I did it! I successfully completed the Buttoned Up Challenge that saw me tackling a different organizational task for every single day in January. Some of the tasks were easy, some of them were tough. There were more than a few days when I almost forgot and then was tempted to let it slide when I remembered at 11:30 p.m. But, I pushed through and did it all!
I’m going to run through the final week and a half of the challenge and then talk about how well it has worked for me overall.
Day 22: Edit shoes
I used to be a shoe fiend. Shoes were my thing. The more unique, the better. At my peak I think I owned about 50 pairs of shoes. I still enjoy cute shoes, but my habits have changed a bit since becoming a mom and giving up my full-time job. I realized that I had a lot of shoes lingering in my closet that I never wore anymore. I used to wear heels as much as possible, but now I rarely do. Most of them were easy to toss–I hadn’t paid much for them, and they weren’t my style anymore. A pair of brown leather heels was a bit tougher to let go. I remember having searched for months for just the right pair of shoes for work, and I finally found them. But even if I had a place to wear them now, I’m quite sure I’d break my neck! So, into the shoe pile they went for somebody else to enjoy. Now I have plenty of room in my closet to stock up on cute ballet flats.
Day 23: Toss 5 items of clothing I haven’t worn in a year
It’s funny that even though I shop very little for myself, I always seem to have too many clothes. I have a terrible habit of hanging on to things for purely sentimental reasons. I kept a favorite sweater from my junior year in high school for ten years! I also receive a lot of high quality hand-me-downs from a relative, which I am tremendously grateful for, but I have a difficult time letting go of nice clothing that I know I couldn’t afford to replace (whether it looks good on me, or not). Therefore, I found quite a large selection of clothes to give to charity…and I fear I have even more where these came from!
Day 24: Declutter and dust bedside tables
Since I embarked on a little room redesign recently, I didn’t actually have a bedside table at the time I was to complete this part of the challenge. Instead, I decluttered and cleaned the top of my dresser which now resides at the foot of my bed.
Day 25: Make a loose change jar
Buttoned Up had some cute ideas for creating custom change jars by applying chalkboard decals to clear jars. I may do that in the future, but for now I decided to repurpose a piece of my milk glass collection to catch loose change. I don’t expect it to fill up very quickly–since we use a credit card to manage our expenses, I don’t end up with very many coins, but perhaps that will change in the future. It’s still nice having a central location for our change. It brings up good memories from my childhood–one year we all saved up spare change to fund a trip to Disney World! My parents have some cute photos of us sorting through all the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters poured out on our kitchen table.
Day 26: Organize underwear drawer
My underwear drawer is something I tackled last year, and it has stayed pretty neat ever since. I got rid of anything that was ugly or holey and invested in some new skivvies for myself. One of my favorite housekeeping books, The Messies Manual, actually links nice underwear to feeling good about oneself and being more motivated to keep a clean house. If you let yourself go, your home will follow suit. I can’t believe I’m posting a photo of my “unmentionables” (however nonscandalous) on the world wide web, but here’s my neat drawer.
Day 27: Clean underneath the bed
Thanks to our room rearrangement project, under-the-bed was tackled a few days before I had to do it. After I gave birth to my son, I invested in some rolling bins that slide under the bed and hold all of my maternity clothes. I also have an extra that can hold seasonal clothing like heavy sweaters. The funny thing is, I lost a lot of weight after having my son, and I am now several sizes smaller than I was going into that pregnancy. Chances are my maternity clothing will be far too big when I need it again, but it cost a tremendous amount of money, so I’m hanging onto it for now “just in case”. The bins keep it conveniently out of the way, and they also prevent me from stuffing other random things under the bed. Dust bunnies and stray shoes are usually the worst of what I find under my bed these days.
Day 28: Toss outdated makeup
My makeup drawer was yet another organizational project that I had tackled previously, and it has worked pretty well since. I use plastic baskets to separate out my makeup products. One holds my brushes, tweezers and nail clippers, the next holds face products like foundation and blush, and the third contains lip products, eyeliner and mascara. The empty space to the right of the baskets perfectly accommodates hair accessories, my face cleaner and my electric shaver. I hope to minimalize my products further (I found The Minimalist Mom to have some great tips in that regard), but for now this works really well. I did find some older mascara and eyeliner that needed to be tossed.
Day 29: Organize hair accessories
I’m not big on hair accessories, so I really didn’t have much to organize or get rid of. Instead I focused on a chronic problem: my flat iron. I haven’t had a great place for it, so most of the time it sits out on the bathroom vanity, threatening to take another plunge into the toilet (do I never learn?). I had an entire drawer that was taken up with two old flat irons that didn’t work any more. Why was I hanging onto them? Because I didn’t want to toss them in the trash. Now my city has an electronics recycling/disposal program, so there is really no excuse. I took them out of the drawer and now have a place for the flat iron I actually use, along with the heat-proof pad it sits on.
Day 30: Get rid of old medications
I use a cookie jar to contain my medications out of reach of my son (bonus: the air-tight lid would be difficult for him to open). It’s also a prettier and neater way of storing them. Hopefully the Italian will detract him from exploring the contents when he’s older and knows how to read. Fortunately I didn’t have any prescriptions that needed to be tossed in a specific way, but I did find some outdated vitamins.
Day 31: Declutter one side of desk in five minutes
For the final day of the challenge, we came full circle to one of the first, and toughest, tasks: decluttering the desk. My desk looked to be in bad shape, as I lamented in Week 3, but I suspected it would be easier to clean up than last time, and I was right! It took me more than five minutes (partly because I cleaned the whole desk), but in less than half an hour my desk looked great again. I was so pleased!
What has worked, what hasn’t (yet)
My personal habits have been years in the making, so it would be impossible to expect a challenge like this to change things virtually overnight. Some of the tips have really “stuck”, and have taken little effort to keep up. My favorites:
1. The organized dish cupboard and baking sheet storage from Week 2
2. Sorting mail immediately (Week 1) –I have done a great job opening and sorting my mail as soon as it comes in.
3. My re-organized pantry cupboard from Week 3 has been easy to stick with
Some of the tasks will take a bit more practice and discipline on my part to become habit-forming:
1. Putting clothes away. As I mentioned in Week 3, my schedule is problematic. If I wait until I’m dead tired, I’ll never have the energy to be neat. My rearranged bedroom is helping, though.
2. Keeping my desk tidy. Being pulled in many different directions both mentally and physically means that things pile up on my desk. I have made strides, and it’s much easier to clean than it was in the past, but I can do better. I need to remember to set aside a little chunk of time each week to clean off my desk.
3. Keeping kitchen counters clear. Again, I need to be a little bit more focused and set aside time each week to clean up and make sure the clutter doesn’t get out of control. This long flat surface has been a catch-all, and it interferes with my productivity in the kitchen.
Overall I am so proud that I managed to see this project through! Like many people, I am a project-starter but not always a finisher. I credit the accountability aspect for helping me. Once I was a couple weeks in, I couldn’t bear to give up, no matter how tempting it was at times. I would like to thank Sarah from Buttoned Up for her hard work organizing this challenge and for her encouragement along the way. Congratulations to all the other ladies who successfully completed this, and thank you to all of my wonderful readers who commiserated and cheered me on!
If you’d like to review the whole challenge, use the links below to my past posts: