How to declutter your life

It's time to start...

It’s time to start…

When it comes to decluttering your home and your life, there are many excuses not to start and many road blocks that hamper you along the way. If we let the overwhelm consume us, it is a lost cause before we have even begun! But it doesn’t have to be that way. Zen Habits had a great blog recently that shared many of my favourite tips. So take a read and see if they help you in your organizing endeavours:

Declutter Your Life

There was a time, about 8 years ago, when my life was cluttered. I had too much stuff, and it kept coming in all the time. I had too much to do, and didn’t know how to simplify my schedule. I was in need of some decluttering, and I knew it.

The question became, how to go about it? How do you start when you’re facing a mountain of clutter, and another mountain of commitments, and piles of files and mail and email and other digital information?

The answer became clear, as I got started: start simply. Keep it simple as you go. Simple, each step of the way.

That said, I found complications that made things harder at every turn. I’d like to help you with some of those here, briefly, in hopes that you’ll be inspired to start decluttering.

Start Decluttering

How do you get started? As simply as possible:

  • Take just 10 minutes today to sort though a pile, or declutter a shelf or table or countertop.
  • Put everything into one pile, and start with the first thing you pick up (no putting things back in the pile).
  • Ask yourself: do you really need this? Do you use it regularly? Do you love it? If the answer to any of these is no, then recycle, donate, or give it to someone who might want it. Put it in a box for these purposes.
  • Put things back that you need/use/love, with space between things. This is their “home” and you should always put them back there.
  • Stop after 10 minutes, continue tomorrow for another 10 minutes, and so on, one small spot in your home at a time.
  • If you want to do more than 10 minutes, go ahead, but be careful not to overdo it in the beginning or you’ll think it’s difficult and not want to continue.

Keep Going

Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, here’s how to keep going:

  • Keep decluttering in small bits. Pick an area to focus on each week.
  • Don’t worry about perfection. Just get it simpler. You can always declutter it more later.
  • Put your box of donation/recycling/giving away in your trunk, to get rid of next time you’re out. Email friends/family to ask if they want things — often you can find a good home for perfectly good things you don’t really use (that workout equipment).
  • If you’re on the fence, use a Maybe Box (put things that you think youmight need in a box, mark it with today’s date, put a reminder on your calendar 6 months from now to check on the Maybe Box. If you haven’t used it in 6 months, you probably don’t need it and can get rid of it.
  • Get help. Sometimes you just can’t bear to part with yourself, but if you can get an outside person to make the decision (friend or family member), they are usually much more dispassionate and ruthless.
  • Enjoy the space. Once you’ve decluttered an area, really focus on how much you love the simplified space. Once you’re hooked on this simplicity, you’re more likely to keep going.

Read the entire article from Zen Habits here.

Image courtesy of

New uses for the humble laundry basket!

What can I be today?

What can I be today?

I love it when people come up with novel ways to use everyday items. Take the laundry basket. The organizing magazine Real Simple came up with four ways that it can become a multi-tasker during the summer months.

  1. Have a beach picnic. Tote items to the shore in the basket, then flip it over and use it as a table. Hose the basket off when you get home and its ready to go back to wash day duty.
  2. Serve drinks al fresco. Line the basket with a trash bag and fill with ice to make a cooler for impromptu parties.
  3. Tame the sprinkler. Store a coiled garden hose in a basket; stash sprinklers, nozzles, and other attachments in the middle of the coil.
  4. Protect plants. Place a laundry basket upside down over delicate plants during a heavy rain or hail storm (or a unexpected frost!)

See more great ideas from Real Simple. 

Double Duty Furniture Cuts Clutter

Is it an ottoman? Is it a storage chest? No it's both!

Is it an ottoman? Is it a storage chest? No it’s both!

Furniture. It plays an integral role in making your home a cozy, comfortable place where you want to spend time.  Whether you are in a tiny New York City apartment or have just chosen to simplify your life and downsize,  multipurpose furniture plays even a bigger role to combine form and function – especially when it is stylish.

Finding piece that serve more than one purpose saves money. A sofa bed solves three problems – seating during the day and a place to sleep at night and it cuts your costs in half! A sofa bed in a child’s room can transform it into a guest room when needed.

Multipurpose furniture comes in all shapes and sizes. Ottomans with storage compartments offer seating, a place to rest your feet and somewhere to hide the kid’s toys, books, blankets etc. Small stools can work as side tables and seats. Beds can have storage drawers built in underneath.

But before looking for multi-function furniture, define how your family plan to use the space. Do you need storage, function or both? A piece doesn’t have to be used for its intended purpose; use your creativity. I have an antique french dresser as my home office storage and filing system and it looks gorgeous – the mirror even makes the space look bigger. I also use an antique bottle crate I found at a flea market to hold all my smaller bits and pieces in the kitchen. It looks great and is functional storage to boot!

But the main tip – it doesn’t matter what storage you have; at the end of the day make sure every item in your home goes back to the place you have allocated. It is the only way you will keep clutter at bay.

Image courtesy of

The 5 benefits of a “docking station” in the home.

The perfect docking station

The perfect docking station

This is one of my favourite pieces of advice to give clients – make yourself a docking station! What do I mean by this? A docking station is a place where things land that come in the house – whether it is the mail, your hand bag, the kids school notes etc – to be dealt with so they don’t end up all over the house causing clutter.  It is a sorting place, a communications centre, the hub of the home basically. wrote a post on the 5 benefits of what they call a “destination station” which sums it up quite nicely:

Here are five benefits of creating one for yourself:

  1. Stay in the know.  A destination station can be a place to stay in contact with family members and housemates even when you’re not all present. For example, you can post a calendar to keep track of joint appointments, parent-teacher meetings, vacation schedules, etc. You can also mount a chalkboard to leave important notes and messages.
  2. Find things quickly and easily in one central location. Skip the scavenger hunt for bills that need to be paid or items that you need to mail or return to the store. Instead, keep those items in the command center so you can quickly put your hands on them when you need to, and use baskets and containers to collect specific items in an organized way. By having them in one central spot, you won’t have to search your entire home to find what you’re looking for when you need it.
  3. Keep track of frequently used items. The command center can also be a place to keep things you use often. This can be a great spot for your keys, daily bag, mobile phone and charger, tablet, sunglasses, or any other items you need before heading out the door. You might even install a hook for your favorite jacket. Again, since the items are kept in one location, you’ll always find your things quickly and easily.
  4. Stop clutter from creeping into various spaces. When the things in your home don’t have permanent storage places, they can often bounce about various rooms and create clutter. It can be tricky to know where to put things that won’t be staying in your house, and the destination station will give you a location to organize and store your stuff until it’s time for the items to leave.

Read the entire article here.

The Short Shoe Showdown

Every woman's fantasy shoe closet!

Every woman’s fantasy shoe closet!

The changing of the season means changing shoes so this is the perfect time to reassess your shoe collection.

  1. Clean out all your shoes and put them into groups: summer slip-ons, boots, sneakers, heels etc.
  2. Remove those that don’t fit, you don’t like, rarely wear, or have seen better days.
  3. Discard the well worn ones and donate the ones in better shape (but only if they are in good enough condition that you yourself would buy them from a charity shop).
  4. Better still, have a shoe swap party with your girlfriends!
  5. Work out how you like your shoes to be organised: in boxes, in hangers, on shelves? By colour, by season or by occasion? Make sure it suits your organising style otherwise they will be all over the wardrobe floor in no time.


9 Steps to an Organised Garage

The perfect man-cave!

The perfect man-cave!

If your 2nd biggest asset (your car) is sitting out in the street while your garage is used as a storage shed it is time to set aside a weekend and get sorted!

1. Assess the clutter into three piles: Keep, Donate, and Toss.

2. Donate or Toss: either deliver or arrange for a pickup of items to be donated and put the toss items out with the garbage/recycling. Check out The Men’s Shed (link to for donating tools. They will love you!

3. Sort the Keep pile into their uses such as tools, car stuff, sports equipment, gardening etc.

4. Organise: assign each category an area in the garage and look at installing storage solutions such as cupboards or tubs for sports gear or a peg board system for tools.

5. Shelving: metal or plastic shelving is affordable, easy to assemble, able to withstand heat and humidity and will keep items off the ground safe from dampness.

6. Vertical space: Put up pegs or hooks for items like bikes, cords, hoses, gardening tools etc.

7. Storage: cardboard boxes will tend to bend and succumb to dampness. Plastic tubs protect contents and are easier to shift around on shelves.

8. Labelling: make sure you label plastic tubs for easier identification.

9. Move the car back in!

Is getting organised one of your New Year resolutions?

It’s that time of  year folks – crack open the bubbly, count down the minutes and make those New Year’s resolutions you know you won’t keep post January 31! Hey we do it every year, so why change now? Well, when it comes to decluttering and getting organised, if you can stick with it, it can really change your life for the better – 365 days of the year! had an interesting post today about making (and more importantly keeping) your New Year’s resolutions – especially when it comes to becoming organised:

According to the National Association of Professional Organizers in theUS, the phrase “get organized” is one of the top 10 resolutions people make every year.  If you add uncluttering into the “get organized” category, it’s likely a top 5 resolution.

If you fall into the group of resolution makers who wants to be better organized in 2012, the first thing to do is specifically identify why you want to be organized. Being organized isn’t usually a goal. Being organized is merely a path to achieving another goal.

For instance, you might want to be better organized with your time after work so you finally get your business idea off the ground. You might want to be more organized with meal planning so you have less stress surrounding mealtimes with your family.

Knowing why you want to be organized will help you with the remaining steps of the resolution-making process and with ultimately achieving your goals.

After you have identified why you want to be more organized and have a rough idea of the resolutions you wish to achieve, your next step is to create a detailed plan of action.

Read the entire article here:

A 6 step plan to organise your desk drawer

My calculator is in here somewhere...

It doesn’t matter how organised you are (and I consider myself pretty organised considering I am a professional organiser), your desk drawer reflects your state of busy-ness. The busier you are the messier it will be. If only we had plenty of time to rearrange our post-it notes and highlighters.

Here is a strategy from for helping you curb the clutter from your desk drawer (which incidentally can also be used for the utensils drawer in the kitchen or toiletries cupboard in the bathroom):

  • Take all of the supplies out of the drawer and put them in a small box.
  • Clean out your desk organizer and the drawer.
  • Go about your work.
  • When you need an item, take it out of the box, use it, and then put it away in the top desk drawer.
  • After five days have passed, review the items that made it into the top desk drawer and make sure that they are organized in the best way for your needs.
  • The items that remain in the box on your desk do not belong in the prime real estate of your top desk drawer.
  • Sort through the items and toss out, recycle, or pass along to a co-worker anything that is pure clutter in your desk.
  • Find a shelf or lower drawer where the items you need but use less frequently can be stored.

Another top desk drawer organizing idea: While on your next phone call, give all of your pens a test drive to make sure that they work.

Read some other great suggestions from readers here:


Five simple ways to easily organise your things!

This is another great article from and the number one tip I give to all my clients:

All your jars in a row...

When organizing items in your home, it’s best to use systems that make the most sense to you and are simple to use.

You should look at your cupboards, files, closets, or shelving and instantly know how objects can be returned, retrieved, or added to their storage space. The easier it is to store something, the more likely you are to put it in its place.

It’s almost always a good idea to store like things with like things. Your board games should all be in one closet on one shelf. Your pots and pans should all be in the same cupboard, and your wrenches in a single toolbox.

Once grouped with similar items, your objects should be stored in the most convenient place for where you use the objects. Dog food should be stored near the dog food bowls, office supplies should be in your office, and spices should be in your kitchen in a dark and dry cupboard or drawer near your food prep area.

When you have like things with like things, you may need to organize the objects even more. This is especially good for things where there are more than three objects of a kind — such as papers in a filing cabinet or books on your bookshelves. The following systems are extremely obvious, which means you’re more likely to remember the system because it is so simple:

  • Chronologically. You can put things in order of oldest to newest (a good idea if you want to use something up, like breakfast cereal) or newest to oldest (great for filing bills). Chronologically also works well in some people’s closets when they want to make sure they are regularly rotating through two or three week’s worth of clothes.
  • Alphabetically. Great for organizing files, your address book, and other items with words on their labels (like spices in your kitchen). Alphabetical order is what people assume you will use as an ordering method whenever letters are involved.
  • By size. When stacking, it’s usually a great idea to put the largest items on the bottom and the smallest items on top. You can order from largest to smallest or smallest to largest when working with objects where size is relevant to its use, like drill bits and hex keys.
  • Seasonally. Objects like holiday decorations and outdoor apparel can easily be stored based on what season you use or wear them. Ordering by season means that you’re less likely to find your Fourth of July decorations in with your Thanksgiving items.
  • By occasion. Similar to seasonally, when you organize by occasion you group things based upon when you use the item. This is a great idea for organizing all of your soccer supplies in a single duffel bag so that everything is together in a kit when you’re ready to head to soccer practice.

For more information go to: