Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Feng Shui Organize Your Kitchen

I'll bet when you think about decluttering your kitchen you immediately feel overwhelmed. Why do we all feel overwhelmed? A kitchen is a complex area housing a large number of items.
Many of us handle that quantity and complexity by creating regions in the space: the pantry; pots and pans area; food storage area; kitchen tools; coffee area; dishtowels and pot holders; the spice area; the condiment area; the cleaning area; the "junk drawer"; cookbooks & recipes, and miscellaneous occasional use stuff. And, then there's the kitchen desk. I'm sure I've missed a few areas, but you get the idea. There's a lot going on in a kitchen, enough to scare off even the most ambitious convert to the power of clutter clearing.
So, my first suggestion is that you NOT plan to clear your whole kitchen in one clutter clearing session. Break it down by region, starting with the one that would be either:
• the easiest to tackle
• the one with the most things that can be tossed or given away, or
• the one with the largest objects.
Why the above suggestions? It's important that you make significant progress IMMEDIATELY, or else you'll feel overwhelmed and quit. The categories above are likely to give you the most bang for your time and energy bucks!
I usually start in either the food storage area (pantry) because I can often find expired foodstuffs to pitch in the trash, the appliance area or the pots and pans. The later two regions usually hold the largest items in the kitchen. Deciding to get rid of an old crock that you rarely use, that never worked well in the first place, will give you a feeling of accomplishment compared to how you'd feel if you got rid of an extra container of thyme.
The pots and pans area is also a great place to find duplicates. Which skillets do you use? Which never get used? Decisions are easier to make when you know you will have another object of the same type.
If you begin in a region where you are able to move some large objects, and you move those things out of the room, the energy in the space will shift in response to that change. The bigger the objects, the bigger the shift. It's the shift that keeps you moving. When you start to see space where none existed before, the energy shift will lift your spirits. When you feel that rush of energy from your clutter clearing accomplishment, you'll want to feel more of that good feeling. So, you're more likely to keep going.
I recommend you work your way from region to region, from biggest items to smallest items, from easiest to tackle to hardest to tackle. If you find yourself shutting down, stop and ask yourself, "Am I doing the easiest first? Am I doing the biggest things first?" Overwhelm typically happens when you've drifted to smaller items or your brain is just too tired to continue. Making decisions is hard work!
Following is a recommended order for clearing your kitchen. This is just a recommendation. You'll notice I've chosen to start with areas that house large items with no great complexity and finish with the area that often has many different types of items, including paper, therefore great complexity. This list is meant to be a guide. As you clear you are likely to find yourself naturally drifting to the next best area for you to clear. Go with that inclination unless it leads you to the complicated little stuff.
• Appliances
• Pots & pans
• Baking pans
• Mixing Bowls
• Dishes, glasses, mugs
• Coffee area
• Cookbooks & recipes
• Food storage containers
• Pantry
• Cleaning products
• Condiment area
• Dishtowels and pot holders
• Silverware drawer
• Kitchen tool drawer
• Spices
• Junk drawer
• Kitchen desk
• Miscellaneous occasional use items
Step By Step Process Within Regions
1. Identify the first region you will tackle. Make sure it contains large items, lots of items that can be trashed or donated or is super easy to clear. Set up bags for trash and donation.
2. Evaluate each item. Be truthful and ruthless! Do you use it at least once a year? Do you have more than one of this type of item? Is it easy to use or is it annoying? If it's annoying, consider getting rid of it. If it's a food item, is it still edible? Is it a type of food you still enjoy eating?
3. Compare duplicates. You are very likely to find duplicates in the kitchen. When you do find duplicates, identify the item(s) that works best, the one(s) that you tend to choose to use. Keep that best and get rid of the rest. Donate the duplicates that still work well. Trash the others. If you have duplicates of spices, keep the freshest and toss the older container.
4. Once you've cleared out items that you don't use, those that you no longer want taking up valuable real estate in your kitchen, reorganize the items that are left.
5. Add containers to hold small items that tend to float on a shelf or get lost at the back of cabinets.
6. Strive to make all items visible. Keep smaller items at the front of shelves and larger items at the back.
7. Store occasional use items on higher shelves and most used items at a level between your shoulder and your hip.
8. When you finish one region, move on to the next on the list. Continue from region to region until the kitchen is done. If you do as I've recommended, clearing your kitchen in several sessions, the trick will be to get yourself back to the task after each session. Perhaps your goal could be to clear your kitchen in May, while you're reading blog posts about how to address many of the regions. May has four Saturdays. If you decide to clear for at least one hour on each of the four Saturdays in May, and perhaps work a little longer on any of those days if you get on a roll, I'll bet you could be done by June 1. If not, you'll have made great progress! Also, be looking for a blog post about the kitchen desk where I'll give you a specific plan for tackling that complicated area.
9. As you work, be open to new ideas coming to you for rearranging regions or sections within regions. Once you get some of the clutter out you may realize that there is a better way to organize your kitchen for the way you currently work in it.
As you work through your kitchen, resist the urge to drift to other areas of the house, and definitely do not get hung up on doing the job perfectly. Your goal is to lighten your load by examining each region and identifying those items you use less than once a year, broken items, items you hate, items that don't work well, duplicate items and items that are not safe to eat.
Remember, the kitchen is the heart of the home. A clear and organized heart makes the every day activities of meal preparation and communing with family members a pleasure that can feed your soul as well as your heart.
© 2012 Clutter Clearing Community | Debbie Bowie, MA, MS | tel 804-730-4991
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Debbie Bowie is an author, professional Feng Shui Organizer and leading authority on using clutter clearing and feng shui principles to attract more of what you want in your life. To enhance every area of your life, you need specialized information, experienced mentors and coaches, and a supportive community. It's exactly what Debbie has created her Clutter Clearing Community program to provide! Get instant access at http://www.clutterclearingcommunity.com.
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