Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hot Spots. Where's yours?

Everyone home has a place that we call a "Hot Spot". This is where clutter tends to gather momentum and grow. Some (really most) homes have several hot spots, mine does.

Let's focus on the "Traveling Hot Spot". This is the hot spot that is usually the first stop you make when entering your home. It gathers all the stuff you have in your hands when you come in the door, mail, keys, gloves, your handbag, kids book bags, all sort of things

My Traveling Hot Spot was the Dinning Room table. It is in the room that we enter from our carport and anything in our hands tends to land there to be "put away later", only later must have been light years away because it never arrived! That was then, now my hot spot has been cooled down and is a helpful spot rather than a stress producing area.

Lets list some ideas to help you deal with your hot spots. Some of these I've tried, some not. I've found a good working plan for my hot spot, I hope that from this writing that you will find a working plan for your home.

Okay let's go:

Step one: Let's identify your hot spot. Most of the time it is in or within ten steps from the door that you use to enter and exit your home. It can also be a closet that is near the door, one that you endanger your life when you open the door.

Step two: Once you've identified your hot spot, stand back and look at the area. What do you see? Mail? Car keys? Kid's stuff such as diaper bags, book bags or now that Summer is here, camp bags? Here is where it gets fun! We are going to clear that hot spot in 15 minutes!

A. Gather your tools together. Three boxes, laundry baskets or even trash bags. In two of these you'll only have things in them for a short while.
Label them: TRASH, PUT AWAY and REMAIN.

B. Get a kitchen timer and set it for 15 minutes.

C. Now GO! Sort all the items in that hot spot into the three containers you've gathered. Be brutal, remember you've more than likely not seen the top of the space you're working on for a while. In the case of mail, you'll trash most of it. Bills and other important correspondence will go into the Put Away container. Don't stand there and agonize over the items, move quickly through them. You'll more than likely notice that the most items will go into the Put Away container so you may want to use a large basket for that one.

As you're working, put on some music and let it help you move. You'll be amazed at how much you will accomplish in just 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, stop. Step back and see your progress. Admire the clear surface and enjoy a 5 minute break.

Reset the timer for another 15 minutes and start on the containers, first the "Put Away" container. Do what it says, take the items in it and put them where they live. As you're going through the Put Away container, again be brutal. Do you really need that item? You may be able to move it to the "Trash" container!

At the longest, clearing your "Traveling Hot Spot" should be about 45 minutes. With two 5 minutes breaks. Should you finish clearing, sorting and putting away before the timer goes off, HURRAH!

Before you start, take a photo of your "Traveling Hot Spot". You will enjoy looking at the before and after photos of your work.

Once everything is cleared, trashed and put away, begin to unload the container labeled "REMAIN" into the area. May I suggest that now you consider this area by a new name? How does the "Family Action Center" sound?

You will need a basket for your mail and bowl or smaller basket for your keys and cell phone. A small trash can to put the junk mail into immediately, don't bring it into the house any further.

Maintenance of your "Family Action Center" will be easier with these efforts. You will find that you like the way it looks and a nice bonus will be that things are located in a logical location for going out the door.

We will discuss routines later to help you keep this area functional and clutter free. Keep that kitchen timer handy, you'll need it!

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