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  • Anjali Gupta

Organizing Our Quarantine Homes

Declutter your space and declutter your mind.  There is a whole industry built on this notion.  The quarantine has made something I have known even more clear to me.  I wish I had the wiring that loved to organize my home, but I just don't.  On any given day, I can think of about 25 other things I would rather spend my time doing.  This level of acceptance does help sometimes.  It brings "the perfect house" to a level of practical realism and maintains my happiness comfortably independent of such an idea.  It allows me to engage in Pavlovian simplicity by treating myself to books, podcasts, shows, and music if and when I attempt these tasks.  So Week 2 of the quarantine, when I organized multiple areas of our home, it was definitely a quarantine accomplishment.  The problem is Week 10, I am back where I started.  Perhaps you too have traveled this circumferential route? 

Cleaning services curtailed + crowded households + increased time at home + more meals cooked =

More daily mess.:) . How are we going to proceed with some organization if re-entry back to normalcy is gradual in the months to come?

Q & A Today

Caitlin Sirianni, Owner Neat Method Philadelphia

Q: What are some helpful tips for people trying to keep organized during this quarantine?

As we all strive to find balance right now, give yourself some grace and just focus on tidying when you can. It’s ok if your home isn’t perfectly organized and organizing is the last thing you want to tackle. However, if you’re trying to stay organized, remember it’s about being prepared, not perfect — how easily can you find what you’re looking for and how quickly can you clean up?

  1. Start Small | Pick one drawer, like a junk drawer, or one category, like files. Once you’ve created an organizational system that works for you here, you’ll feel accomplished and motivated to tackle another space.

  2. Label, Label, Label | This is the key to staying organized especially when a space is used by multiple people. Labels make clean up easier and keep your systems intact.

  3. Teamwork | Make sure your family or roommates are on the same page. Discuss needs and brainstorm systems that work for everyone.

Q: Are there rooms that should be given priority?

Start with the rooms that are feeling the most love and have multiple functions. Your living room might be functioning as a classroom or your dining room might be temporarily transformed into a home office. Give these multi-purpose spaces top priority and create temporary systems that fit your needs.

Q: What are your recommendations on how to maintain a system of organization once you have taken the time to create it?

The key to maintenance is following three simple rules.

  1. Set a Limit | With any category, there should be a limit to the amount that you’re allowed to accumulate. Anytime a bin, basket, or drawer is getting full, it’s time to go through and edit out items you’re no longer using.

  2. Adjust as Necessary | Needs change over time, which means your organizing systems will need to change as well. Take time to refresh a space seasonally by updating categories and labels to reflect your family’s current needs.

  3. Follow Through | Use your system! It might take a week or two to adjust to a new layout but stick with it. The more you place items in their designated location, the more time and frustration you’ll save in the long run.

Q: Is there a way to get kids involved?

Absolutely! Include kids in creating the system. Little ones can help pull everything out of a space and sort everything into simple categories (don’t get too specific or it could get confusing). Have them place each category into individual bins or baskets, so everything is easy to locate.

We also recommend getting kids involved with the maintenance process — they are never too young to start learning how to pick up after themselves. Turn on some music and make it fun! Time them to see how fast they can put everything away, or challenge their reading skills with labels. Be consistent and lead by example. Before you know it, they’ll start cleaning up all on their own!

Q: What is the best way to get supplies needed when many of us are not going to stores for anything besides groceries?

Some of our favorite stores for organizing products have delivery available and are offering contactless curbside pick-up. The Container Store, Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond are some of our go-tos. Always remember to measure twice and order once! And, when in doubt, contact your local NEAT team for expert help and a personalized shopping list.

Thank you to Caitlin for the inspiration!

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