Nest: Day 41
When you’re under the gun.
The day before I was leaving on a week-long trip my husband casually mentioned a few of his buddies were staying the weekend. WHAT?
As you might recall, my finished basement, where I house guest quarters (bathroom, bedroom, sitting area) plus workout room, Future Art Room (pronounced FAR because its usefulness is forever far in the future) is my bete noire.
It’s the place everything that doesn’t have a home gets thrown. It’s a wreck. My habithacking pride just won”t allow me to let people see it that way–even if they are guys.
To properly clear and arrange and clean this downstairs would take months. But luckily, I keep a trusty ShitKit at the ready. The ShitKit is for when Shit happens: you’re under terible time constraints and have to make the room “look” presentable even when it’s not. I suggest you keep a ShitKit around, too. Here’s what’s in mine and how I use it.
Step 1. Prepare your ShitKit in advance: bins, paper, marker, tape
Do this today, before you have an emergency, and you will thank me. Go to your favorite big box store and purchase as many of the big, clear, 26 quart Sterlite bins as you can afford. Alternatively, keep flat pack cardboard file boxes around. As a last resort your ShitKit could be a bunch of laundry baskets (Big Lots/Dollar Store version), or even giant garbage bags.
Keep a pack of printer paper and a giant-ass permanent marker in your kit (if things get too depressing, you can always take a big snort while the thing is uncapped…just joking. It gives you brain damage, as you can tell by this posting.) Also in your kit: tape.
Step 2. Prepare yourself and the environment: hydration, music, camera, timer
Have on hand your favorite hydration (as long as it’s healthy). Mine is La Croix grapefruit sparkling water–no calories, no sodium, and the bubbles make the occasion feel celebratory even though you’re about to gouge your eyes out at the sight of your mess.
Either wear an ipod or turn up the tunes. Listen to something upbeat. Disco, I think, is ideal emergency clearing music. “I’m a Bad MamaJama” is particularly appropriate because you may as well admit your self-esteem has taken a hit.
Get out your camera. It’s so reinforcing to have before and after photos. Don’t show these around. If they get posted on the internet, sue.
And make sure you’ve got your timer ready. You may be in your personal hellhole for hours, but hours in 11 minute intervals go faster.
Step 3. Don’t think, just throw: go fast, label, commit to sorting through it all in your next life which begins next week.
How many organizational rules am I breaking with this method? Most of them. That’s why I urge you to do this only in a genuine emergency. Say, if your mother-in-law (who raised 9 kids, made bread and pasta from scratch, kept an immaculate house, and still always showed grace and good humor) is arriving on your doorstep any moment and for decades you’ve kept her in the dark about what a spacecase you can be. (Please don’t read this, my darling mom-in-law. I don’t know how you did it. With my distracted mind, if I had 9 kids I’d probably misplace them.)
If your clutter has accumulated, but has a home:
Spend your first 11 minutes throwing it in a bin. For the next 11 minutes run around and put it away. Keep repeating until things are clear or you reach 55 minutes (That’s five 11s.) Take a 5 minute break and start again. (We would ordinarily take breaks every 22 minutes, of course, but this is an emergency.)
If the reason things are out of control is that your stuff does not have a home:
You are going to temporarily containerize these homeless items until you have a chance to find permanent storage. As fast as you can, scoop up the stuff and put it into your boxes/bins/laundry baskets. You’re going to have to hide these things until after your guests depart (closet? under bed? unfinished basement? garage?). It’s faster and easier to use clear bins, because you can be less specific with labels and you can stack the buggers pretty high. Making some kind of label is UBER important. You might get sidetracked for a few weeks and suddenly come across heaps of heavy garbage bags in the back of your closet. You will wonder if you’ve inadvertently murdered the postman for yet again creasing your crafting magazines. Label with, at the very least, the date and tag what’s inside. For instance, May 11, 2010, unfiled papers, cockatoo toys, pizza crusts, pens with no ink.
Nest Month 2
Here’s what to do so far:
In case you missed a day, the reminders below are clickable.
Do the worst first.
Lead by example.
Follow your BOP until a habit sticks.
Don’t do too much too soon.
Be on time.
Give yourself positive reinforcement.
Recommit to abandoned habits.
Prepare your emergency ShitKit.