At various points in the lives of seniors, getting organized may be a priority, and may even happen. But getting started is only the first step. The Bucket Theory helps seniors set up and maintain a system which will keep things flowing through their living spaces.
Motivation for Older Adults to Become Organized
A little mental exercise can help. Without looking, tell what is in the bookshelves, what is on the mantle, etc. Some seniors and boomers won’t be able to say. After a while it fades into the background. Some of those items need to move on, keeping only what is presently needed, actually used, or actively cherished.
It can be helpful for seniors to determine how they used to live before things got cluttered. Was there enjoyment in having company, polishing a coffee table, having more usable space, or even never having to worry about tripping on stacks of things? This time and effort spent in discovering one’s comfort zone will help provide a target to aim for in the organizing process.
As people get older, energy may lessen and range of motion may decrease. This makes it even more crucial to have a system of staying organized. Many older adults live mostly in their primary space, avoiding places like the attic. Therefore, it is advisable not to store things in secondary locations where it’s hard to get to them.
Being aware of some decrease in energy as older people age, the efficiency brought about by being organized makes life much easier and more rewarding. However, the one of the biggest motivations for a senior having a system of staying organized is safety!
What is The Bucket Theory of Getting and Staying Organized?
Imagine a bucket which holds all the stuff in a home/garage/space. Stuff drips in but not out. Eventually it will be in a state of perpetual overflow, making home environments more and more unlivable. Seniors and boomers often are very good a bringing more into the bucket, but don’t have a built-in system of habits for keeping balance by moving things out of their home. A living space needs such balance, even as the body does.
A way to bring about this much-needed balance is to set up a system to allow regular drops to escape from the bucket. This not only lessens the volume, but does it on a regular basis, providing a method to prevent overflow of the bucket.
The Drop as a Method for Moving Unneeded Items Elsewhere
If doing the organizing by oneself, this is the place to start. Just as homes have trash cans for moving refuse on out of the house, there is a vital need for a handy container for regularly placing items which need to move on. The Drop can be as simple as a cardboard box or a plastic container. One needs to be kept on each floor of the house or apartment.
During normal daily activities such as dusting or walking through a room, if an item is noticed put it directly in the Drop rather than just observe or comment on the item as being no longer useful. By acting the minute the item not in use pops up into one’s awareness, the decisions about letting go of unneeded stuff are small, and more likely to get made. For example, since food in the pantry won’t last forever, regularly put things which won’t get eaten into The Drop.
Every once in a while, provide items in The Drop a new home. Ask family or friends to choose things. Since people are more willing and able to give things up when they have some connection to the place which they are contributing, consider family, acquaintance, and other local choices. Then give to charities like Vets, Goodwill, Salvation Army, or the local food pantry or resale shop.
Seniors and Boomers often find their usable spaces are shrinking. As they become motivated to understand “The Bucket Theory” and proceed to set up and use “The Drop” they will experience gradual and rewarding success in enjoyment of their living space. It can be a fabulous find in their lives!
Source: Interview on August 11, 2009 with Kate Rhoad, professional organizer in Spring, Texas.