Continuing with our Spring CLEANing series, this episode will be looking into the letter “E” in CLEAN. We will discuss how to evaluate the things in your life to help keep you better organized and declutter your spaces.
Reevaluate Your Stuff, Schedule, and More for Spring CLEANing Transcript
Welcome to our Spring CLEANing series where we are talking about simple steps you can take to clear out and reset in the spring.
We’re not talking about deep cleaning, but about a lot of different steps that you can take in your classroom and at home, to try to give yourself a little bit more mental clarity and freedom. And you’re not worrying about all this stuff, cluttering our mental and physical spaces.
If you want to go back to Episode 49, where we kicked off the series, we are moving through the letters in CLEAN, spelling out our acronym for Spring CLEANing.
Today we are tackling the letter “E”, which is evaluate. We are going to evaluate literally everything. I’m going to give you some categories and some things to think about as you not only move through your day, but your home and your spaces as well.
Evaluate the Location of Items
The first thing since we were letting go and limiting our items in the last episode, and that’s a constant thing. We will always be working on that. Always trying to decide if something is actually as valuable as we think it might be. Or if it’s just they’re giving us a little bit more anxiety and causing more clutter and distraction than it’s worth.
Well, we need to think about where those items are at and evaluate if the location is actually beneficial for what we need to use the item for.
A lot of times we put things in spaces, because that’s how it worked when we were kids, or also because that’s just how society is.
If somebody came into your house, they would expect things to be in one space. But in reality, that’s not what works for you on a daily basis.
So you’re going to evaluate a couple of sections of this
Are Multiple Locations Necessary?
Are multiple locations of the same type of item necessary?
We categorized and kind of grouped together, or became aware of when we have things in multiple spaces last episode. So today, we’re going to start looking at whether we actually need all of those locations.
I can tell you, one of the things that I definitely have been thinking a lot about is my daughter’s hair care routine stuff. All the ponytail holders, some clips, and then their sprays, hair brushes, all the stuff…we have a set in their bathroom, we have a set in our kitchen so we can do their hair at breakfast before school. There is also a little to-go set in both my car and my husband’s truck.
But honestly, almost all of those aren’t necessary. The one that I might actually eliminate is the one in their bathroom because we never do their hair in their bathroom.
We actually always do it either at gymnastics or soccer practice or at the kitchen table.
So I can go ahead and eliminate one of those locations. And it’s the least obvious of the choices to think about.
Group Similar Items Within the Same Location
You might want to look at if you are grouping things with similar items. Items that they might be used with.
For instance, we have moved our kids’ socks into our laundry room, which is right next to our garage.
The reason we did that is because if you’ve ever had to track down kid socks running back and forth across the house, or up and down stairs because they forgot them when you’re right about to leave, well, it’s changed our life when we put them right with their shoes. Which makes the most logical sense.
But honestly, most people don’t do that. And until we did that, it hadn’t even come across as something that I had thought about.
The same thing goes in my classroom. I have three pencil sharpeners. One mounted to my wall and two electric pencil sharpeners that I just spread around the room so that everybody had easy access to them.
But the thing is, most of the time, and I’m talking like 98% of the time, they use the wall mounted pencil sharpener. Even if they sit closer to the electric one. They usually don’t have a pencil, so they have to walk up to the front of the room where I keep our pencil stashes and then go sharpen their pencil there.
Because of that, I can evaluate whether or not I need the other two because I grouped the pencil sharpener next to the pencils that they borrow so well, that the other two are kind of obsolete. And that kind of makes my decision for me.
Evaluate Where You Look for Items
Another thing to consider is where do you look for things if you have lost something and you cannot find it anywhere?
I’m thinking like a checkbook because how many times a year do you actually write checks anymore? But when you need it, you definitely need it.
Where’s the first place you look for it? It’s obviously not going to be there because you’ll continue looking. And just like the saying goes, it’s the last place you looked.
But maybe when you find it in that last place, you put it back in the first place. You will put it somewhere where you instinctually are going to go try to find it.
If there’s not a space for it there, we either need to cut back on it, or decide if there is another space that some of those items can move.
Evaluating item locations is this combination of deciding if it’s a logic puzzle with Tetris with, like a, who done it, and where is it game, and it can go on for quite a while.
But the fun thing is, you can always try and then fix it back, if it doesn’t work out.
Evaluate Your Schedule
The next thing I want you to start evaluating is your schedule. This is more than just what you do on a day to day basis, but also as teachers.
We start to get selected for special things the coming school year. I don’t know about you, but I’ve already been asked to be on four committees. I said yes to the first three, because I do feel very strongly about being on them.
The fourth one, I had to politely decline because I don’t have the bandwidth for it. Honestly I didn’t care about it too much. But we are starting to see those things start filling up already for the next year.
But also our social calendars, and our family calendars, and all the events that we have going on.
When we have them planned out now, it doesn’t look like a whole lot, right?
You might have something every single day, which then kind of does feel like it adds up a bit.
But the easiest way to see what you want to prioritize, and maybe what you can let go, is to imagine that everything in one week was all in one day.
What would you do?
Which one would you prioritize and make the thing that you decide you had to attend, or had to be at no matter what?
That’s going to be priority number one. You can move down the line, and maybe priority number four, you realize this could be something that we could test out for a season not being a part of because if it falls in line as priority number four.
If something in priority one, two, or three shifted to the same day, we’d have to let it go anyway.
So maybe the dance class that we wanted to try out isn’t really right for the season. Or maybe there’s something about gymnastics that we like to do, but it isn’t a priority for us now.
You can do the same thing with social calendars, and all the events that you plan with friends and family, especially when the holidays roll around. But also when you’re invited to so many things over the summer.
If everything were on one day, which one would you prioritize? And what is your bandwidth for being able to accept all these invitations?
I know that my husband and I are kind of homebodies. So we aren’t going to accept all of the invitations, especially if they would all be on the same day.
So instead, maybe two. And we could see from here if we want to expand. But prioritizing those things, and then clearing out the rest, leaving a space to relax, is going to be so key to having an actual restful summer, and also next year.
Evaluate Systems to Simplify Your Schedule
You’re also going to evaluate with your schedule, what types of systems can you put in place to simplify what you do have there.
This can be anything from, we have a gymnastics bag and we have a soccer bag.
The day we have gymnastics, the gymnastics bag is fully packed with our change of clothes. Then we always grab our water bottles from the fridge every single day for everything we do. We can pack snacks at the beginning of the week. That’s all we need in there. But it’s already ready to go.
The soccer bag has both sets of shin guards, extra pairs of socks, shoes, snacks, and a soccer ball in there for practice.
We are trying to curate those systems so that we know what’s going on.
But beyond that, we also have a system for rotating who is doing what practices each week. One week you might be taking over the gymnastics practices. Next week, you might be taking over soccer. But having a system where we rotate in place is also very helpful.
So having an understanding of how you can add a system into your scheduling and activities, and evaluating what is actually going to work best.
For me at school, Wednesdays are my busiest day. Those schedules are hard for me and I need to come and I veg out for like an hour.
So some days, that Wednesday soccer practice with a whole bunch of four and five year olds running around and screaming, not gonna be something I want. Those days, I might need to go ahead and give it to my husband.
And if that’s the case, maybe I send him on every Wednesday soccer practice and we trade out something else.
You want to kind of play around with this to find an actual system that works for you.
Time Wasters and Time Savers
We are going to get into evaluating what time wasters and time savers you have in your day.
This is another constant evaluation process. But starting to recognize it now can be very helpful because when you go to complete a task.
What are some simple ways that you’re wasting time while you’re doing that task that doesn’t have to be super complicated?
The one thing that I start thinking about is, when I go to clean my kitchen, I have four different cleaners that I could possibly use for all the different areas. What if I simplified that down and saved myself some time and decision making and got one general all purpose cleaner that I could use on all of the things? That would be really nice to have.
I don’t actually have to do it right now. But I can add it to a list and just evaluate this week, what types of things we could shift towards to make our lives a little bit easier.
What tasks are you doing on a regular basis that don’t actually provide the return for the time you put into it?
One of the things that I actually have stopped doing, and this might seem controversial, is that I don’t straighten my desks or chairs, or pick up after my students at the end of the day anymore. I don’t.
Honestly, it was just really frustrating in general. But as soon as they sit down for the first hour the next day, the tables and chairs are gonna get all wonky, and I have to tell myself, I am asking them to straighten the tables and chairs at regular intervals throughout the day. And if they aren’t straight, oh, well, people are in the seats, people are learning.
The return was not really there for the effort and the anxiousness I would get every day as I realized how disastrously we cannot keep chairs in their spot. But now I don’t have to worry about it. And honestly, my stress level went down. So that was great.
Prioritizing for Summer
We’re going to start actually prioritizing for summer.
Right now we have:
- Evaluated item locations, and made sure that they have the number of locations, but also effective locations for us evaluating our schedule.
- What types of things work?
- What types of things can we maybe let go of for a season?
- What type of systems can we put in place to make our schedule flow smoother?
- Time wasters and savers as they go through our day. What things can we maybe start to look at shifting towards? And what things can we let go of because it’s not worth our time and energy?
Now we’re going to start looking towards the summer.
You might be sitting here going this is spring cleaning. Why in the world are we discussing summer?
Well, that’s because the summer is the perfect time to start making shifts.
So there are things that we can look at now, and we can pre-evaluate what things we might want to start working towards. Saving time in the future, but we don’t have the energy or the bandwidth to apply it right now.
When do we have a little bit more energy and bandwidth? Over the summer.
Now summer is not limitless. We also have a certain number of weeks, we have all these trips, we have all these things that we want to do, all the things that we need to do.
But we do have a little bit…okay, a lot more…flexibility in the timing that it takes to do all of these things.
We have the ability to actually move forward in implementing some of these shifts that we’re talking about right now.
I consider it a really good idea to start writing down a list on paper or in your phone (only one list, not like 18 locations of lists), and deciding what types of things you might want to start shifting over the summer, or what types of things you think you might start shifting now.
It could be as simple as just writing it down. And if you don’t remember it later, it wasn’t a shift meant for you. Or discussing with your family what types of things do they want to see a shift in?
Evaluate your family’s goals, your school goals, your personal goals, and decide what types of shifts, or what type of attention, you can give to those goals over the summer.
You want to spend your time moving towards the things that matter to you. So if you can decide on those goals right now, maybe make a nice plan for it, then you can move ahead.
Which leads me almost to a bonus checklist item that I think it’d be really great to start today.
I understand that we all start our summers at different points. For me, the end of May is the end of school.
Some people I know go into June, and some people I know start the next school year in July. We are all over the place.
But what I did is I went on Amazon, and I got myself a three month calendar. It’s dry erase. I am going to write out all of the events that we have this summer, and I’m also going to work on when we start adapting certain goals.
Seeing all the events, seeing how summer fills up is going to let me evaluate my schedule ahead of time. And also plan ahead so that I can start strategizing towards how I’m going to achieve my goals over the summer, so that when I go into it, the decision is done. I don’t have to worry about it anymore.
My kids and my husband, we can all have our own goals. We can have family goals, but we all know what’s going on. And it’s all right there.
I usually try to go month by month in planning, but I’ve realized more and more that if I can get a big chunk out of the way, a whole season, a legitimate whole season at once, then I feel more in control about that giant shift.
Then I don’t have to do it 12 times a year. I can do it four times.
Now, am I adding to my calendar? Constantly. But I’m always able to see the big picture of what’s going on.
So even though it’s only April, I’m gonna start looking ahead towards June. I’m pretty dang excited about it, because I have some big goals and some big plans.
And this week, evaluating them all is going to mean that I am making the right steps in the right direction. Until next time.
49: Spring Cleaning Series, Part 1 – Clear, Classify, and Categorize
50: Extra Credit Strategies for Spring Cleaning Your Counters
51: Simple Steps to Letting Go and Decluttering for Spring CLEANing
52: Extra Credit On How to Start Decluttering
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Keywords: evaluate, summer, items, goals, spring cleaning, system