Evaluate Your Home’s Strengths (Zone Defense)

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Assessing the playing field, that is, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your home can help you enact a game plan for organizing that will help you win against clutter and disorder.

Zone Defense graphic.

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Ready to get into the game? Last week, I gave you a sneak peek into our game plan this year for organizing our homes. We’re going on Zone Defense and will be working on a different area of home/life each month.

Prior to a game, the athletes and their coaches study the field. What are the playing conditions? What are the strengths of the opposing team? What are their weaknesses? How can we position ourselves for success?

So, while you are probably antsy to just dig in and deal with your messes, now is the time to think about what you want to accomplish in this year. Take an inventory, if you will, of your home today, and sketch a vision of what you want it to look like – and how you want it to function – in the future.

Task #1 – Take this week to survey the playing field: inventory your home and its strengths and weaknesses.

Jot down the answers to these questions so that you have a clear picture of what you’re going to tackle.

You can also download worksheets with these questions here. You’ll notice that they will coordinate with your OLAM pages. 😉

Home Inventory Questions

  • What are the problem areas you face in daily cleaning?
  • Where does clutter tend to pile up in your home?
  • Is it easy for you to get ready in the morning? If not, what do you think is the problem?
  • What is your favorite room of the house? Why is that? (You’re going to want to think about this, so that you can duplicate that feeling in other areas of your home.)
  • What room do you avoid at all costs? Describe this room and think about what annoys you about it. What would you need to do/buy to make it better? (We want to solve this problem and keep it from spreading throughout the house!)
  • Which cleaning tasks do you avoid like the plague? Chances are you can make these jobs easier with a little decluttering and organizing.
  • Where do you hide your clutter? (Yeah, that’s gonna have to stop.) And why is that? Are you rushed? Don’t know where to put it? Lazy?
  • Are there parts of your home that are broken or in need of repair or a makeover? Keep a running list. If they are urgent, make plans to fix them now. If not, chances are we’ll cover it in the coming weeks.
  • Is it too much stuff, failure to put it away, or plain disorganization that holds you back from having a home you love?

As you think through these questions, try to be honest with yourself. Knowing your problem areas will better help you to solve them and to redesign your home to fit you and your family.

Personally, I want to get to the root of the problem. Rather than continually move my messes around, I want to prevent them from happening next time.

What kind of player am I?

For myself, I know that paper is my arch rival. I was able to list at least four locations where paper rules the field. I also know that we have a combination of too much stuff as well as some tweaks we could make to increase the functionality of each room, like coat pegs in the entry way.

I’ve got these in mind, as well as trying to be honest about my own situation and habits. I know that I tend to hold onto stuff because I worry that I will have to pay a stupid tax and rebuy it later. Or, I’m just sentimental about the item in question.

Clearly, decluttering isn’t just about stuff. Emotions are a key player in this game.

My hunch is that once we get the ball into play, though, we’ll be okay. Successes often build on one another.

What’s your strength? What’s your weakness?

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  1. My strength is keeping my dishes organized in the cabinets, however, it is challenging because the cabinets are not very functional in location and size.
    My weakness is paper piles are all over the house in the kitchen, dining room and den. Whenever I need to clean off a space I just move the papers to another room, chair or storage bin to get to later, but I never really do. I waste a lot time looking for important papers and let’s not talk about opening mail. I have missed very important information and even checks because I open the mail many months late.
    It is horrible!!! I need help in a most dire way, I thought I was a hoarder until I saw the show, but surely can end up that way if I don’t change my bad habits right now.

  2. For my favorite and least favorite rooms, the reason that I like or don’t like them is size. I love our big open living room; I hate our tiny bedroom. Do you have any suggestions on how to work with that? I can’t change the sizes….

    1. You’re probably talking to the wrong person. My husband has been known to tear down walls that were in the way. We can’t in this house that we are renting, but he has no qualms of changing a structure.

      Barring a remodel, I think I would see if there are some things that you store in your bedroom that you might be able to move elsewhere to free up some space?

  3. I’m game, my husband and I decided to stay in our very tiny house another year. The downfall is trying to get everything organized with 2 young kids and 1 closet. I loved the questions and was very honest with them.

  4. I’m in on this, too. I often find that our little non-American home doesn’t fit into standard plans to clean and organize and such, but this looks quite adaptable to my needs. The questions should really help me. Thank you!

  5. Great questions. This will really help with trying to catch my tail. I have some areas that I’m always decluttering, just to have them a mess again within a week.

    1. I think that is the key to success… identifying those and cutting them off at the pass.

    1. Well, I might be going to slow for some folks, but I don’t want anyone to feel pressured, at least not in a bad way. Hopefully, we’ll find the right pace.

  6. These questions got me thinking about what really matters and helped me focus. It’s so hard to get started because you just see the big picture. This is a wonderful way to make it less intimidating. Thank you!!!

  7. Thank you for these questions. Like Michaelene, I don’t want to look at the mess, I have become overwhelmed with it an I just want to avoid it. It’s time for me to stop avoiding the messes and get to work 🙂

  8. I think these questions may be the hardest part (for me). Perhaps why I am struggling is because I don’t want to look at the mess- and just jump in (and drown). Time to put on my big girl pants and really face what’s going on around here!

  9. My mom and I have been starting a similar “overhaul the house” project. I have been working on making a list of projects that need done through out the house. I am going to grab my notebook and add your questions with my answers to it. Then I’m going to try to work through things with your plan in mind to help aide me. Here’s to a clean and organized 2012!!

  10. These questions are great, so often with the mom’s I help, they are lost with where to start making changes, these types of questions are the prime way to know what areas are in need of attention right now! Making small changes in one area can make a huge difference in the bigger picture. Thanks

  11. This is great. My plan had been to take one room a month and declutter, but I love the questions you ask. This is really going to help me dig deeper into why our house just is not quite how I want it.
    Thanks for doing this series!

    1. Well, I am finally willing to get to the root of all this *personally*. I am tired of moving my messes around. 😉

  12. Awesome! Thank you so much for these “game plan” questions. I might see if my husband can even join me in the “house tour” to determine the answers for these questions this weekend!

    1. I think I would be scared to ask my husband! He might tell me things I didn’t want to hear. lol

  13. I am totally in the game this year! I started doing a project last year and had a good momentum going until I had my baby in May. Then the project stopped and my life has been chaotic. Now that baby is older I feel I can finally get back in the game. This is going to be a great series. I absolutely love your website and it’s helped me in so many areas!

    1. Thanks for all your kind words. And, I think it’s good that you took a break to have a baby. 😉