Podcast 141: Quarantine organizing

This is podcast 141 and it’s called quarantine organizing. It’s a bonus episode I decided to record to give you all something to do while we are under quarantine. You’re stuck at home with all your stuff. You can’t get away from it now! Ha, ha!

Seriously, why not use some of the extra time we all have now to do some little organizing projects. Nothing major, unless you want to. I’m a big fan of chipping away at it, and also of doing small, simple tasks that you may even get into the habit of doing without expending too much effort.

My first project idea is to declutter your bathroom. Start on one side and go through all the drawers and cabinets in your bathroom and see what you can find that’s expired, that you don’t use anymore, that you never really liked and stopped using and get rid of it. Note that medications should be separated out and taken to your local pharmacy for disposal, or whatever the recommendation is in your area.

Ladies, it’s likely you’ll find a substantial collection of beauty products and hair goo. You don’t need to throw that stuff out unless it fits the above descriptions, but start using it! That goes double for those cute little sample size products. They don’t last forever and you don’t need to hoard them.

Put a few out near your sink or in the shower right now. Try to resist buying new ones till you use up your current stock. Of course, if it turns out you don’t like them, you can get rid of them. Now you don’t have something you ended up not liking cluttering up your drawer.

Another clutter-y item is hotel lotion, shampoo, etc. Yes, they’re cute. I get that. But aside from a few in your travel toiletry case, you should just use them. They aren’t collectibles. Use them before they get old and icky and you don’t want to anymore.

Part of this exercise is so you can see what you have and how much of it you have. In general, things tend not to get used when you forget about them, or you have so much stuff in the bathroom that things get lost so you can’t use them.

While you’re doing this, notice whether things are adequately organized in the bathroom. There are various ways to do that, but if you can find what you need quickly, you’re fine. My categories are hair products, lotion and sunblock, face products, soap, cosmetics and medications. But I also have smaller collections of things I use every day gathered together. They are different categories, but they are my daily use items so I like to have them handy.

Of course, organizing items by category is the easiest way to discover that you have seven of something and not just the two you thought you had. Then you can decide whether some can go because they’re expired or you don’t like them, or that you’ll keep all of them and remember not to shop for more.

Here’s another project: your junk drawer. A few years ago I did a whole podcast on the junk drawer that you can refer to if you want to really dive into this. A junk drawer is a handy spot, but it should be useful. If you just want a short project, the idea is simply to paw through it and ditch or reassign anything that doesn’t belong there.

Junk drawers typically contain batteries, flashlights, matches, lighters, take out menus, rubber bands, dog poop bags, pens and parts of things, to name a few. Whatever you use fairly regularly that’s small and doesn’t belong to a bigger category that would have its own drawer can go in here.

Now that you have a truly free hour, you can take the time to make sure those batteries actually still work. Figure out if that weird looking battery goes to a device you got rid of two years ago. How about the pens? Do they still write?

Are the dog poop bags new? Or are they your backup supply that’s now old enough that they may break JUST when you don’t want them to? Same goes for rubber bands; they get brittle or gooey pretty quickly. Definitely make sure the flashlight works; that’s why you have it in the junk drawer, for easy emergency access. The lighters should light and the matches should be flammable.

See if you can get serious about dumping those little pieces of plastic that came off of … something. If they’ve been in the drawer a year or more, ask yourself how likely you’ll be to put them back on, provided you can remember what they go to. My guess is the probability is low. Just release them and free up space in that drawer.

My secret agenda here is to offer some little projects with low bar to entry that you might even kind of enjoy. And that would mean you’d do them again in the future, even if you’re not forced to stay home and entertain yourself.

What you can do right now is chose one of these projects and do it right now! Or you may come up with your own variation, like clearing out your nightstand or that section of the kitchen counter that gets things dumped on it. Keep it small and low key. Any progress is good progress.