Posting of Daily Goals for Decluttering/Organization – my Flight Plan

Posts tagged ‘organizing’

Flight Plan – Minimalism – Less stuff please!

I thought our house would be “perfect” when we built 14 years ago. Our oldest child was 3 at the time, the 2nd and 3rd not yet born. What did we know about what we would need in the future? Surely 3 bedrooms would be plenty for whatever number of kids we would have. And surely an open floor plan house would lend itself to a close knit family! Now we have 3 teens/preteens with one boy as the middle child. So teen daughter has to share with kid sister (ages 17 & 10) or with Mom & Dad until teen moves out! And open floor plan means no place to get away from anyone else – alone time, yes! I’m working on our basement now to make it a place where either the teens go or we, the parents, do. Yes, space is good!  Doors are good too!

Do we need a lot of “stuff” in that space?  A resounding no!!  DH occasionally orders online when he finds good deals.  The boxes arrive.  They get stacked somewhere in the entry or front room of our house, and they stay!

No!  We have nowhere to put the contents of those boxes, no matter how much he (we) wanted the item(s) inside.  No more!  Stuff must go out, not come in!


Flight Plan – It’s just 15 minutes, or is it?

Yesterday was Day 2 of a migraine.  I’ve had headaches for years.  They used to last 3 full days – not usually the flat-out-on-your-back-in-the-dark kind, but the annoying, nagging, please-talk-quietly-around-me-and-keep-the-lights-low, just-feeling-kinda-yucky kind.  They are now lasting 2 days instead of 3 – yes!, maybe because I know more now of how to keep them more at bay.  First, you catch it right away before it has a chance to get really bad.  After that, for me it’s a combination of ibuprofen and caffeine.  I can’t normally take too much caffeine.  But when I have a migraine, a grab a can of caffeinated pop (usually Dr. Pepper) and treat myself to a bar of dark chocolate.  Almost makes it something to look forward to – almost!

Well, as I said, yesterday was Day 2 of the requisite two day migraine and I was scheduled to drive over 2 hours to pick up my kids from Grandma & Grandpa Camp.  Besides that, I didn’t feel like I’d accomplished all of my goals for my week of decluttering without kids.  Could I get into the basement for one 15-minute session?

Here was my Flight Plan for the day:  I posted pictures and updated previous postings on our local Buy & Sell site with items already cleared from the basement.  Then I headed for the basement with two timers.  I set one timer to count up and one timer to count down from 15 minutes.  When the 15 minute timer went off, I continued on until I finished what I was doing.  The count-up timer let me know how much time I actually worked.  And here’s what I accomplished:

Here is the “before” picture from earlier this summer.

Here’s the part finished today. A couple of those bins contain items that will be sold, donated, or thrown away.

Here’s my donation to my mother!

After clearing out a box of craft materials, I was able to take a bag of x-stitch pattern books, material, and etc. to my mother who will put it to much better use than I have.  Then I got back to the shelves that I had started earlier in the summer and found them and the bins on them to be covered in a film of dust.  Easy to take care of, but what a difference it can make!

32 minutes or two 15s


By the time I decided to stop, three shelves down, I had spent 32 minutes total in the basement – or two 15s.  Not a lot of time or effort, but a significant accomplishment in the decluttering battle!

I had time to pack for overnight, take a short nap and shower, allowing time for last traces of migraine to dissipate before heading out for my 2-hour drive.  Nice accomplishment for  the day!

Flight Plan – FLYing Out with the Old & In with the New

I’m FLYing!

This should have been posted about two days ago, but here it is.  We were expecting a new refrigerator.  I posted pictures of the old one last time.  The store had told DH that delivery would be sometime after 5 p.m. which made DH happy because he would be home from work and could inspect everything, ask his questions about a possible line for the ice maker, etc.  Well, at 3:50 p.m. the delivery guys called to say, “We’re on our way with your refrigerator.”  I paniced and was speechless for a moment!  I actually said, “What does that mean?”  Then my brain kicked in, and I started thinking aloud.  “So what do I have to do then?  I mean, I’ll need to clear a path to the door, right?”  And as my brain fully grasped the situation, I added, “The only real problem would be that I still have to clear the old refrigerator out.”  No, not started!!  I thought I had at least another hour and thought DH would be home to help before I really had to think about it.  The guys asked how much time I needed.  Would 1/2 hour be enough?  I don’t know.  Would it?  I said, “How about if you call in 1/2 hour and find out if I’m ready.”  Fine.

15 minutes a delivery truck backs into my driveway!  Okay, the pressure’s on now.  Or is it?  They are the ones who told us it would be after 5 and suddenly show up an hour early!  Should I feel bad for them waiting outside on a day with temps in the 90s and a high dew point to match?  No, they’re sitting in their air conditioned cab listening to the radio and talking on their cell phones.  Okay…

I kept a steady pace, filled two large bins and a cooler in as organized a way as I could.  What really needs refrigeration and what can last awhile on the 78 degree kitchen floor?  Half an hour later I waved at the guys and we made the exchange.

Oh, then there’s the job of loading the new refrigerator!  A plan for organization right on the spot!  A true test of  my FLYing abilities!  With only a one-time shot at seeing the inside of the new refrigerator before it arrived in my house, I had no plan in place ahead of its arrival.  I set to work eying shelves against the height of objects needing placement and also grouping like items together in a way never before seen in the old refrigerator.  Yes!  I really am FLYing!

Yes, here are the pictures!  Will it stay this way?  Well, I have the pictures now to check against in a week or so after we’ve had 5 of us in and out of there on a daily basis.  Maybe I’ll even post them so you can help me judge how close we’re staying to my original plan of organization.

New French door style refrigerator – much bigger than the last one and more energy efficient

Full view, excluding the freezer drawer in the bottom

A closer view of the middle for organization – a bin for meat that we added ourselves, a bin for cheese using one of the veggie crispers, FridgeSmarts of lettuce and fruits, a drawer full of yogurt, 2 more FridgeSmarts waiting for the next trip for fresh produce

Drinks and condiments organized in groups, same in the other door

I did not take pictures of the coolers and bins I used (I could have.  We had to wait to fill the refrigerator for a couple of hours while it took its time cooling below the 80 degrees it said when set in place) or the disgusting awfulness of the kitchen sink full of the rottenness of those forgotten items from the back of the refrigerator.  Tofu gone bad is pretty wretched!  Just sayin’!  And I couldn’t believe the number of brown bananas collected in the back of the freezer – way beyond banana bread material!  I would say 2 1/2 bunches worth when you put them together!  Not happening in the new freezer.  This time we have the freezer as a drawer on the bottom.  Much easier to see everything, and nothing can get lost in the back.  Maybe in the bottom?  I hope not!

Yesterday’s post would have been on my efforts to completely clean the kitchen for the 3rd day in a row this week!  Putting away the wiped out coolers and bins, disinfecting the stinky sink, and washing one last round of dishes along with a round of zip locks.  Do zip locks accumulate at your house like they at ours?  I’ve decided to wash 7-8 at a time every time I wash dishes until they’re all gone.  The pile is too much to look at if I think I have to do them all at once, and there’s nowhere to put them all to dry anyway.

Baby steps!  A little at a time, but always moving forward!

Flight Plan – Delayed… but not grounded

I am without kids this week.  The two youngest are having their annual week of Grandma & Grandpa Camp, and my oldest is doing a job shadow to prepare for her future career.  It’s my week for major decluttering!!  Right?!

Yesterday’s decluttering time was sucked up by insurance issues!  I’ve mentioned that my youngest is scheduled for surgery in August.  This is actually two surgeries designed to correct physical effects caused by a brain tumor removed when she was 5.  E  is going on 11 now.  Well, last January our doctor referred us to surgeons for consultation, and they, in turn, sent us for a complete analysis of how E’s muscles communicate with her brain as she moves.  Long story short, we are (I am) now working to get insurance to pay for all this, even though we were told that none of it needed prior authorization or pre-approval.

Motion analysis lab

Left side of desk – bins of 3-ring binders on floor under window, bins of teaching materials stacked by desk but blocking access to file cabinet, overflow on and under bench by desk

Left side of desk after moving the bench and clearing overflow and miscellaneous items that were hiding underneath the bench.

I turned the bench the other direction, since it was butting up against the bins that were, in turn, blocking the file cabinet. Kids’ books that were sliding off the top of their bins were collected and placed in another bin on one end of the bench. All bins will be moved to my room at school in the next couple of weeks.

So, I made phone calls, wrote letters, faxed those letters, and wished….. that I was getting paid for my time, especially when this is supposed to be my week to get my big decluttering/organization project done.  My plans were majorly delayed….. but not grounded!  Here’s what I did at the end of the day.

I’m following the Olympics this week.  So, for my 15 minute increment I chose the beach volleyball segment to work on the area around the left side of my desk.  (You may recall that the right side of my desk came earlier this summer when I wanted to reach the window for some fresh air.  Well, there’s a window on the other side too!  There’s also a filing cabinet we need to access.  Can you see it in the first picture, or do you need the second?)  

Yes, so proud of this!

You know, I started this blog thinking that I would post my goals and use the blog as my accountability for accomplishing what I set out to do.  Lately that has dissolved into here’s what it used to look like and here’s what it looks like now.  It works!  I am accomplishing things left and right and keeping my positive energy flowing with this blog as my motivation.  Thank you to anyone who lets me know that they’re following along on the journey.  But, a bigger, riskier step is to post my goal ahead of time… to set that bigger goal and a time frame for accomplishment.

That big goal is the basement family room.  At least that’s what we call it.  Our family doesn’t go there.  The kids used to when they were much younger, but it’s not such a people friendly place to be anymore.  It’s been the place to store boxes and bins of stuff to the point where there’s no room to DO anything.  It’s also filled with toys the kids have outgrown: a toddler slide; a kids’ basketball hoop; a sit-n-spin; a disorganized art cart and desk strewn with scraps of paper, broken crayons, dried up markers.

It also smells kinda funky.  It’s the place where the cats live where we’re away from home.  Where they leave their fur and fur balls.  It’s also where the excessive rains in the spring and/or fall leave the carpet under the egress windows damp and musty smelling.  The bugs and spiders love it and take up residence there.  After all, no one will disturb them!

You may recall that I started the summer and this blog in the basement.  We need to use this space!  It’s a whole level of our house that we are not using well.  Have I mentioned that DH and I are not getting time to ourselves with teenagers in the house?  They never go to bed!!  But without the basement, they have nowhere else to go, and neither do we.  We are temporarily sharing our bedroom with our youngest until the oldest leaves for college.

“One more year, one more year!!!”

“Now that we’re trying to push you out, Sweetie!”

My newest thought is to make the basement so inviting that if teen DD doesn’t want it, I will!!  Of course there’s a few glitches to figure out in that plan, such as lack of closets in the basement and needing to travel to the 2nd floor of the house to shower.  Not to mention the part about making it a place for the kids and their friends to go – play Wii, air hockey, watch movies… but to also be someone’s bedroom…  just for a year!  It would make a great teen apartment, especially for our vegetarian DD who cooks separately for herself already.

That’s my goal!  Where’s Nate Berkus when I need him?!  15 minutes at a time, the basement will be an inviting place to be!!!

Flight Plan – What’s under the sink?

I’m a blue ButterFLY Baby. I’m FLYing, baby!

I’m trying to remember what FlyLady says about not being hard on ourselves when we don’t get done what we wanted to do.  Stay positive, look at what we’ve accomplished, and not at what didn’t get done, and move forward!  I’ve had the goal all week to do 15-minute increments of decluttering in the corner on the right side of my desk.  I did the left side of the desk the last weekend in June and haven’t made it to the other side yet.

Here’s the good news!  I cleared a stack of paper on my desk and found a couple of forms I had needed  Yes!

6 egg cartons, 5 bottles of cleaner, 4 shampoos & conditioners, 3 cutting boards, 2 boxes of scrubbies, and 1 pile of collected dirt and crumbs

Then I got frustrated by our empty kitchen garbage can.  I mean really empty!  On garbage pick-up day, I start collecting little piles of trash, because the box of trash bags is on a shelf in the garage and I have to find a pair of shoes and go out to get a bag from that box.  Too much trouble.  Today I finally decided to clear a space for the box in the cupboard under the kitchen sink, right next to the trash can!! This meant clearing out a few other things….  1 box of SOS pads and 1 box of sponges with scrubbies on the other side.  I have since learned about the high bacteria count in kitchen sponges and no longer use them.  I have purchased antibacterial sponges that can actually be washed in the washing machine and not thrown away.  Green, yes!  Also, 6 empty egg cartons!  Yes, 6!  Why?  Only because they had fallen toward the back of the cupboard where they couldn’t be seen.  I am now donating them to the “egg lady,” a local woman who raises her own chickens and sells the eggs.

Everything in its place, including the box of kitchen trash can liners, and a freshly lined trash can

My afternoon was spent with two of my kids at the local swimming pool.  A day well spent!

Flight Plan – Recovering from Vacation and Moving Forward

Today is that day after vacation when life must move forward.  Coming home on a Friday night, after 2 full days in a van with 5 people, 5 suitcases, 3 coolers, and a couple of plastic bins, meant getting to sleep in on Saturday and moving kinda slow the entire weekend.  That being said, my overachieving husband unpacked the entire van himself between Friday night and Saturday afternoon and left the inside of the house settling in for the rest of us to accomplish.  Here’s what was left of our large rolling cooler for me to deal with today and what I was able to change this to in 15 minutes of sorting and storing.


Nestled in the bottom of this cooler are a zip lock bag of grapes and two FridgeSmart containers of cherries and grapes, all with melted ice water in them. Time to sort the good from the spoiled!


1 zip lock and 2 FridgeSmarts reduced to this one nicely labeled contained we can snack from today – all in 15 minutes!

Another 15 minutes Image

to turn this…


freshly purchased unwashed strawberries

into this…

Meanwhile our van went from this…


  to this…


 Next up tomorrow, 4-H projects and some light decluttering OR will we end up at the swimming pool?  Nice to have this gift of time in the summer!

Flight Plan – FLYing while on vacation

CHASA (Children’s Hemiplegia & Stroke Association)

Over the past week my family and I road tripped to Arlington, TX for the annual CHASA retreat for families of kids with hemiplegia or one-sided weakness.  CHASA = Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association.  I might have mentioned in an earlier post about our youngest child, Emily age 10, who has right-sided hemiplegia.  More to come on that…

Okay, the best I can say about our family organization on our recent week-long vacation is that we did indeed have organization!!!  Did I feel entirely organized?  Well, no.  But I’m still working on why and what to do about it.

I coded my 4 lists all in purple for CHASA (hemiplegia awareness) so I could find them all easily in Color Note.

I had 4 different lists in use while packing – one for the cooler we use to avoid eating out all the time, one for the bin of general supplies for picnicking and living away from home (including pool toys), a small first-aid bin, and the general packing list we use for any overnight trip (you know – socks, underwear, toothbrush, etc.).  I always knew what was in each bin.  Yes!!!

I did not personally pack the coolers or decide which items went in each one – one large on wheels, one medium-sized, and one smaller.  That was a problem!  The drinks and snacks that should have been accessible while traveling were not!  We had to dig out a drink from a hidden cooler during a rest stop and decide right then what we wanted to have for the next few hours.


The bins and coolers worked well when we stayed in one place for 4 days.

My bin system worked well.


I really appreciated the organization of my bins during our hotel stays, but we really needed some kind of system for placement of the bins in our rooms.  We stayed in two different hotels on the way to Arlington, one room at the retreat hotel for 4 nights, and one more hotel on the way home to MN.  I knew what was in every bin and learned what was in each cooler, but the order and placement of the bins and coolers varied from one hotel room to another.  I had to look right to left and back again each time to decide where the one I wanted was placed.  I guess my brain needs a pattern to follow from one place to the next to keep my sense of order.

Hotel desk or “flat surface”!!!

More hotel desk or more flat surface!!


As you can see from the pictures, my family followed their usual pattern of placing random objects on flat surfaces.  It didn’t take long before I felt like my brain was on overload with all the visual clutter around me. Aaaahhhh!  Where do you put random objects in a hotel room?

So, organization was improved over trips of the past.  I had my lists and I used them religiously.  But there’s definitely room for more improvement.

On return home at 10:00 p.m., the first thing I did…  swept and mopped the kitchen floor, dirtied by shoes coming in and out and sorted the mail accumulated over a week’s time to make it easier to deal with in the morning.  15 minutes!

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