There were moments I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish this project, but I did it and I can’t describe how magnificent it feels! If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, it’s the transformation from my junk pile basement to the completely organized homeschool classroom/laundry room/home gym for the Orgjunkie.com March Organization Challenge.
Want to read some of the progress posts I made for a little inspiration?
I didn’t do a progress update for week 3, but this is the week 4 and final progress update and I’m proud to say it’s done! The entire family is happy, we have a new space to hang out in, and we can actually walk around down there. Rather than trying to describe the space, let me show you a few pictures of the before and after of the area. The pictures speak much louder then words anyway. The pictures are moving clockwise through our basement area, so just imagine yourself standing almost in place spinning around getting dizzy.
As part of the challenge I have to write up some answers to some great questions. I hope my responses are a little bit of inspiration for you or at the very least, make you smile a bit.
1. What space did you decide to organize and why? I decided to organize the basement. As you can see from the before pictures above it pretty much just turned into a clutter heap. I really do mean heap. You couldn’t set anything down anywhere, you sort of just set it on top of other stuff and then froze in place for a few seconds hoping it wouldn’t cause an avalanche. If it did cause an avalanche, you hoped you weren’t under it or that nothing breakable was in the pile. The other reason I wanted to redo that space is because our homeschool classroom was up in our living room and it was starting to frustrate me that we didn’t have enough space to store everything, the couchs would get piled with workbooks, my desk was getting covered with worksheets, and it took forever to clear off the table we were using for schooling because nothing had a home. I needed a bigger space and I wanted my living room and desk back. The basement was the perfect spot to put the classroom and I knew I had to do something with that space before it turned into something worse.
2. What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 31 day timeline? I started out using the PROCESS method provided by OrgJunkie.com. I started with step one planning. This was simple, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, just wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to go about it. I did know what I wanted in the space, so at least I knew everything that didn’t belong had to go. Step 2, removing everything and starting on a blank state made me stop, stare at the piles and piles of boxes and papwerwork and laugh. I really did have a good knee slap laugh knowing that the amount of stuff I had down there wasn’t going to be able to be removed. If we took it out of there all at once in an unorganized fashion, we wouldn’t be able to move in the rest of the house. Things are getting serious, we had to organize as we went so we could remove things in an organized fashion. This meant steps 3 and 4 were being combined into one step. We were organizing things into piles, then putting them into containers. Some were temporary homes, some were permanent and some I finally decided it wasn’t important enough to keep, so I got rid of it anyway. The final three steps are ongoing right now because being organized is new to all of us. We are just now starting to get down there and use the space so we are learning what worked for organization, and what didn’t. We’re also implementing the rule that if you get it out, you put it back before you go upstairs. So far so good. I’m determined to keep this up! As we learn what works we’re going to keep evaluating the plan, but it seems pretty safe to say I won’t have to use the extreme measures of organizing I did to get it cleaned up down there ever again. At least not in that room. We’re smiling and ready to tackle the next room and the next and the next until we have the entire house organized and decluttered.
3. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it? The hardest part of the challenge for me was deciding what to do with the baby stuff. We’re still thinking about having another child, but it’s not the time for us for at least another year or two, so I didn’t really want to get rid of all the baby stuff we had. Eventually I started looking at what we had and realizing we don’t need a full sized high chair because we’re keeping the bumbo chair. We don’t need the changing table because we can just use the floor or a bed. Once I started changing my thought process to multi-use items or creative ways to overcome the issues that resulted in certain products (like the baby stuff) I had no problems letting go. After we got some of the big stuff out I realized a lot of it was covering the sump in our basement. I told my husband I didn’t care how we did it, but that area needed to be covered to prevent a child from being curious or even a pet from getting stuck in there. I was torn with decisions on how to get it covered, then I realized we had a lot of large totes of items we were going to be keeping for awhile, much of it baby clothes and toys (don’t worry, we’ll be purging the rest of these when we finally decide we are done having kids). These totes needed a home and we needed something to cover the sump in the corner. It was the perfect plan. It was multi-use and the totes are fairly easy to get to when we need to get something.
4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space? This is one of the easier questions. Most of the things we took out of the basement went into boxes in the garage for a yard sale in May. We’re waiting until then so we have time to get through the rest of the house to purge even more things. The rest of the boxes went to Goodwill for donations. I think we sent at least 15 boxes for donation. Other items were transplanted into other rooms where we want them and as we make our way around the house we’re going to stick to the rule that if we can’t make room for it we either have to get rid of it or get rid of something else to make room for it. I’m loving this new mentality I have on this topic and it’s helping me out a lot. Things I couldn’t bear to part with a year ago are easily being purged from the house. It feels wonderful to have uncluttered spaces in my house!
5. Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge? Finishing the project was the proudest moment. I’m usually one of those people who almost gets done with something, then just tosses it down saying, it’s almost done, or I’m bored. I really do have sparkly light syndrome (meaning I get distracted easily from the 3 million projects I always seem to have going on.) One of my proudest moments during the challenge though was deciding what to do with the blank space in front of the freezer. I was drawing a blank, then it dawned on me we had the ABC foam puzzle blocks that we could lay out. Now we have a great place for the kids to sit on the floor for floor activities downstairs, and it doubles as a cushioned floor space to do some exercises that need more space then our little home gym area allows for. I was very proud of solving the problem of what to do with this space there.
6. Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries? Most of the organizational tools we used was shelving and boxes. We did transfer the wall shelves from what is now the classroom area to the laundry room area, then we put up a bulletin board for educational posters and such. To create boundaries we used the furniture we had. The hall tree is placed in the middle facing the classroom to help separate the laundry room from the classroom. The hangers on the hall tree give the kids a place to put their backpacks and sweaters if they want to wear them (it’s a lot cooler in the basement then the rest of the house.) We moved the futon around so it faces the corkboard in the classroom (this was a 90 degree turn) by doing this the futon creates a boundary separating the classroom from the home gym area.
7. What is ONE piece of organizing advice you’ve learned on this journey that you could encourage someone else with? Wow, I learned so much from this challenge it’s hard to pick just one bit of advice. Since I have to pick, I’ll choose evaluation. I had a lot of projects in the basement that I had big plans for. Fifteen years of big plans that is. I kept hanging onto these things telling myself I’d get to it eventually, but eventually never came. Doing this challenge I really evaluated the projects I was keeping on hand and realized I have so much going on in my life I’m never going to get to these projects no matter how good my intentions are for getting to them. I ended up purging a lot of my projects, and after they were gone, I didn’t feel near as bad about it as I thought I would. Take the time to evaluate the reality of doing projects. Is it a project you are in love with and will be doing, and if it’s just a project you are in love with the idea of, ask your self if you’ll ever actually do it, or if you just like to think you will. Good luck with your own spaces, I’m proof that it can be done!
Here are a few more pictures to give you a better, wider view of the new organized space (couldn’t do this before because there was too much clutter and not enough room to move around, lol) Don’t worry about the blank space in the classroom and by the gym, I already have ideas of purposeful posters to put up in those places, we just haven’t decide on how we want to attach them to the walls yet. Educational posters in the classroom and on the freezer door, and motivational posters next to the weights.