I interrupt the other posts I have in the works (about things Canadian, due to our recent trip there) to beg for help.
Last night, we had an impromptu guest for dinner, and I was embarrassed by my house. I could tell you that we've had a lot of house guests and a sick Jane but the basic part of the house looked pretty okay. The general state of things was not the embarrassing part. The part that embarrassed me was the Clutter.
After our guest left, I said to my husband, "I am normally a better housekeeper than this." and my husband said, "You're a GREAT housekeeper. Really it's just rooms like your office where you have no system and things pile up."
I said, "Maybe I should hire some sort of professional organizer to help me." And he said, "You need a mom to come help you throw stuff out."
(And this from a man who still has the parachute pants he wore in high school in his closet. Not that I'm bitter.)
But he's right. (Hate that.)
Here's what happens: the house-cleaning crew comes every two weeks. I beg, threaten and cajole to get my wicked spawn and spouse to clean up their clutter before the crew arrives. Anything that's left over gets put into a brown paper sack which gets stashed someplace --normally my office which is also the home of the puppy's crate and my ball winder and swift when not in use. That room is a disaster and now I have all these bags o'crap to go through and cull.
This is not a system.
This is a recipe for a fire hazard. Plus, it's driving me crazy and it's not teaching anyone anything about cleaning up after themselves.
So, given that I can't come up with a system on my own, I am asking YOU, dear reader, how do you deal with your clutter?? What do you do with important papers that you might need or kids' artwork that you can't throw out? Where do you put your coupons so you actually remember them? How do you manage to keep track of the things you need to return to the store? How do you organize your pantry and closets? How do you keep your roommates from creating large stacks of clutter everywhere?
I'm pretty good about recycling everything that needs to be recycled when I first handle it--kids' daily schoolwork and junk mail, etc. Where I really fail in organizing is:
A) keeping a detailed calendar with important dates (We're leaving for Germany in two weeks and I have forgotten the exact date. Because I didn't write it down.)
B) in figuring out where things need to go. If I had a permanent place for things (a system) I could keep everything tidy. But I never know what to do with leftover parts from projects (like those wrenches you get from Ikea when you put together a shelf or chair) or articles from the newspaper that I want to refer to again...
I need your help. Please tell me everything you know about setting up some sort of home organization system. Bonus points if you don't mention The Fly Lady. If you send me something super helpful, I will send you one of my books or yarn or something else groovy and maybe edible. We'll talk.