curb and in 15 minutes it was gone.
• The paring down process continued on the top floor with ease.
Believe it or not, now that the de-cluttering and organizing has been completed, it’s time for the family to start their Deep Spring Cleaning. That’s when I sneak out of there. I look forward to your comments and questions. E-mails can be sent to me via email@example.com.