Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Four-Box Challenge

I have been taking part in the Four-Box challenge with the Plastic Box Shop and nine other bloggers. 

The plan is four boxes to help me tidy up, clear out and sort out our house using the method in the chart below for guidance. Initially I was really excited when the four boxes came, nearly every room in our house needs sorting since we moved in and haven't quite finished finding everything a home. Then it sunk in a bit and I pondered on quite where to begin. I finally came to the conclusion that the living room and nook was as a good a place to begin as any, mainly because its such a busy and used room.

I got to grip with the idea of the Four-Box method pretty quickly as its really simple. Essential you use it sort place your items in one of the four boxes:

Bin - Items which you intend to throw away.
Donate - Items which you intend to donate to charity.
Keep - Items that will remain in their current position and will be kept.
Store - Items which you do not want to throw away but would be able to relocate and possible store.

My first place was the toybox and I found the chart a really helpful guide for me to decide what should stay and what should go but also as a very visual way for my boys to decide and help too. Of course they thought that everything should stay! What really helped me to work out the keepers against the un-played items was the knowledge that most of the toys were in storage for 5 months and if they haven't been missed and played with in the last 7 weeks we have been in our new house, it needed to move on. I took my eyes off the four boxes for a couple of seconds and discovered that whilst I had been busy my boys had moved things between the boxes which is slightly frustrating. At this point I made a decision not to do more with the boys present. I have very limited time when I don't have a helper so I took full advantage of my one mornings alone to re-continue with the toys, making sure that the "donate it" box had been moved up to the spare room until I have a chance to bag it up and drop it off. Being new to the area I haven't figured out where to do this yet - but I will!

Before the toy area
After and I can finally get the lid on
In sorting through the toybox I found loads of mis-placed items that I re-homed from my "keep it" box. This actually took me the longest time to complete as we had items from every room in the house including all of my coasters (which I had been wondering where they had disappeared to). It also led me to clear out the kitchen cupboard to and create two new useable shelves in it. One for craft supplies and books for the boys and the other as a half way place for post and bills. I used one of the boxes I found in the living room to create an area for storing pens, crayons, glue and you name it. I also have re-used some of the smaller pots that I used to use for weaning when the boys were smaller to store things in. I really like it when you can take something that you no longer use and give it a new place. It has helped a lot to give the pens and craft books a home finally in a room and dividing and sorting it means that I can give the boys a pot of colours rather than a whole box. I find they are more creative when they have less on the table and it also means we can do it more often as it will be more controlled - there is nothing worse than a whole tub of assorted writing things all over the floor.

One organised box

One tidy crafty cupboard
I was surprised at just how full the four boxes got and I found that my store it and keep it box in my mind become one and they were my first boxes to empty back out again. I also like the prompting from the chart which was a great reminder with the toys; can you fix it? Yes - Did you fix it? No, so bin it. I was reminded that although I could fix it I probably won't so it will just sit in a corner gathering dust and its better just to bin it and move on.

Having sorted the living room, it also made me address the little issues that were bothering me in the kitchen because of re-homing. We have a habit of coming in, picking up the post and then leaving it in a pile on top of the microwave. As you can imagine when your a busy Mum the pile mounts and mounts until its overspilled into the whole kitchen. So enough is enough my new system (made from a bran flakes box) is for items that need actioning only; coupons, hospital appointment letters, current things. Everything else now gets sent straight to the spare room for filing. Being honest here the spare room really needs sorting now all the other rooms have been and is my planned four-box project for next week when the boys are out at school. Its a big job and I know it needs to be done, the living room and kitchen were my warm out for getting used to my new four-box method.

One messy microwave
My re-homed microwave junk into my new tidy made from the bran flakes box
In the living room next the TV for the seven weeks we have lived here there has been three boxes that don't seem to be useful (otherwise we would have unpacked them) that got stuck there. No more. I have sent the speaker stands to the garage for storage until we actually replace the speakers (we have been saying we will for two years so I am not hopeful it will happen anytime soon) then they can return rather than being a weird eye-sore. I then took a look in the boxes and have stored them elsewhere. They contain some of our American equipment which we were still using before we moved but we are in discussion as to where it will go and if its even needed. The chart suggests that we should store it/ keep it so thats what we will do for now. Technical things aren't really my department so I will be leaving any decisions beyond that for my husband to make. I am just glad they are out of my way now.

Before the TV Unit
After - all sorted and cleared
My instinct with the living room has instantly been that we need more storage but I am not sure that we do, I think we just need to re jig what we have. We have two bookcases coming in a few weeks when we have collected them (they are elsewhere in storage currently) so that will help to smarten up the toy area so I can conceal them when they aren't in use and make it feel like a more grown up space in the evenings.

I have very much enjoyed clearing out out and organising. There is something very refreshing and satisfying about it that I would recommend if you are on the fence. I haven't got rid of a huge amount but what I have done is make the things we do have more accessible for myself and the boys. Its also lovely to relax in the living room without having to keep looking at the 'boxes I haven't unpacked yet' and without seeing too many toys overspilling the toy box. Simple but it makes a huge difference.

I keep filling and clearing
Next I will be tackling that spare room! I keep dreaming of making it into a craft room so watch this space. What rooms do you need to tackle? What do you think to the Four-box method?

Disclaimer: I was sent the four plastic boxes to use to complete my challenge for the post.

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