Gear up for a spring cleaning! 30 Days of Decluttering

Sneak preview! A 30 day decluttering plan– let’s do this!

Your house is cluttered. How do I know? Because most houses are. Even mine sometimes! Besides, you’re here aren’t you?

This is pretty straightforward. I have a printable chart for you if you’d like it, and every day in April, I’ll be addressing one space here on the blog. However, you don’t have to do them in any particular order. I encourage you to look at the tasks and circle the spaces that are driving you the most crazy first.

Feel free to print!

BUT! I do not recommend doing extra large or tedious jobs at the beginning. For instance, save the filing cabinet until later. It’s best to pick things like your pantry, car or your mail stack to begin with. Why? Because they are good short term goals that will make you feel better immediately and encourage you to keep going! In fact, I’ve organized these in order of typical impact– that is, the areas that will improve our every day lives quickly are towards the beginning. Cross them off as you go; it’ll feel GREAT! If you have before and afters, I’d love to see them! Please post to facebook.com/simplysarahorganizing/

One note: as you go thru these, you’ll find random photos, batteries, non-working electronics, and things that should be filed EVERYWHERE! Save these somewhere until you get around to those areas so you don’t get sidetracked. Also: if you’d like, spread this out and do one a week! Just go forward. Even small steps are progress.


Ikea Hack: More Than Just a Magnetic Knife Rack

Ikea’s Kungsfors knife rack is loosely translated from Swedish to English as: “Magically Attractive Organizing Strip of Wonder”
At least, that what I made up heard.

Don’t box in this great organizing tool…it can do much more than look pretty and hold knives and scissors. Grab yourself a plate of Köttbullar (Swedish meatballs), pull up a chair, and read on!

This suggestion from Shelterness is genius! Use several magnetic strips for an easy way to help kids put away Hot Wheels and other toy cars.

Next up: how about a handy way to store hair barrettes, nail clippers and other personal care items?

And how about a magnetic key rack in your hallway next to the door?

And Houzz had a great idea to store paintbrushes and other small tools this way

And this idea came right from Ikea: Use it for meal planning to hold recipes! (This could be used in an office for kids’ art too!)

And a final few words, this magnetic strip has also been known as “Grundtal” and “Fintorp”. Also, you can find similar magnetic racks at places like Target or Amazon. What would you use them for?

A Clean Slate

“It’s hard to reach out to grab something new when your hands are already full…”

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When I was a teenager, I was chatting with a guy at a party that I totally had a crush on. He was older, taller, and so handsome. Standing there looking up at him, I felt horribly nervous and intimidated by the staring contest we seemed to be having as we talked. Wanting a way to break this spell which seemed to put butterflies into my stomach, I reached out my hand to grab a few chips from a bag on a nearby table. There was just one problem: I had forgotten that I was already holding a full cup of sugary Mountain Dew in that hand. It splashed all over to the floor resulting in an everlasting stickiness that seemingly couldn’t be cleaned. No matter how many times I wiped, every person that entered the kitchen found their feet sticking to the floor and called out in a loud voice, wondering who had done it. Embarrassing to say the least! I learned a lesson that day: you can’t reach out to grab something new if your hands are already full.

So, here we’ve started on this new year that’s full of possibilities. There may be some of the old chalk dust flying around, but you’re presented with a fresh, clean, slate– you can fill it with anything you want. How well will your space accommodate these new beginnings. A better question is:  what are you holding on to that’s holding you back? Maybe it’s time to declutter and put better systems in place so there’s room and time for the things you really want to do. Like spend more time with your family, or invite friends over more. Maybe you need to do it simply because you need peace, and your home can’t be the haven you need in it’s current condition. Maybe your heart is connected to some items that you need to let go in order to move on to the next chapter in your life.

Whatever the reason, if you’d like to get a start on it, consider taking my decluttering challenge, beginning with day one. If you need help–give me a call!

Happy New Year to you!

 

Letting go…

I sat there in my basement staring down into a bin full of 14 year old baby clothes. My heart wrenched within me.

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This wasn’t the way things were supposed to have gone at all. The original plan was this: Fall in love, get married, have 3 kids (two boys and a girl), a big house, and live happily ever after. But things rarely go according to our wishes and I found myself confronted with these tiny clothes which I now both loved and loathed to look at. So many memories there, but after so many years resulting in one teenager and a failing marriage, I knew more children were out of the question for me. My dream had died. I gripped some of the little garments tightly…and then I folded them and put them in a bag. Little shoes, overalls, the bomber jacket that had turned my baby boy into a cool dude. All but a couple of things went to a friend about to have a little boy. I put the bag in my car, took them to her and simply let go. It hurt and felt good at the same time.

Typically, when we hang onto items, we are really hanging onto something less tangible. Our childhoods, our children’s younger years, a time in our lives we wish we could get back, a person in our lives we wish we could have back, a dream of how we thought things should be.

When helping a close relative weed thru items recently, there was quite a bit of back and forth about whether a whole storage bin labeled “paper goods” was a necessity. She claimed it was– I begged to differ. As I opened the box, I understood what the problem was. These were paper plates, napkins, and party hats that had been set aside for grandchildren’s birthdays and ladies’ tea type activities. However, the tea party era of her life had passed. And there were no grandchildren in her life anywhere near young enough to want to don a Sesame Street party hat. With her youngest daughter having just married, there was the possibility of grandchildren years into the future, but of course that would likely require new party decor with new characters.These were not really needed. However, with the health problems she had been suffering and a relatively recent divorce, she was in a holding pattern in life. She didn’t want to let go of hope that there were still happy times to be had. And she didn’t need to. She needed to let go of the paper plates, and get the rubble out of her life to make room for new and different happy times. For now, these types of things needed to be discarded so she could live comfortably in the smaller house she was forced to downsize into. And although things may not always be the way they were, and they may not even be what you originally dreamed of, they can still be wonderful.

As for me, and my dreams of  children and a large home…well I’ve already done the larger home thing in the past, and now find myself in a smaller apartment. And I love it. The home came with worry and constant maintenance, but the apartment frees my time for doing other things I enjoy. Not what I planned, but who knew? My letting go of items helps me to fit in it comfortably and not be burdened down by “stuff”. And while I may not have those three children I imagined, I have one really amazing one that I enjoy very much. Fortunately there are lots of friends that come with him which I can love like my own and then send home. While I have some great memories and a few mementos from my son’s childhood, I don’t let wishing for the past to keep me from enjoying the fun of the now. Letting go is by far one of the greatest things we can do for ourselves. The best could very well be yet to come– don’t miss out by staying in a world comprised only of yesterdays.

 

Organizing Receipts

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As my regular readers know, I dislike papers. Teeny tiny papers that I can’t figure out where to put, but think maybe I should keep are the worst! Yep, we’re talking about receipts!

In case you missed this when we talked about organizing papers, take a little time today to organize your receipts. I like to organize mine by month, similar to this. However, another way to go about it is to keep them in categories, like so. Either way, these are both good systems to help corral the paper clutter and make sure your receipts are easily found when you need to reconcile with your bank, return and item, or make a budget.

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!