The Clean Sweep Method

2 January, 2009

So one of my big goals for this year is to finally get organized-and this year, I am keeping to it. I have not only already bought a ton of boxes, but I am purging stuff like it’s going out of style. When I have been, I keep thinking back to a show that TLC had on during the height of the DIY craze-Clean Sweep. The concept of the show was that a team with an interior designer and a carpenter would come into a house each week where clutter was overtaking their lives, and in two days, they would make over two rooms and help get control of everything. The main thing about this is that all of the redesign of the room was about organization-how stuff can be stored more effectively.

The main thing about this though was the sort. You had all the stuff taken out of the rooms, and then there were three tarps: Keep, Sell, and Toss. 10 minutes were given for a first sort, and then after that the Keep mat was shrunk in half, maybe smaller, and then you had to really go through things and figure out what can go-what can be sold, and what could be binned. The next day they did a yard sale, and everything that did not sell went to charity. It was also competitive-they had to see who could make more money, and the person that did got to keep a special item (a guitar, a special heirloom, etc). I disagree with the competitive yard sale but in all honesty, the way that it is set up is very good to help purge stuff in a short amount of time.I actually just read a piece online that Peter (one of the organizers on that show) contributed to, and it had his method for helping to get rid of clutter. Every day, have each member in the family spend 10 minutes each filling up a bag of stuff to go to charity, and a bag of trash. And that is a very good method to do it: in a really cluttered house, it can take less than 10 minutes to fill those bags up, and it gets stuff gone quickly. Take my family, a family of four. If a bag is filled up each day, that’s 28 bags of stuff for charity each week, and 28 bags of trash. Granted, we wouldn’t be able to do the trash as easily, since our garbage bill is already sky-high, and a trip to the transfer station is very expensive.

The easiest way to do it would be to take care of the common areas first-kitchen, living room, and other high-traffic areas with a lot of open space. Once that is taken care of, then you can branch out into the bedrooms and so forth. With that method, and making sure that everybody sticks to their bags every day, you could potentially organize a house in an entire month. Not as fast as the Clean Sweep method, however the thing with that is they are able to do that with the help of a lot of extra hands to get all the stuff out, as well as a U-Haul to take away all the stuff to go to charity, as well as all of the trash (presumably).

And nowadays, with good-condition clothing that is in current fashion, you can take it to a store like Plato’s Closet and either get cash, or store credit. The store credit is good for a way to quickly update your wardrobe without spending much more out-of-pocket, but cash is good if there is nothing in the store that you like.

This is only step one of the process…you aren’t magically going to have all of your stuff organized. However, after you have gone through everything that you own and then purged stuff, it will be a lot easier to organize everything and make your living space work for you. That is totally another story though, and I have to admit, I am not super-OCD about that. My philosophy though is to use every single inch of space that I have to the best of my abilities. Under-bed storage is going to be huge for me, as well as pushpins to hang my necklaces on.

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