For weeks I'd been staring at our bathroom thinking "I've GOT to get this place under control." Actually, I've been thinking that about our whole house but the bathroom especially. There was just too much stuff sitting on the counter and on a little cart I had next to the counter, and our bathroom is fairly small so even a few things on the counter makes it look cluttered.
Last week I finally rolled up my sleeves and got to work, and in about two hours I had the squeaky clean bathroom I'd been dreaming of. It all started with one little question:
What do I reach for every day?
The list was pretty short:
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, contact solution/case, eye glasses, deodorant, comb, curl definer (I bought this based totally on smell but it works great too) and rubber bands.
I took the things I use very day and separated it from everything else. Then I looked through the "everything else" pile and threw away the stuff that was old or never used and neatly sorted the rest and stored them under the sink (makeup, straightening iron, towels, toilet paper, etc. It turned out that I didn't need that next to the sink after all, so I moved it out to our bedroom where it's being put to better use hiding our router. The remaining essentials went into our small medicine cabinet (it's so small there's only room for my essentials in there) and the only things now living on the counter are our toothbrushes, toothpaste and hand soap.
If you think about it, it doesn't take much thought to know what you reach for every day. There is usually a clear answer to that. I didn't ask "What are my essentials?" because often times our brains can fool us into adding some non-essentials to the list.
When you know what you reach for every day, you know what you don't reach for every day and can deal with them accordingly. You don't have to drop the ax on your stuff right away, and you don't have to get rid of it just because you don't use it every day. You can just separate your true essentials from everything else, keep that within easy reach, put away the other stuff and maybe work on reducing gradually if you don't have the time to do it all at once. For me, it was a revelation to know what my TRUE essentials were, and seeing ONLY those things on the counter instantly gave me that feeling of having already accomplished my goal, even though I still had a pile of stuff to sort through (which didn't take that long).
After giving everything a good scrub it was like I had a brand new bathroom. I kept going in there because it was the nicest spot in our house! Now that I've got the ball rolling, I'm looking forward to tackling the rest of the house with this one question.