Posted in Mental Clutter, Planning Ahead, Reduce, Timely Tips

Seemingly Random Organizing Tips – Oldies but Goodies

A few days ago, I came across excellent tips in a file. Here’s a sampling from the archives.

Since clutter tends to expand to fill the space “allowed” for it, move items from your junk drawer into the smallest drawer in the room. Keep miscellaneous storage bins small to keep them from overtaking your rooms and closets.

Creating a to-do list is a great first step, to get things off your mind and onto paper. The second step is crucial – schedule appointments with yourself to actually accomplish the written tasks. Checking them off, or crossing them out, can be surprisingly satisfying. Try it. You might like it!

When dealing with paper, have as few file categories as possible. Instead of, say, a file for paid cable bills, consolidate all paid bills into a file for the year. The more streamlined system also will keep your drawers less crowded.

As previously suggested, collect bills that are tax-related in a file for the year’s taxes. They could include child care, education, medical bills. Also add to the file – charitable donations, online purchases for paying state sales tax. (Yup – I’m honest about that!) Keeping a file of tax-related information, and adding to it all year, might help to make filing your taxes a bit less “taxing.”

Do you forget your lunch? Leave grocery lists on the counter? (I can’t count the number of times I’ve done that…) Solution – place your car keys on top. You likely won’t get far without them.

Posted in Clearing Clutter, Home Maintenance, Planning Ahead, Reduce, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Decisions with Dots

As suggested in previous Timely Tips, are you working to clear clutter? If not, are you feeling stuck, unsure of how to start? Facing family resistance?

Here are some tips that might help you. Get some round adhesive dots in several different colors. Office supply stores stock them. Also, get some sturdy boxes and/or large, preferably clear, plastic bags. Clear bags will help prevent mistakes. Attach labels to the boxes and/or bags – Keep, Repair, Trash, Donate, Gift, Recycle, Sell and, if needed, Not a Clue.

You might alert your family that you will devote a couple of hours to each room in your home. You might allow time to share stories, which can be an important part of “saying goodbye” to items. Ask each person to attach dots on items in the room, according to a color key. White dots could be attached to items used daily, green ones for those used weekly. Next, yellow for those used monthly, then red for annual use. You might see consistencies, or no particular patterns. Either way, it’s likely to be interesting. The colors will guide you, as you decide what to do with each item.

The next step is quite important to achieving the sense of accomplishment you deserve. Place items in the right boxes or bags. Do what the labels direct! Be sure to actually act, or the boxes and/or bags will sit, perhaps bugging you, and could prevent you from moving forward to working in more rooms.

The reward? You might share a meal including family members’ favorite foods. During it, you could plan your next de-cluttering session.

Posted in Planning Ahead, Seasons, Spring, Timely Tips

Grills Just Wanna Have Fun!

Do you have a grill, either the old kind that uses charcoal or a newer gas item? Regardless, if you clean the grate now, before storing it for the winter, you’ll save time. By next spring, any leftover “gunk” will have had that much more time to get attached and will take more effort to clean. Besides, when you want to barbeque for the first time, about the last thing you’ll want to do is struggle with removing months’-old residue. After all, grills just wanna have fun!

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Posted in Clearing Clutter, Filing, Holidays, Home Maintenance, Kitchen Organization, Mental Clutter, Planning Ahead, Recycle, Reduce, Seasons, Timely Tips

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year? What? It’s not January! The calendar shows August. Even so, with the school year already begun in some places, and about to start in many more, in some ways it feels like the beginning of a new year.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions in January and, if so, how long do they last? A few days? A week? A month or two? Here’s something you can do on a daily basis, to lighten your load – clear clutter each day. That’s right – get rid of something every day. You will feel lighter and, after a short time, you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment. Can you imagine how it’ll be after 365 days?

Here are some tips to help.

  1. Consider how to do this. Give away, donate, recycle? If none are appropriate, toss?
  2. Don’t buy out of habit, or worse, out of boredom.
  3. Don’t keep items out of guilt or obligation. I had a pottery cookie jar, a gift from someone I’ve not been in touch with for years. I really didn’t like it all that much. I dropped something a few days ago, which landed on its lid, chipping it. Did I want to struggle with trying to glue the little pieces back on? No thanks! Could I “re-purpose” and use the bottom, say, as a planter? No, not really. I actually was relieved to place it in the trash.
  4. Does like = need? You may like some things that you don’t actually need.
  5. Don’t over-equip. You likely don’t need enough plates, cutlery, bed linens, towels, etc., to stock a hotel. If a big group of guests is coming, you might borrow from friends, neighbors, family.
  6. Save time. Every item you own takes time – to clean, maintain, perhaps repair. And, that’s after likely earning the money to buy, then taking the time to shop.
  7. Non-material gifts. Encourage those who might buy presents for you to make them gifts of experience or adventure. Concert tickets? A special restaurant meal? A hot air balloon ride? Also, consider time together, perhaps to be used on a big project. How about a donation in your name to a charity you hold dear?

Happy New Year!

Posted in Clearing Clutter, Filing, Planning Ahead, Suggestions, Timely Tips

One of a Kind

Do you ever wonder where to store random and perhaps unconnected pieces of information, so that you can use them when needed? It’s easy, once you make a One of a Kind notebook. All you need is a three-ring binder, three-hole-punched paper, tape and, if you also wish, sheet protectors. All are available at office supply stores.

The contents list at the beginning of mine includes the prescription for my eyeglasses, the “ingredients” for my mother’s homemade furniture polish, laundry instructions for my fabric shower curtain. You get the idea.

You’ll save time and brain space – always good!

Posted in Home Maintenance, Mental Clutter, Planning Ahead, Timely Tips

Staying Ahead of Clutter

Are you busy? Most people are. Is clutter getting away from you? If so, here’s a suggestion about how to control it. Assign a short period of time each week to de-cluttering, at the same time. Let’s say you put little ones to bed by 8.30 pm. Right after that, say, on Wednesday nights, devote 15 minutes to clearing clutter. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all that you can accomplish. Once a month, work for an hour, also at an assigned time and day of the week.

Posted in Planning Ahead, Timely Tips, What Not to Do

What NOT to Do While De-cluttering

If you’re reading this, you’ve no doubt decided to take on a project. It can be exciting and a relief to finally tackle something that may have been bothering you.

Don’t take on too much at once. Don’t set aside an entire day to organize your whole space (home or office). If you plan to work for 8 hours, you might lose energy and/or focus. Most people get tired and/or burn out after 2 – 3 hours. Much better to stay focused on one project that you can complete and that makes you feel great. You’ll have developed “forward mo” (momentum), and will want to do more.

Don’t buy new containers yet; that is, until you’re sure they’ll do what you need, and fit where needed. Much better to clean out first, assess what containers you really need, then buy a few to start. You can always add more later, instead of having containers cluttering your space while you figure out how and where you might use them.

Don’t get distracted. It can be easy to bring an object into another room, then start something there. As you work in a room, keep boxes or bags nearby with the following labels – toss, give away, recycle, other rooms. Stay where you are!

Don’t obsess. Very few people have closets and drawers that look like those we see in magazines and catalogs. They’ve likely been staged by stylists. If you can set up a system that works well for your needs, you’ll succeed. Good enough is good enough.

Posted in Home Maintenance, Planning Ahead, Seasons, Spring, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Pre-pre-pre Spring Sprucing Up

Just about everywhere, both here and abroad, it’s been a brutal bear of a winter. Despite today’s vernal equinox, real spring weather feels very far off. The snow gauge in my front garden still registers more than 1.5 feet. More snow and nighttime temperatures in the teens are on the way; at least, around Burlington, Vermont.

Is this extended season making you crazy? Challenging your spirits? I remember thinking, in early February, that watching the Olympics would get me through most of that month, then the worst of winter would be over. So much for that thought! Instead of perhaps scowling, here are some things that you might do to lift your spirits. When spring finally does arrive (and it will, please!), you’ll be a few steps ahead.

Buy something colorful now. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A new throw pillow or framed print might brighten up your living room, and put a smile on your face.

Similarly, treat yourself to some greenery. Think you have a black thumb? Try pothos, an easy plant to care for, tolerating lots of different light conditions. Available in a number of varieties, it wants water once a week. Mine does, anyway.

If you have them, dust your ceiling fans! That way, when it does warm up and you want their cooling breezes, you won’t be “treated” to a dust shower.

Wash the windows. Can’t get outside yet? Do the insides. You’ll be ahead of the game. If you’d rather wait until you can do the insides and outsides at the same time, wipe one surface horizontally and the other vertically. That way, you’ll better be able to tell where any streaks have developed.

Think about your spring bedding. Do you need to replace anything, for once it’s “safe” to store flannel sheets? Maybe do it now, because spring WILL come!

To the extent possible, forget about the calendar. Real spring weather will arrive when it’s good and ready. Since we’re not “driving the bus,” do what you can, now, to bring some new life into your home.