Week 3 – Bed, Bath, and Beyond –
Linens, Medication, HABA, and more!
It’s Week 3 of the 2024 Clever Girl Organizing Challenge! We’re leaving the kitchen (unless your medicines live in there, in which case, we’re *mostly* leaving the kitchen) and heading into the bathroom area and anywhere items like these are stored. You might have some of this in a bathroom, or a linen closet, or in your bedside table drawer or on top of your dresser. If it’s in the business of “HABA” – Health and Beauty Aids – we’re getting it done this week!
We’re also going to be getting into your linens — sheets, towels, blankets, etc. I know; it’s a lot to put the soft goods in with this other stuff all in one week, but I decided that (a) a lot of Returning Challengers only have some “tune ups” in these spaces and (b) the First Time Challengers are typically able to make deep strides in each of these areas and since we’re heading into a BREAK week next week (no new assignments) it can spill a little bit longer if it needs to.
SPECIAL #DECLUTTERWITHKATHY ZOOM THIS WEEK! If you want some COMPANY decluttering, join me on Zoom on Sunday, 1/28 between 9am and 12pm Eastern. Come for as short or as long as you like, but use the time to declutter with friends! Whether you’re focusing on this week’s assignment or another project, join in for some social organizing time. Use this link to join the meeting on Sunday. #DeclutterwithKathy
But I want to start this week to say how AMAZING I think the group has been doing in the first 2 weeks! Not only impressive #banda photos, but the self-awareness, reflection, experimentation, willingness to get a little uncomfortable with thoughts about attachment to stuff… the conversations in the Facebook Group and comments on the videos ave been so encouraging!
Don’t forget the guidelines I’d love for you to keep in mind before you start your work:
1) Have the tools you need before you get started — trash bags, recycling, donate box, and “goes somewhere else” box (so you can set things aside and keep going, not be tempted to return things to a different space while you’re working).
2) Keep taking those BEFORE and AFTER photos, either for your own ability to see your progress, to to share your accomplishments and encourage others in the Facebook Group.
PS – I’ve added even more products to the Products and Solutions pages, so be sure to keep coming back to check these out as we move through the relevant weeks!
THIS WEEK’S ASSIGNMENT
We’ve moved down the hall, or maybe to a different floor — bathrooms, linen closets, and wherever you’re storing and stashing medication, first aid supplies, cosmetics, toiletries, HABA (Health and Beauty Aids), and linens of all sorts.
One of the truths that tend to be lurking in these categories is that we don’t see what we’re *not* looking for. What I mean by that is that these spaces tend to be filled with things we’re no longer using or paying attention to, because we are using or have found something else. We start using a new hair product, but don’t clear out other ones. We buy new towels but hang on to the old ones.
Another issue that can come up in this space is the “someone else is using this” answer, and assumption which may or may not be true! During this week’s review, you may have to call on those other househumans to ask “Hey – is this something you still use?” rather than just assume it’s being used, or NOT being used.
Always think about what your life is like TODAY and what you imagine in the near future. You’re here because you know you want and need to let go of things so that you can have the life you know you want and deserve. We’re going to need fresh eyes if we’re going to get through your space with a different perspective than you have every other day. Clutter gets invisible, and we’re going to shake that up!
Weekly Plan: Linens, Medications, HABA and more!
So what are the categories and spaces you might consider this week to tackle? Remember, you don’t need to do ALL of this! I want to give you ideas of where your time might be best spent, based on YOUR needs in YOUR space. Think about what you have, what you know you haven’t looked at in a while or what you know causes some strain on your storage systems. Think about what you’re using, and reflect on the items that just aren’t part of your life any more. Think about those items that you upgraded but still left the older version around, just in case? Think about the “I thought we would use this more” items that haven’t panned out. Most importantly, think of who you are, your current and foreseeable lifestyle, and what items just don’t align with that any more (if they ever did)!
What are some of these categories?
- TOILETRIES: shampoo, conditioner, soap, cleansers, deodorant, hair products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, hair supplies (brushes, bows, barrettes, combs, scrunchies, bands, etc.), sunscreen, razors and shaving supplies, feminine products, etc.
- MEDICINE: prescriptions, over the counters, pain relief, cold/cough supplies, etc.
- FIRST AID: bandages, gauze, tape, ointments, splints, wraps, braces, sprays, etc.
- COSMETICS: makeup, masks, cleansing products, tools and brushes, nail polish and remover, perfume, etc.
- OTHER STUFF: things with plugs (hair dryers, curling irons, straightening irons, razors, etc.), bath toys, cleaning products, decor, reading material, etc.
Think about these different categories separately, if that works best for you. It can be easy to work o one or two, then put the project aside until another day in the week and pick up from there.
A few notes about each category:
- Toiletries – this category is a combination of things that may not be good anymore, things you just don’t use anymore, and that abundance of hotel conditioners that you keep thinking you’ll need and never seem to. Be sure to check with other members of the house and not just assume that *somebody* must be still using them! (PS- unopened toiletries are often accepted by food pantries and shelters).
- Cosmetics – We can manage to collect some over the years, and just forget about them, or move past their style. Or, ahem, in a pandemic we’re just not wearing them as much. That doesn’t even take into consideration the free samples we’ve gotten and just seem to stash because we think we might be inspired one day to try them (we haven’t). Cosmetics have a shorter shelf life thank you may think (See Stuff To Know for more) and putting items on your face, near your eyes or mouth may warrant more attention than they’re getting now.
- First Aid Supplies – some things will always make sense to have on hand, but you also want to make sure you if you have anything that has an expiration date that you can check to see if it’s still good. One way this category can get out of hand is with medical devices like braces, slings, ace bandages, splints, etc. – items you’ve collected over injuries from the past, and you think “this will be helpful if it happens again.” Think about the likelihood of that happening, and how much space you want to give away to this “just in case” category.
- Medicine – are things expired? Medicine that is expired may not be bad for you, but more importantly, they may not DO for you want you want them to do. (see Stuff to Know for more info). Also research how to dispose of prescription drugs in your community. (I can help you research!)
- Cleaning Supplies – are these the ones you’re using today? Or are there some you’ve stopped using and moved on to a newer version of a product that does the same job?
- Bath Toys – If you’re still in bath toy years, do you have more than just the go-to favorites in the tub? Are there some that just don’t get used and can sail away?
If your focus is going to be on Linens, this week, what are some examples of these categories?
- BED: sheets, blankets, quilts/comforters, pillow cases, mattress pads, dust ruffles, extra pillows
- BATH: bath towels, hand towels, washcloths, bathmats, bathroom rugs, beach towels
- DINING: Dish towels, table cloths, runners, placemats, cloth napkins
- WINDOWS: curtains, drapes, etc.
I can already imagine the big “ask the group” questions in the Facebook Group:
“How many towels or sheet sets or spare blankets should I have?” and one of the most fun conversations of a Challenge a few years ago: “Are any of your kids using top sheets, and if not, what are you doing with them?”
In general, your dive here will be around how much you need, what condition are your current linens in, and organizing your “keeps” in a way that is easy to find what you need, when you need it (no more mystery-sized sheet sets!).
Go through each category and make some decisions about what REALLY needs to go back into the space. While I said above that you don’t need to give your whole bathroom a deep cleaning in this Challenge, you do want to wipe down the containers and surfaces you’ve been storing these items in and on. These shelves and containers can be a sticky mess, too. There’s no doubt if there was a spill or a leak at some point, it left behind a residual trace.
1) Clean out and Edit several categories from above – Prioritize the spaces that feel the most overwhelming and the ones you *know* deserve a real edit. Do one category at a time. Make sure you have the space to work AND the space to set aside things that aren’t going back in the same space (time for a relo?) or aren’t staying with you at all. Start one shelf at a time, one cabinet at a time. Pace yourself!
2) Wipe Down or wash out surfaces as necessary – these bathroom shelves can get sticky with leaks and spills for sure. And the hair, everywhere! Everything can use a good wipe down or dusting while we clear out a drawer, a cabinet, or a shelf.
3) Consider the Organization of Keepers – Where things go doesn’t have to be where things have been! Are there different ways to set up your system that better serve who you are today? Are there ways to “demote” things that have a prime location that you aren’t using? Are there things that can go into a completely different space in your home because they’re “occasional” use items, but you still need to keep them?
4) Create Exits for what’s going – This week we’re probably going to have plenty of trash and recycling (and textile recycling!) from opened or much-loved items, and potential exits like donation, Buy Nothing/Free giveaways, giving to family members, etc. Whatever your #exit strategy is make it happen and get it out.
MINI-CHALLENGE THIS WEEK:
Can’t quite take on this week’s full assignment? You might not have the time, energy, or need. That’s okay! Try to set up at least two 30-minute sessions where you can focus on a critical area in this space or category. Set a timer, stay focused, and see what you can accomplish in less time than it would take to watch a sitcom!
PICK AT LEAST THREE:
– Medicines, vitamins, etc.
– Cosmetics and accessories
– Everything hair related
– Everything oral-care related
– Everything skin related
– Everything First Aid/Health related
– Everything that exists just to make you smell good
– Everything that exists that feels like it’s “Spa Day” related
– Space (and not body) cleaning supplies
– Bath toys and items that just the kids use (even if the grown ups use them too)
– Just edit the core Linen categories of: SHEETS, PILLOWCASES , TOWELS, WASHCLOTHS, and BATH MATS/RUGS
RETURNING CHALLENGERS FOCUS:
If you’re a Returning Challenger, or if your a First timer looking to go deeper: If you’re ready for a deeper exploration, think about a few different areas maybe you haven’t explored before:
– Really, I want Returning Challengers this week to not just to a brush up on this work (assuming you’ve done thorough reviews in past years), but to think about some big picture factors when it comes to your linens. I often find people are holding onto more linens than they need, and they may or may not have reasons at the ready, things usually surrounding potential guests all needing 3 towels or the convenience of having multiple spare sets of sheets for every size and every different bed in the house . But this is a great opportunity to think about how much space you’re dedicating to your extras that you’ve been saving, “just in case” or “because they’re still good” or “what if I need them someday”.
STUFF TO KNOW:
Medication expirations – we all have questions about that! Here is a resource to help.
Cosmetics expirations – yeah, those go past their prime and past when we should be putting them on our face. Here is a resource to help.
Fun fact: my first job in high school was working the Linens and Draperies department at a department store in the mall. It was here that I learned the tremendous life skills of folding towels so that they fit on your shelves and look like a showroom (obsessed!), getting blankets and comforters to fit in that plastic bag you bought it in, and of course, folding a fitted sheet. ( I made this video for the 2016 Challenge, and it’s been viewed almost 100,000 times, with some very positive comments (only one of which is someone asking if I’m single…) So if you have any questions about how to fold something, please let me know!!
I’ll be sharing some other videos in the Facebook Group this week (separate from our Weekly Live with Kathy call) about how I fold towels, if you’re interested!
WHY IS THIS SO HARD?
This week, I wanted to talk a little bit about the concept of WASTE. We’ve already been dancing with it when we were in the kitchen, questioning what we should keep, and understanding, sometimes with a twinge of pain, that to achieve our goals, it may mean letting go of something that’s “still good”. The feelings that can come up, the ones that are associated with “waste” can be regret, shame, and guilt. So, in order to avoid those feelings, we hold onto things that we don’t need, want, or use. We’ve associated “waste” as a negative always, when in fact, getting rid of something may be a much bigger positive in our other goals. It’s important that, when you get that *pang* of waste, you spend some time checking in with where it might come from, and what the *real* problem you’re wrestling with is.
Regret can often be associated with money that was spent, right? You invested in something, whether for a dollar or a thousand dollars, and then you just didn’t use it all. You may have that feeling of *I didn’t get my money’s worth*. You may be feeling “I spent my money on THIS, when I could have spent it on something more *successful* or even saved it“. But many things we’re keeping COST us. Cost us space, energy, time spent looking for other things, etc. It may have cost you to bring it into your life, but it may cost you MORE to keep it. Your real estate is your most valuable financial asset. Your sanity is your most valuable energy asset. When regret prevents you from protecting those assets, it’s time to call it by name and look at the bigger gain.
Maybe you’re feeling some shame around a choice you made (with your money? with your space? with your energy?) which didn’t pan out, and now you feel shame or are afraid you’re being judged by others about that decision. This can be tough, because it can actually generate a bigger commitment to something you know doesn’t work for you, because you’d rather avoid that feeling related to interpersonal connections. I learned from my strategy professor in my MBA program back in 1992: “Beware of the escalation of commitment to a failing course of action”. That can be fierce. When someone doubles down on something that is failing, that clench can get stronger, and it doesn’t solve the problem you had in the first place. When you’re feeling rumblings of shame, check in on whether those feelings should get in the way of the bigger choices you’re making around your stuff and your space.
Waste Guilt, though maybe “obligation” is a better word, can also come up when you feel the mere act of throwing something away that you never used, under used, or just no longer use, is *bad for the environment*. It’s as if you’re mentally deciding that if something doesn’t get thrown away, I’m not contributing to a problem in the environment. But you already bought it, own it, store it. As I’ve said to many people: “If you’ve made a decision to let go of something and you’ve exhausted all ‘responsible’ outlets so you decide to keep it instead of throwing it away, then you are subletting you space to a landfill.”
The call to action is “If you’re feeling that letting go of something is wasteful, go deeper to see what emotional reaction you’re REALLY trying to avoid”. I would love to hear in the Facebook Group what this post brings up for you and whether you find this relatable.
Remember: You’re here because you made a choice to bring your head, heart, and body all in the same direction: to let go of things and have smoother systems in your home. If it was easy, you’d be done by now.
If you’re like most of my clients, there are a lot of items in this space for you that’s meant to make you FEEL GREAT, and LOOK GREAT. I want you to think of a FUN activity this week:
As you’re going through all those “someday I’ll take a bath with these bath salts” and “someday I’ll do this mask” and “someday I’ll do that deep treatment on my hair” items, many of them gifts that have come your way from well-meaning people, MAKE A DATE with yourself (during Break week?) to have moment of pampering and USE these items! Maybe it’s 15 minutes and a soak in a tub. Maybe it’s a whole evening of pampering. Take the moment for yourself and shift some of these ASPIRATIONAL products into your REAL life!
We’re in our 3rd week and then we’re off on a BREAK next week. This Challenge is designed to help you make the progress you seek, but while pacing yourself and taking time to be THOUGHTFUL about the work we do. If you don’t want to take a break next week and want to keep motoring on, we’ll talk about that in the video this week.
Kathy (aka Clever Girl)
NEXT LIVESTREAM WITH KATHY
THURSDAY, JAN 25th – 10:00am Eastern
SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE
Week 1 – Jan 8: Kitchen: Food – Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
Week 2 – Jan 15: Kitchen/Dining: What we use to prep, cook, serve, eat, store & clean!
Week 3 – Jan 22: Bath and Bed: Medicines, Toiletries, Cosmetics, Personal Items, etc.
Week 4 – Jan 29: BREAK – take a break, catch up, or sneak ahead
Week 5 – Feb 5: Clothes, shoes, accessories
Week 6 – Feb 12: Home Office/Papers
Week 7 – Feb 19: BREAK – take a break, catch up, or sneak ahead
Week 8 – Feb 26: Living / Family Room spaces
Week 9 – Mar 4: Memorabilia
Week 10 – Mar 11: Hobbies / Arts and Crafts / Sporting Goods
Week 11 – Mar 18: Kid stuff / Holiday Decor / Pet stuff / Other Clutter Traps!