Cleaning, Organizing, Purging

The Return Of C.O.P. In 2022 (Cleaning, Organizing, Purging)

Do you remember at the beginning of 2020 when I was all excited about beginning the journey of purging, organizing, and getting on a regular cleaning schedule to keep my house clean? And how I did that for about six weeks before the world fell apart? Well, I’m bringing it back in 2022.

I did great in 2020 for about six weeks. I purged a whole room’s worth of stuff, cleaned out kitchen cabinets and drawers, built some custom storage solutions for those cabinets and drawers, and I was on a roll. Then I stopped. Because 2020.

Well, I’m going to bring it back. At the end of December, I said that I was going to take some time to deep clean my house so I can start the new year off on the right foot with a sparkling clean house. Well, I did a little, but I didn’t do much. I ended up spending those two weeks just hanging out with Matt, relaxing, watching movies, relaxing, reading, and relaxing. 😀 So now I’m trying to play catch up before jumping back into the bathroom remodel, which I plan to start on Monday of next week.

Right now, my house is cleaner than it has been in probably two years. Maybe longer. I mean, I’ve gotten out the ladder and wiped down every bit of molding around the windows and doorways, I’ve cleaned my pantry and kitchen cabinets from the top crown molding to the toe kicks and every square inch between. I’ve taken the glass off of light fixtures and washed them, and then wiped down all of the metal parts. I’ve even wiped down the crown molding in every room, cleaned my windows, washed throw pillow covers, deep cleaned my rugs, and on, and on.

It all feels so good. I absolutely love my house when it’s sparkling clean from top to bottom. And when I open up those cabinets and drawers that I organized back in 2020, it just feels so good to know that things have a place, and I have a system in place for those things. And the systems I put in place back in early 2020 have stuck. I use them, and I love them. Here are pictures I took just this morning…

My kitchen drawer organization by the stove keeps things in order, and keeps me from hanging onto things I don’t actually use. I find it pretty easy to keep things pared down now rather than throwing them into a drawer that’s more like an abyss. You can buy organizers at places like Bed, Bath & Beyond, but it’s so easy to make your own so that they’re customized to the exact size of your drawer.

kitchen drawer organization

My spice drawer still works great for me. My spices are all where I can find them, and other than needing to find a solution to the pen I used (it smudges), it’s still neat and organized. You can find that simple DIY project here.

kitchen drawer spice organization

The cabinet that I turned into pull-out storage for the cookware I use daily is also still working out great. I know exactly where these things go, and with my system in place, I use it. You can see how I did it here.

kitchen cabinet pots and pans organization

And the pull-out pan and casserole dish storage drawer in the pantry (for those items I need only occasionally) is also working out great. I know exactly where these things go, so once I use them, wash them, and dry them, they go right back in their place. You can find the DIY details here.

pantry cabinet - storage for cookie sheets and casserole dishes

So while I’m not a naturally neat and organized person, I am the type of person who follows established systems once they’re put into place.

But that’s the issue. I have to actually spend time and effort thinking through those things and consciously and deliberately establishing a system, because again, these things don’t just come naturally to me. Even if I have a general idea of, “I’d like to use this cabinet for such-and-such,” it’s still not enough. A general idea is not enough. I need clear purposes, established systems, and helpful organizational tools in place. Then I’ll follow them.

When I don’t have that, my cabinets end up looking like this.

pantry cabinet for cleaning supplies

Yeah. You see what I mean. That’s the “cleaning supplies” cabinet in the pantry. And because nothing is organized and I have no system in place, I literally open the door and shove the item in. That’s my system. Open and shove. And my open and shove system means that there are things lost in the back that I’ll never see. And if I can’t see something, I think I’m out of it, and I’ll buy more then next time I go to the store. And then to put the new one away, I open and shove.

I employ the same “open and shove” system for the cabinet under my kitchen sink.

cabinet under kitchen sink - before organization

And even worse is the hallway cabinet. I built this nice cabinet that has lots of great storage space, but then I never established an actual purpose for this cabinet. I never made a deliberate decision, or put systems into place. So it’s become this abyss of entropy hiding behind closed doors.

hallway storage cabinet

Any time I have something that I need to find room for, I think, “Well, there’s room in the hallway cabinet.” So it’s become this place where a random mass of items have been stored together simply because I have no established place for them anywhere else. I have no system in place.

So that’s how my brain works, and I need to continue on this journey. I know myself well enough to know that once I have systems and organization tools in place, I WILL use them. But without actually assigning a place for everything, and making intentional and deliberate decisions about how a specific cabinet should be used, this is the tragic mess that I end up with. There will never be a naturally organized cabinet or drawer that occurs in my house without my being very deliberate about making decisions and putting processes into place. And it’s very discouraging to feel so good about my sparkling clean house, only to open up a cabinet like this and have this mess mock me.

And quite honestly, the worst space in my home right now is the back room, which is called the “sunroom” on every floor plan I show, even though it doesn’t get much sun. That room is nothing but storage for things I’ll probably never use again. It’s so bad that, at this point, there’s no way I’d share a photo with y’all. It’s too humiliating.

Because I haven’t been purposeful and intentional with that room, either, it has also been a victim of my “open and shove” method of storage. And when you use that method for an entire huge room (and not just a cabinet), the end result can be depressing and overwhelming. It needs help. It needs some serious purging, and then some very intentional organizational systems put into place so that that room actually has a specific purpose other than “general storage room.” Those generalities don’t work for me. My brain takes those generalities as license to “open and shove.”

So I’m adding the cleaning, organizing and purging back onto the master list of home goals for 2022. How about you? Do you need to come on this journey with me? And if you’re at a point where you feel really overwhelmed by the amount of purging your home needs, I highly recommend the book that lit a fire under me in early 2020. I got the audio version and listened to it while I started cleaning my house, and then I got so excited and motivated to purge my house of everything we don’t use, want and love. That book is called Decluttering At The Speed Of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle With Stuff by Dana White. It’s so good, and so motivating!

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 11:14 am

    kristi, I appreciate your honesty. Maybe you have already put away seasonal decor but here is a useful tip I have used for years now. I use clear plastic bins with flip lids that all stack together. Easy to store and bring out of storage once a year. 2022 is another year to get ‘r done.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carla from Kansas
    January 11, 2022 at 11:20 am

    Yes, I need to join you in purging. I just plain have too much stuff in my house so there is no way to organize it. Why I can’t let it go I don’t know. I’ve done it before and I know it is liberating.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tawny Lynn Stoddard
    January 11, 2022 at 11:21 am

    Lord help me! I totally need some napalm to lite that fire under me to get decluttered and organized! LOL….not kidding! I too have what was to be my home office but is now an enitre room of “just go shove it in there and hide it” , So on that shameful note, I just may put on the headphones and give the audiobook and listen and TRY with big ole bubba mug of coffee/espresso!! Thanks for the inspiration & have a great day 😉

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 11:24 am

    A couple of days ago I finally tackled a huge pile of fabric that had accumulated on my sewing room floor and stored it away. And mended 4 items of clothing which were on that pile too and which I actually missed from my wardrobe. The feeling of reward by doing these (fairly) simple tasks was actually out of proportion to the work it involved and more of a testament to the many instances when I had thought “I really need to tackle that pile/repair those clothes”. I will try and keep on taking my motivation from you in the next weeks and go through some cupboard spaces that need tidying – thank you for bringing this up here again!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kate S
    January 11, 2022 at 11:28 am

    Just love your honesty dear lady. You’re real, and God bless you for that. I’ve been doing off and on “Swedish Death Cleaning” need to get back to it in this New Year. “Beginning Anew in 22!!!!!!”

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 11:33 am

    In ref to your cleaning supplies, get one or two small plastic totes at the dollar store. Put things in one that you would use to clean the baths, one loaded for dusting mopping, etc. grab the tote with rags and you are ready to clean. Then just set the tote back in the cabinet until next time.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 11:36 am

    I use a silver colored sharpie marker on my dark labels. Works great and no smudging.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 11:37 am

    Your recommendation of Dana’s book two years ago led me to find her blog and her podcast. Then I listened to the same audio book just last month. Never have I felt like an author “got me” on such a microscopic level! So, thanks for introducing us—I look forward to your progress!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kristin Berube
    January 11, 2022 at 12:03 pm

    Oh my goodness — “Abyss of entropy.” So apt. Love it! (The phrase, of course, not the situation. THAT, I live and despise.)

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    Yes! This is me – open and shove! Start the journey, Kristi, I’m coming along!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    Reading this as I take a break and sit in my bedroom that looks like a bomb has gone off. I’m doing the same and have pulled everything out of wardrobes and cupboards to get rid of what I don’t wear and put organisation into it all so that I wear more than I do.
    Overwhelming at the moment but I know it will be worth it.
    It’s fantastic to hear those things you put into place in 2020 are still working.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    Kristi, there is no such thing as a naturally organized cabinet. It all requires deliberate effort. For some folks their brain automatically performs that effort and for some of us it’s only once we realize that the open and shove method didn’t work out. But it takes deliberate effort from everyone. Good news is you have a method that works! Fire up Dana’s book again and get to work!

    I’m doing pretty good on clutter…but definitely need some motivation on deep cleaning! Our house is far to large for us and it feels overwhelming to thinking of cleaning alllllllll of it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 12:47 pm

    Yes the most intentionally clean room and area is my kids room, the rest is open/shove. Husband made a promise to not video game till he cleared a table to play board games at as a birthday gift. A long term goal in the sunroom… Set it up to be accessible storage and workshop stuff. If you are to build a workshop before the add on. This will empty and prep itself somewhat when you get a workshop. If it can’t reasonably fit in there to use for the other projects, would you want it in the workshop? Turn the studio closet into its intentional vs temporary workshop storage space. Again ignore this, if this is crazy talk.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    Where do you find the energy? I’m just going to have another piece of chocolate and ponder the fact that in about a year or so I will be downsizing from about 3000 sq ft to 600. Better get crackin’!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks, I am in for this journey.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 2:34 pm

    OK. Got the book on my Kindle and will attempt this. Hopefully, the book will help and motivate me. I plan on selling and moving this year. Wish I had your energy!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    I have been trying to organize the past year and a half. I bought Dana’s book after your recommendation, and you are right, it’s SO MOTIVATING!! During the pandemic I was able to get some much-needed storage built in my laundry room, cabinet over our toilet, and now another full length cabinet in our master bathroom. All of this led to much needed organization, which then spread into the kitchen. I pulled everything out of the laundry room for construction, and I vowed to not put anything back in that we (1) didn’t need/want (2) didn’t belong (3) didn’t have a “home” — it’s been FANTASTIC. I bought bins… SO MANY bins (I personally prefer clear – because for me, out of sight / out of mind – i need to SEE my things) Label them to make “homes” and it’s sort of like drawers you can pull out and get to the back. for the most part I tried to get bins that would fill my spaces from front to back, if possible. Your hall cabinet reminds me very much of our new bathroom cabinet. I tried to make the bins not so restrictive. So I have a bin for “Body” (body wash) “Hair” (shampoo/conditioner) and “Toiletries” (Q-tips and other misc bath things) for example. Don’t make your areas too specific or you won’t have homes for everything – that has seemed to help me the most. I hope that may help, or at least inspire your own take on it! Thanks again for recommending that book!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    My issue is not enough drawer space in our retirement home. It was doable when I lived alone but now that we’ve combined households…eek! It’s challenging!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 11, 2022 at 8:40 pm

    I really need to follow along with you on this. For the last four years my home has turned into a real mess. After 15 – 20 minutes of work, my face is red and dripping wet, and I am exhausted. So, I have decided to work for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes on and off for at least four hours, purging and organizing. I’m hoping this works. It seems that for the first 40 years of marriage one works to get things that you think you need or want. The next 25 years you work to get rid of all this ‘extra stuff’ because the children don’t need all this ‘old’ stuff.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      January 12, 2022 at 7:58 am

      “It seems that for the first 40 years of marriage one works to get things that you think you need or want. The next 25 years you work to get rid of all this ‘extra stuff’”

      This made me laugh!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 12, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    I would like to know how you learned to build furniture. As a woman, I am so proud of you. I really love your pantry cabinet you built. I have asked my husband so many times to show me how to use the radial saw and do some things like you but don’t think I’ll ever get there. I want to be you when I grow up (senior citizen)!