My First Day on the Job

August 28th, 2016

Day 1

Start time: between 12:30-1:00 pm – End time: approx. 7:00 pm

Roughly 5.5 hours working.

First things first, I have to say a big, big thank you to my friends Kim and Kyle for volunteering to be my very first clients!

The first thing I did upon arriving was walk through the main floor of the house. I wrote down my initial observations of the disorganization and clutter, noting my quick ideas for solving a particular problem.

I then walked through with Kim, asking her to tell me what were her thoughts about what she didn’t like in their living space. Then I did the same with Kyle, and even their eight year old daughter!

The main area (living room/kitchen/dining room):

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Kim says that because of the disarray in their laundry area downstairs, they always end up doing laundry in the living room, and now she’s fed up with having baskets and their hanging rack there. So getting that laundry area in the basement cleaned up is going to be very important!

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Kim does not like that the DVDs are just shoved on wherever. She wanted to have them alphabetized and organized. Kyle could not care less about the order, but we told him firmly that once those DVDs are arranged properly, he has to respect that and put things back in the right place!

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Their table. Much like my family’s kitchen table when I was growing up, their table has become their dumping ground for pretty much everything. Mail, keys, bags, water bottles, pictures, EVERYTHING.

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This metal rack holds some of their kitchen items that don’t fit in the cupboards. They don’t like how much space it takes up, and our goal is to at least downsize to a small shelf unit if not eliminate the need for shelves entirely.

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Kim is not happy with the amount or type of items being stored on top of their fridge and the cupboards. The goal is to eliminate what we can and to make whatever remains more aesthetically pleasing.

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Kyle’s computer desk was fast becoming another dumping ground for items. He would like to utilize some of the space under the desk on the left for some storage.

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On the right, their filing cabinet is buried behind and beneath clutter. They are nerds and collectors and enjoy the Funko Pop collectibles. Kyle would like to keep the boxes for the figures, which I respect as a collector myself, but we have to find a more suitable place for them!

Both of them would also like to rearrange their bookshelves to make them more visually pleasing.

We moved into the entry way and bathroom before looking at the basement. They had initially wanted to start by working in the basement, but I talked to them about focusing on getting their main living space in order. Being able to first walk into your home and feel some sense of peace and comfort, rather than overwhelming frustration over everything that needs to get done, relieves a lot of stress. It can also give you a greater focus when it comes time to work on the extra boxes that are not currently in the way.

We moved to the upstairs, where we really started brainstorming some potential ideas for decorating. They have some great spaces in their home that are going to allow for some beautiful visuals! I found myself getting really excited about those future projects. I think it’s really going to help them feel settled in their home and like the space is truly theirs.

After we had finished walking through each room, we came back to the living room and started putting together our plan. First we made a list of areas they want to work on, in order of highest priority to the lowest.

Order of Priority

  1. Main floor (kitchen/living room/dining room/entry way)

  2. Bedrooms (master bedroom, daughter’s bedroom, play/spare room)

  3. Bathrooms

  4. Kim’s craft area

  5. Storage area

  6. Laundry area

  7. Boiler room

Then we made a list of the first ten tasks we want to accomplish. I felt if we made a list of everything they want to get done, it would be far too overwhelming and stressful. Once we have completed those ten tasks, we’ll make a new list of the next ten tasks to get done!

The First Ten Tasks

  1. Laundry – washing, drying, folding, hanging, and putting away. Also potentially getting rid of any items that no longer fit, get worn, or are damaged and not worth repairing.

  2. Organize the kitchen cupboards and the metal rack in dining area. Get rid of any items that do not get used, and store large items that are only used occasionally (such as large stock pots or roasting pans) on a designated shelf in the basement.

  3. The dining room table. (Remove all clutter and keep clear to serve its purpose as a table!)

  4. The six part organizer. (Remove excess clutter and organize contents.)

  5. The DVD shelves and bookshelves. Categorize, alphabetize, and personalize in the case of the bookshelves.

  6. Kitchen island and the top of the fridge and cupboards.

  7. Kyle’s desk area and the filing cabinet. Implement some kind of under-desk storage for Kyle and organize the filing cabinet.

  8. Set up the bed frame in the master bedroom. Position the bed exactly where they would like it.

  9. Master bedroom closets.

  10. Hang up pictures in master bedroom.

I then assigned them a personal to-do list of tasks that they will need to get done on their own time, either individually or together. For example, one of the issues they have is refundable beverage containers all over the place! My solution for this?

1. Install a filter on their kitchen faucet. (Kyle doesn’t like the taste of tap water, hence why they buy water bottles all the time.)

2. Find or purchase a recycling container. Since it will be out in the open, we’ll want to make sure it is aesthetically pleasing!

They will end up saving money by installing a filter instead of buying water bottles, plus it will reduce unnecessary clutter. We’ll still need the recycling container since they’re going to have refundables anyway.

As you saw, the number one task they want to complete is laundry! Since it was already late in the day, I said that the next session  would be completely dedicated to laundry: washing, drying, folding, hanging, and putting away!

So for today, to get in the mindset, I had them start by working in the main area. Kim and I started on their dining room table, sorting through all of the papers that had built up, while Kyle worked on his computer desk area (and washed some dishes too!) I had their daughter help by collecting the refundables. I also grabbed two boxes that were on the stairs that had been bothering them and their daughter helped me sort through those.

We implemented the bin system: one for each member of the family, plus one for items that needed to be moved to the basement. When we came across items that belonged somewhere else, we put them in the appropriate bins, so that the owner could put them away where it belongs.

As we began sorting, it became apparent to me that their daughter was going to have some difficulty with this whole process. Much like myself, when confronted with something that really didn’t need to be kept (such as a paper Pokemon card game play mat that they had several of, but only needed one), she began finding reasons why it was justified to keep things. She also began pulling things out of her bin to show me or to talk about and then left them lying around the room again. I had to gently remind her several times to put things back in the bin.

She wanted to show me her room, so I left Kim and Kyle to keep working on their own. She and I talked about some of the ideas her parents and I had discussed for her room, asking her input. She was very excited about the idea of an organizing shelf unit, and we talked about painting it pink and purple!

She showed me her folder of art projects, and I was actually able to talk her through letting go of certain things (school papers that had been mixed in with her art or the rough drafts of poems she had written). I think it’s going to help on future days when we do more sorting that I have a good idea of where her mindset might be currently, and that I will have a good idea of how to talk her through the process.

When I came back down, I found that Kim and Kyle had been making great progress! Kyle’s desk area was looking a lot better already, and Kim had filled one blue bag with recycling.

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Kyle had found a number of cables and cords and small electronics that no longer worked as well as dead batteries, so we put them together in a bag by the door for me to take when I left. I have to make a trip to the eco centre soon anyway to get rid of a few items of my own that require proper disposal, so I volunteered to take theirs as well.

My boyfriend came in the evening, as we were invited to join them for dinner. I was so pumped up and excited about the progress we had made today that I just wanted to keep going! So while my boyfriend and Kyle visited and Kim finished getting dinner ready, I reorganized and alphabetized their DVD shelves. So we’re able to cross that off the “first ten tasks” list!

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I sorted all of the movies into the categories of: kids/family movies, the “epics” (I have this section at my house too, and it includes movie series like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, etc.), TV shows, superhero movies (because they’re so super they deserve their own section!), and then “general movie population”. Each category is alphabetized! We also found at least seven movies they had duplicates of, so those have been weeded out for donation.

After we’d eaten, Kim continued to go through the piles of papers that had been building up, and by the time my boyfriend and I left, she had filled another blue blag halfway! Way to go, Kim!

Progress Report:

The First Ten Tasks

  1. Laundry – washing, drying, folding, hanging, and putting away. Also potentially getting rid of any items that no longer fit, get worn, or are damaged and not worth repairing.

  2. Organize the kitchen cupboards and the metal rack in dining area. Get rid of any items that do not get used, and store large items that are only used occasionally (such as large stock pots or roasting pans) on a designated shelf in the basement.

  3. The dining room table. (Remove all clutter and keep clear to serve its purpose as a table!) – Task started!

  4. The six part organizer. (Remove excess clutter and organize contents.)

  5. The DVD shelves and bookshelves. Categorize, alphabetize, and personalize in the case of the bookshelves. – DVD shelves are done!

  6. Kitchen island and the top of the fridge and cupboards.

  7. Kyle’s desk area and the filing cabinet. Implement some kind of under-desk storage for Kyle and organize the filing cabinet. – Task started!

  8. Set up the bed frame in the master bedroom. Position the bed exactly where they would like it.

  9. Master bedroom closets.

  10. Hang up pictures in master bedroom.

All in all, I was really proud of the start we made, and I’m still feeling pumped up. I’m excited to see how much we get done on Day Two! Great work, Kim and Kyle!

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