tol-er-ate : [verb]
to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance;
permit. to endure without repugnance; to put up with.
The above definition from dictionary.com defines “tolerate” as allowing or permitting something to happen without stepping in to change it. Most people tolerate certain things in their life, either because the situation is not painful enough to warrant making a change, or because they don’t have the time/energy, or because they don’t want to make waves.
We often think of tolerance as it pertains to our relationships: we tolerate a partner who snores; we put up with kids who leave dirty dishes on the kitchen counter; we choose not to argue with the colleague who always shows up late.
But tolerating things you don’t like extends beyond people and relationships. It also applies to stuff. Let me ask you a question. What are you tolerating in your home? Are you overlooking the stacks of paper on the kitchen counters? Are you enduring the piles of stuff on the dining room table? Do you ignore the guest room that is so cluttered you can’t invite out-of-town family members to stay with you?
Although my house is probably more organized than most, there were definitely some problem areas I was tolerating, primarily because I didn’t have time. Pre-COVID, I was often organizing in my clients’ homes six days a week, leaving me precious little awake time to organize in my own home. Being stuck at home for the past six and a half months, I was finally able to tackle the following projects:
1. Situation: I am my mother’s Power of Attorney, and deal with all her finances, tax-related information, and other paperwork. I had ten plastic file boxes filled with documents I had taken from her house. Although the bins were neatly labeled and stored on a shelving unit in my basement, I felt frustrated every time I walked past.
Project: One weekend, I decided it was time to tackle Mom’s paperwork.
Outcome:In about half a day, I sorted through all the bins, created two large boxes of sensitive papers to be shredded, recycled a large quantity of unnecessary items, and consolidated those ten boxes into a small two-drawer filing cabinet. By moving the shelving unit, I created space for a new freezer.
2. Situation: My daughter moved into her own apartment about a year and a half ago, leaving the closet in her childhood bedroom with clothes and shoes she didn’t have space for. She also left behind books, toiletries, and medication in her closet. I never go into her closet, and we don’t need the additional storage space, so it wasn’t a high priority project. Again, one of those things to do “when I have time.”
Project: My daughter broke her heel rock climbing a month ago and has been living with me while she heals. Last weekend, we decided to organize her closet since a friend will be stopping by this week to pick up donation items for families in need.
Outcome: After 18 months, it was very easy for my daughter to make the decision to part with most of the clothing. As she appropriately stated, “If I haven’t missed it or wanted to wear it in all this time, I probably don’t need it and I’d rather donate it to someone who will use it.” Smart kid I raised!
3. Situation: My exercise clothes were taking up too much space in my dresser drawer, making opening and closing the drawer a headache.
Project: I finally got fed up fighting with the dresser drawer and decided to empty everything out and sort through the contents.
Outcome: In 17 minutes (yup, that’s all it took – I timed it!), I took out all the leggings, sports bras, and workout tops, sorted through them and pulled out the ones I no longer like to be donated. Then I neatly rolled up the ones I decided to keep, creating different sections for full length leggings and capri length, and separated the workout tops. In practically no time, the drawer was beautifully organized, everything was accessible, and I was wondering why I had tolerated it for so long.
The projects, respectively, took 4 hours, 2 hours, and 17 minutes. Not a big outlay of time, and certainly not worth tolerating for way too long. What are you tolerating in your home, and when can you schedule time to deal with it? Let me know how your project turns out. As always, if you need help, motivation, or even donation resources, contact us. We are currently working virtually and in person following CDC guidelines.