7 ways to move through your clutter from the inside out

Woman in painWhen it comes to clutter, many people think it is just being messy. You can hear them while watching an episode of Hoarders: ” why can’t they just tidy up and throw things out?”

In many cases it is a lot more complicated than this and it has to do with the mental and emotional road blocks which the person in question is facing, resulting in the clutter being a by-product rather than the underlying problem.

A recent article on the website Houzz gave some great tips to move through some of these road blocks:

Our relationship with our home, and the things in it, is charged with emotion — it’s not so easy to let go of things when something as simple as a rusted tackle box or a worn photograph can bring memories flooding back.

Below, find eight ways to move through your own mental and emotional roadblocks to work through your clutter, from the inside out.

 1. Come to terms with whether you’re naturally organized or not. Glossy magazine spreads featuring perfectly organized spaces with nary a stray paper or lone shoe out of place may be fun to look at, but they are not right for everyone. The fact is, some folks are more inclined to be neat and orderly, while others feel more comfortable with a lot of stuff around. Instead of fighting against your nature, learn from it and work with it.

2. Face your fears. This is what stands between you and the refreshingly clean and neat home you wish you had: fear of making a bad choice, fear of tossing out something and regretting it later or fear that a family member will make you feel guilty for getting rid of something. We are all experts at coming up with excuses for keeping things we really don’t want anymore. Confront your fears, and you may find it easier to let go of possessions that have become a burden to you.

3. Tackle your top problem area. What’s the one thing in your home you find it hard to even consider decluttering? Think about starting there. For some it may be books; for others, china or clothes. Find the one thing that would make the biggest impact if you could streamline it, and start your work there. Use tip number three (face your fears) and dig in.

4. Get and stay motivated. Find your motivation by imagining what a clutter-free home would feel like. What would it allow you to do? Why do you want this? Keep your answers in mind as you start decluttering. Once you have gotten the ball rolling, stop yourself from backsliding by developing a few key habits: for every new item you purchase, get rid of a similar item, and when you see something that needs to be cleaned, put away or returned, just do it.

5. A special note for parents. Having kids in the house, as any parent will tell you, can ramp up the chaos in even the most (formerly) orderly homes. Luckily, as parents, we do have control over a great deal of the stuff that enters our homes, including toys. For starters, rethink how many toys and games your child needs — an overabundance of playthings is less appreciated, harder to clean up and more likely to get broken or wasted. To get a crazy-cluttered family home back in shape takes some work; there is no doubt about that. But the habits you form to manage the kid chaos will pay off in sanity at home, and you will be passing those good habits along to your children.

6. Get help if you need it. If you are still feeling overwhelmed or if the job seems too big to take on alone, you can get help! Call a really organized friend and bribe him or her with free food in exchange for decluttering advice or physical help. Or call in a pro. Professional organizers have seen it all, can help you sort out even the most cluttered space, and can teach you systems that will help prevent your overstuffing your home in the future.

7. Take it to the next level: Simplify your life. Once you have been working on paring down for some time and are feeling good about the progress you have made, consider taking things a step further. Downsize to a smaller, easier-to-maintain space, go paperless or challenge yourself to get rid of things you don’t use.

Read the entire article here.

Image courtesy of: scentsandmoods.wordpress.com

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Organize your house for back to school

All lined up in a row...

All lined up in a row…

Wherever you are in the world, there is one time of year parents dread: Back to school time. Here in the US summer is nearly over so it’s time to hit the shops to buy uniforms, sports equipment, stationary and text books. And its time to shake the sand out of their shoes and get the whole family organized and ready for the new school year.

Kathryn Weber from Red Lotus Letter recently wrote an article for LA Times that highlighted some great organizing ideas to keep the family in line:

 Paper shuffle

Without question, paper is one of the biggest sources of clutter around the house once school starts. Finding a way to tame the storm will keep the house looking neater and help keep your kids be better prepared. The first step is to determine which pieces of paper need to be available and at your disposal. This includes lunch menus, announcements and the school calendar. Those can be posted on the fridge or a bulletin board for easy access.

For other papers, create a storage file and an active file for each child. The file can be a simple folder where you keep important papers such as sign-up instructions for after school activities, or even artwork you want to save for a scrapbook or framing later. Stash the folder(s) in a file box or file drawer in a desk.

Next, set up a file holder that stays on a counter or at the desk. Label individual folders for each child for papers you need to look at or, sign, or that they need to work on.

Corral the kids

Designate a place to stash all those extra shoes, jackets and sporting equipment. If your kids need somewhere for balls, bats, gloves and helmets, why not take a cue from school and keep these items in a locker? Companies like ULine (uline.com) have closed and ventilated lockers perfect for athletic equipment and supplies. Place lockers in the laundry room or garage, and keep the odors out there, too.

Indoors, find a spot for backpacks, jackets, scarves and hats so they don’t end up scattered throughout the house. This also helps keep kids find their items quickly in the morning. An entryway organizer, such as a shelf with hooks or pegs, is the perfect answer for backpacks and jackets. Don’t have room? A simple hall tree saves space.

 Organize the desk

Now that parents are more involved with their children’s homework, it helps to create a work center spot where students have access a computer and can seek help from Mom and Dad. Parents can also easily check to see if their young scholars are studying or surfing the web, texting, talking on the phone, etc. Create an address book to store online passwords and make logging into online assignments easier.

Read the entire article from LA Times here and for more information, contact Kathryn Weber through her Web site Red Lotus Letter.

Image courtesy of CraftySouthernMama.blogspot.com

Timeless Travel Uses for Ziploc Bags

IMG_1100zip-loc

A Ziploc for every occasion!

As a frequent traveller, I cannot go anywhere without my Ziploc bags. They are perfect for so many uses, they are waterproof, see-through and you can write on them. And they hardly cost a cent!

Travel Bloggers.ca wrote a great article  on them which will certainly give you a few ideas before you pack your bags:

  1. Underwear: It makes it a lot easier when if the customs people decide to open your suitcase and rummage through it – no tell-tale underwear dropping out for all to see! Also great for keeping socks together.
  2. When I’m on a trip I use one to hold all the travel-related ‘stuff’ I pick up like brochures from hotels and attractions.
  3. Souvenir Protector: Pack fragile souvenirs in your suitcase, surrounded by two or three Ziplocs filled with air – or you can use the ones with socks/underwear to help protect the souvenirs too.
  4. Waterproof Billfold: Keep your passport, money, and other precious documents dry by storing them neatly in a sandwich-sized Ziploc. Ever get stuck in a rainstorm with your passport in your pocket? This will keep everything nice and dry.
  5. Jewellery Keeper: Put earrings or other small items into a sandwich-sized Ziploc and slip it into your bathroom bag. It’ll save your more precious items from getting lost.
  6. Electronics: Store all of your electronics, wires, chargers, MP3 players, etc. in a large Ziploc. You can see what’s in it while it’s closed, and it’ll keep your things together in one place so they don’t get lost in the nooks and crannies of your suitcase/bag.
  7. Swimsuit Bag: Put wet swimsuits into a large Ziploc until you get home or back to the hotel – works great for other wet clothes too.
  8. Inspection Bag: We put all of our liquids for our carry-on into one for quick inspection at the airport counter.
  9. Make Up & Liquids: Double-bagging all makeup and liquids such as hair spray, shampoo and conditioner means if there’s ever an explosion or leak it won’t ruin clothes.
  10. Camera Bag: Store your camera in a Ziploc to keep it safe and dry – especially if you’re going to be anywhere near water such as kayaking, boating etc.  It’s easy to remove, take some pictures and return it to safety. If the kayak or boat tips, your camera will be fine if it ends up in the water.
  11. Ice Pack: We travel with a small collapsible cooler for storing bottled water on our trips and just fill a Ziploc with ice every day to keep our drinks cold.
  12. Foreign Currency: Use a Ziploc bag to hold your home currency while travelling, and for storing foreign currency at home between trips.
  13. Wet Wipes: Wet washcloths and add some soapy water to have your own wet wipes on the go. The bag holds the water effortlessly and you can be use the cloth to wipe sticky fingers and lips or clean up a spill.

Read the entire article from Travel Bloggers here.

Why “should” is a dirty word when trying to get organized.

The books have taken over the bedroom...

The books have taken over the bedroom…

Deciding to declutter your home and get organized is hard enough without the guilt. The number one comment I hear when working with clients in the home is “but I should keep this because…”. We talk ourselves into why we SHOULD keep things rather than being able to LET GO of our possessions guilt free. And it is this thinking that is keeping us from moving forward in our organizing endeavours and is keeping us buried in the past. The No.1 excuse I hear is “I should keep this is because it may come in handy one day.” It’s time to bury the shoulds!

Unclutterer.com wrote a blog post about this very topic which really hit the nail on the head for me and I am guessing for many of my readers too. Here’s a peak at some “should” samples:

I need to keep these books because I should read them

Unless you’re in school, you can probably let go of this “should.” If you have absolutely no interest in reading some of the classics, you can give the books away; you really don’t have to read them. You only have so much reading time available in your life, so why not use that time to read the things you truly want to read?

should convert from my paper planner, address book, or to-do list to a digital system

Digital tools certainly have their advantages — but if paper works for you, there’s really no need to change. You may want to look at how you could back up these physical copies just in case they get lost or damaged, but there’s no reason you need to switch from what’s working well.

should keep this sentimental thing

Well, perhaps you should keep it. Is it actually sentimental to you or is it the kind of thing most people find sentimental? I got rid of all but a few pages of my high school yearbooks because I just didn’t care about it, even thought this act would horrify other people.

Read the entire article here.

The ABC (&D) of organizing your stuff

I recently read this little gem in an issue of Woman’s Day (in the US) and thought it put the art of organizing in a simple, easy to follow strategy that could suit most homes and people. What do you think?

The ultimate under stair storage solution

The ultimate under stair storage solution!

What to put where:

A items: You use these at least once a day, like your toothbrush so you will want to have them our on the counter, right there in front of you. An everyday piece of jewellery such as your watch would go in a dish on the dresser and your underwear should be in the top dresser drawer, easy to retrieve.

B items: These items are still used a lot, but more like weekly such as some kitchen utensils or your workout clothes. They would be kept inside an easy to reach cupboard rather than on the counter and a drawer down from the A items.

C items: These are used seasonally or rarely such as Christmas decorations or your luggage. Store these in a spot such as the top shelf of a wardrobe or under the stairs out of the way until needed. You could store the Christmas decorations inside the luggage – win win!

D items: This is the stuff you don’t use, but are keeping for a legitimate reason such as tax records or baby equipment waiting for the next child. Store them as out of the way as much as possible such as in a cupboard in the garage (or in the basement if you have one).

Easy peasy!

What stays and what goes when making over your wardrobe?

The perfectly organised wardrobe can exist!

Many of my clients lately are asking for their wardrobes to be made over. Whether it is becoming more organised with what clothing they have or wanting to change their image and their clothing items, it seems to be a hot topic maybe because of the impending cooler weather. I happened to find another article on Small Notebook that spoke on this very topic so I thought I would share with you all to help with your wardrobe makeover (just in time for the weekend!)

Never let organization get in the way of common sense.

I get the general idea, and it’s that if you haven’t worn a garment within a certain amount of time, you most likely never will, and it’s just taking up space. What’s more important to me is not how long it’s been since I’ve worn it, but why I haven’t worn it.

So if something has remained on the hanger, I start questioning it:Is it the right color? Is it too long or too short? Does it make me look frumpy? Is it worn out? Or do I just have too many clothes?

Understanding why I’m not wearing something helps me make better choices on future shopping trips, and I think that’s smarter than simply tossing clothes just to replace them with more later.

I used to work at Saks Fifth Avenue where the attire was “dressy professional” and in other companies where the code was “business casual.” To go to work I felt like I needed a variety of clothes even though I tried to be creative and use what I had in different ways. Now that I stay at home I get by with fewer pieces, and I can wear my favorite outfits many times without anyone else noticing.

My tastes have gradually changed toward having fewer, but better, articles of clothing. I want clothes that I can wear for many seasons and will always make me feel great. If I were to go back to work outside the home again, I think I would stick with this strategy and not worry so much about having variety. Maybe as I grow older I am more confident and not as worried about what other people think, and I’ve also developed more of a sense of my personal style (more classic, and not trendy).

Over the last five years I’ve let my clothing collection dwindle smaller naturally by buying less to replace what has worn out. My current wardrobe is the size that most people take on vacation, but that’s a point of discussion I’ll continue next time.

Boxed up in storage, I do keep other clothes that are not in my current size. In the last two years I have been so many different sizes. Let’s see, there is what I consider my normal size, and then there is mid-pregnancy, late pregnancy, post pregnancy and nursing, and even a smaller “gluten-free pants” size. It’s entirely possible for me to go through all of these sizes again, but I don’t want to buy a new wardrobe each time. I think people who tell you that you should only keep clothes in your current size haven’t considered pregnancy and all that comes along with it.

It’s important that my clothes fit me well. Actually, how they fit is more important to me than how many there are, which is why I make do with less variety. I keep fewer, better clothes in each of my sizes, and this helps to manage my wardrobe costs for the sizes that I may transition through for only a few months.

If you keep just the best clothes, they really shouldn’t take up much space. For me, it’s one box stored away to give me a good start, no matter what size I am, in clothes that were specially chosen for me.

Read more here: http://smallnotebook.org/2011/04/05/how-to-manage-your-wardrobe-with-common-sense/