Day Fourteen: Photos and Memorabilia

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On the wall in my laundry room hangs an avocado green General Electric clock that hung for years in my grandmother’s kitchen. In my bedroom I have my other grandma’s sewing box, full of my threads and buttons along with her pincushion (although I will admit I painted white over the icky color it started life as). My jewelry collection includes pieces that were passed to me.

Does being a minimalist mean that you can’t keep family heirlooms? Of course not. But you should know that you don’t need to keep them all. Just a few great pieces that fill you with joy and some photos will do.

So how to decide what to keep, and what to do with the rest? Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Was this object something that my relative really loved? (Or do I really love it?)
  • How do I feel when I look at this? Does it make me happy, or do I feel weighed down by it? (The answer to this becomes more evident if you’re in the process of moving.)
  • Can it be be (immediately) useful to me in some way?
  • Is there another relative who might enjoy this more?
  • Will my children realistically want this?

Photos may require an extra question: Does anyone know who the people in these pictures are?!?

In my case, a lot of things had been passed to me because no one else wanted them. With the photos, I enlisted the help of some older relatives to identify the subjects, kept some, pitched some meaningless ones, and passed on others that would mean more to another family member.

With objects, I tried to keep things that would be useful to me or that I could display and enjoy regularly. After all, what’s the point of keeping something that stays in an attic or storage unit?

When you’re finished, get some photo boxes, albums, or frames for your pictures. Make sure you try to list the subjects on the back. Otherwise, future generations may not enjoy them. Display or use your other memorabilia. Sit back and smile.

Day Fourteen: DONE!

Day Thirteen: Toy Box Editing

If I didn’t have this, would I buy it again?

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I can’t remember where I first saw that question in regards to purging items, but it really stuck with me. It seems to me one of the areas this can be most helpful to consider is the toy box.

With Christmas coming up, it’s a good time to go thru toys before more items come in. First you’ll have to decide whether you kids should be around or not (you know them better than I do!). Then, it’s time to tackle the toys.

It can be hard to part with toys (for parents and kids alike!) but it’s good to consider the fact that when there’s too many, it’s overwhelming. Additionally, most of the time they can’t be utilized to the fullest because a lot of mess means there are lost or misplaced parts, etc. Marie Kondo, organizing expert and author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up states, “When we are overloaded with books or other objects, our ability to receive and appreciate new information is dulled.”

Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that this is necessary, follow the steps below or check out this handy chart for a decluttered play area.

  1. Set aside a few favorites or things that are often used. These will stay and are non-negotiable until your child grows out of them.
  2. Anything that’s broken or missing an unreasonable amount of pieces needs to go.
  3. Anything that hasn’t been played with in awhile needs to be shown to the door as well.
  4. Everything that remains needs to be sorted so that all the pieces are together, etc.
  5. Search Pinterest to explore some ideas for toy storage that would work for you if you don’t already have a good system. Ikea has a great series of systems for this but there are plenty of other options.

The discarded toys need to be thrown out if they’re mangled. Anything usable could be donated, passed on to a friend or relative, or taken to a children’s consignment store like Once Upon a Child.

Day Thirteen: DONE!

Day Twelve: Squeaky Clean Bathroom!

bathroom-1206932-640x480Since you use your bathroom to get clean, doesn’t it make sense to get your bathroom clean? Bathrooms often get cluttered with half used products, so head in there to clear it out!

Get under your sink, into the drawers, or into the bathroom closet if you have one and asses your items. Anything that’s not being used, anything that’s half empty (or is it half full) and has been shoved in there needs to go. Sometimes, this is a hard one because some products may have been costly and you might feel guilty throwing them away. But if they’re not being used, now both your money AND your space is being wasted. Not to mention the fact that it makes things difficult to find. If you’d like, see if a friend’s daughter or someone would like to try your expensive platinum shampoo. One exception would be makeup. If you haven’t used it in awhile, chances are it’s growing bacteria and it’s not healthy for anyone to use. Toss it and don’t look back!

Now here are some ideas for organizing what you have left:

makeup-1195895-639x719For makeup, consider getting a cute toolbox to put it in that can be tucked into a closet or cabinet when not in use. Or, if you have enough drawer space for this purpose, get a handy organizer.

If your sink is near to the bathroom door, consider getting a pocket shoe organizer for the HBA items you use regularly (brushes, gel, nail polish remover). I’ve done this in my master bath, and not only does it utilize vertical space and free up cabinets, but everything is right on hand when I need it, and I’m more likely to return things to their home so the counter doesn’t stay cluttered.

For products under your sink, get a wire shelf so you’ll have room for two layers of products, or get a pull out organizer to make things easy to access. Check out this video to see one great way of setting up your bathroom cupboard or this video to see how to accomplish the same thing on a budget.

Even if you don’t purchase any additional products, your bathroom will be a lot easier to use now that you’ve cleared out the clutter.

Day Twelve: DONE!

Day Eleven: The Medicine Cabinet

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This phrase can refer to a lot of things. For some people, there really is only that shallow cabinet in the bathroom that holds some assorted bandages and a small bottle of Tylenol. For others, there’s a whole pharmacy of medicines and vitamins behind one of the kitchen cabinet doors. For this challenge, let’s include all of these categories of items.

First, pull every one of your items out of it’s hiding spot. As you do, check the dates. Anything expired automatically goes in a box or bag to be disposed of (more on that later). Any bandages that have gotten old (and therefore not very sticky) can go as well.

Next, group like items together and consider the best way to store them. For instance, you might take all of the first aid items, put them in a labeled plastic basket, and place them in front of a cabinet where they will be easily found in an emergency. If you take several different vitamins, you might do the same with those, and so on. If you have only very few medicines, you might consider getting a good lazy susan for your cabinet so you can locate what you need with one easy spin!

As far as disposal, depending on the medication, you may want to check with your pharmacy. If you’re tossing prescription painkillers, for instance, you might want to see if your pharmacy or police station has a day for you to bring in such items or if they know where you should take them.  Please dispose of all medications responsibly!

Day Eleven: DONE!

Day Ten: THE FILING CABINET!

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This is another one that can be scary. It’s a larger version of our day one challenge, getting rid of papers.

Therefore, I’m going to try to break things down with a few easy pointers:

  1. See this link to figure out what needs to be kept and what doesn’t.
  2. Check out this video to see one great way of keeping manuals and owner’s guides. (Better yet, remember that you can find most of them online, and pitch them!)
  3. Once you’ve pared things down, check out this filing system for one neat way to keep things in order.

Day Nine: The Closet

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Piggybacking onto yesterday’s challenge, head back into the bedroom to go thru your closet. The step to get rid of clothing are pretty straightforward, but this can still be a difficult task. Resist the urge to keep things “just in case”. Once again, refer to the chart found here to evaluate your clothing, and place “she loves me not” items in a bag to go.

If you’re up for some extra fun, place items back into the closet “rainbow style”. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Neutrals go before or after (black, beige, white). If you have a multicolored item, cha

 

nces are that if you hold it up, a color will stick out to you. Place this item in that section as that’s where you’re likely to search for it. If you’d like, you could make a couple of rainbows: one for winter clothes and one for summer. Whatever works for you.

When I first heard one of my favorite organizers say she did this in her closet, I thought it was pretty over the top. However, I decided to try it out, thinking that it would never stay that way. I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, everything stays in better order, and it takes so little time to get dressed in the morning!

Day Nine: Done! (repeat days eight and nine in your kids’ bedrooms if needed!)

 

Day Eight: The Dresser

I’m sure you won’t mind if we take a little peek into your bedroom, right? After all, this is a space where you really want to feel at peace. Also, we need this room to be functional so you can put together your wardrobe with ease and leave the house looking like a million bucks!

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Let’s start with the dresser. As you pull everything out, why don’t you use this handy chart I found to evaluate each piece of clothing? When you’re finished, put items to pass on or donate in a bag, and place your keepers back into the drawers neatly. If they’re not already, make sure your clothes make it in with like items. For instance, a drawer for pj’s, one for socks, and so on.If you’ve done your job well, those drawers should be closing much more easily now.

Day Eight: DONE!

Day Seven: Pens, Pencils, and Markers

Like mugs and junk drawer contents, pens and pencils are something else most of us have an abundance of. (In fact, many in your stash may have actually been uncovered during the previous junk drawer posting!) Where do they come from? There are theories that lost socks from the dryer actually reincarnate and come back in the form of writing implements. Hey- I didn’t say it was fact. Just a theory. Wherever they originated, you’ll NEVER use them all up. Therefore, it’s time for a purge:

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Step one: Slightly tedious but it shouldn’t take too long–gather up all writing tools of any kind and sit down with a few pieces of paper. (Better yet, have your kids do this) Then test each pen and marker. Anything that’s dried out automatically gets pitched. Pencils with bad erasers or that have been used down to little stubs get to join them in the trash.

Step two: Play favorites. You know you have some you like more than others. Keep those and maybe a few extras. Find a good way to store them in an accessible place. Markers might go in a craft drawer, pens and pencils could be stored in pencil cups hung near the desk. Endless possibilities!

Step three: Find a new home for the rest. Donate them to a thrift store, library story program, homeschool co-op, your child’s classroom–wherever! They must go!

Day Seven: DONE!

 

This could get ugly…

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I know, I’m asking you to tackle your junk drawer on a Monday. But doing this one thing could seriously improve your life. Most people have a place where we stash things that we otherwise don’t have a home for. Things that we don’t know what to do with, but don’t want to throw away. Extra pieces leftover from our Ikea furniture, but we can’t remember which item it actually belongs to. Freebies we’ve picked up at work events. Rewards cards to places we don’t go to regularly. Things we cannot actually identify…what is that anyway?

Go thru this drawer today with a garbage can and a box for things that can go elsewhere alongside you. Throw away any unneeded papers, most of the aforementioned items, and anything else you can part with. I’m asking you to be brutal here. You know you don’t need or use most of this stuff. Other things that belong somewhere else can go into the box to be distributed later.

Now, how can you sort what’s left? Consider getting a card holder or spare wallet for any cards in there. If they’re keytag versions, get a spare ring to put them on. Better yet, if they’re associated with a phone number or email addy, you can get rid of them altogether! Another way to help sort things in a junk drawer is actually to get a cheap silverware organizer from the dollar store. It works for a lot of the little items you have–sometimes you can even stack these two deep if your drawer will accommodate it.

Isn’t your life getting easier by the day?

Day Six: DONE!

Day Five: Your Scary Fridge!

Ok, going thru the fridge is something you already know how to do, but maybe you haven’t done it in awhile…a loooooong while. Pull everything out, and anything that’s hairy or threatens to eat you has to go.

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Go ahead and give everything a good wipe down, and then take a quick inventory of what you’ve got left and the kinds of things that usually rotate in and out of your fridge. Watch this video from Do It on a Dime to see how simple Dollar Tree containers can make your fridge much more organized and help you access things more easily. One thing I’ll add to this is that while I don’t necessarily need a whole bin for cheese sticks at this point in my life, I do use the bins for holding my plastic containers with leftovers (I use a dry erase marker on each container to note the contents). This way, they don’t get lost in the back of the fridge and grow fur. When looking for leftovers, I simply pull out the whole bin and I can look thru everything in there. Depending on how many you usually have, you may need more than one bin for this purpose.

Day Five: DONE!