Let's cut the bullshit and get right to it: We all made semi-drunken promises to ourselves on New Year's Eve. And yet only about 2% of us will close out 2016 with our goals accomplished. I'm not here to scold you - I do it too - but rather to talk about how we can get some of our bigger shit together so that next year we have the energy to actually completing tasks like finding love, losing weight, or learning Spanish so we can move to Spain because of beautiful Spanish men.
This is a hard sort of article to write because there are as many reasons to be disorganized as there are pieces of junk mail on top of your refrigerator right now. I am no Patron Saint of Having Ye Shit Together, and if you'd like a list of all the stuff I do that makes me an asshole, I have several family members who still grant me their email addresses, so I can set you up if you're looking to do some digging. But I also know what I am good at, and I am good at organizing things, and I am good at telling people what to do.
So let's get started:
Go do your dishes.
Empty and reload the dishwasher, or put everything in the sink and wash it. Then dry it and PUT IT AWAY. Do not get sidetracked by the mess in the cupboard. Do not leave the roasting pan "soaking." Do all the dirty dishes and then put them away and your house will instantly become 30% cleaner and your shit is thatmuchcloser to being together, even if it is just for today. When your sink and dishwasher are empty, you are in control of the kitchen and by extension your home and by extension your life. Now you can concentrate on the task at hand.
The first thing you need to do is get rid of some shit. Don't hyperventilate if you are a visual person who likes to have things on display. This is not a pro Konmari post wherein I instruct you to thrown away all your prized possessions in hopes of achieving such Zen that you no longer require food because your level of enlightenment allows you to receive all nourishment you require from sunbeams. You will need to clear out some stuff, and I can't promise it all won't hurt, but you're going to find you don't need most of it anyway.
Over the next few months we will tackle all areas of getting your shit together - from your desk to your car to your kitchen pantry to your underwear drawer to finalizing your divorce.
Here's what you need this week:
Note that I didn't tell you to go to IKEA (Hello, Mothership) to purchase plastic bins of various shapes and sizes in stackable formats. Leave that until you've cleared all the clutter, or you will just be - and this is key here for getting your shit together - you will just be organizing clutter. You don't need rattan baskets. YOU NEED TO GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, NOT ORGANIZE YOUR SHIT. Do you know who organizes clutter? People who collect dog hair and have a high likelihood of dying under a mountain of 1987 newspapers and adult diapers.
Going shopping means you'd also lose a few hours of valuable cleaning time to mentally redesigning your living room and gorging on cafeteria meatballs. IKEA, Solutions, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond are the reward, friends - not the starting line.
Be warned, however: do not go boldly into the dark night - or even the dark laundry room - without a plan. Getting your shit together is going to take some time, and let's be fair - you didn't start out with 17 sippy cups in your plastics drawer. We're going for a slow burn here, or you'll fizzle out and your partner will arrive home to find you crying under your son's crib while the toddler wanders around the backyard muttering his first words, which, incidentally, will be "too many goddamn toys. Too many goddamn toys..."
Take 20 minutes every day this week and commit to filling two full size garbage bags with GARBAGE - stuff you do not want, do not need, and do not want to clean. This means broken toys, ripped clothing, pieces of paper you don't need (take a quick photo if you're hesitant for your records), old magazines (you can get articles online using something called "Google,") stray bobby pins, 16 of your 18 rubber spatulas, and anything else you've acquired since you took on the burden of a house full of clutter. See that yarn in that bankers box in the downstairs closet? Pitch it. You know full well it'd take a full on apocalypse before you'd learn to knit. Clear your closet, clear your mind.
Sentimentality has its place, but that place is not on your bookshelf.
Anything you think could find a home somewhere else can go neatly into cardboard boxes - clean clothing, useable toys with no broken parts, DVDs starring celebrities who've be arrested and you've lost respect for, etc. Keep going until you've filled two bags right to the top with garbage, plus an additional two boxes (size your choosing but don't be a weiner and pick a shoe box) of stuff to donate or give away.
That's it - TWO BAGS, TWO BOXES. If you want to keep going, do! But don't feel like this has to be an all or nothing clean up. Two bags will begin to put a dent in the crap and anyone can fill two bags of garbage. I spent the week post-Christmas cleaning my already clean space and I could fill two garbage bags right now.
DO NOT put those bags and boxes in the garage, because they will find a Mumford & Sons CD and screw all night and reproduce as only clutter can. We are looking to rid your home of excess stuff, not just provide it a change of view. Take the two bags of garbage and take them to the dump if you can easily do so. If not, put them where your weekly waste goes. Get in your car, or get on transit, or build a fucking wheelbarrow if you must, but get those boxes to a local charity drop off or arrange for home pickup with Clothesline or some other service.
Next time we'll start digging deep and hit some sore spots - like stocking and organizing your cleaning cupboards. Get limber, and get tissue - it may hurt, but no one ever said that getting your shit together was going to be entirely pleasant. It will be worth it however, because being found in a towering pile of your own excrement is a fate fit for no one.