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It’s time for an epic staycation — but after you tackle the clutter in your home

Every home has one (or more) permanently closed off or constantly growing area of disorganization. (iStock)

It can be easy to lose motivation — or worse — as darkness falls earlier each day, the weather turns cold and pandemic numbers spike. We are all tired of this “new normal” (as well as that turn of phrase). But takeout, staying-at-home and Netflix continue to prevail as we await the promise of a vaccinated future.

Even on the darkest of days, however, there is opportunity. Much of the past year has generally been in flux, with so many unknowns week-to-week and even day-to-day. This has limited our ability to plans or strategize how we could potentially take advantage of all this at-home time.

But we all know this winter is going to be spent at home under restricted conditions. So consider this winter an opportunity to dedicate time to what you can finally do rather than what you cannot do. Introducing: Epic Winter Staycation, 2021.

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For years, we hoped for more time to get things done around the house — extra hours in the day — and more time for personal hobbies. For the busy, the workaholics and the social butterflies, there was a time (roughly a year ago) when the prospect of an evening or weekend spent calmly at home was a far-off pipe dream. People legitimately took vacation time to stay at home (be it for relaxation or home productivity)!

So think back to this time last year. What was on your long-term to-do list? What home fixes or fun things had you always wanted to get to but just could never carve out the time?

This is the time. This is the time to tackle those home projects! to practice the guitar! to learn how to cook! Commit to an hour of living room exercise/yoga/mediation every day. Read that book you meant to read way-back-when instead of letting it collect dust. Learn to become a sleight-of-hand magician via YouTube. Actually watch that television series everyone was talking about 10 years ago.

If you feel like you have done it all, though, and find yourself bored with nothing to do but rewatch “Community” for the fourth time, I bet you still have one task left. It is the task everyone ignores, the one we all pretend does not exist. We convince ourselves it is not that bad in order to perpetually procrastinate any progress.

It is … the basement.

Or perhaps, for you, it is the garage. The attic. The hall closet. Sometimes confined to a particular area, sometimes more amorphous across a whole home, it is best defined as that slow-growing panic if you were to think about moving to a new place. It is the “packing-panic.”

Every home has one (or more). Permanently closed off or perhaps constantly growing (and in rare and especially confusing instances, sometimes both), this is an area of constant disorganization. It is your own personal Bermuda Triangle where things you might eventually need/want/gift/etc. never again see the light of day.

In theory, an annual “spring cleaning” helps mitigate this problem across your home. But there are still those areas/bins/closets that remain untouched by any effort to organize, petrified by the polite lie of “someday.” Herein lies the crux of the matter.

Home organization is too easy to leave for “later.” But the “laters” just accumulate, often until you find yourself moving to a new home — at which point the elusive deadline of “later” inevitably pushes to “after” your move. And now you enter into a timeline of “legacy laters,” which can sometimes even span generations.

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The key is to go in with a plan. Research your strategy. There are plenty of best-selling books, TV shows and online how-tos for home organization. In early 2019, Marie Kondo’s book-turned-Netflix-series “Tidying Up” was attributed with a statistically significant upsurge of Goodwill donations across the country. Now there are nearly a dozen home-organization shows to choose from across Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.

You have the stuff, you have the tools and you finally have the time to take on the task: So “someday” is hereby formally appointed to you as “this weekend.”

We tend to fall into our routines and, while the pandemic has certainly disrupted many of them, we still cling to many long-held habits. Those habits include thinking we do not have time to work on that “eventual” to-do list, whether because we are procrastinating big-ticket chores or just waiting for everything else to be done to enjoy some time to ourselves. So take full advantage of the at-home time you will have over the next few weeks and do your future-self a favor: Commit to an Epic Staycation this winter!

Whether for fun or fix-ups, write down your intention and add it to your calendar. The at-home/TV-binge/take-out trifecta can be yours again to look forward to — either before or after tackling the monsters in your basement!

Stephanie Brick is the owner of Stephanie Brick Design in Baltimore.

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