Archive | July, 2009

How to Keep Potential Clutter Out of Your Home

How to Keep Potential Clutter Out of Your Home

Be Aware

The key to keeping clutter under control is to bring less stuff into your house. It’s just that simple. Remember all of the hours you spent getting the clutter out of your house. Then think at least twice before you bring that extra knick-knack or pair of shoes into your home. Remember, the less stuff you bring into your house, the more space you will have. And the less you will be responsible for cleaning and putting away.

Once a person has their house decluttered, it is important for them to be vigilant. Sometimes people with clutter issues at home also have other issues as well. They may need to take a good look at their workspace and declutter there, as well. And some people judge their happiness and mental health by how their home looks. Don’t forget the old adage “Cleanliness is Next to Godliness.” Does being organized make you more holy?

Who knows? But you can judge your happiness and the healthiness of you and your family by the way your home looks. Your home doesn’t have to be perfect. But you should be able to find what you need in your home without sending out a search party. And you shouldn’t have so much stuff that you spend more time taking care of things than you do of yourself and the people around you that you love.

Shopping and Clutter

Limit yourself when you shop. This is a good idea in general, because you can keep your budget and your household clutter under control if you set limits as you shop. Perhaps you can really get by with only one shopping trip per week.  Get the gas for your car at the same time. Also, never shop without a list. Lists save you both time and money in the long run.

If you don’t have a list, chances are that you will probably forget something you meant to pick up at the grocery store. Then you will have to waste time and gas money to go back to the store to by that item. Shopping and errand lists keep you honest, as well. If you stick to your list, you won’t bring extras home that you really don’t need. And shopping lists improve your chances of ignoring impulse buys that might tempt you.

What if you get to the store and don’t remember if you need an item or not? Do you have enough masking tape around the house for that painting project you want to start? Can’t remember? If your house is decluttered, you probably know how much masking tape you have, because you worked hard to sort through a pile to find it.   If you really don’t know, don’t buy more. Wait until your next shopping trip, and check your supply at home.

Avoid cluttering your home with duplicate items, and save yourself money as well.

Do you have a place to put that impulse buy that is calling to you from that shelf?

Or would you rather have that bare space you worked so hard for? Usually the choice is clear. You really don’t want to reclutter after you went through all of the work of decluttering that spot.

Most of us have something we either collect or have too much of. Yarn is an example of that. If you have boxes and boxes of yarn stored somewhere neatly in your house, good for you. But you really don’t need more. So plan on avoiding the craft store or yarn department all together. If you have a room full of die cast cars, think hard and long before you add a new one to your collection. You really don’t need another one. And that bare spot you worked so hard for is easy to clean and nice to look at, too.

If you bring something into the house, take something out of the house. If you buy a new outfit and have a closet full of clothes, get rid of at least one old outfit. Throw it away, give it away, or donate it to a local shelter. If you are a book lover and need to read the latest murder mystery by your favorite author, choose the 2 or 3 books you are going to give away, sell, or donate before you buy the new book. Think about the number of unread books you have at home, as well, before you decide to buy a book just to kill some time. You probably already have lots of books like that at home, already. Don’t succumb to the temptation to buy more. By the way, do you have room on your bookshelves for another book? If not, don’t buy more until you do.

Take a little time to think about buying before you bring a new item into your home. Know exactly where you are going to put a new item in your home before you bring it into the house. If you can’t think of a spot, don’t buy the item. Do you have space for more stuff? Do you want to make space for more stuff? Do you really want to waste the time or energy dusting or cleaning new stuff? If not, go home and reward yourself for being a strong shopper who wasn’t influence by impulse buying.

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Why Declutter ?

Why Declutter ?

Stress Reduction

If you feel stress in your home and life, one way to reduce that stress is to reduce the amount of clutter in your home.

Clutter causes confusion. A space full of clutter makes one specific item hard to find. If you can’t find something in your home or work space, you might feel powerless. You could fee that powerlessness both at home and at work, adding to your feeling of stress. If you are constantly looking for something and can’t find it, you have more stress in your life. Plus, you are wasting time that you could use doing something fun just to look for items you can’t find in your home. One example of this is if you are frequently late for appointments or work. If you can’t find what you need before you go to work, you’ll probably be late. Hunting for keys, gloves, homework or other miscellaneous items that are not in a specific place is a waste of time and energy. And the more you have to look for stray stuff, the more stress you have.

Clutter is also a waste of money. How many times have you been unable to find something, like tape, and had to run to the store to buy some. Sure enough, as soon as you get home, you find 2 or 3 rolls of tape that you didn’t know you already had. If you had a specific place for each item, you’d know what you have. You wouldn’t accumulate duplicates that are unneeded as well as a waste of time and money to buy and store.

Less Stuff

Let’s face it. If you have less stuff, you have less stuff to keep track of and clean. You don’t have to worry about where to store extra stuff. And if you have an organized home, you won’t have to spend time looking for stuff, because you’ll already know where your belongings are. So less stuff equals less stress.

Causes of Clutter

Maybe your life has been out of control. One way to tell if your personal and spiritual lives are in control is to look at your living environment. When people are mentally healthy and happy, their homes reflect this by being organized. When people are physically ill, it shows in their homes. You or someone you love may have been sick recently. If you were busy caring for that person, you might not have had enough energy to do much else but care for the ill person.

Clutter piled up because you or someone in your family was ill. It happens. One way to build back strength is to slowly sort and declutter your home. Set a small amount of time to clear off your kitchen table or counter. Do not overdo while decluttering. If all you do is sort and toss for 5 minutes, that’s great. Give yourself a rest. Then do more if you feel up to it. If not, that’s okay, too. Wait until later or tomorrow to work on more decluttering. Eventually you will build up strength and get your house back in order. It didn’t get cluttered overnight, and won’t be decluttered overnight. Be patient.

Clutter and Relationships

Maybe you have had a recent life change that has left your life cluttered. Your mind is probably feeling cluttered, too. So now is the perfect time to declutter. Birth, death, separation, and starting a new relationship are all lifestyle changes that can make you aware of the clutter in your life. If you have recently ended a relationship, you can ease your heart and clutter situation by sorting through belongings that remind you of that person. If you think the person would really like that item back, by all means find a way to give the item back. But if your significant other left some time ago, you can go ahead and get rid of their stuff. Throw stuff away that reminds you of that person.

Or if you think someone could get some use from these items, donate them to a local shelter or thrift store. This activity can be of benefit in at least 2 different ways. In the first place, you can remove your ex’s possessions from your home, which can be mentally very therapeutic. In the second place, decluttering your ex’s stuff from your home is great physical exercise, and may sooth your broken heart as well.

Clutter and Grief

Removing the possessions of a deceased loved one is more that merely decluttering, but is still a necessary activity after a person had died. Be honest with yourself about what is junk, but be sure to save a few things to keep for sentimental reasons. And people in need always appreciate donations of good used clothing and household items. If you really can’t decide whether or not to get rid of something, store that item for a while. When a little time has passed, you may be better able to make decisions about how to dispose of your loved ones belongings. Here again, the act of decluttering the possessions of a loved one can be therapeutic. Enjoy memories that come to you while you sort, toss and donate. Choose something to keep as a memento if you are allowed to. And the physical exercise of decluttering a loved one’s home helps you work through your grief as well.

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Entry Organization

Entry Organization

Most people have an area just inside their front door that is a transitional place between the outside world and their home. Usually this area collects clothing, shoes, purses or backpacks and pet items like leashes.

This area collects belongings as well as dirt and wet clothing. Some call this area the mud room. And mud surely does collect there. You actually want some item s to collect in your entry way. You want your cat and keys to be right where you and find them on your way out the door. Unfortunately, this area can become a pot of piles of coats and other outerwear rather quickly. Here are a few tips to keep your front entryway organized and neat.

Outerwear

Outerwear should be neatly hung with extra space available in the area so coats and jackets can dry if necessary. You may want to install a rack of coat hooks in on. But any kind of hangers will do. You could use a coat stand or hall tree for hanging coats and jackets, as well. Shelves are great for storing hats, scarves, gloves and purses. If you don’t have shelves or can’t install shelves, use a chest of drawers or other drawer system as a place of storage for your mittens and gloves. This chest of drawers can be an actual dresser or some plastic drawers that you can purchase for very little money. Besides, if you have been decluttering, you may have created an empty dresser or other type of storage or furniture that you can now use in your entry way.

Coat stands and hall trees also make a great place to hang coats, jackets and other wet outerwear. This is especially true if you don’t have a built in closet by the front door.

Keys, Mail and Other Potential Clutter

Baskets placed close to the door can help you sort items before you bring them into the house. You might need a basket for keys, sunglasses, loose change, and a larger place to put your mail of other important papers.

Before you even come in the door, you should have some kind of welcome mat so people can wipe their feet before they even enter your home. This foot cleaning mat will keep your entire house cleaner in the long run.

If you live in a wet climate, you will want a special place to put your umbrella. You don’t need to go out and buy an umbrella stand, however. Just find the right shape of garbage can or basket, and you have an umbrella holder. You may have discovered just the right container while decluttering in another part of the house. And if you need a place to store canes or walking sticks, your umbrella holder can multitask and do that as well.

Shoes and Boots

Shoe storage is an important part of any entry way. You can buy boxes to store shoes in, or use found boxes for the same purpose. Any plastic or wooden low shelves or cubicles will do. These also make a good place to dry wet or snowy shoes, as well. A stash of recycled plastic bags goes well in this area, especially if you might have to carry shoes or other items with you. Just stuff your old plastic grocery bags in an empty tissue box for easy dispensing.

Purses and Bags

Purses and bags can be either hung in the coat closet or placed on the closet floor. If you don’t have a coat closet, hang your purse with your coat, or put it on top of the dresser you put in the front entryway. You could even put it in one of the drawers you put in the front entry to collect scarves and gloves. If you have a gym bag that you routinely use, put it next to your gym shoes, or store it where you put your purse or briefcase.

Pet Supplies

Pet supplies placed near the door make leashes easy to find when you want to take you dogs for a walk. Any kind of pet or coat hook will work well. And if your pet has a coat, you can hang his or her coat there, as well. A towel hung in the entryway helps you dry off your dog if they get wet or snowy outside, too.

Keeping Your Entry Decluttered

Take a moment to enjoy your newly decluttered entryway when you are finished decluttering it.  Then make a point to put items away where they belong every time you come in the house. You will always know where your glasses and keys are. Your wet coats and mittens will have a place to dry and be ready for their next use. And you won’t have to look for your gloves, because you will know right where they are.

Once you find a place for everything in your entryway, be sure you keep everything in its place. In that way, visitors will have a positive opinion of your house on their first impression when entering your home. And you will save time and energy because you don’t have to look for your keys, gloves and leashes. Your life will be less stressful and you will feel organized.

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Reusing Clutter to Declutter, Part 2

Reusing Clutter to Declutter, Part 2

Here are more ideas for reusing items for storage and décor.

Plastic Bags

Use tissue boxes as plastic bag dispensers. You may want to save several sizes of tissue boxes for different sizes of bags. In that way, you recycle both the boxes and the bags and keep the bags from becoming clutter.

Some people use plastic bags for crafts. Plastic bags can be braided into rugs. They can also be braided and used like Styrofoam bases for crafts. One way to use plastic bags for wreaths is to braid the plastic bags, then shape them into a circle. Next, hot glue a brown paper bag to the circle to form a wreath base. Use more hot glue to glue pine cones and other Christmas decorations on the wreath base. Soon you will have a beautiful Christmas wreath created from recycled materials. But beware! Store the plastic bags for crafts appropriately, or the bags turn back into clutter.

Rubber Bands

Do you have thick rubber bands lying around the house? If so, you can use them to help keep the straps of spaghetti strap dresses or blouses on their hangers. One source of closet clutter is the blouse or dress that has spaghetti straps and won’t stay on its hanger.  Rubber bands wrapped around the ends of hangers keep straps from falling, and keep you clothes off of the closet floor.

Jewelry Organization

Organizing jewelry can be done using several different recycled objects that you might find around the house. You can hang necklaces from decorative hooks on the wall or from a closet door. Hanging your necklaces from decorative hooks keeps them from becoming tangled, as well. Untangling necklaces takes time that you could spend better elsewhere.

Clips and Clothes pins

Magnetic clips and clothes pins can double as clips and holders for many different household items. Both work well as recipe card holders. Magnetic clips can be attached right on to the hood of your stove for easy reading. Clothes pins can be put at the top of you rolled up potato chip bag and help keep them fresh.

Jars

If you found pretty jars while decluttering, you can use them for storage and even sometimes for décor. Glass baby food jars are frequently used to store small items. But don’t keep lots of them around just in case you might need them some day, or they turn into clutter. You can use glass baby food jars to store anything from pins to beads to nails and staples. If you decide to use baby food jars or other jars for candles holders, put a few drops of water at the bottom of the jar. The wax will come out of the jar much easier if you do.

You can use a small collection of glass jars or vases that are a similar color for decoration. Group them together for a designer vase look. This color scheme idea makes even the most unusual items look like a collection.

Small jars are frequently used to organize bathroom clutter. Bobby pins, hair ties, cotton balls and tons of other bathroom or make up items can easily be sorted into small jars. These containers make good organizers for the home office, as well. Rubber bands, paper clips, and staples sort into these easy to store containers and are easily put into drawers.

Boxes

Small boxes and small plastic containers make excellent storage containers for bathroom items such as ear swabs and cotton balls. One example of the type of containers you can use is berry boxes from the produce department of your grocery store. Depending on what the box was originally used for, you might need to spray it with disinfectant. Grouping similar types of boxes together makes those recycled boxes look more like a fashion statement and less like an accident, as well.

Vases

Vases are good storage for many household items. You may have a cupboard full of vases from flowers you have received down through the years. It is always nice to keep a few of these around for flowers from your garden. But after a while, vases too become clutter. You can use vases to hold office supplies such as pens and pencils. Crochet hooks and knitting needles can be stored in vases for a decorative look. And a very large vase may just be what you have been looking for to use as an umbrella holder for your front entry.

Need Shelves? Try This!

An easy way to give yourself some extra shelving is to use crates or smaller shelves inside larger shelves to give you more storage. Remember those plastic milk crates? Stack them and use them as shelves. Put crates or boxes on closet shelves or on the floor of a closet and use them as shelf space. Boxes work for this as well, especially if you need shelves in a closet or place where no one will see the boxes.

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Reusing Clutter to Declutter

Reusing Clutter to Declutter

Once you start to declutter your house, you will find that you have less stuff around the house that needs to be stored. That’s good? You will also find some items that you need to store. You can run around and by storage units, shelves, and cabinets with drawers. But one of your new principles is not to bring new stuff into the house.

The good news is that, while decluttering, you probably found some items that you can use as storage. Some of these potential storage items can be decorative. Others you might want to use behinds closed doors or drawers. Then once you have used all your potential recycled storage, you can buy more shelves and drawer storage if you really need to.  Use what you already have first, however.

Here, in no particular order, are some ideas for reusing stuff you found while decluttering and can reuse as storage containers.

Shoeboxes

Shoe boxes are great for storing many items. Several shoe boxes stack very well. But don’t just save shoe boxes in case you need them for storage someday. That is when they become clutter. If you need shoeboxes for storage where people will see them, decorate them with wrapping paper or fabric to make them decorative. Photographs and recipes can be stored in shoeboxes. Just be sure that you label the contents of each box. Small bits and parts of crafts or art supplies can be stored in shoeboxes, as well. Sewing patterns fit well in shoeboxes. And shoeboxes fit nicely on those small shelves above your clothes in the closet.

Old Jewelry

Plastic or metal bangle bracelets or other types of metal or plastic rings make good napkin holders.

Saucers, Small Bowls, Butter Plates

Saucers, small bowls and butter plates can be used as the base for houseplants. These pieces of dishware are decorative and protect your furniture from the water rings that can occur when houseplants are overwatered. Don’t go out and buy saucers for this purpose. Use odds and ends of dishes and bowls that you already have. In this way you will prevent potential clutter from entering your home. Some of the plastic lids from containers work well for this purpose, too.

Saucers and bowls are also decorative ways of storing soap and keys.

Clutter as Furniture

Many different recycled pieces of clutter can become furniture. Here are some ways to make end tables, coffee tables, and nightstands out of potentially discarded items.

Chairs those are mismatched or no longer useful for sitting can become nightstands. If the seat is made of caning with holes, put a tray or book over the hole.  Or nail a piece of wood over that spot and repaint the entire chair. If an old chair is reused as a nightstand, you can put a lamp on the chair seat or hang a bathrobe on the back of the chair as well.

Sturdy boxes can be covered with a pretty piece of cloth or tablecloth and used as nightstands or end tables.

Old suitcases make sturdy coffee tables when stacked. If you don’t like the surfaces of the suitcases, cover them with a decorative piece of cloth, blanket or tablecloth to disguise them.

Laundry Bags

Laundry bags were originally intended to keep underwear protected while being washed.  Laundry bags are great for storing those dirty pieces of laundry and keeping them up off of the floor. Laundry bags can also make sorting clothes easier. But laundry bags work well in the dishwasher, too.

Instead of letting all of those little bits and pieces of dishes fall through the dishwasher racks and get damaged or lost, put them in laundry bags. Put those

caps, lids and baby bottle nipples in a new, clean laundry bag on the top shelf of the dishwasher. Your little items will be safe while washed and you won’t have to stick your head in the dishwasher to search the bottom for those little items.

You can use business card holders to carry coupons of packs of sweetener, tea bags or coffee bags.

Old nail polish can be used to color code your keys for easier identification.

Any container like a glass jar can be used to store thread and stray buttons in the laundry room.

Pegs, nails, tacks, and kitchen cup holders can go in the wall inside of your closet to hold belts, ties, and necklaces.

Put instructions and owner’s manuals in a single drawer or in a binder. This way, you won’t have to hunt for them if one of your appliances breaks down.

Fun Filing

Napkin holders and old phonograph record holders can be used to file important papers in the home office or at work. Bills are a great example of how to reuse a napkin holder or record holder. Just be sure to put the bills due first at the front of the holder for easy payment.

Old drawers that used to hold cassette tapes make excellent small containers or mini file cabinets.

The old wire type phonograph record holder is a good way to sort baking pans, muffin tins, pizza pans, and cutting boards. If you have an extra dish drainer that is usually used for drying hand washed dishes, you can use it to sort dishes, pots and pans as well.

These are only a few of the ways you can turn your clutter into organizational aides.

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Declutter Inspiration

Declutter Inspiration

If you haven’t moved recently, you have probably stored lots of items somewhere in your house that need looking through. Some people like the “nested” feeling. They like to know that they have their stuff, and lots of it, surrounding them. But think about a nest. What is in it, really? Not much besides the family members. While we are not birds, our homes can become cluttered if we don’t take care to keep them organized. Here are some ideas to get you in the proper frame of mind to declutter and organize your home or office.

Pretend You are Moving

How good is your imagination? One way to inspire yourself to declutter is to pretend you are selling your house and moving. Then take a good look at what you have in your home. Look in your closet. Would you really take that across country with you? If the answer is “no” you probably don’t need that item now, either.

If a realtor or potential buyer would come into your home right now, what would they think? Would they be able to see the great architectural features of your home? Would they be able to tell how large the rooms are just by looking at them? Or would they be confused by all of the stuff on the walls and on the floors? Could they even walk through every room? Would you die of embarrassment if someone popped in for a visit? If you really don’t want anyone looking at your house the way it is right now, you have some work to do.

Downsizing

If you have ever had to help a loved one move from the family home to a smaller place or assisted living, you have an idea of what a huge project decluttering can be. Grandmother may have been an excellent housekeeper, but her home was probably full of stuff that she didn’t use or need. You had to find a way to get rid of these items.

These are the type of items you are going to think about getting rid of in your own home. Do you really want your children to have to go through all of those boxes in the basement, wondering why you kept all of that junk? No! So save everyone some time and get rid of that unused toaster oven from your wedding shower 10 years ago. Someone at the local thrift store would love to have it on their shelves to sell. And though you may not actually be downsizing yourself, you can use the concept to help you get rid of unnecessary items in your home.

Books

Have you picked up a box full of books lately? A box of books can be really heavy. If you are an avid reader, you may very well have quite a collection of books that you have read, been given to read, or are going to read some day.

Imagine having to move those books and store them somewhere else. If you still can’t imagine moving those books elsewhere, pack one box full of books. Then lift it and carry it from one part of the house to another. You will soon be inspired to sort through your home library and get rid of some books.

Go through each book. If you’ve read it and don’t plan on reading it again, it can go. If you haven’t read it and really plan on reading it, it can stay. If you haven’t read the book and are pretty sure you won’t, get rid of it. Would you really move that book to another home if you had to move? Then you don’t need it. Your local school or public library might want it for their collection. So donate those books. You’ll feel better about your home and help out a community group at the same time.

Collections

Some collections are worth a lot of money. Some collections are more about sentimental value. Either way, some people start collecting a couple of items and end up with a houseful.  If you had to move tomorrow, would you really take all of that stuff with you? How long has it been since your entire collection was dusted or cleaned?

If you can’t keep your collections stored properly, organized and clean, some or all of it needs to go. Some people love cleaning with and playing with their collections. They can spend hours dusting and playing with their properly stored die cast cars or dolls.  If those sentences describe you, that’s great.

But if your collection looks dusty and is not properly stored, you may just be using collecting as an excuse to shop and collect clutter. If most of your collection is in the attic or basement in a box, consider sharing these items with someone who will appreciate them more.

And if there is a leak in the roof or the basement floods, your collection won’t be ruined. Consider selling your collection, giving or donating your collection to a museum or for a thrift store to sell. Selling your collection on Ebay is a good way to get some cash out of your collections as well as organize your space. Remember, if you aren’t keeping your collection items clean and in excellent condition, they won’t be worth much.

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