The Drop Zone

 

You don’t have to be a detective to figure out exactly what I’ve been up to when I first come in the door to my apartment. My shoes will be kicked off somewhere near the door; my keys will be on the nearest flat surface I can find. My purse gets stashed just about anywhere (which, believe me, can cause a great deal of panic if I don’t remember exactly where that is). No matter how clean I leave things, when I come back in everything inevitably looks like it’s been in a tornado. (You should see what it looks like when I try to get out the door in the morning- it’s like a tornado in reverse.)

There’s only one good explanation for why this happens to me and why it might sound familiar to you as well: I (we) don’t have a drop zone.

At least, I call it a drop zone. You could call it anything really: a mudroom, hallway, entryway, foyer, or nook in your house (that’s preferably near an entrance). Any place that acts as a transition area between your life indoors and your life outdoors is your “drop zone”. We have so much gear and equipment that play an integral part in our daily lives. Creating an area where we can store these things in ways that are useful and accessible to us is imperative to an organized, productive and stress-free day.

Here are some of the things that you may want to include in your own “drop zone” (when seasonally appropriate, of course):

  • keys (and a spare set, just in case)
  • leashes, treats, waste bags, or towels for pets
  • reusable grocery bags/tote bags and bins
  • sand toys/beach bags
  • gardening tools for quick access (i.e., gardening gloves, trowels, spades, pruning shears)
  • sunscreen, sunglasses and hats
  • lunchboxes/reusable food containers and water bottles
  • winter accessories (i.e, hats, gloves, scarves and mitts)
  • umbrellas and other rain gear
  • shoes and shoe repair accessories (i.e., extra laces, shoe polish, replacement heels, protective spray)
  • first-aid kit
  • bus passes, bus tokens, membership cards, spare change

Storage is not the sole purpose of a “drop zone”; it’s also place that can act as a “command central” for all of your errands and activities (especially if you’re the kind of person who needs visual cues as reminders). You could use it as a place to store your stuff in the morning if you need to get out of the door in a hurry. Other items you may want to leave as reminders could include dry-cleaning, mail, library books, or borrowed items that need returning. In the past when I have had a drop zone, I used it to leave myself lists of things I wanted to pack in my bag in the morning, or things I want to double-check before a weekend away.

Don’t take my word for it, though- here are some people out in the blogosphere that are totally rocking it:

I’m so jelly for Jennifer’s remodelled mudroom over at Style & the Suburbs.

I never knew I needed Dutch doors until I saw Rebecca’s mudroom on Boulevard West.

I love Teresa’s solution for transforming the narrow hallway in her home into something pretty and functional on Sweet Farmhouse Dreams.

Tina from Inspired Reality turned her tiny entryway into something really classy.

Becca at Embracing the Simplified has proof you don’t need a huge budget to create an organized entryway.

What changes have you made to your mudroom or entryway to make it more functional for you? I wanna know all of your secrets (with pictures please!). You can send them to keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below with the link to your blog so you can show off your mad organizing skills with everyone else.

Having problems getting out the door in the morning? I’ve got some solutions here to make your mornings more stress-free, and how to stress less when you’re running late. For more inspo on a drop zone that’s both fashionable and functional, check out my Pinterest to see what I’ve been digging up.

 

The Power of the Purge

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Psst! I’m so happy that this post was re-blogged on Zone Pie Online. For all the readers who’ve discovered my blog from there, welcome! Many thanks to Antonilla Monroe from Zone Pie Online for taking the time to share.

A couple of years back, I went completely insane.

Those of you who know me may debate that this happened some time ago, so let me clarify: I got sick and tired of the way that I organized things. I had just moved into the apartment where I currently live and was feeling pretty proud of myself for doing such a good job downsizing. But despite my efforts I constantly found myself rearranging and reorganizing in an attempt to cut down on the clutter.

One day a neighbor dropped by and saw my apartment for the first time. Gazing around at the massive, overstuffed bookcases that lined the walls he chuckled, “Are you operating a law office out of here or something?”

For the record, I was not but I had to admit that he had a point: my apartment was intimidating (and possibly a fire hazard). I was spending more time refining and micro-managing my system than I did on actual, productive work because of the sheer amount of stuff I had. It was unnecessary and distracting, so something had to be done.

What followed was a period of time in my life that I like to refer to as The Purge, where I made a commitment to myself to delete all of the clutter that was slowly threatening to choke me. Papers, clothes, pots and pans- even furniture and some of my beloved books- nothing was exempt from the process. It took months before I felt like my apartment was coming back together, but the difference it made on my breathing space took effect almost immediately.

Reflecting on the process is easier than it actually was when I was going through it. I had to harden my heart and let go of a lot of things that I had held onto for years because I ultimately decided those things didn’t have a place in my life anymore. Letting go a lot of stuff also meant letting go of an attitude that I had adopted long ago; that somehow owning a lot of things like papers and books was indicative that I was a well-educated, cultured person (whatever that means) and suggested a lifestyle that was rich and abundant.

It’s funny how we get certain ideas into our heads about how we want our lives to look to others. Not keeping every single draft of every little thing I’ve ever written doesn’t change what I do. Not owning a lot of books doesn’t mean that I don’t love to read. (I still own a lot of books.)

I don’t even feel like I’ve lost anything, because what I gained was so much more valuable to me in the long-term- an simpler, more comfortable lifestyle where things are easier to find, my apartment is easier to clean, and I have more room to store the things I treasure  the most and are indicative of the lifestyle I choose for myself instead of hoarding the things that represent what I think my life should be.

If you’re starting to feel like your possessions are owning you, I highly recommend it conducting a Purge of your own, whatever that looks like to you. Even focusing on just one particular area, like an overstuffed filing cabinet or crowded kitchen cupboard, can feel like an entire makeover. It’s not just about the free space and clean look you get once the process is complete; it’s about the peace of mind that comes afterwards and the control it gives you over your own life.

And if we’re going to be really honest here…we all own way too much stuff anyways.

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Have you conducted a Purge of your own and felt its power? Tell me all about it by dropping me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or by commenting below. In the mood to start getting organized? I’ve got some suggestions here as to how you can get started.

 

Delightfully Organized Digital Photos

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Psst! I’m so happy that this post was re-blogged on Nostalgic Image Photo News. For all the readers who’ve discovered my blog from there, welcome! Many thanks to Dawn Ainsworth from Nostalgic Images for taking the time to share.

10,000 photos.

Yes, you read that correctly. That’s the number of photos I deleted off of my hard drive when I initially started organizing my digital photo collection. It’s amazing how much we take our digital storage space for granted. It doesn’t seem like a lot on a massive hard drive (after all, it takes up no physical space to us) but unloading 10,000 photos still felt like unloading some kind of psycho-RAM. It freed up all sorts of space on my hard drive for more things that I love, made my computer run faster, and most importantly, it brought me one step closer to having a beautifully organized digital photo collection that I can treasure and share with my family and friends.

The argument for an organized digital photo collection is compelling, but the task itself appears pretty daunting. Unless you rarely take photos, this will not be the type of task that can be completed in just one afternoon. Plan on spreading out your project into bite-sized chunks that can be carried out over a period of time, depending on how much you have available.

Before you do anything, make sure you have some method of backing up your files- discs, thumb drives, external hard drives, clouds, whatever. You should always, always, always have an alternate means of backing up any kind of precious digital data in the event that is somehow lost. Data recovery can be costly and is not always 100% guaranteed. Don’t worry about making it look pretty- you can always replace your old files with your pretty, organized ones later.

The most organized system is an intuitive one, so it’s important to consider how you will peruse your photo collection once it’s been completely organized. You may want to group your photos by date, by subject matter, by event, or a combination of all of the above. It’s best to start with a strategy in mind so that the way your current and future photos are stored is simple, convenient and consistent. Disregard any advice that doesn’t fit into your methodology. Don’t have a mind for numbers? Sort your photos in folders according to subject matter. Try to be specific and concise as possible with your sorting strategy. A search through a folder of photos marked simply “Grandma” can seem daunting, but a folder named “Grandma’s 80th Birthday Party” is explanatory enough that you can find the photo you’re looking for- even if the files inside are not meticulously labeled.

Start by sorting through your most recent photos first (they’re the freshest in your mind!) and use them to establish a method of uploading all of your photos on your computer and filing them on a regular basis. Resist the urge to dump new photos in a general photo until you get around to filing them later! Remember those 10,000 photos?

Yeah, I’m never doing that again.

KBwB-BFlower-50Have an organizing dilemma or a brilliant organizing solution? Share it with me at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or on Twitter. For a constantly growing list of organization inspiration and other ways to keep busy, click here. And if you’re looking for some serious eye-candy, my Pinterest addiction has me filling boards with houses too pretty for their own good.