Apartment Therapy 20/20 Cure - cliff notes on the home shape up

Apartment Therapy 20/20 Cure – cliff notes on the home shape up

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photo: Jennifer Palais

I just graduated! No, not from college. From Apartment Therapy’s 20/20 Home Cure! For 20 days, I did 20 minutes of tasks assigned by the professors of design, interiors and all things nifty at Apartment Therapy, aimed to “make homes beautiful, organized and healthy”. I just got my report card, and will share my grade. But first, for you, my top 5 Home Cure takeaways (cliff notes, if you will~wht)

1. Any advice you give someone else, you need for yourself. Case in point – I tell clients all the time to be careful about burning themselves out when we begin our work together. It is so exciting to get started but too much too soon is just too much too soon….and then the flame fizzles. By week three I had done so much in addition to my 20 minute tasks that I didn’t want to do even the dishes.

2. What you focus on grows. Just a little focus on my apartment brought in massive changes. Example: I made the list of six things I needed for my apartment and within two hours a friend called to offer two of them, for free. Beautiful end tables for my living room and a space heater for my bedroom. Pretty cool.

3. It pays to “act as if”. My wish list contained couch but my attitude was “forecast-hazy”. Guess what? No couch. When the Cure started I began looking on Craigslist with more of a “forecast-maybe” with a 35% chance of “why not?” I found something that looked ok and decided to swing by just to browse (after giving my logistics to a friend!) The guy gave me everything, for free. New couch and credenza that are 60s Mad Men beautiful and better than what I have been seeing in the stores. Again, pretty cool!

4. Have a child’s mind. Learning how to clean/organize/improve something from someone else is eye-opening. We all have our way of doing things so getting some other ideas can shake up your routine for the better. I thought I was going to know a lot of this stuff already and I did…sort of. The slight twists on my old tricks were the ones that helped the most.

For example: Maxwell suggests bookshelves should be about 50-75% full at most. I’d never heard this suggestion before. I barely had any books to start with but when I emptied 1/2 my bookshelves it was a whole new reading world. I can actually use the books I have because I can see them! It has revolutionized my reference library, that is; it is actually used for reference now. For a serious book-loving gal this is revolutionary.

5. Connect with the walls in your home, for real. Cleaning at the start of each week, getting into the habit of buying flowers, learning to fix things…all of this has brought a new intimacy into my home. I’m closer to it and know it better because I’m taking care of it better and spending , yes; quality time with it. Next step in my relationship with my apartment was to walk around and put my hand on all the walls as Maxwell suggested in his book. This is extra credit! It isn’t in the 20/20 Cure but it really was the final exam. It felt a little hocus-pocus at first but then I realized, which is it – crazy to walk around touching your walls or to live in an apartment for 6 whole years and never have touched the walls? How can you know about something if you don’t connect with it in a real way?

How did I do? Let’s check out my report card…

Effort: B+
I was at an A+ week one and two, and lagged to a B- by week three. So is that A- or B+? I can’t tell! The story behind my decline? I crammed those first two weeks! Then I got a bad case of senioritis the last week and couldn’t wait for school to be out. Sound familiar?

Achievement: A
I finished all of the 20/20 tasks and then some! I also blogged and vlogged about each task in detail (photos and all!) on my website. The results are, and continue to be nothing short of top of the class if I do say so myself! And…I do! I can brag all I want because the honors go to the fantastic videos Maxwell of Apartment Therapy created for all of us students.

Behavior: B
It’s all sugar and spice until there’s something I don’t want to do! There’s often a little whining involved, but then once I get going I’m an unstoppable and inspired student. (If memory serves me, nothing much changes.)

So even the organizer hems and haws about cleaning and organizing (for oneself!) It is ok to not like something and forge ahead anyway. We can all tolerate 20 minutes of just about any yucky task. Either it is over before you know it or you actually start to get into it and have fun. Usually the latter! I even created a 20 minute 20/20 music mix to mix it all up!

The energy of my home has shifted as a result of the 20/20 Cure. It is literally lighter as a result of this new connection – and so am I. Want to be schooled on your home? The book, Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure is a good place to start. It’s the perfect textbook companion for this field of study. Or read more about my schooling at my blog.

Jennifer Palais is passionate about helping people function for low stress and maximum success in their lives and businesses. But really, she is super passionate about movies and stories. That’s her secret motivation for organization. More movies! Follow her on Twitter for her bird’s eye view. Or join her Facebook page for super special organizing tips and giveaways.

11 thoughts on “Apartment Therapy 20/20 Cure – cliff notes on the home shape up”

  1. Jennifer you make 20 minutes of organizing sound so easy. Your posts always motivate me to get my life in better order. My husband has had this 20 minute motto for years and tells me that’s all it takes to tidy the house before bed. It’s so true that a little goes a long way. Sounds like I’ve found my New Year’s Resolution this year…try the 20/20 home cure!

  2. 20 minutes seems like a task I might be able to do! My problem is that I let things get so out of hand, that trying to do any of them takes at least an hour (which I never have, and never want to do!) But if I put in smaller amounts of time, more frequently…hey, I think I get it!

  3. @stef It does seem overwhelming when things get out of hand…if I set a timer it makes it easier. Then even if it is “not enough” it has to be until the next day. You really can do it! Then before you know it things have really shaped up. Funny because after 10 years of this I see that nothing is ever really “done”…even in big beautiful homes with a full staff and interior designers … there is always something else to add or redesign etc. So just starting where we are at is really important. There is no “perfect” or “done”…there is a place of feeling really great in your home and functioning better though ;)

  4. Thanks once again for your helpful advice Jennifer. Sometimes it seems that in my life it’s more like feast or famine! One day I’ll get fed up and clean for hours and than that’s about it for a long time!!! Lord knows that’s not good.. @Tiffany, my husband says the SAME thing!
    Little by little it can get under control. :)

  5. @jpal, you really do make organizing sound easy.
    I can’t stop thinking about bookcases being 50-75% full. Mine are about 200% full, books stacked on top of books. I guess I have some weeding to do. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. @irene It is so hard to stay on track sometimes! I know the feast or famine mode! The Apartment Therapy people make this cure fun so it is easier to do. Who doesn’t like buying flowers?! But with all things – takes a little while before it is a habit :)

    @turboterp Glad to inspire you! Enjoy your newly weeded bookcases – and someone will enjoy those books!

  7. Me too @turboterp / Melissa – Currently my bookshelves are overflowing – But even when I clean my bookshelves out they are 99% full – guess I need to buy more. Or maybe like @jpal I will inherit a few pieces!

    Like everyone else – I love the 20 minute rule. I have been using a similar daily ‘rule’ stolen from one of your earlier pieces. I spend a small amount of time each day (probably close to 20 minutes!) doing one small task – and it’s been so helpful!! Instead of tackling an entire closet – I need to sort through one bin or clean one shelf. It makes everything seem more manageable and then things actually get done. I’m loving the idea of setting a timer and just doing what can be done in that amount of time. Then just let it all add up into organized bliss.

  8. @JPal , I have a confession to make… I stalk your blog. I’ve been lurking and reading all about your 20/20 efforts, and I love the videos.
    I don’t think I’m going to try the 20/20 cure myself, mostly because I have my own system for cleaning/purging that’s become a good, easy habit for me to follow. Why mess with a good thing, right? But I did pick up some good tips from the Cure, like buying myself flowers and sitting in an unfamiliar spot to see the dirty spots from another angle. But you won’t catch me dead purging my books! I admit, I’m a serious book hoarder, but only the quality stuff. I’ll end up living in a library someday, but that’s always been my dream anyway, hah! I let the crap go (beach books, emergency airplane books, things like that) but I’m keeping my classics. But they’re organized! I swear. :)

  9. @tyna It helped me a lot to get the extra piece! I always had more books than I had room for so in combination with getting rid of some I’m in good shape. I’m thrilled to hear that your system of one task a day is working for you! I think having a daiily “win” is such a motivator … then we want to build on that win. Like you said – then it all adds up to organizational bliss! Can I use that? hehe

    @mandaleem You made my week! Say hello next time you stop by my blog if you feel so inclined…I’d love to hear from you and how you do things! I agree with not changing what works. The book purge is controversial – it is tough and not at all for everyone! I firmly believe organizing has nothing to do with getting rid of things…it is just about accessing the things you do have and functioning better in your life. Which you do in spades! I’ll join you in that library…build a wing! ;-) My dad is a retired librarian and I practically grew up in libraries. I love them!

  10. The first tip, “Any advice you give someone else, you need for yourself” is true for more than just the home!

    “We can all tolerate 20 minutes of just about any yucky task” is another really good piece of advice. Whether is a workout, or cleaning, or homework, sucking it up and getting started is half the battle. Once I’ve gotten a decent start on something, I’m more inclined to just keep going. (In college, I made myself do this for essays all the time! I would always let myself get distracted by a text message, or facebook, or email, or SOMETHING, but once I sat down and JUST focused on the task at hand, it wasn’t so bad).

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