Just a few weeks ago, we were able to move about freely outside, congregate with 10 or more people, dine-in at our favorite restaurant, or even catch a matinee movie on a calm Saturday afternoon. Now, our “new normal” consists of sheltering-in-place for an extended period of time to help ensure everyone stays safe.
While it’s not quite possible to control what is currently happening in the world, you can control and take charge of what’s inside of your home. During this time in quarantine, you may find that it’s comforting to organize and tackle projects, tasks, or spaces that tend to get overlooked. It’s also Spring, which is a great motivator to purge your space of outdated items and refresh your space.
Tip #1: Tackle Your Clutter
There is always one area in the home that can be a magnet for clutter. It could be your closet, drawer, nightstand, or bathroom. So, before organizing , you will want to clear out the clutter from the space. Next, you will need to inspect each item and be very honest with yourself whether the item is functional, should be kept but stored elsewhere, discarded, or donated. If you are donating items, then be sure to store the items inside of a bag or bin until you’re able to drop if off.
Tip #2: Organize Your Workspace
The shelter-in-place order means that many of us are now working from home. There can be many benefits to working from home such as saving on gas or not having to sit in traffic while commuting to work. You might find yourself multitasking and doing some errands while you work, like putting in a load of laundry, but there can be challenges too. When working from home, it’s important to set up a designated, organized space to ensure that you can effectively perform the tasks expected of you. To prevent a cluttered desk-space (whether a true desk or kitchen table), try to store documents inside of labeled folders, binders, or files. This will help you to quickly retrieve the documents when needed. Contain pencils/pens, paper clips, staples inside of a storage product. If you don’t have any on hand, then you can search your home for a mason jar, old jars, empty cans, shoe boxes, or cups that you may no longer be using. Lastly, when working from home, it can be easy to get distracted, so use your calendar or a to-do list—to promote productivity and ensure that you stay on task and prevent missing any deadlines.
Tip #3: Take Control of Your Inbox
Due to being home for an extended period of time, email communication has increased because it’s an essential source of how information is being relayed, especially for those who are working from home. So, it’s important to locate your emails instead of having them get lost in an abyss of emails that may not be as important. This can be an overwhelming task! We recommend that you tackle it in small steps. Start by setting a timer for just 30 minutes (or 5 minutes…or 10 minutes—whatever feels manageable to you) which will keep you focused on the task at hand. During the set time, you can delete outdated emails, create folders to store and organize emails that are alike, and follow-up with emails that you have been putting off. Try this a few times throughout the week and you will be surprised by how much progress you can make.
Tip #4: Organize Your Kitchen Space
We are all stocking up on shelf-stable food items—so much so that our pantries might becoming a bit chaotic. For organizing your fridge or pantry, we recommend that you take everything out as a first step. Discard or compost items that have expired or spoiled. Then place the items you decide to keep back inside by organizing and grouping like-items together. For example, fruits/vegetables should be kept together, condiments should be kept together and so forth. This makes it easier to locate items when it’s time to create a meal. If you find that you have a few too many times, consider donating unopened, non-perishable (and not expired) items to a food pantry or other nonprofit.
Tip #5: Organize Kid’s Space
This is a challenging time for all of us, and for those with children at home, the challenge could feel compounded. Now that everyone is home together all of the time, try to create a designated space where children can feel that they have their own space to work or play. By doing this, you can prevent a pile-up of toys and other children’s items taking over the space and it’s one less thing that will have to be cleaned up. It should be encouraged that children know where their toys should be stored and that’s where they should be replaced after using them. Remember, the goal is to control what is within your household and limit chaos where you can.
During this very chaotic and uncertain time, we hope that taking small steps to organize and personalize your space helps you feel light and as stress-free as possible. Please keep in mind that this is just one option! Some find great comfort in organizing; others do not. That is OK! Should you become overwhelmed or anxious, stop your task, take a deep breath, and move on to something else. But, we hope that these tips provide some practical advice while you are staying at home.
By Jakia Muhammad
Jakia Muhammad is Iona’s Home Delivered Meals Manager. She also has a passion for and love of all things organization and systems.