Who Else Wants Less Clutter? Plus a Giveaway!

Hodgepodge! Jumble! Chaos! Muddle! Holy Mess!

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There are many words to describe clutter—but it all boils down to one thing: a state or condition of confusion. And that is what most of us should be trying to avoid. Life is stressful enough without adding more, right? Yet even though studies show that clutter contributes to stress, many people live with it.

  • Do you have more than one ‘junk’ drawer in your home?
  • Is your email inbox clogged with messages you don’t even open?
  • When you open your closets, does stuff fall out on you?
  • If unexpected company comes, do you rush around, clearing books, papers, and other items?
  • Have you had a late fee from an unpaid bill because it got lost in the mess on your desk?

If you answered YES to any one of these questions, it may be time to take control. If you are a parent, organization is especially important – those last minute searches for missing homework or a lost shoe are no fun at all!

This is my plan:

  1. Get a big shopping bag for each room…clear off every counter/desk/shelf/chair of anything that doesn’t belong. Ahhh…now that looks much better. When I have time, I can go through each bag and decide whether the items should be stored, given away, or thrown away.
  2. Use a letter file holder to keep bills and important mail…if possible, set up auto-pay.
  3. Set aside 15-30 minutes every day to go through one drawer or one closet or one cabinet and divide the contents into three piles: keep, give away, throw away. If you are a fan of Craig’s List or garage/yard sales, you can have a fourth pile…you might even make some money!
  4. Do the same thing with my emails—15-30 minutes every day to delete and unsubscribe from unwanted spam.

Are you ready?

It’s really as simple as 1, 2, 3.

  1. CLEAR
  2. CLEAN
  3. ORGANIZE

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I’ve got a busy year ahead of me, so it’s really important that Continue reading

Clutter-busting 101 and a Pitch Pick Contest

 clutter busting 101 and a pitch pick

Are you a saver or a tosser?

My sister-in-law once told me if you didn’t use something in a year, it was time to get rid of it.

I’ve got stuff that I haven’t used in… Continue reading

De-clutter Equals De-Stress

Need to organize!!! 136

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Did you know that living in a cluttered environment actually adds to your stress level?

It’s doubly hard for me because I would like to be organized and live more minimalistically, but my husband is a collector…of many things!  Books, all things flyfishing, art supplies (he has taken up painting and is really very good).  So you can imagine how difficult it is to keep things neat and in their proper places because we have so much STUFF that we sometimes run out of the proper places and stuff winds up on tables, chairs…even the back of the couch!  If this sounds familiar, maybe the list of books below will help.  

 I am always waiting for the BIG block of time to REALLY get organized 🙂 but I think the secret is to simply make a decision to DO IT and when you have an hour or a half hour, clear one drawer or one table and just keep at it.  Even if it takes a month or more, eventually you will be more organized and surrounded by less clutter.  AHHHHHHHH! 

There are hundreds of books available on organizing and cleaning up clutter.  I’ve listed just a few you might want to get from the library or bookstore if you’ve decided to organize and want some more direction.  Some of the books listed are geared for homes with children…children definitely benefit from living in an organized environment also!  You can also go online and find a wealth of ideas.

1.    Helping Kids Get Organized – Activities That Teach Time Management, Clutter Clearing, Project Planning and More by Robyn Freedman Spizman

2.    Organized Kidz: E-Z solutions for Clutter-Free Living by Debbie and David Williams

3.    Stop Clutter From Wrecking Your Family: Organize Your Children, Spouse and Home by Mike Nelson

4.    Organized Living: Clutter Clearing Strategies and Creative Storage Solutions by Dawne Walter and Helen Chislett

My husband asked me the other day what my New Year’s resolutions were…now I know.  In addition to trying to blog EVERY day with something of value, I am going to take my own advice and grab an hour or half hour every day and clear out one drawer, cabinet, counter or whatever…I promise to blog in a month and update everyone with my progress.

10 Simple Steps to a Simplier Life for 2011

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            I don’t know about you, but two of the biggest stressors in my life are clutter and disorder…often found together in the same drawer, closet or room.  So, it stands to reason that simplifying and organizing…drawer, closet, home or life…will go a long way to minimizing the stress in our lives…helpful for all of us, wouldn’t you say?

1.    Whether you are cleaning out a closet, room or garage…look over what you have and toss, give away or sell what you don’t need.

2.    Group your possessions into categories: for example, in your closet, hang all the slacks together, all the shirts, etc.  with your child’s toys, store puzzles in one section, balls in a separate box, etc.

3.    Keep things you use often easily available.  Items like Christmas decorations can be boxed and stored in attic or basement or on that hard to reach shelf in the closet.

4.    Identify storage spaces and containers so things are always where you can find them and put them away again…bills, health care info, coupons, etc.  Inexpensive storage bins and tubs can be purchased at stores like Home Depot or Target.

5.    For your child, cut out pictures of clothing items and tape them to the appropriate drawers to help him locate and put away his clothes.

6.    Ditto for toy shelves…use stackable plastic bins or similar storage containers (like the ones you will make in the Creative Corner project) to house toys and supplies such as drawing paper and crayons.  Paste a picture, as well as the word, of the contents on the outside of the container to help your child locate the proper place when he is cleaning up his toys.

7.    Utilize under-the-bed storage bins if closet space is at a premium for out-of-season clothing and items such as wrapping paper and old photos.

8.    Regarding your clothes…two important mantras…if it doesn’t fit, get rid of it AND if you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it or give it away or sell it.

9.    Regarding your child’s clothing…even if you are saving it all for future children or giving it all away or selling it at a consignment shop…do save a few favorite items from babyhood on.  A lovely memory mini-quilt can be sewn (or glued onto a piece of cardboard if you aren’t handy with needle and thread) from small pieces of the different fabrics and then framed.  This would make a lovely wall hanging in your child’s room or a wonderful gift for a beloved grandparent.

10.In a cardboard box, plastic storage bin or upscale organizer, store necessary items by category: stationery/mailing, essential tools/flashlight, first aid kit, etc.  Keep the box or bin or organizer located in the area where you will most likely be carrying out that particular task.  This tip alone will save you hours of time you would have spent looking for a stamp, hammer or gauze pad.

Tune in tomorrow for a picture book suggestion and craft project  and cooking activity you will be able to do with your preschooler with the time you saved not having to search for those missing keys. 🙂

6 items or less…in your child’s toy box!

Yesterday I shared my thoughts on applying the “6 items or less” phenomenon to parenting rules.  It hit me that life gets more complicated as we add more “stuff” so maybe if we get rid of some “stuff”, our lives will become easier and smoother.

So, why not take this minimalist idea and go through your child’s toy box and pare down the items to 6 or less.  Have you ever been to (or had) a birthday party for a young child where there are so many presents, the child is overwhelmed and doesn’t even know half of what he has been given or who gave it to him?  And that is just the point, having too much stuff, whether it is kitchen gadgets, clothing, toys or ANYTHING, is just overwhelming and stressful.  Life can be overwhelming and stressful enough without adding to it by accumulating too much.

Just think about it…wouldn’t clean up time be quicker and easier if there were only 6 items for your child to pick up?  What will you and your child choose to keep in the toy box?  If your child is VERY young, put away all the toys except for 6 items that seem to be favorites and are age-appropriate.  If you have doubles and triples of some items, maybe you can donate them to family shelters or local children’s hospitals.  If your child is a little older, sit down with her and talk about what she most enjoys playing with.  If you are also taking this 6 items or less to heart and are paring down your “STUFF”, she may be thrilled to be “doing what mommy is doing”.  Point out how much easier it will be at clean up time…life uncluttered creates a sense of peace and well-being.  Again, box up toys that you feel she will grow into…encourage her to donate usable items that are too immature for her.  If something has great sentimental value, create a memory box and carefully store it in there.

You will notice I haven’t said anything about your child’s books.  Now you’ve discovered MY weakness.  However, in this area as well, there can also be too much…I think.  What’s the sense in having dozens of books, haphazardly stuffed in toy boxes and under beds.  Go through your child’s book collection, donate doubles and triples of any items you find, wean out those in really bad shape, and create a special place (little bookshelf in your child’s room, separate box, etc.) where these treasures can be kept and enjoyed every day.  Could I apply the 6 items or less theory to my children’s books?  I honestly don’t know.  The best I can say is that I would try to keep 6 at hand to be used on a daily basis and rotate the rest.

Depending on your child’s age and maturity, what toys would you choose to keep in your child’s toy box, if you could only keep 6?

And, which 6 books would you choose to put on the bookshelf?

6 items or less…apply this experiment to parenting

Have you heard of the 6 items or less experiment?  It is a global phenomenon that sets out to see if a person can “survive” for 30 days with only 6 items of clothing (or less) from their closet.

As I thought about this minimalist approach to life (and having just watched “The Book of Eli” where Denzil Washington says “people kill for things we used to throw away”), I realized that this 6 items or less theory had a lot going for it and could be applied to many different parts of our lives.

So, today I’d like to list the 6 items I’d pull from my parenting rules closet.

  1. Help your child to master tasks and skills and develop individual responsibility.
  2. Encourage your child to value her own strengths and qualities.
  3. Help your child feel appreciated, loved and valued.
  4. Encourage your child to express his feelings, both positive and negative.
  5. Help your child to acknowledge and cope with her fears.
  6. Encourage your child to respect his body and feel safe in his environment.

Just 6 rules.  Follow them and you will be helping your child develop  a positive self-image.  You will also be building a life-long parent-child bond and creating balance and harmony for your entire family.

How many parenting rules do you have?

Carpet installation fiasco

At 9am this morning, there was a knock on the door.  It was our carpet installers, here to install new carpeting for our downstairs floors.  For the past week, I had been working like a mad-man (or mad-woman) to clear off tables, empty bookcases and clean out cabinets so that the installers would be able to move the furniture in preparation to laying the carpeting.  Of course, it doesn’t help that our furniture is HUGE, a carryover from our days in a 14 room house.  Even though we sold, gave away, threw away LOTS of STUFF when we downsized to a small 6 room townhome, everything we have is BIG.

After the carpet installers came in, they spent an hour moving much of the furniture to other places (outside patio, garage) and they began measuring the floor so they could determine how the carpet should be laid.  When they went out to their truck to call the carpet store and were gone for quite a while, we began to worry.  And, as it turns out, we had good reason to worry.  When they returned, it was to tell us that the man who had done the measuring (from the carpet store) had under-measured the length of the living room by 2 feet!!!!!!  So, they had to move back all of the furniture and the carpet store is ordering a new length of carpet to be laid next Tuesday.  How frustrating!  Will I put back all of the books, knickknacks, and other STUFF that I had boxed up and put in the garage? You bet I won’t! 

I’ll wait at least until the carpet is down on the floor.  And maybe, if we haven’t needed the STUFF by then, we actually don’t need it at all. 

That’s one way to get rid of clutter!

I’d love to hear other carpet installation horror stories…perhaps it will make me feel better.