I've been asked to begin a blog that shows a "how-to" for the things that bring pleasure to my life. So, the intent of this blog is to share recipes, gardening, composting, sewing, crafts, art, everyday projects and even psychology tips to aid in healing wounds and living the life you're meant to live, a life with purpose!
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Declutter Fast: A Room by Room Guide to Conquering Clutter. Clearing out clutter can affect your mind, mood, and attitude.

I read books on organizing, as well as search the web. I have heard these tips along the way, but I cannot remember exactly where each one came from to list them as sources. Just go to any book store, there are tons of books on organizing, just pick one up because it will motivate you. ;-) One of the key steps to achieving organization at home is to tackle your clutter. Don't worry, you don't need to address the whole mess all at once, just pick a room, take ten minutes and weed out some excess stuff. Look at the task at hand as one step at a time, or one room at time. Do not look at the entire job, or you will feel overwhelmed and find ways to not get started.

If we live by three rules whenever a piece of paper or mail hits our hands, it really helps to keep the excess "stuff or papers" down.
Number one: File it.
Number two: act on it. (In business this can mean delegate it).
Number three: Trash or Recyle it.
I believe it takes just as much time to put items in the wrong place as it does to put them into the right spot. The problem occurs when there is not a designated place for our "stuff."  Give everything a designated place in your home. If your place is too small to do this, then you need to purge because you have to much stuff for your living space. Don't let "stuff" drive you out of enjoying your home. ;-)

Get a head start to your de-cluttering: Gather every member of your household for an initial sweep through the house. Set a timer for ten minutes and tell everyone to go through the house looking for items that aren't in the appropriate rooms. Toys go back to children's rooms, the stack of cookbooks on the coffee table go back to the kitchen, etc. In just a short amount of focused time, you'll have everything back into its designated room and you'll be better able to sort through clutter with this done.


Remove the non-essentials.
If you don't need an item to get out the door, find another place to store it. Or if your mud room is extra-large, store specific items there. Do not let it collect junk. I store my paper towels, plastic silverware and paper plates for parties, and bags of coffee in the top cubbies. Everything lower is umbrellas, shoe bins, roller blades, and hooks for coats. I'm finding as I declutter my house, my mind is following. I am begining to feel more like my old self as I make my environment more pleasant and organized.

Hang small hooks next to the door, and hang up your keys every time you come inside. Once you get in the habit, you'll never waste ten minutes searching for lost keys again. This has worked like a charm for us. I have a second set of hooks in my kitchen pantry that I use for any keys I find in the house. I want the one who leaves them lying around to note it and change their behavior. (Usually it was my middle son who would do this. He wasted so much time looking for his car keys!) It is amazing how these little tricks to help ourselves not get frustrated looking for things affects our mindset and attitudes. It is empowering to set yourself up for success, in any situation.
Store seasonal items. If field hockey is over until next September, there's no reason your daughter's shin guards and stick should be in the entryway.
Create an inbox. Place a bin or a letterbox near your entry for incoming mail and place mail there until you have time to sort through it. I have an antique sewing basket that is about 30 X 20 inches; it has been converted to a table. I placed a black basket in it and we simply open up the table lid and drop our mail in it, keeping it out of sight.

 Recycle every old magazine or newspaper -- if you haven't read it yet, you're probably not going to. Trust me, you won't miss them.

Buy a bin or basket to hold new magazines. As soon as the bin fills up, it's time to do another purge. We have a cluster of bins that make seats or tables, depending on how you flip the top. Inside is storage, this is where I house our magazines. I cook a lot, so I cut up the magazines taking out the recipes I want and placing them into binders with tabs. I discard the rest of the magazine. I know it is time to go through them when they add up. Sometimes I will simply tear out what I want to keep as I read it.

Lose the CD and DVD cases. The packaging for CDs and DVDs takes up a ton of space, especially if you have a large media library. Toss all the plastic cases and put the disc into CD sleeves in a binder. Say hello to your newly cleared shelf space. I built the house I live in, so I have two large cabinets just for DVD's surrounding the fireplace.  Taking my CD's down in size is making more room for blue movies that the kids like to watch!

Designate a home for all of your remotes -- a basket or even a small bucket -- and train your family to put them there!

I like being more creative with where to store some things. Like using a napkin holder to lay your remote control in.
Or even small sized baskets would work. Pottery Barn is a store to check out for items like these:
Donate excess toys. This one is hard -- I know. Explain to your child that he'll be giving his old toys to a child who is in need; it may help him part with that Lego set he never liked anyway. I am always surprised at how much stuff the kids see as clutter in their rooms; my youngest son surprises me with keeping some things simply because he thinks I want him to.
Eat through your pantry. Intentionally run your pantry "dry" by eating everything -- even dry items like pancake mix and pasta. It's a great way to give your cupboards a fresh start. Plus, you'll save money in the weeks you are creatively eating what you have on-hand.
Purchase plastic tubs to store items that come in bags, or that do not stack well. (I love stacking helpers like these bamboo shelves, you can get double anything to fit into a cabinet. I have even made all wooden ones into small shelving units for tight corners that I could not think of anything else that would fit). 
Toss the plastic bags -- once and for all. Everyone has it: The bag of bags. Get rid of all those plastic bags you have been "saving" and start a new stash, but limit it to just a half a dozen plastic bags at a time. I only keep the nicer bags that come from department stores. I do not keep any grocery store bags. How many bags can you possibly use? I only keep a few for guests who need something to carry food or other items home.

Eliminate duplicates. Yes, kitchenware is always useful, but there's no need for two vegetable peelers or four paring knives. Narrow down your tools to one of each item to get your drawers in check. This was a hard one for me, but I did it. I still have not been able to part with my excess of kitchen knives. But, it is a work in progress. ;-)

Store rarely-used items. If you only use your food processor once in a blue moon and you're short on counter space, consider storing it elsewhere to free up space. Ditto the bread maker and the panini press. I have a second kitchen in the basement bar area, this is a perfect space for me to store rarely use items, like those that we only use when we entertain. Or put unusual items in attractive boxes in a space that is not the most accessible, like a linen closet in your basement. And label everything that is not in a clear container!

Remove non-sleep-related items. The bedroom is for sleeping. Clear out anything that doesn't relate to your nocturnal life. Give it a try. You'll probably sleep better once you do.
(I just love magazine holders, I use them for everything!)

Give yourself a hook (or two or three). If you're guilty of throwing your clothes on the floor (or over the Nordic Track machine, chair, etc.), hang a few over-the door hooks to catch your garments instead. This is has changed my entire bedroom! I am one of those "lay it at the end of the bed" people, because I can wear it more than once before laundering it. Now I simply slip recently worn items onto one of these hooks! I keep P.J.'s on hooks in the master bathroom door until they are ready to launder and clothes on a hook attached to the side of my dresser. Works like a charm! 

Optimize your bedside storage. If you don't have drawers or shelves on your bedside table, consider placing an attractive, covered box beneath it to hold books and magazines that you want to keep on your "read at night" list. I also keep my pictures in pretty boxes, separated and organized chronologically; I place them in a large plastic roll out tub.  
(I thought this end table was so unique). Eyeglasses in the top drawer, ;-) books in the side compartment:
All the kids, but one who has a trundel, have drawers under their beds:

 (I'm throwing this picture that I found on the internet into the mix, so you will not feel that bad about your clutter. Some folks have it worse, yours most likely is not this bad):
Get rid of products you don't use. All of them. Most people have dozens of skin care and beauty products that never get used. Toss them or find a friend who might want to try the lotion you weren't crazy about. I am still working on this one. I had boxes of "bathroom items" from when I moved into my current home approximately two years ago. …Okay, Lol, time to throw out the items that I did not miss, no matter how much money they originally cost; why we hang on to these kinds of things I do not know, but I am guilty of it too. ;-)

Streamline the formulations you do use. There's no reason each family member needs to have his or her own set of shampoos, conditioners and washes: Get your brood to agree on no more than two types of each item, and don't buy any new ones until the old ones run out. Simplify is a good word as you consolidate.
Declutter your mind:

Invest in organizers. Makeup, hair clips and other small items can easily get disorganized; invest in small bins, dividers and or containers so that every item you are planning to keep has a designated spot. I am the queen of this. I love organizing containers!

(See what a simple basket can do for a space?)
Make your own if money is tight. I have tons of ideas for this, if you need to borrow any. ;-) Check out the containter/organizing section in your local stores like Wal-Mart. If you are near a store like The Container Store (http://www.containerstore.com/welcome.htm), you have to go in there. It is amazing what tools we can find today to keep us organized!
These holders were simply made out of tin cans, with the top filed to eliminate sharp edges on the cans. Or you could glue a velvet thick ribbon around the top edge. The tins have magnets on the back and they simply stick to a metal background. You can do keys this way too; glue a small magnet to the back of the keys. Velcro is another solution not requiring magnets. ;-)

1 comment:

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