With Halloween behind us and Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s safe to say we’re firmly settled into the holiday season. The fourth quarter is chock-full of festivities and fun, but managing all of the events and expectations of the season can quickly lead to frayed nerves and a perpetual sense of falling behind. Not so festive-feeling anymore, is it?
At Your Austin Storage, we’re firm believers in staying on top of things to make life easier and more enjoyable. Workable storage solutions are a big part of our “store your stuff, then go live your life” philosophy, and we’re also huge proponents of a good working organizational plan.
This said, it’s pretty obvious that this time of year is not the time to kick off any big projects. If anything, most of us are simply looking for a way to maintain the status quo — to hang in there and finish out the year well. We’re right there with you, dear frazzled friend.
Our best advice? Pair up micro-tasks around the home and make your precious time serve double duty. Many of the below pairings only take a couple of minutes to do, and they’re easy enough to enroll the whole family in. If you start putting these small steps into practice, there’s no reason why you can’t make a fourth-quarter comeback and slay the holidays!
Check out these one-two punch ideas:
Brush Teeth + Tidy Bathroom
If you brush your teeth at least twice daily, then you’ve got two chances to straighten up the bathroom at the same time. Keep some cleaning wipes on hand to do a quick once-over your counter and sink area while you brush. If you’re brushing for the recommended two minutes, then it’s easy to ensure that more than just your teeth is gleaming!
Get Dressed + Make the Bed
It should be automatic: When you get out of bed each day, make it right away. Dress your bed, then dress yourself. C’mon! It really will take an extra two minutes if you just do it. Do this daily and it will become a habit before you know it.
Then, count it as your first small win of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and encourage you to do another task, then another and another. From tiny beginnings, great things grow. Maybe next, you'll tackle the closet!
Shower + Clean the Shower Stall
Keeping a dedicated washrag or squeegee in the shower for a quick wipe down after showering can help keep your shower clean between the bigger scrub-downs. If you have a detachable showerhead, even better for rinsing down areas that need it. You’re already in the shower, so no worries about getting your (otherwise clothed) self wet!
Bonus: If you use Castile soap on yourself, you can use it on the shower stall. With its olive oil base, it’s a neutral, gentle, safe cleanser that leaves surfaces squeaky clean. You can also make a DIY Castile soap-based bathroom cleaner to keep on hand.
Make Coffee + Tidy Kitchen
Even a Keurig takes a minute or two to dispense your morning brew, and it’s amazing what you can accomplish in those two minutes. Something as simple as unloading or loading the dishwasher or wiping down the counters can make you feel better about the start of your day.
And, those coffee grounds can play a role in your cleaning. They contain nitrogen, which helps neutralize odors. Place a bowl of coffee grounds in your fridge or freezer to neutralize from spoiled or fragrant foods. You can even keep coffee grounds by the sink and use them to scrub and remove the smell from your hands after chopping garlic or onions.
Coming or Going from Garage + Don’t Go Empty-Handed
Do you keep your car in a garage? One tip we love is to never come or go empty-handed. Headed to the garage and see something you’ll need for an errand? Grab it now while you’re thinking about it and put it in the car so you don’t forget it. Coming in from the garage after returning home? Take an extra 60 seconds to pull any trash from your car and throw it away. Bring in your purchases and deal with them right away.
Car Errands + Clean Car
This time of year usually means more car time than usual — whether you’re buying groceries for holiday meals, traveling to friends’ or families’ homes for the holidays, or taking advantage of Black Friday and other holiday shopping. And when there’s more time on the road, there’s usually more mess — especially if you’ve got kiddos in tow.
Stay on top of car clutter by using any downtime (long red lights, waiting in long car lines or traffic) to do a quick clean. Safely, of course! By keeping just three items — cleaning wipes, a small trash bag, and a microfiber cloth — in your car, you’ve got an instant mini-detailing kit to keep your car in decent shape.
And if you *do* have small kids (and diaper bag) along for the ride? An unused disposable diaper is great for absorbing coffee spills and dusting your dashboard, and those wet wipes are great for cleaning — plus they’ll help your car smell nice and fresh!
We’re fans of this super affordable mini car detailing kit. It has everything you need to help your car's interior sparkle. It also makes a great holiday gift!
Make Dinner + Clean As You Go
This tip is pretty much from the Kitchen 101 rulebook: Manage meal-time mess by cleaning as you go. Doing so will help free up valuable workspace and make post-cooking or holiday baking clean-up more manageable and less daunting.
Our advice? Start with a clean kitchen, have a sink of soapy water and empty dishwasher ready, and empty trash bin nearby. Also, put your ingredients away directly after using them. And keep a few clean, dry towels on hand for wiping up spills and keeping your counters clean.
Wait For Takeout + Clean Out Fridge
Not the cooking sort, you say? No worries! There’s still a way you can get in on the 1-2 combo cleaning fun! If you’re waiting for takeout to arrive, then put that time to good use by cleaning out and tidying up your fridge. Toss the bad stuff and straighten up the good stuff. Then, wipe down the fridge shelves with a damp washcloth to pick up all the crumbs and spills.
We like to group similar things together into zones: Leftovers in one area, condiments in another, fruit and veggies in their crisper drawers, dairy/deli items in their spaces, and beverages within easy reach. You get the idea.
Plus, this way, when you don’t eat all of your takeout, you’ve already got a space to put it!
Watch TV + Clean Up
Sometimes you just need a good old couch-potato session. We fully support this, but pair it with a little light-duty cleaning and we think you’ll feel better about that binge-watching marathon.
Are you one of the rare ones who watch network TV in real time? Turn the commercial breaks into a game. How much can you tidy up your surrounding space before your show returns? This is also a great game to play with your kids!
Binge-watching Netflix? Use the same principle between each episode. Dust your coffee table, spray down surfaces, tackle that stack of papers that has been on the bookcase since last Friday, discover what fun surprises lurk under the couch or ottoman. Or a time-honored standby: Use your couch time to fold laundry.
Prep Holiday Decor + Sort Surrounding Boxes
As you’re pulling out boxes for holiday decorating, take a few extra minutes to assess your other storage boxes nearby. Do you see something you’ve been holding onto that you can toss now or put in a donate pile?
As you’re moving boxes around with your fall decor and holiday items, do you see a better way you can organize the storage area? Take a couple of minutes and do that thing. Maybe it’s as simple as updating the boxes’ labels to reflect current contents, or finally taking time to go through a catch-all box and deciding what to toss, donate, or put in storage.
This is also a great time to think about your storage strategy for the new year. Do you really want to keep using valuable garage, attic, or basement real estate for All The Stuff? Instead, rent a self-storage unit. It’s such an affordable, convenient option for intentionally keeping certain items safe, and freeing up your home’s spaces to create a more peaceful, less cluttered environment.
Our final hang-in-there tip: Double up with a friend.
How about helping each other decorate? Start at one of your homes and then move on to the other. Make it fun by adding some easy, festive fall snacks and drinks.
Or, if decorating time is family time, recruit that friend on the back end. It’s funny how our families can quickly find something else to do when it comes to putting all that holiday decor away!
Perhaps in the clean-up process, you both realize you could organize and store your holiday decor more efficiently. A good friend by your side can keep you motivated to set up that new system then and there.
And if you’re especially good friends who are also looking to free up space going into the new year — but don’t feel like you have enough stuff to justify a storage unit? Consider going in together on a storage unit to split the cost.
At Your Austin Storage, we’ve got safe, affordable units of varying sizes in several convenient locations in north, south, and northwest Austin. Check out our size guide and storage calculator to determine the best self-storage unit size to suit your needs.