Sunday, September 22, 2013

Organizing - Practicing What I Preach

Well, as the caption says I have been busy practicing what I preach.  I really do enjoy organizing.  These last few months have been a bit of a challenge though.  My mother who just turned 89 moved into an apartment, from a large 2-bedroom split entry house with a huge basement that she has lived in since the 70s and into a 2-bedroom senior living apartment with no basement, garage or shed.  This is better known as downsizing.  It has been quite a transition for her leaving her friends and neighbors in a small town where she spent her entire adult life and into an apartment where she only knew one other person, my mother-in-law.  She is adjusting quite well and being around people every day has been wonderful for her.

Enough of that.  When we moved her, as you might expect, things were just stuck wherever in order to get them put away and out of the way.  Important documents were in unknown locations and everyday items were also misplaced.  Her closets and cupboards were soon very full and disorganized.  It was pretty much chaos behind doors but luckily this apartment has several closets for storage.  I have been in the process of getting things where she can find them easily and placing important documents I find into her safe.

Yes, it can be very overwhelming.  I have taken my own advice and am just doing one section or area at a time.  Because it was becoming a catch-all, I've started in her second bedroom which she made into an office.

She is an artist and many of her paintings were leaned and tucked wherever there was space on the floor.  We began by hanging those.  They may get moved to other locations at some point, but for now they are on her walls, off the floor and out of her way and making the apartment feel more comfortable and homey.

My dad passed away a few years ago so most of his papers are still in the desk and file cabinet.  I decided to start on the closet since it had really become a dump-all.  First I removed all of the obvious non-essential and broken or damaged items and disposed of them.  She had three plastic small drawer sets that contained a mix of items.  These are now labeled and used for copy paper, colored paper, card stock, pads/pens, office supplies, batteries/bulbs, and a small drawer to place documents in that we need to go through later.

Her art supplies were in a variety of containers on the top shelf, so we went through those, discarding out-of-date or dried out supplies.  The remaining items were placed into four shoe box-sized drawers labelled brushes/palette knives, oil paints, acrylic paints and glitter/solvents/misc.  They are within easy reach, waist high so she can easily access them.  The portable easel and canvases are next to the drawers or on the floor within reach and jars etc. that didn't fit into the drawers set on top of the drawer sets.

Our next step will be photographs and frames I think.  She has several small photo frames stacked on her top shelf.  She also has two containers of photos next to her desk and a large box on a shelf in another closet.  When she moved we had taken many of the photos which had been framed out of their frames, condensing the space needed down from two large totes.  I have also been running across photos in drawers and other boxes.  We will go through the photos together so she can choose some to put onto a memory card that will be inserted into one of those electronic frames that displays the photos one at a time.  That way she won't have a bunch of framed photos to dust around and will be able to have all her favorite images to look at, saving space.  A few may get re-framed, but we'll see what she thinks.  We will be able to get rid of many of the old frames and fit all of the photos together into one box.  The archival photo boxes are nice and that may be something we can consider, sorting the photos in some type of order.  Another alternative, although initially time-consuming, is to scan the photos into her computer on a separate external hard drive.  I have done that with my genealogy photos and it is wonderful once organized by family and by individuals.  For the meantime I think they will just go into one box collectively to be put on a shelf.

There is still a lot to be accomplished and those areas mentioned above were done on separate days.  Breaking this process down into bite-sized pieces is the only way to accomplish our goals.  I will try to keep you updated as this progresses.  Hopefully you will benefit either by inspiration to tackle your own space or maybe even help you if you are going through a similar situation.

What has been your latest organizing feat?  I would love to hear.

1 comment:

Magpie's Mumblings said...

I think I could use your services too! I know we down-sized (hugely!!) to move here two years ago, but there are still things that need to be downsized even more. I really enjoyed reading this post Connie and it has made me think about tackling a few areas that need more work. When we gave our cat to our son recently we undertook a massive vacuuming of the entire place which also included moving all the books out from under our bed (one of his favourite places to sleep). We got rid of almost half of them, so at least now the bed isn't on the verge of teetering!!