Archive | September, 2009

Decluttering the Closet

Decluttering the Closet

Organizing the closet can be a pretty big job. Closets are for storage. You probably put things in your closet without worrying much about where each item goes. Why worry? You merely shut the door, and the stuff you put in the closet seemingly disappears. Unfortunately, when you need that stuff later, you might not remember where you put it. Or your closet may be such a mess that you can’t find anything much in it at all. So now is the time to declutter that closet. Try to think of decluttering the closet as a treasure hunt. It’s amazing how many great things you can find in a closet that you thought were lost forever. So jump in and clean that closet. You never know what you will find.

Empty the closet

First, take everything out of the closet. If you are cleaning out a bedroom closet, put the closet contents on the bed. That way, you’ll have to finish the closet cleaning project before you go to bed. You will need a box for donations and trash bags. If you are not as strong as Wonder Woman or Superman, use a small to medium sized bag, and fill it full. You don’t want to get hurt lifting a heavy bag full of decluttered items. Some people also have a box for items they want to put in a garage sale or sell at a used clothing consignment store.

Clean the closet

While your closet is empty, wash it down and clean the shelves and floors. Since decluttering any closet is a huge job, you won’t be in a hurry to do it again. So you might as well do a good job and clean the closet while you have it empty.

Reduce your closet clutter by half

While the closet walls are drying, start to sort the clothing in the closet. That way you’ll have a major part of the job done first. Start at the top of the pile and work your way down. Try to get rid of at least 1 or 2 items for everything you keep. Try clothing on, especially if you haven’t worn that item for a while. If it doesn’t fit, it goes into the donation box. Be honest about this. You may keep one item that doesn’t fit to inspire you to lose weight, but no more than one. If you do actually lose that weight, you deserve new clothes anyway.

Out of style clothes

Out of style clothes go in the donation box. If they are seriously out of style and in less than excellent shape, consider throwing the clothing out. Clothes that are pilled, stained even just a bit, and threadbare need to be put in the garbage. If you wouldn’t wear the outfit, neither would thrift store shopper.

If you have a potentially vintage piece of clothing, you may be able to sell it at a consignment store or to a specialty store that features vintage clothing. To be eligible for resale at either of these stores, the article of clothing has to be in excellent condition, and usually need to be a brand name or made by a designer. Both clothing consignment stores and vintage clothing stores are notorious for being very picky about the clothing items they will take for resale. So if your clothing is not in like-new condition, it will probably not be eligible for resale. Remember- your goal is to clean out that closet. So if you have any doubt about the re-sale value of that article of clothing, donate it or toss it.

Comfort is the Key

Do you enjoy wearing that article of clothing? Is it comfortable? How long has it been since you last wore that outfit, toss it or donate it. If you don’t remember why you haven’t worn that outfit, try it on to refresh your memory.

Putting it Back

Only put clothing back in the closet that is appropriate for the season. If you decide to keep clothing that is not in season right now, store it in a plastic container either under the bed or in the basement or attic. Plastic containers will keep bugs and rodents from ruining your clothing.

Next put your clothes back in the closet in a specific order. Put the pants first, then skirts. Next goes short sleeved shirts, then long sleeved shirts. Jackets followed by dresses are next. If you have formal dresses or gowns, they go in last. If you keep your clothes sorted by length, you will be able to find each article of clothing more easily. You could even sort each category of clothing by color, but that is not really necessary unless you the time.

Shoes

Shoes go back in the closet next. Sorting shoes takes the same types of rules that sorting clothing does. If the shoes are uncomfortable or don’t fit, toss them or donate them. Only donate shoes in excellent condition, however. And only donate shoes if you know you don’t have foot fungus or other types of foot problems. Spray the shoes down with disinfecting spray before you donate, as well. You may save one pair of fishing or gardening shoes, but the rest of the worn out shoes need to go.

The Rest of the Closet

Because closet become a catch-all for many different items, now is the time to sort these items back to the place where they belong. If you no longer want or need that shoe box or worn out pair of gloves, out they go. Before you know it, your closet will be clean and organized. You will feel good about the way your closet looks and be able to find clothes and other items more quickly, which will save you time and energy in the long run.

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Desk Decluttering

Desk Decluttering

Desk Decluttering

Decluttering your personal desk at home can be a big task. It is an important one, however, because a person’s desk usually is the storage area for some of their most important paperwork.  You can get away with decluttering your home a couple of times per year, but your desk really needs to be done more often than that. This is especially true if you pay your bills at your desk. If you don’t keep it organized or decluttered in some way, you are likely to end up with some grouchy bill collectors wondering where your payments are. So let’s get that desk organized.

Starting to Organize Desk Declutter

First, get a large box. Clear off the tops of surfaces and put these items in the box. Then dump each of the drawers in the box, contents and all. Do you have any other shelves or cupboards in your desk? Dump those items in the box as well. There should be nothing left on your desk when you’re done, with the possible exception of your computer.

Next, pick up each part of your computer and look under it. Wipe or dust under and around each section of your computer. Dust the computer and screen as recommended by the computer’s manufacturer. It can be surprising what you will find under parts of your computer!

Categorizing Drawers

Then clean each shelf, drawer, and any other part of the desk until all surfaces are shiny and clean. You will then need a garbage bag and a box for stuff that needs filing. Then start at the top of the box and start sorting. Decide what category of items will go in each drawer. When you decide to keep something, put it back in the drawer.

Pens, pencils and other writing tools can go in one drawer. This drawer also can contain liquid erasing fluid, staples, and paper clips and other related items. When you decide to keep something, put it back in the drawer. If you are like most people, you will have duplicates of some things. Decide if you really need 5 packages of pens. You can store the extra pens for later use, but if you have LOTS of extras, either donate them or toss them. Put them in a drawer. Perhaps you already have an area in your desk drawer to store pens and pencils. If not, be creative.

You can run out and buy a couple of plastic storage containers especially meant for office desk drawers. But small boxes work well, also. Check book boxes are perfect for storing pens and pencils, and keep them from rolling all over the desk drawer. Another good place to store pens and pencils is in a container on top of the desk. Anything shaped like a vase or a jar works to store pens, pencils and other similar items on top of your desk.  And if you have the time and money, you can buy office drawer organizing units to keep all of those little items like erasers and rubber bands organized in your desk drawers, as well.

Stationary and paper can go in another drawer. Anything related to stationary or paper products can go in that drawer, as well. Computer paper, labels, envelopes and other such items can go in this drawer. This drawer should only be for paper items that haven’t been used yet, or for paper that you plan to recycle.

Bills should go in another drawer. Categorize bills by the order in which they need to be paid. Then put paid bills in another area of the drawer. Filing folders can come in handy for this drawer. You can also sort bills by month, if that makes it easier for you.

The point is to know where your bills are and whether or not they have been paid or not. Some people like to keep their bills in an inbox and outbox organizer. That type of organization is fine, as well. But if you don’t want your bills on top of the desk for anyone to see, sort them into a drawer. Set a specific day of the month to pay bills, so you won’t forget to pay them. Or pay your bills on line, using paperless bills and payments to avoid the clutter of bill statements as much as possible. That way, you’ll have less paper to keep under control.

An inbox and outbox on top of your desk will keep you organized. After you sort your mail, put the items that need to be sorted into your individual desk drawers and files in the inbox. Use your outbox for outgoing mail and bills that need to be sent. Correspondence and letters can go in your outbox, as well. Using an in and out box is no substitute for routine sorting and filing, however.

Take time routinely to clean off and declutter your desk. Before you know it, a clean desk and organized workspace will become a happy habit.

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Tips for Selling Unwanted Clutter, Garage Sales, Part 1

Tips for Selling Unwanted Clutter, Garage Sales, Part 1

Garage Sales

You have done a wonderful job of sorting, tossing, and decluttering. You used two boxes and a trash bag to help you sort and make decisions. There are, however, items that you very well may be able to sell, earning back some money that may have been wasted on unneeded or unwanted household items. You may as well try to sell these items. One way that you may be able to make a little money is by having a garage sale.

If you have to take a long period of time to declutter due to the large quantity of clutter you have amassed, you probably want to try to sell some of your excess goods. But you need to figure out how to deal with all of that stuff until you can actually hold the garage sale. If you have boxes, especially the plastic storage type of boxes, you are set to gather your items to try to sell. Those plastic tubs and boxes are great for storage. They are also great containers to store items that you want to use for a garage sale.

Find an out of the way spot to store your future garage sale items. If you can store your items in the garage, you have lots less work to do later. All of the items you think might potentially sell will be right there, stored and safe, until the day for your garage sale comes. You also have a nice shelter to hold your garage sale, and a good place to keep your items while you are pricing them. If your neighborhood is in an area where the summers are short, you can spend the colder weather finding potential garage sale items.  Store these items in the garage or basement until nicer weather comes along. By the time summer hits, you will be ready for an excellent garage sale with lots of great items to tempt your neighbors.

Preparing for Garage Sale Day

Move your stored garage sale items to the garage, patio, yard, or wherever you plan to have your sale. Set up some tables. If you don’t have card tables or other types of tables you can invent something that will pass. For instance, if you have saw horses, you can put a door or scrap wood on top of two saw horses and have a table. Or the containers themselves can be the props for a chunk of scrap wood or cardboard that can suffice as a table for now. Churches and clubs may loan you tables for a day or two. And you can put your garage sale items on the ground or floor of the garage.

But the lower an item is, the harder it is for potential customers to see. The closer you can put your garage sale items to eye level, the more items people will see, and the  more items will sell.  You may even have garage sale items that you can put other garage sale items on. The key here is to get as much stuff as you can to the garage or yard, get it marked, and get it sold.

Pricing

If you don’t go to garage sales routinely, you may want to go to a few in your area to see what the going prices are for several types of garage sale goodies.  But, be ware! Don’t buy stuff to take home from other people’s garage sales. You worked too hard to declutter to bring more stuff into your home.

You can price each individual item. Or you can have items on tables that go for a specific price. What that means is that you might have a table where everything on it sells for a dollar, twenty-five cents, and so on. Clothing and books are more easily priced this way, especially if you have lots of both of these items. You might also have some items that you may put a price on, but be willing to negotiate over the price. Garage sale lovers are notorious negotiators.  If they think they can get a lower price, they will try.

Don’t be offended if the price is ridiculous-just say no, thanks. And you may be totally unwilling to negotiate on the prices of some of your items. In that case, write the word “firm” next to the price. Someone might still try to talk you down on the price. But they will have been warned that you are not willing to lower the price for that item. Just make sure your item’s prices are large and obvious for people to see. Most people who go to garage sales are not shy about asking prices. But you don’t want to risk losing that sale due to invisible or hard to find prices.

Marketing Your Garage Sale

Choose a day that is convenient for you. Also, make sure that you have time before hand to set your garage sale up and price your items. If you’d like a couple of friends to join you in the sale, great! You can slit up the work and keep a better watch on your garage sale if you have help.

Advertise your garage sale in the local newspaper. Weekends are usually the best days for garage sales. Lots of people hunt for treasures on Saturday mornings at their local garage sales.  Pick the first Saturday of the month. More people will just have been paid, and have money to spend. You may also want to have your garage sale for more than one day. In that case, choose a Friday and Saturday for your sale.

If you can put signs up around the neighborhood, do so.

Put a nice large sign on the next nearest busy street. Be sure you have signs in your front yard, so people can find your sale easily.  Garage sale fans often find a sale by accident by looking at signs posted. Be careful, because many towns have laws against posting garage sale signs on public spots like light posts and telephone poles. Instead, use a large empty box with the garage sale information to place on the side of the road.  Or put your sign on some sort of wooden stake. Be sure your sign has the address, date, and times of your garage sale. And don’t forget to be a good neighbor and remove your garage sale signs when the sale is done.

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Bathroom Decluttering

Bathroom Decluttering

What do you have stored in your bathroom? Many bathrooms don’t have a lot of storage area. Let’s take an inventory, look behind closed cabinets and drawers, and check out our clutter situation in the bathroom.

First, clear off surfaces. You will put stuff right back on those surfaces, but only temporarily. One main thing to keep in mind is that only bathroom items should be in the bathroom. Any item that wasn’t specifically intended to be in the bathroom should be elsewhere.

Medicine should go in the medicine cabinet. It is important that you keep your meds together.  That way, if you take medications daily, you will be able to find them. The more convenient your medication is, and the better organized it is, the more likely you are to take it. You will also be less likely to forget to take a medication, as well.  You will also know when you are coming close to being out of a medication. Also, you will be better able to tell whether anyone else in the household is taking your medications. Unfortunately, many young people get their recreation drugs from leftovers stored in Moms and Dad’s medicine cabinet. If you think that this might be an issue for you, lock your prescription medications op and keep control of the key.

Medicine cabinets can also store over the counter medications. Keeping these medications in a centrally located place is important as well Keep similar items together, so you can find them easily. For instance, keep all the pain medications together. Keep all the cold remedies together, and so on. You can keep a better inventory of you over the counter medications if you keep them sorted in this way. And you’ll know if someone in your household is misusing on of these types of medications, as well. Over the counter medications can be abused just as prescription meds can be.

Make up and skin care items can go in the same area. If you have a bathroom vanity with drawers, makeup can go in the drawer with the combs and hairbrushes. Expired makeup is not good for your skin or eyes, so be sure it is discarded. And if you have 5 containers of blue eye shadow, you only need to keep one. Little containers like check book boxes and decorative jars can help you keep your makeup and cotton balls in order. A pretty jar is a great way to store cotton balls or hair ties.  And checkbook boxes and similarly shaped containers make great dividers in a makeup drawer.

Bath- related articles can go in a drawer as close to the bathtub or shower as possible. This makes them easy to use. If you don’t have enough storage for your towels, be creative. If you have decorative boxes or a wine rack, you can roll up the towels and put them in these containers instead of in a drawer or cupboard.

Shaving materials such as razors, electric shavers and aftershave can go on the same shelf of a cabinet or in the same drawer of the vanity, so they can be easily found.

Cleaning products and cleaning tools like toilet brushes can go under the sink in the vanity. While you are looking at the cleaning products, check out their expiration date. Discard any that have expired.

The process for decluttering the bathroom is the same as decluttering any other room. Remove everything from cupboards and drawers. Then clean the drawer or cupboard by wiping it down with a disinfectant.  Look at every item before you put it back on that shelf or in that drawer. If you really don’t like that lotion or have found a better brand, throw that bottle away. Throw that bottle away even if it’s full or nearly full.

Do the same with every other product in your bathroom. And most importantly, look at the expiration dates of everything before you put it back on the shelf or in the drawer. Expired medications have lost their potency, so they are not good for you to use. And some expired medications become poisonous with age. Don’t take a chance. Throw both prescription and over the counter medications that have expired away.

You may very well have some grooming gadgets that you don’t need anymore. These are always welcome at shelters and thrift stores. If you have duplicates of blow driers or curling irons, one can be donated.  Or if you received hot rollers or some unique bathroom items for a gift and never use it, it can be donated, as well.

If you need extra storage, you might want to purchase a shelving unit that fits over the toilet. These units usually fit over the stool and go up to the ceiling, adding some shelving in an area where the wall space doesn’t get used much.

A clean, sanitary, well organized bathroom is a healthy advantage in your home. You and your family will be healthier in a clean bathroom. And if your bathroom is well organized, everyone in your home should have a faster and easier time getting ready for work or school.

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Decluttering the Kitchen

Decluttering the Kitchen

Kitchen decluttering is a huge job. The kitchen is the center and heart of the home.  Everyone congregates there. Families hang out in the kitchen and guests are entertained there. Because of this, the kitchen has a lot more traffic than many areas of the house. And more traffic often means more clutter in the kitchen.

First, clear off and clean the surfaces of the kitchen, such as counter and stove tops. You will probably need to put stuff on the kitchen floor until it has been sorted. Kitchen gadgets have been popular gifts for the last few decades.

Every year new kitchen gadgets come out, and one or two of them might have ended up under your Christmas tree, and then on your countertops. Choose the kitchen gadgets you need or use the most, then donate or throw out the rest. This is one type of item your local thrift store loves to receive for a donation. If you decide to keep a kitchen gadget, you must have a place for it in a cupboard, drawer, or stored somewhere else out of sight.

Your goal is to keep the countertop clear of gadgets and other types of clutter. The only things that should be on your countertops are a can opener and coffee pot. Everything else can be stored behind closed doors.

This is a room that really needs to have cupboards and shelves cleaned out routinely. Empty out the cupboard or cabinet you are going to clean.  Wipe off and sanitize the cupboard. Choose carefully what you are going to put back into the cupboard. If the item is broken, or there is only a little food left in the box, throw the utensil or food box away. Also, decide whether or not you use that utensil enough to make it worthwhile storing. If the answer is no, donate it to a local shelter or thrift store.

When you start to put kitchen utensils and small appliances away, put them closest to where they will be needed. For instance, put pots and pans next to the oven. Put cups and glasses in a cupboard next to the sink. Put cleaners under the sing. Then put dishes and utensils as close to the cups and glasses as you can. Store heaver items in lower cupboards and lighter items up higher, to make them easier to take out and use.

Put canned foods together in neighboring cupboards and keep baking ingredients together as well. Have a place for kitchen linens like dishtowels and pot holders. These should be close to the sink if possible. Cookbooks work nicely on that shelf or in that cupboard about the stove, if you have one.

As you are checking each item over before you put it away, check that each utensil works. Also check each food item’s expiration date before you put it back on that shelf. Foods can spoil and be dangerous. Spices also lose their scent and flavor over time. Use a black marker to write the expiration date on spices, so they are easier to see. Throw out foods, spices, or cleaning chemicals whose dates have expired. Then restock your kitchen cupboards with the remaining food items. Be sure you put those with the closest expiration date toward the front of the shelf, so you will remember to use it first.

Also, don’t forget to clean out the refrigerator. This should really be done at least once per week. And check the freezer for old frozen food or frozen food that might have extensive freezer burn. Once you have removed everything from the fridge, clean the surface of it according to the manufacturer’s suggestions. Usually soapy water or water with baking soda cleans the refrigerator and makes it smell sweet as well. Leaving an open container of baking soda in the fridge keeps it smelling clean as well.

Finally, pick up any clutter or items you have left on the floor and sort through them. Find a place to put your special, extra large roaster for that Thanksgiving turkey, and for the crock pot. By the time you scrub the floor, you will have a clean, fresh, organized kitchen that is clutter free.

Thrift stores and shelters really love to get donations from your kitchen. They can get too many donations of clothing, but usually don’t get too many donations of kitchen utensils. And people just starting out on their own love the bargains they can find at a thrift store. So box those unused utensils up and give them away.

Your kitchen will be more organized and you will feel good about your contribution to a good cause.

Decluttering the kitchen is a big job, but it will make your life easier in the long run. You will have fresh products to make delicious meals with, and fresh chemicals to clean with because you organized and decluttered your kitchen. Meals will be easier to prepare because your ingredients are organized and easy to find. And you will waste less time looking for utensils in your newly decluttered kitchen.

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Decluttering the Bedroom

Decluttering the Bedroom

If you have not been using under bed storage, now is a good time to take your storage boxes out and look at them. Do you have any that will fit under the bed? If so, clean out under the bed, and put your plainly labeled storage items there. Storing items under the bed gives you more room for storage that will be unseen by others. Just be sure that you use either clear storage containers or label the containers well, so you can retrieve your stored items quickly.

Closets

Cleaning out the bedroom closet is usually the hardest part of decluttering the bedroom. There is another entire article on decluttering and cleaning closets, so see that article if you want more details. Here is the short version of that article. Empty out your closet. Put back only the clothes that you are comfortable in, that are in season, and that fit well.

Donate or discard the rest of the clothes. Sort your shoes in much the same way. And process through the rest of the stuff that has managed to accumulate in the closet carefully.  Try to get rid of one item for each item you keep in the closet. Last, keep out of season clothing stored somewhere until the proper season comes around. One perfect place to store your out of season clothing is under the bed.

Under the Bed Storage

If you are already using the area under your bed for storage, good for you! Storing items under your bed is a wonderful way to use unused space. There are two advantages to storing items under your bed.  First, if your bed has neatly organized storage containers under it, socks, shoes, and other miscellaneous items will not be able to collect under your bed. Second, if you are very short of storage space, using the area under your bed for storage will give you some badly needed storage space. Under the bed is really the perfect place to store your out of season clothing, as well.

If the area under the bed is limited, you can buy lifts to rise up your bed a few more inches. You can gain a larger area in which to put larger storage boxes in that way.

Next, you will need storage boxes that fit under the bed. One way to get boxes free is to reuse old cardboard boxes, especially the type of gift boxes that come from the department store. The biggest problem with these recycled boxes is that you cannot see through them. For that reason, you will need to carefully label storage boxes that you can’t see through. Another type of under the bed storage box you can use is the see-through plastic type of box. These boxes should still be labeled, but it is still easier to tell what is in the boxes, since you can see through them. Be sure to measure the area under your bed before you buy under bed storage containers, to make sure they will fit under the bed.

If you have already been using under the bed storage, now is a good time to go through those stored items and articles of clothing. Sort, donate and toss any items you find under the bed. Have your trash bags and donation boxes near you, just in case you need them.

Drawers

The next big job is to go through your dresser drawers. Dresser drawers are famous places for hiding and storing personal items. Not only will you find underwear in bedroom dresser drawers, but you may also find other interesting items that you might not expect.

One example of this is that some people like to store tokens and letters from previous romances. If you are decluttering for someone other than yourself, you may very well need to leave their bedroom dresser drawers alone. Or be sure to get the person’s permission before you start to go through the drawers.

People really should go through their own drawers, but we all know that doesn’t always happen. If you have a really stubborn person in your household who doesn’t want their drawers cleaned out, give them a certain amount of time. If the dresser drawers haven’t been cleaned out by then, you will do it for them. That condition seems to motivate even the most stubborn messy person into action.

First, take the drawer out and dump it either on the floor or on the bed. Have your trash bag and donation box handy. Any item that doesn’t fit goes either to the donation box or in the garbage. If you are sorting lingerie or other types of underwear, many of these items do not qualify for donations for health and hygiene reasons. Unless they are new, most underwear that you no longer want will need to be thrown away. Now is the time to either find the mate to that single sock or throw it away. Some people like to use single socks for dusting rags, and then throw the sock away. And sometimes while you are sorting, you actually find the sock’s long lost mate.

Go through the rest of your dresser drawers the same way. Dump the drawer, clean it out, and put back only the items that you need or that fit. If you have stuff in the drawers that really doesn’t belong in the bedroom, move it to the appropriate room of the house and put it away. Once you’ve cleaned the closets, drawers and under the bed you should be able to finish the rest of the bedroom quickly. Nobody sees these areas much, but you know the clutter is there. You will be able to find your clothing more quickly if you are uncluttered, organized, and know where things are in your bedroom.

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Organizing Photographs

Organizing Photographs

While you are decluttering around your house, you will undoubtedly find photos that have been stuck in some unexpected places. Photographs are one of the many items that end up out of place when our house becomes cluttered.  But unlike many other types of clutter, photographs are undoubtedly more valuable than most types of clutter that you will need to deal with while decluttering.

History’s Mysteries

Have you ever looked through Granny’s photo album? If she didn’t label her photographs, she might not be able to remember who is in the picture, or what the special event was that prompted the photograph to be taken in the first place. Or if Granny has passed away, you may have a collection of photographs of people you don’t know. How unfortunate! Be sure you don’t leave mysteries for your children to wonder about. Organize your pictures and label them in some way. In that way, your children and grandchildren will know what their ancestors looked like way back when.

Get it Together

The great thing about decluttering is that you find treasures that you thought were lost forever. One unexpected thing that makes decluttering worth while is when you find one or two of those treasures. You can find money, jewelry, that lost sock you have been looking for, but one of the best of the treasures you can find is a photograph that you thought was gone forever.

While you are decluttering, be sure to have a box, basket or drawer for the stray pictures you might happen to find. Eventually you will have decluttered the entire house, and will have found all of your pictures. There are few treasures that compare to this! Think what fun you will have going through those pictures and putting them in order. And while you were decluttering, you may even have found a couple of unused or partially used photo albums.

You may also find small photo albums lying around the house, especially if you are a proud grandparent. Put these together with your loose pictures. Eventually you will decide what to do with all of those pictures, but for right now, just find them all and get them in one place.

Photo Storage

Now you have all of your pictures together. Your next job is to go through each picture put as much information on the back of it as you can. Put the date, place, occasion, and all of the names you remember or know on the back of the picture. Then decide how you are going to organize your pictures. Lots of people like to put their pictures in an album in chronological order, much like a family history in pictures. Other people like to have a scrap book or photo album for each person. These are only two of the ways that people organize pictures. You may be able to come up with your own unique way of picture organization. Let your creative juices flow.

This is one of those fun sorting jobs for a rainy or snowy day, or for a day that you need to rest from other more strenuous types of decluttering. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, put on that extra long movie you haven’t seen for a while, relax, enjoy, and sort pictures.

Next stack your pictures in the order you’d like them to appear in your photo albums. You could spread them around on a table, but stacking them in order keeps them neat in case you suddenly have to leave your project for some reason. Have a couple of those hundreds of rubber bands, you found handy to keep the stacks of photos together. Round up your photo albums and start putting your pictures in.

Another fun thing to do while you are sorting your pictures and placing them in an album is to put some sort of label under the pictures. You probably don’t need to label every single picture, but labeling lots of the pictures will keep you from taking the photos in and out of the album, and risking tearing or damaging the photo. You may have found some extra labels you can use while you were decluttering. Or you can use other types of paper, like index cards that you cut and paste into the album, instead of using store bought labels.

Even if you have hundreds of pictures that need to be put into an album, you can do this organizational job quickly and enjoyably. If you think you will need several sessions to complete your photo organization project, put all of your materials in a box next to your favorite TV viewing chair. Then you can work on it every time you watch TV. Before you know it, your photos will be organized and safely in an album. When your children and grandchildren view the pictures in years to come, they will know who is in the pictures, when they were taken, and what the event was. Not only are photograph albums a gift you give yourself, but the people you love will enjoy and appreciate them long after you are gone.

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Top Ten Items to Keep Your Home Organized

Even the most frugal person I know will occasionally splurge on an item that will help her keep more organized.

Here are some of my favorite organizational tools for the home.

1)  Lazy Susan

Thanks to the soul who invented this little item!  They’re cheap, and help keep spices, bottles, and condiments neatly arranged and at your fingertips.  Use them in the pantry, in cabinets, on the kitchen table – they’re absolutely life savers when it comes to staying organized.

2)  Plastic Basket for Lids

Plastic containers – a double edged sword!  One the one hand they keep me organized and save tons of time in the kitchen, especially.  But searching through ten thousand lids that don’t fit can drive a person nutty.  I use a plastic basket for all my lids so they’re in one spot when I go looking.

3)  A Triple Swing-out Towel Holder

Put these under your kitchen and bathroom sinks to save space and keep your sink area uncluttered.  Use it to hold towels, cleaning rags, trash bags, etc.

4)  Place a few strong adhesive hooks in the laundry room – these can be used for hanging coats, clothes, etc.  Hooks are great to hang up mops, brooms and other cleaning supplies, too.

5)  Plastic Baggies with Zipper Locks

How did our ancestors survive without them?  Baggies are perfect to store small toys, puzzle pieces, and any little items that go together in one spot.  The  two-gallon sized ones are my favorite.

6)  A Labeler

These don’t have to be expensive to work.  And having containers and shelf spaces labeled is a great way to help children keep their items organized, as well as yourself.  Do yourself a favor – use a labeler for a week, and you’ll wonder hoe you ever lived without one.

7)  A Compartment Tray for Your Junk Drawer

Occasionally, I actually open my junk drawer to search for something!  Having miscellaneous items in little compartments of the tray will save you time and frustration when you go searching.

8)  A TV Remote Holder

How much time have you wasted looking for this little item?  Make or purchase a holder for your remote, or put velcro on the back and stick it someplace near the couch.

9)  Laundry Sorting Bin

Less than ten bucks, these bins help keep your dirty laundry organized, so that when you’re ready to wash the whites, they’re all in the same spot.  No more digging through a giant hamper to find the right clothes!  This makes laundry time so much simpler!

10)  Two-tiered Spice Racks

These cabinet organizers save time and hassle in the kitchen.  How many times have you searched for the oregano – behind the cinnamon, no – the nutmeg…Wait -where was the nutmeg?  You get the idea.

These items are by no means all the great organizing tools out there, but they’re my choices for time saving and hassle free living!

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Once Over Lightly

Once Over Lightly

The Quick Pick Up

A quick once over lightly of your home each day will help you keep clutter from piling up and taking over your home or life in general. Thankfully, many homes only need a quick going over to keep them looking neat. This type of quick cleaning looks good on the surface, but can hide a multitude of organizational sins. Not to worry, however.

This fast type of surface cleaning is perfect for a quick fix to outside appearances of clutter in your home. When this quick pick up is done, drop in visitors will be able to come into your house without your being embarrassed about the way the house looks.  And your unexpected visitors will never know that you didn’t spend hours cleaning before they dropped in. They will think, however, that you are a great housekeeper with excellent organizational skills.  What they don’t know won’t hurt them. When you get more time, you can choose more specific organizational issues to purse and conquer.

How to Accomplish the Quick Pick Up

Grab a trash bag, a damp cloth or disinfecting wipes, a good attitude, and let’s get the house picked up. It won’t be white-glove inspection ready, but it will look okay if you have someone drop by. And you will feel better when your house is picked up, as well.

Avoiding the Lived-in Look in the Living Room

The next quick pick up is the living room. Actually, you could start here, since this is usually the place most people see first when they come into your home. With your handy dandy garbage, pick up the extra papers, mail, trash, newspapers, and magazines that are lying around. If you aren’t sure whether or not to throw something out, put it in a drawer and save it for closer inspection. Couch, coffee tables, and end tables can be cleared of clutter.

Magazines usually go under end tables, or stacked neatly on top of end tables. When you furniture shop, be sure to buy end tables and coffee tables with storage for magazines and newspapers. That way, you can put them out of sight. Sorting and storing the magazines and newspapers you want to keep is a larger project for later. Our goal now is to clear off surfaces. If people can’t see the clutter, it doesn’t matter, at least during the quick pick up phase of our cleaning day.

Next, clear the floor of trash, clothing, shoes and other clutter that may be there. Dishes go in a sink full of soapy water to soak for right now. Laundry that happened to find its way to the living room goes behind that same closed laundry room door as the previous laundry did. Personal belongings can go into individual rooms, in draws or closets for them to deal with later. Now your surfaces and floors look picked up. If you think you have time, you can wipe surfaces off with a damp cloth. If not, wait till later and dust.

Kitchen Clutter Cures

The next most likely place in your home that unexpected company might come into is your kitchen. If you just want yours to be presentable until you can really clean it, here are some suggestions for a quick pick up.

Kitchens can get messy and cluttered quickly. To do a quick pick up in your kitchen, first deal with the dishes. If you are in a huge hurry, or haven’t done dishes for a while, fill your sink with hot, soapy water and let the dishes soak while you continue to pick up the kitchen. At least they are covered up with soapy water. And when you finally get time to put them in the dishwasher, they will be pre-rinsed and ready to wash.

Next, clear the rest of the kitchen surfaces. Fill the trash, cupboards and drawers in your kitchen quickly. If you need to sort further, you can do that later. Once you get your kitchen organized, putting kitchen items away will be a snap. But until that time, just get those surfaces picked up and stuff out of sight.

After cleaning surfaces, clear up items from the floor. Use closets, cupboards, the garbage, and drawers to get that stuff out of sight. Then sweep the floor. Don’t worry about mopping it until later. Move on to the bathroom.

Use a Quick Pick Up to Cure Those Bathroom Blues

Unexpected visitors may or may not use your bathroom. But nothing is more embarrassing than having someone use a bathroom that is a mess. Dirty clothes end up here frequently, hamper or not. Underwear especially ends up in the bathroom, and you don’t want to share that sight with anyone.

First, clean off the surfaces of your bathroom. Bathrooms usually have some drawers and a medicine cabinet to store makeup and medications, so toss some of the surface clutter in these places. Toss the garbage on the surfaces into the trash as well. Wipe the surfaces of your bathroom off with disinfecting wipes to help it look and smell cleaner. This room really needs to have the mirrors cleaned as well. Don’t put that off until later. Don’t forget to wipe the sink clean. Then pick up the bathroom floor, toss the trash, and put the laundry in the laundry room.

The most public parts of your home are picked up now.  If someone drops by, you won’t be embarrassed by the way your house looks.  You deserve to take a couple of minutes and take a break. You deserve it.

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Paper Clutter

Paper Clutter

Paper Clutter

Every day it might seem like you are acquiring more paper that you really don’t want or need.  Examples of this type of paper clutter are old magazines, bags, wrappers, mail, and newspapers. Unwanted items come into your house whether you ask for them or not.

If you get enough unwanted paper clutter in your home, you won’t be able to find things that you need. If this type of clutter really piles up, you eventually won’t be able to tell the good paper you need to pay attention to from the paper that needs to be thrown away.

That frustrated feeling of being out of control will around to h back to haunt you. Even worse, you may miss a bill or important notice of some sort if you don’t keep the paper entering your house under control. So take control of your paper problem. Here are some pointers to declutter papers.

Mail

Have you ever missed paying a bill, or paid a bill late, because you lost it? If so, this article is for you. Let’s face it; there is a ton of junk mail that can come to your mailbox each day. There can be so much junk mail that it takes a while to sort it properly. So, you may be tempted to stick it in a pile and wait until later. But don’t! Pick up the mail and sort it immediately, preferably on your way to the garbage can. By the time you get to the garbage can, you will probably have sorted through the mail. You’ll have a nice pile of mail that you need to deal with. And you’ll have an even nicer pile of junk mail to toss.

Some people even sort their junk mail at the garbage can before it even comes inside the house. This method works well, too.

If you really don’t have time to even look at the mail properly, put the pile of mail in an obvious place for sorting later. This way, you will be sure not to throw an important message away. You will also be mildly annoyed by where you put the mail, and hopefully get back to sorting and processing the mail as soon as you can.

One problem with this method is what to do with the mail that you are not sure about. If you have mail that you don’t know for sure is junk mail, put it in with the necessary mail you plan to keep. Then, when you go through the mail, you will be able to determine whether that letter or notice needs to be kept or tossed.

You may have mail in your hand that is not for you. If you are sure the mail is junk mail, throw it away anyway. If in doubt, you’d better keep that letter or notice, because it could be important. Set up some sort of system with the people in your home. For instance, put the mail that you think is important on that person’s desk. If they haven’t dealt with it within a certain amount of time, toss it. But be sure to let the person know how long they have before the mail gets thrown away.

If you have accumulated a large pile of mail, or just haven’t had time to sort mail, you can still get it easily under control. Use a recycled plastic grocery bag for a garbage bag. Dump all of your old mail on the kitchen table, and start sorting. Junk mail and other mail that you are sure you don’t need to open can go right in the plastic bag to be tossed. Be sure to organize the bills in some way, so they can get paid without being lost or forgotten.

Magazines

Another type of paper clutter is magazines. Magazines can be fun and entertaining, as well as educational. But what will you do with those old magazines when you’ve looked at them several times? You have a couple of choices to make. You can either limit the number of magazines that enter your house, or you can store preferred magazines neatly.

If you have read the magazines that you have, several times, toss them. If the magazine is more than 2 months old, toss it. You might have found the perfect recipe or article in that magazine. If you haven’t clipped the coupon, recipe or article within 2 months, you probably never will. So either clip and save those magazine articles or toss the magazine. You will enjoy the extra space you will find when you do.

Some types of magazines were meant to be read and enjoyed, then thrown away. Others were intended to teach or aid someone in researching a subject. If you have professional journals or magazines that come to your home, you might want to save them for the articles. That’s fine. But where will you keep the magazines? You will need to buy folder and magazine holders to keep magazines from getting shelf worn. You will also need to come up with some sort of filing system, so you can remember what is in each magazine for easy reference. . If you don’t get control over magazine clutter, it will soon control you.

Other Types of Paper Clutter

Lots of other types of paper clutter exist. You can get flyers in the mail, advertisements tucked into your front door, church bulletins, and all kinds of newsletters from many different places. Unless these pieces of paper have important and necessary purposes for your life, read them, and then throw them away. If you can get out of newsletter and other mail subscriptions, you will have that much left to sort through. Cancel the subscriptions and newsletters you really don’t read. You will have more money and less clutter if you do. And lots of newsletters and newspapers are online now, so you don’t have to deal with paper clutter at all.

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