Wednesday, May 2, 2007

30 Day Challenge - Final Post

Well, this post is a long one because I've entered the 30 Day Challenge and this is my, hopefully, winning entry. Before reading on, keep in mind that my goal was to reclaim my basement space. Although it may not look aesthetically pleasing, painting walls and putting in a new floor was not my initial intent. I wanted to have a useful space and simplify an area of my home that just wasn't working for us.
Here's my story:

What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it? The hardest part of the PROCESS was removing items. I’ve had my plan of attack ready for quite some time but every time I had planned a “clear out” day to remove stuff from my basement, I’d get sidelined with health issues. I have cancer in my spine and I find if I lift too many items or bend over too often to pick something up off the floor, I was “laid up” for a day or two afterwards. The 30 day challenge helped me overcome this obstacle. By changing my mindset (I thought everything had to be done in one day - that was the pre-cancer "me") and spreading the work out over 30 days I was able to accomplish my goal.

Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order? I had to discuss the changes/habits with my husband. Although I did most of the basement cleaning and clearing, he’s the one who does the laundry and is often “looking” for stuff. He helped me move some of the larger items and carted quite a few stuff off to various charities.

We worked together come up with the following changes:

Garbage can – seems simple but we didn’t have one in that area of the basement. Old laundry boxes had piled up. We weren't picking anything up 'cause there was no place to put it.

Laundry baskets – my husband does the laundry and he’d grab clothes out of the hampers in bedrooms and carry the clothes in a heap down to the basement. He’d sort them on top of any surface he could find. As a result, we were losing socks (they didn’t make the trip from the 2nd floor to the basement) and other articles of clothing along the way. I’ve asked him to carry the clothes down using laundry baskets and sort the clothes into colours and whites into the new baskets I’ve supplied beside the washer/dryer. I just put a load in myself tonight and I'm finding it's a breeze.

Basket on top of dryer for cleaning supplies – this should keep our supplies tidy and organized. It’ll also help us dust the dryer more often and easily since all the stuff is “together”. We’ll also be able to see what supplies we have on hand and what needs replacing.

Labeling for plastic containers – I’ve purged ALL of our existing containers and only kept the stuff we need. I wrote down the contents onto an index card which I keep in my index card box (yes, I’m a SHE (sidetracked home executive) and have been for 6 months). Now my husband won’t be overturning everything just to find that one thing he needs for his gig (he’s a musician).

Broom holder – I installed one beside the dryer so I have somewhere to place my mop and cleaning supplies
Glad Big Bags – I purchased these to place my yarn in. I have tons of yarn and I like the fact that the bags are “see through”. Before I started using the bags, I wasn’t easily able to see what I had when my yarn was in containers. This was causing me to “rummage” through bins leaving a wake of mess behind.

What did you do with the "stuff" you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

Let’s see, here’s where the stuff went:

  • Church sale – they made over $3000 (I left them with so much stuff that I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where they made the bulk of their money – jokingly said, of course.) One of the ladies at the sale commented on what a great fit her new jeans were – I then realized they were the jeans I brought to the sale because they didn’t fit me. :-)
  • The “bring and buy” sale at my daughters’ school – they were raising money for their Grade 5 graduation
  • The Diabetes Association – they came to my home at least once or twice for a pickup
  • Recycling blue bin – this is where the paper ended up
  • Grade 3-5 knitting club at school - I brought in bags of yarn for the kids to use

    What was the biggest lesson you learned from this experience?
    Gee, there were so many…Be choosy about what I bring into my home – don’t accept everything everyone offers you. When I was bedridden, everyone and his uncle kept giving us stuff to “help out” - mostly clothes. Much of the stuff we just didn’t need but I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by refusing it. Now, I’m finding we had to weed through a lot of stuff we really didn’t need. Bottom line is that if we keep the area “clutter free”, there’s less to clean up and keepup.

    Now that you have completed the PROCESS, do you think having and keeping your space organized will make a difference in your life?
    Absolutely! We’ve already noticed (not in order of importance):
  • Our house is safer since there isn’t that build up of clutter around the furnace
  • We’re not injuring ourselves every time we walk down to the basement. We were always stepping on something
  • I can bring people down to the basement without feeling embarrassed (we have a perfectly functioning bathroom that I was reluctant to have "company" use).
  • We can find what we need so there’s no more “rooting around” looking for stuff
  • I feel better – I was carrying a lot of stress and guilt over not having my house clean because of my illness. I'm not a "clean freak" but when your clutter becomes hazardous, it certainly does weigh on your mind. Knowing that we have a working system makes things better so, if I’m laid up again, I know that the system will run without my input.
  • We haven’t been losing clothes in the trip from the bedrooms to the basement. No more “sock orphans”. My girls have matching socks when they go to school. I'm saving money on clothes because I don't have to buy "replacements".

    Now, the before and after photos:

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AFTER (remember, aesthetics was not my goal this time around - it's clear and functional)

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Thank you, Laura, for initiating this. My friends think I'm nuts entering into an online "challenge". I started reading your blog about 2 months ago and it's really helping me. It's nice to know that there are others out there who have organizing advice they can share.

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Debi said...

Wow! Congratulations! It looks wonderful!

Lisa H. said...

Great job! You did some major work. You are an inspiration!

Robin said...

Congratulations! Well done.

Carrie said...

It looks great now!
I couldn't get to my washer and dryer before the challenge, either. You weren't alone!

Amy said...

Great job! You put a lot of hard work into this. Your shelves are so organized and neat now!


Barb, sfo said...

You did great!! I know what you mean about beautiful vs. functional because I was doing the same thing in my basement.

Cheryl said...

Thanks, everyone, for your feedback. I'm now so totally exhausted from the effort but, boy, it's good to have that basement clean. That was the last of the major areas I had to do. I now have my home back. :)

Andrea said...

Congrats on a great job. you did a lot of work and it looks great.