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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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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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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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Lifestyles of the Clean and Tidy

Lifestyles of the Clean and Tidy

Building New Habits

Clutter does not have to become a way of life. Some basic lifestyle changes will help you keep your house from getting out of hand. These changes aren’t too hard. They are also good candidates for a New Years’ resolution, if you need one. But you don’t have to wait till the New Year to start. Any Monday is a good time, just like Monday is a good time to start a diet. The point is to start. Here is a new routine that should help keep the clutter down in your home.

To get into a new habit takes a while. If you are trying to break a bad habit, it helps to replace that bad habit with a good habit. You have to do a new activity or action for 40 days consistently before it starts to feel natural. That’s why some people try to give up a bad habit during the 40 days of Lent. By the time that season is over, an old habit has less of a hold on you. You don’t need to make decluttering a part of your religion, however. Just choose a length of time to really stick to your new habits. One month is a good beginning. And hopefully a new habit has taken its place.

Reward yourself for sticking to your new routine by doing something nice for yourself when you are successful. You don’t really have to be 100% successful for the entire 40 days before you get a reward, also. And you don’t have to be perfect in your new routine to get a reward. You only have to do better.

Rewards can be something as tiny as a cookie and a cup of coffee during a break, or something as big as that new piece of furniture you’ve wanted at the end of a successful 40 days of following this routine. But if you buy something to bring into your house, be sure you have a space for it. Shelves and cabinets of some sort are a great reward, and help to keep you clutter-free, as well.

A new routine

The rule to your new routine is to put things away, right after you use them. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. But if it was simple, you would have been doing it all along, and the clutter wouldn’t have built up in your house.

The first thing to do each day is make your bed. If your bed is made, the majority of your bedroom will look cleaned and tidied. I know you don’t want to, but do it anyway. You’ll be happier with the way your house looks in the long run. And remember, it takes a while to build new habits. Next, pile those dirty clothes lying on the bedroom floor into you laundry hamper. Yes, they are supposed to be in the hamper already, but they just don’t always make it there. Not to worry. Just take your filled laundry hamper with its dirty clothing into your laundry room or area, start a load, and shut the door. Your floor in the bedroom is probably clear now. If not, finish putting shoes, etc. in the closet and shut that door, as well. If this sounds like to much to deal with first thing in the morning, put your clothes in the hamper at night before bed, and put your shoes in the closet, as well. This whole activity doesn’t really take that long, and your bedroom looks clean as a result.

The next rooms a person tends to go to is the bathroom. Once you are done with your daily hygiene routine, take a minute or two to put those items back where they belong. Makeup can go back in the drawer, and other hygiene items back in the medicine cabinet.

Next, grab those dirty clothes and towels and put them in the hamper.  Your next decision will be about whether or not you have time to wipe surfaces down and/or wipe off the mirror. Those disinfecting wipes you can buy at the local grocery store are great for this. You now have clean, disinfected surfaces in the bathroom. You might need to save cleaning the mirror for later. But definitely be sure there is not left over toothpaste spit into your sink. It sets up like concrete and is much harder to clean later. But for now, you have a clear floor and the surfaces of your bathroom are uncluttered. Close the shower door or curtain to hide any issues there.

Kitchen Clutter

First, get that cup of coffee or tea started. While it brews, make your breakfast. Once you are done eating, clean up after yourself. Do it right away, don’t put it off. Dishes go in the dishwasher. You can put dishes in the sink only if you don’t have a dishwasher.  Rinse them off first, of course. Take a moment to clear counter surfaces of any clutter that might have accumulated. Take a moment to put breakfast items away, coffee containers up, and cereal away. Any other dirty dishes you’ve made or found can go in the dishwasher, as well. If you don’t have a dishwasher, wash the dishes you created right away. Leave them in the sink in a drainer to dry. By this point, most of us will need to be on our way to work or school. Be proud, because you haven’t let daily household clutter win today.

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Where do I start

Where do I start

Where do I Start?

There are lots of great ideas and rationales for starting a deep cleaning and decluttering of your house. Two theories are consistently used to tart a decluttering project. Just remember, it doesn’t matter which one you choose, or if you come up with your own idea. Just pick a spot and begin to declutter.

Theory Number One

Theory number one is to start your decluttering project on a part of the house that will be seen most frequently by you or by the people who come to your home. I f you spend most of your time in the kitchen, start there. ON the other hand, if you like to spend time in your living room or family room, start your serious decluttering activity there. When you are done decluttering that room you entertaining area is ready for visitors. You and your visitors will be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor, which is a very encouraging feeling.

Theory Number Two

The second way to start a decluttering project is to start at the messiest place and work from there. For instance, if you have a spare room that has turned into a dumping ground for odds and ends of projects, start there. Or if everyone likes to have out in the living room, and bring their belongings and projects with them, you might start there. Lots of people start in their bedrooms. Bedrooms can be used as storage units. This might be because people tend to close their bedroom doors and avoid the issue of cleaning the room, since it isn’t always a high traffic area in the home.

If you are a collector, pack rat, or haven’t uncluttered in a while, you may feel overwhelmed at the amount of junk you have collected. Just remember that there is no perfect place to start a decluttering project. Pick a place and go for it.

Pick it and Stick to it

Once you have decided where to start your decluttering adventure, stick to it. For perfectionists as well as many others, the project may feel overwhelming. You might be tempted to stop before you start, especially if you have to clear up lots of clutter.

Break the project into smaller tasks. If you are very uncomfortable or overwhelmed, break the project into tiny task. For instance, all you may be able to deal with is one drawer at a time. Take that drawer, dump it on the floor or a table, and start to go through the stuff. Have your garbage bag handy, and use it often. Then put back only the items you really need or want. If you have duplicates of an item, throw it away. If you feel like you are wasting stuff, you probably are.

People who have clutter have duplicates of many items. This is because they couldn’t find, for example, the masking tape. They had to run out and buy more for a project.  Of course, later they find that roll of tape, plus usually several others. You could organize your tape and keep it all. You could keep some of a duplicated item and throw the rest away. Or you can donate duplicates of items you find while decluttering. One thing that really helps you clean out that space is a box for donations. You have a perfectly good item that you just don’t want or don’t have room to store. Donate it to a thrift store or shelter. That way the item is out of your house, and may be helpful to someone else who might have a use for it.

The Timer Method

Another way to break a huge decluttering job down to reasonable tasks is to set a timer for a specific amount of time. While the clock is ticking, sort and toss your chosen area with vigor. When the timer goes off, you get a break. Start with a small amount of time if you really have trouble decluttering. You’d be amazed at how much you can get done in 15 minutes. If you discover that you become inspired by the amount you can accomplish in 15 minutes, you might want to do another round of decluttering. Or you can be finished for the day. Either way, you have accomplished something and are a bit more organized than you were. Reward yourself by enjoying the look of that empty shelf or organized drawer. Then have a bit of a rest if you’d like.

You may choose a longer time period to declutter. If you can, clean and organize for an hour. Then give yourself a nice break or rest. If you keep this pattern going all day, you will be amazed at how much you can get done. But even if you only declutter for an hour every day, your house will be organized in no time. Try to pick an area that can be finished in an hour. This will give you an amazing sense of accomplishment. But even if you only declutter for a few minutes per day, you will improve the organization of your home and feel more organized in other areas of your life, 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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