Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten Simple Ways to Be More Organised in 2010

Decluttering and organisation go hand in hand. If you're more organised, you'll generally have less clutter, and if you have less clutter, it's easier to be more organised! The Clutter Diet Blog has a great list of Ten Simple Ways to Be More Organised in 2010 to get you thinking about ways to be more organised for the new year ahead.

How-To: Clear Away Your Christmas Cards

I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday time and is looking forward to the new year and decade ahead. It's probably about now that you're looking at clearing away all the paraphernalia of Christmas, such as Christmas cards. Whilst it is nice to keep some cards, most of them will probably be put in the rubbish. Firstly, though consider some of these alternatives:
  1. Keep the cards to use in making low-cost Christmas decorations for next Christmas, such as this Christmas Card Bunting.
  2. Donate the cards to a local pre-school, child-care centre or school for craft activities. (Birthday cards are also great to donate.)
  3. Make gift tags from the cards to use for next year's Christmas presents - without spending a cent.
  4. And if you do chuck out the cards, make sure you put them in your paper and cardboard recycling bin.
Whilst you're clearing out your cards, also check out this excellent list of 15 Ways to Recycle Wrapping Paper.

(images: homelife.com.au)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Donate My Dress

This is only available for readers in the US, but is a great initiative. Instead of putting your prom or other special occasion dress away in your wardrobe never to be worn again, donate it to dress drive organisation that will give it to someone who can't afford a dress. Check out all the details at DonateMyDress.org.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Hidden Cost of Clutter

When you think about the cost of clutter, you probably think about the originally cost of buying it. And maybe you also add on the cost of cleaning it. But there's a whole bunch of other costs associated with having stuff, which aren't justified if you don't get any benefits from the item. Check out the entire list of The Hidden Costs of Having Stuff at Everyday Minimalist.

Donating your Clutter

There's a great article over at unclutterer.com about Specific Donation Locations. Suggestions on where to donate specific items of clutter to range from animal shelters (old towels and sheets) to women's shelters (female business attire and even half-used bottles of shampoos and conditioners). Make sure you also read through the comments, as there's a lot more great suggestions there.

How-To: Keep Christmas Clutter Free

It's now less than a week to Christmas, and hopefully your Christmas shopping is complete, the presents wrapped, the Christmas Day menu planned. Christmas can be a stressful time of year, but here's some tips to cut down on the clutter on the big day (although I can't help with the baking and the weather):
  1. After unwrapping the presents from underneath the tree (first thing on Christmas morning, if you're like my family), everyone should gather up their presents and move them to an area of their own to display them - their desk, bed, or a place in the living room. (This is especially good for children, for when they want to show off their new toys to the relatives when they arrive.)
  2. Assign someone (such as the kids) the job to put all the wrapping paper and ribbons into bags (one for recyclables, one for rubbish), and take it out to the bins, leaving the floor neat and tidy again.
  3. The only thing for in surplus on Christmas Day than food, is dirty dishes. If you don't have a dish washer (into which all the plates at least should be stack as quickly as possible) and you're not using paper plates (again put them into rubbish bags as quickly as possible), don't leave the dishes until everyone is gone but start doing them during the rest required between main course and dessert. It's a great opportunity for some conversation inside, and of course many hands make light work. (Hang the tea towels afterwards on the oven door, if you've used it, to help dry.)
  4. Place extra bins (or buckets or boxes from presents) around the festive area for people to put empty beer bottles, drink cans or paper plates in straight away, rather than leaving them to clutter up the tables and create extra work for later.
  5. Left-over dishes should be wrapped in gladwrap and ideally be sent home with whoever brought them (meaning everyone should have some left-overs for the next few days, rather than one person filling up their fridge).
(images: Shandos Cleaver)

A Lesson from Camping

I've recently been away camping (the main reason for the lack of recent posts). This got me thinking about a long camping trip I went on earlier this year: four months travelling around Australia in a tent. When you're doing any sort of travelling for quite awhile, it's surprising how easy it is to exist with so little - a single bag of clothes, a small selection of cooking gear (let alone fancy appliances), a couple of books and magazines. And how little you miss everything you left back at home. So, if you can do it whilst travelling, how about living with less every day back at home?

Monday, December 7, 2009

What's Your New Year Resolution?

In a poll over at homelife asking readers what they would focus on in the new year, 43% of respondents selected "Getting more organised - around the home, with finances and creating clearer goals for myself" (putting it just behind the 47% who selected "Improving my lifestyle"). What are you wanting to focus on in the new year?

Stop Clutter: Tip #3

Before you buy something that you have a niggling feeling may turn into clutter (books that you won't get around to reading, a tent that may only be used once, kitchen appliances you will rarely use), stop and think whether you really need to buy it; can you instead borrow it?

Books are an easy item to borrow, with libraries existing in most towns. The due date will put greater pressure on you to actually get around to reading it, and come the due date, whether you have read it or not, good-bye to the clutter of the books. For items that you may not use again or only use rarely (such as a new tent or a kitchen appliance taking up valuable cupboard space), see whether you can borrow it off a friend. Chances are the item is just sitting in their cupboard unused, and if you afterwards you decide you do want to regularly use the item, go ahead and purchase it. Just make sure you're happy to loan any of your "clutter" to them as well.

(images: Shandos Cleaver)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why Declutter? #2

One of my early posts was about why you might want to declutter. In addition to those key reasons (not enough space, making space, moving house, preparing for selling your house, making money), here are five more potential benefits from decluttering:
  1. Reduce your stress levels. Less clutter means you should be able to find things easier, leading to less stress particularly when you're walking out the door.
  2. Spend less time cleaning. If you don't have as much to clean (or clean around), cleaning won't take as long. You'll also have less items to repair and maintain.
  3. Value what you have more. If you don't own as much, you should make more use (and treasure more) what you do have.
  4. Feel freer. Having less possessions means there is less to tie you down to your house. Consider moving somewhere new or travelling for awhile and leaving what remains in storage.
  5. Relax more. Reducing your amount of clutter should make for a more relaxing home environment.
(images: Shandos Cleaver)

Inspiration: Quotes

Here are some quotes to inspire you to declutter:

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." -Leonardo da Vinci

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." -William Morris

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How Long To Keep Important Papers

I found a great article over at Simple. Organized. Life. about how long to keep important papers. Whilst the length of time to keep tax records will differ from country to country, these are some good guidelines to get you thinking about your own paperwork.

Website Recommendation: The Everyday Minimalist

I came across a website tonight devoted to the topic of minimalism, particularly leading a minimalist lifestyle in terms of possessions, called The Everyday Minimalist. I particular enjoyed reading the posts The Defining Ah-hah! Moments of my Life - Part 1, which deals with the topic "my things are not who I am", and Part 2, which is about "buying quality and not always quantity is not so stupid after all". I also recommend reading How Clutter Costs You Money.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Gifts That Don't Clutter

If you're trying to reduce clutter in your own life, you may be getting a guilty feeling whilst you are doing your holiday shopping, about buying gifts that will create clutter in other people's lives. For some great ideas on buying gifts that won't clutter, check out the Holiday Gift Giving Guide over at Unclutterer, especially the list of gifts that the Unclutterer team will be giving.

(images: Unclutterer)

Reduce Clutter with iPhone Apps

I love my iPod Touch. Whilst it was originally bought to replace my existing iPod, along with the ability to read my email and browse the web via Wi-Fi connections (although I really would love an iPhone so I could get my data fix anywhere), I've found myself using the huge variety of Apps offered through iTune's App Store more and more. Being able to do so much with one tiny device, means that I don't need as much other gadgets and, well, stuff in my life. For example:
  • Calculator (Built-in), means my old calculator from school can finally be donated to charity. Turn the screen to landscape mode to use a scientific calculator.
  • Clock (Built-in) is a great tool for travellers. Add as many clocks as you like to the World Clock screen, then switch to the Alarm screen and set an alarm for your early morning flight.
  • My Lists ($2.49) is a replacement for all those scattered bits of paper with to-do lists. Make a list of movies you want to watch then go through it when you're at the video store, or list all your upcoming bills.
  • Stanza (Free), an eBook application, means that I can download and read classic books for free. Due to the small screen size it's best for short stories or plays. Finally read The Art of War or find out what Uncle Vanya is about before seeing the play.
  • SMH/The Age Good Food Guide ($11.99) is mainly intended as an on-the-go accompaniment to the books (which retail for $29.99), but can be used on its own, meaning you save cash and don't have an book that becomes redundant in a year. Also has great location based features.
(Note: All prices are for the Australian App Store.)

Do you have any favourite apps?

(images: The Age)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How-To: Declutter Your Desk

No matter whether it's your desk at work or at home, desks are one of the worst places for clutter. Whilst some people claim that they prefer a messy desk (and even find it easier to find stuff when the desk is messy rather than has been cleaned up), most people would prefer to have a less cluttered desk. Here are my top tips for decluttering your desk:
  1. Use trays and devise a system to file current paperwork in your trays (such as "In", "This Week", "Next Week", etc). Your paperwork should have a home - in a tray, not on your desk. If you don't like the look of trays, shallow boxes are also a good option.
  2. Use bulldog clips. Whilst paperclips are okay for a few of pages, nothing beats bulldog clips for keeping a bundle of paper together.
  3. File old paperwork away in your drawers or filing cabinet. If you don't have a filing cabinet, an easy alternative is to have a set of manila folders in your drawers for different categories of paperwork. Once you no longer need something close at hand, file it away. And occasionally (such as when you have a slow afternoon or are in between projects), go through your old paperwork and chuck away or shred anything that you no longer need again. (But make sure you follow your company guidelines.)
  4. Have a cup for your pens and pencils. And it doesn't need to be from a stationery store - a funky coffee mug will also do the trick.
  5. At the end of each day, whilst clearing your head before you step out of the door, also clear your desk by putting items away.
  6. Unless your cleaners actually clean your desk (most places I've work at the cleaners tend to leave the desks untouched), clean your desk. It's much nicer to work on a desk that isn't dusty, and it's also a good chance to tidy it up.
(images: kikki.K)

A Very Clean Christmas

During the lead up to Christmas you will be probably wanting to both declutter your home and make it spick-and-span from top to bottom, ready for the putting up of Christmas decorations and inevitable visits from your family and friends. So, to help make this chore an easier one, here are some links to a variety of handy cleaning tips on the web:

A Question of Towels

I found an interesting article on unclutterer.com exploring the question of "How many bath linens do you need?" With their answer being two sets per person (generally) and a set each per possible houseguest, how many sets of towels do you currently have?

Monday, November 30, 2009

How-To: Refresh Your Wardrobe

Nearly everyone's clothes wardrobe needs a clean-out about twice a year, or once at the start of every summer and winter. In my opinion, however, too many guidelines make the assumption that everyone's wardrobes are crammed full with impulse purchases that we never wear, and simply concentrate on clearing out the wardrobe to make room for new season purchases. I'd like to focus on some additional areas, that are applicable even if your wardrobe isn't bursting at the seams, in particular making use of what you currently have.

Start by taking all of your items out of your wardrobe and drawers. Go through everything one-by-one. Do you wear the item? Some items, particularly formal clothing, is only rarely worn, but with most other items if you haven't worn it during the last year, there is probably no point in keeping it. Be truthful with yourself. A good question to ask is, do I feel good wearing this item?

Before putting aside an item that you no longer wear (whether to swap with friends, sell on eBay or give away to charity), next ask yourself whether you can make any alternations to it so that you would wear. (For example, adjusting the fit, shortening the skirt, changing the buttons.) If the answer is yes, put it into a pile to be altered, whether by yourself or professionally at an alternations shop. It is much cheaper to alter something you already own than buy new, quality clothing.

The next check you should make with the item is to inspect whether it is damaged. (Make sure you in particular carefully check pantyhose.) If the item is not repairable, it should go in a pile to go in the bin or be turned into rags. If it is repairable, put it into a pile to be mended, either by yourself or at an alternations shop. Similarly, if it is stained, put it in a pile to be soaked or treated with stain removal. (And if after treatment the stain persists, it should then go into the bin or be used as a rag, rather than going back into your wardrobe, unless you have a special place for old clothes to wear when doing painting or grubby work.)

Finally, check whether there are any dry-clean only items that are due to be taken to the
drycleaners, or whether anything (particularly white items) could do with a bulk soak. With your shoes, it is time that they had a polish or do the heels need replacing on any stilettos?

When putting all the items back into the wardrobe, organise
everything in the way that you prefer, whether by type of clothing or where you wear the item. Try to put everything on nice coathangers that will not damage your clothing (not the thin wire ones from drycleaners) and neatly fold everything. Look into buying shoe racks (Ikea always have cheap ones) or clear boxes for your shoes, if you don't already have any, and neatly arrange accessories in hat boxes or from hangers. A neat wardrobe should make it a pleasure for you to decide what to wear.

(images: real living & Ikea)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Website Recommendation: Unclutterer

I came across a great website today via Twitter, unclutterer.com. There is a section Ask Unclutterer that answers questions submitted by readers, plus a handy forums. You can also follow the site on Twitter, via the account un_clutter that posts tweets about the latest articles to be added.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Release Your Books

bookcrossing n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise

I came across a link today to the website BookCrossing, which encourages people to engage in bookcrossing, and submit details of books they've 'released' or 'caught'. So, if you're wanting to declutter your collection of books but can't bare the thought of permanently losing contact with them, consider 'releasing' them to the world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Move Your Magazine Addiction Online

Many people read newspapers online these days, rather than subscribing to them or physically picking up a copy from the newsagent. But what about reading magazines online? I know that reading them online can't substitute for the ease of flicking through the glossy pages of the latest issue or filling up holders with the whole year's issues, but there are some offerings out there online that may help you to stop buying issues that will end up as clutter.

Homes, etc: Notebook: have a wonderful website that delivers up a wealth of home hints, recipes ideas and general help for your life. With the large array of articles dating from their years' of back issues, there is bound to be something that fits what you're looking for and it's easy to find old articles with the search option. Check out the recent article on decorating with botanicals.

Cooking: The best Australian website for recipes is Taste. With recipes taken from the magazines delicious., Super Food Ideas, Good Taste, Vogue Entertaining + Travel, Notebook: and Country Style, it'd be hard to find a recipe that isn't included in their archives. It is also possible to search for articles from a particular publication. Scroll to the bottom of the page for links to highly rated and featured recipes.

Fashion: Vogue has a decent website, particularly for checking out the latest fashion shows, although the standout feature of the site are the forums. With the most popular forums including those devoted to fashion and shopping (not surprisingly), there's a strong band of devotees. Madison's website is also good to check out, mainly for the most wanted and luxe to less stories, although it would be nice if there was a new story more than once a month. For a round up of all the latest fashion and gossip magazines, both in Australia and overseas, with new posts added daily, check out the blog Girl with a Satchel. It'll help you decide what is worth buying this week.

Current Affairs: The Monthly magazine's website offers up for free online reading one of its monthly essays each month, plus an article each from The Nation Reviewed and the Arts & Letters sections. All articles from previous months are also available for free. The articles from the current issue with an M symbol next to them are restricted to subscriber access only, with an online subscription costing $40, a saving of $19.95 off a print subscription. Check out John Birmingham's recent essay on A Short History of the Media Future or the Nick Cave essay, The Good Son, from the August issue.

(images: Notebook: and Madison)

Freecycle and ReUseIt Networks

You may already give away items you no longer want or need to your friends and relatives, but what about if all your relatives live far away or no-one you know wants your old, still functional items? Alternatively, you may be planning on giving away items to a charity, but what if they won't take them (such as old electrical items or just odd items such as old camping equipment)? In both cases the recent invention of Freecycle andReUseIt networks will come in handy.


Both networks essentially operate on people giving away old items for free, to a network of people in their local community, using the internet for communication. So, if you've got some camping equipment or baby clothes you no longer use, you can post an offer, people contact you (hopefully) and someone comes and picks it up (easy to do, as they live close by). Additionally, people may be able to post about items they want (boxes for moving are often a favourite). Both networks operate globally, usually with one of the two in most urban areas in the main countries they operate in (US, Canada, UK, Australia are the main countries listed for ReUseIt).

Donating to Charity

One way that you can thoughtfully dispose of your unwanted clutter is to donate items to charity. This is especially useful with old clothes, furniture and bric-a-brac. Here are the websites of a number of charities in Australia that will accept material donations:
Generally the easiest method is to leave your items at one of their stores (but make sure you don't leave items outside after-hours, as many of these items are stolen), but there are also pick-up services with the details listed on the above websites.

Just remember that electrical goods and stained mattresses are unable to be taken, due to government regulations, and it is best if only good quality items are left with the charities, so that they don't need to spend precious money disposing of items unable to be sold or used, and that should have only gone to a bin.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stop Clutter: Tip #2

One problem most people have when they are sorting through their existing clutter is a reluctance to throw things away because "they might need it someday". This is one of the main reasons that clutter also accumulates in the first place.

If you find yourself going to throw something away but then stopping because you think you might need it someday, ask yourself these additional questions. What is the percentage chance that I will ever use it? Am I likely to use it in the next month? In the next year? What is the cost to me of replacing this item if I do need it? How much storage space does this item take up? If it turns out that you are unlikely to ever use it, the item costs next to nothing to replace and/or takes up a large amount of space, maybe you can convince yourself to let it go.

Turn Clutter Into Clever Storage

Solve two problems at once with the article in this December's RealLiving issue on how to "Turn clutter into clever storage". There's a preview of the article online, but you'll have to grab a copy of the magazine (which arrived in Australian newsagents today) to see the full article.

(images: RealLiving website)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Go Electronic

One thing I love about computers is the ability to store things electronically that would otherwise have cluttered up my home. Whether you are short on space, need to move regularly or just want the convenience of accessing stuff remotely, a review of what you can store in electronic format is beneficial.

Consider the following areas:
  • Photos: The majority of photos taken these days are digital, meaning rather than amassing a large collection of photo albums or messy, unfiled photos, you can just store them on your hard drive, although you still may want to print out some of your photos to create albums. Additional benefits also include the ability to easily share the photos online or to back them up to prevent their loss.
  • Financial documents: Check out the recent post I devoted to decluttering your paperwork. Ideally you would choose to start receiving most of your documents electronically, so they never create that dreaded pile of clutter in the first place.
  • Music: Even if you don't want to put your music onto an iPod or other MP3 player to play your music on the go, you still may want to consider setting up a computer or an MP3 player dedicated to supplying music (and video) for your home entertainment system. Scroll through the list of songs available, rather than trying to find the CD and risk your CDs being scratched. There are many options these days for buying music directly online to download, bypassing the step of owning CDs.
  • Recipes: Rather than keeping torn out pages from magazines, scan the recipes or type them up on your computer. They'll be easily searchable by recipe title and maybe even ingredients (handy for when you want to know what to cook with leftover ingredients).
  • News: Whilst paper newspapers are handy, whether to read on the way to work or during lazy weekend breakfasts, most newspapers can be read online these days. Considering how thick they often are and that most will end up in the recycling bin in a few days, reading your news electronically will help reduce your living room clutter.
  • Books: Not a common option yet, one day many of the books we will read will likely be stored electronically.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inspiration: decor8

When decluttering, it helps to have some inspiration on what you would like to transform your home into, rather than just aiming to have it well decluttered and, umm, tidy. Think about the beautiful spreads in home magazines, with all the furniture and homewares so elegantly positioned (and not a hint of clutter anywhere).

I've recently found an inspiring blog online: decor8. Every post is packed with beautiful images, making me wish I could transform my home to look just like them. I particularly like the images from the recent post on online store Pale and Interesting. So, next time you need some inspiration, spend some time reading through decor8.

Stop Clutter: Tip #1

Today, I really need to do cleaning up. I have piles of stuff, well, everywhere. It all started with going away last weekend, and not putting everything away, and then adding some more... You know how it goes!

To stop this from happening, for both myself and anyone else in future, try and put everything away as soon as possible. Everything should have a home, and return to that home when it is finished with. Ideally, everything should be put away before you go to bed - everyday! You may already apply this rule to your children and their toys. Use the same rule for yourself.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Book Recommendation: Affluenza

Affluenza: When Too Much is Never Enough, written by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss, is a 2005 publication that focuses on the issue of "affluenza", which is basically when people try to make themselves happy and achieve a status in society through materialism.

One of the chapters in the book is "Wasteful Consumption", which basically focuses on how buying stuff that we don't need, and may never use, we create waste (particularly food waste) and clutter. "We waste billions on clothes and shoes we never wear, exercise equipment we never use, and CDs we never listen to. Uneaten food quickly finds its way to the garbage bin, but these items can be stored for years, so most houses have cupboards, or even rooms, where unused stuff is hidden away. For many the idea of a 'spring clean' now has more to do with disposing of the year's accumulated paraphernalia than with dusting and carpet cleaning." (Hamilton, C. & Denniss, R. Affluenza, Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2005, pp 104-105.)

If this sounds like you, and you want to explore this mindset in the hope of reducing your material consumption before it becomes clutter, I thoroughly recommend the book. It is also available as an Adobe Reader digital download from Dymocks.

(images: Dymocks)

Store Recommendation: Howards Storage World

It's hard to think of a store that offers more storage options than Howards Storage World. No matter which room of the house or what type of storage, Howards will usually always have plenty of options. Along with stores located in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Philippines, Ireland, Spain and the Middle East, there is also the ability to browse the catalogues and purchase online. Additionally, The Organisation Station on their website has both articles and tips on getting organised.

How-To: What do you want?

Are there any particular areas of your home that need a declutter, and you're not sure how to start? If so, leave a comment for me below, and I'll write a post on that area soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Free listings on eBay from tomorrow!

From tomorrow, 11 November, until 6 December, all eBay.com.au auctions with a starting price of 99c or less will have zero insertion fees (usually 30c). This is a great time to sell some of your small bits and pieces that may or may not be bid on, without the cost of listing the items.

Important: For full details, click here (category exclusions apply, sellers must have received an invitation for the promotion, listing upgrades and final value fees still apply, etc).

How-To: Declutter Your Paperwork

One of the top items that creates clutter, both at work and at home, is paperwork. At home you'll have bills, bank statements, financial records, receipts, contracts and various other items of paperwork, with new items arriving each day. Additionally, come tax-time or when you're applying for a loan or moving house, you'll need quick and easy access to the relevant documents. There are two ways of dealing with this paperwork: electronically and in hard-copy.

Many people are increasingly moving to receiving paperwork electronically, and storing it in electronic format (i.e. not printing it out), often for environmental reasons. Some service providers may even penalise you for still receiving paper bills as a cost-cutting measure. If you want to move to storing your paperwork electronically, follow these steps:
  1. Request to receive your bills and other documents electronically. Look for information on the most recent document received, or check out the company's website.
  2. On your computer, create a financial folder, then create a set of folders inside this folder, with one folder for each category (e.g. "Phone", "Contents Insurance") or each company.
  3. When you receive a document via email, save the document to the relevant folder. It's easier to just go to the one folder, rather than to search through all your email.
  4. Similarly, if you view the document after logging into a website, again save the document to the relevant folder. Often you can only access documents going back the last year or so on websites, and charges will apply if you need to have sent older documents.
  5. When completing financial transactions or purchases on line, save a copy of the confirmation as a PDF document to the relevant folder.
  6. Ideally, if you still receive paper versions of any documents, scan the documents and save them along with the electronic documents. If you need to keep the original paper version of the document, keep a folder for this.
  7. If you have bulky paper documents, such as Product Disclosure Statements, Terms and Conditions brochures and manuals, often an electronic copy of such documents can be found on the company's website. Save this document to the relevant folder and recycle the original document.
  8. Because you are relying on these electronic documents, with no hard-copy backup, ensure that you back up the data, whether to discs or online. Additionally, make sure the data is kept secure, with a password required to log-on to the account under which the documents are stored, and optionally data encryption switched on.
  9. Finally, occasionally delete old documents that you no longer need, so that your folders do not become cluttered. Alternatively, if you want to keep everything, you may want to create additional sub-folders, such as one for each calendar or financial year.
If you still want to store your documents in paper format, or you have extensive paper documents that you need to get on top of, before you move to storing documents electronically, follow these steps:
  1. Purchase one or more folders, sufficient to fit all your documents in, along with one or more packets or plastic sleeves.
  2. Use one plastic sleeve for each category (e.g. "Phone", "Contents Insurance") or each company. Order the plastic sleeves in an order that makes sense to you, and, if you are using multiple folders, divide the plastic sleeves between the folders in a way that makes sense to you.
  3. Regularly file the documents away in these folders - at least at the end of each week or after you have paid the relevant bill. Unfiled paperwork can easily go missing.
  4. Occasionally, go through the documents and get rid of any documents that you no longer need (such as old electricity and gas bills, unless you need to keep them for tax purposes). However, if the document has any personal information on it, ensure that you firstly shred it. (Simple shredders can usually be bought at electrical goods stores from about $30.)
(images: kikki.K)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Friday File Fling


Another event that is part of Planet Ark's National Recycling Week is the "Friday File Fling". The reason behind this event is that office paper has a surprisingly low recycling rate, due to the large amounts of paper that is just filed away. This event aims to get offices to go through paper filed in filing cabinets, desk drawers and in-boxes and either re-use the paper or recycle it (keeping in mind mandatory retention periods for some documents and the need to shred sensitive documents).

This is a great way to do some decluttering in the work place and get everyone involved. Alternatively, you may like to apply the principles to your home office. Check out this step-by-step guide.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Store Recommendation: Freedom

A few days ago, I received in the mailbox the latest Freedom Summer catalogue. They have a great page in the catalogue showing the range of storage solutions they have available - for the living room to the wardrobe to the laundry, including boxes, baskets, units, etc. If you want to deal effectively with clutter, you need to have plenty of attractive storage. Check out the options available at Freedom here.

(images: Freedom)

Organising your Desk

I found this great article on the kikki.K website listing their top 5 tips for organising your desk, whether at the office or home. Even if your workplace doesn't have a "clean desk" policy, I find having a tidy desk always makes me more productive. And make sure you don't forget the final tip on adding personality to your workspace!

(images: kikki.K)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Big Aussie Swap Events Coming Up!

During Planet Ark's National Recycling Week (9th-16th November), there will be Big Aussie Swap events happening all around Australia. To join in and get rid of some of the clutter around your house, and do your part for the environment at the same time, visit recyclingweek.planetark.org or call 1300 733 712.

(images: Planet Ark)

Disposing of Out-of-date Medicines

Previously I've discussed getting rid of old beauty products and sunscreen. One other item in your bathroom cabinet that you should also get rid of when past its use by date is old medicine. However, it's best not to get rid of them in the bin or by flushing them down a sink or toilet (where they could pollute waterways). Here in Australia the Federal Government has a Return & Disposal of Unwanted Medicines program (www.returnmed.com.au), which allows you to drop off unwanted or out-of-date medicines at your local pharmacy. Most other countries, such as the UK, also have similar programs.

Reduce Your Paper Printouts

Paper is one of the chief causes of clutter both at home and at work. Keep track of your printing, and its impact on the environment, by downloading the Paper-Less Alliance's Paper-Less Print Logger widget at www.paperlessalliance.com.au/software.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Labelling Electrical Cords

I found a great idea recently in Notebook: magazine - labelling electrical cords using the clips from bread-bags:

"Light, easy to remove and the perfect size to fit neatly over an electrical cord, bread-bag clips are a great way to label what's what and bring order to a tangled power board. Label with a permanent marker [ideally with a thinner tip] and attach the clip near the plug." (Notebook:, November 2009, p. 132)

(images: Notebook:, photographed by Shandos Cleaver)

How-To: Pack Away Your Winter Wardrobe

Now is about the time of year you should be putting away your winter clothing if you live in Sydney, like I do. (Generally I'd do it even earlier, but there has been some unseasonable cold weather this spring.) If you have a very large wardrobe, you probably don't need to do this, but if like most of us there's not quite enough room, this is a great way to make the clothes that you will be wearing over the coming summer months are more accessible.


I find the best place to store my winter clothing is in my large suitcase (which unfortunately doesn't get used for travelling that much). Consider at least packing bulky items away, such as the following:
  • Coats
  • Parkers
  • Bulky woollen jumpers
  • Winter scarfs
  • Gloves
  • Beanies
  • Winter pyjamas
Additionally, it is a great time to determine if any of your winter clothing is getting old and should taken to a charity shop or thrown away, plus to get anything dry-cleaned that you won't be wearing months to come.

(images: Shandos Cleaver)

How-To: Keep Ornaments from Cluttering

One of the easiest ways to produce a cluttered home is to put all your ornaments out on display. Picture frames, trinkets, souvenirs, vases, candles - all of that stuff that is ornamental to your home - will generally start to overwhelm your home rather than decorate it, unless you perfect that lavish look found in homeware shops. You have two options available:
  1. Clean out your ornaments. Do you really want them all? Does their style still suit your home? Do they still have meaning for you? If you don't want to permanently part with everything, maybe keep some old items that still have memories in a box of treasures.
  2. Only display some of your ornaments. Select a subset of ornaments that look good together to display now, and pack everything else away temporarily. I find it's refreshing to alternate the ornaments out on display in my home at the start of each season, choosing the decor to fit the season, or else if I buy something new.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How-To: Declutter Your Beauty Products

Have you ever read the articles in magazines that discuss how long beauty products last, such as mascara for only three months? Even if some of the best before dates are a bit on the conservative side (extra sales, anyone?), beauty products generally can't be kept forever. And your stash will benefit from a clean-out a few times a year, in multiple ways.

  1. Take all your beauty products out of the cupboard, bags or drawers where you keep them. If you keep then in multiple places, take them out of every place.
  2. Go through the products and determine if anything has passed it's best before date and should be chucked. Many products have recently started indicating with a small symbol how long they will last for (such as 12M surrounded by a symbol of a jar). Other products may have an actual best before date (such as sunscreen, whose best before you should always pay attention to - old sunscreen loses its effectiveness). Most products last no more than 1-2 years once opened. Some indications that a product should be chucked is if it has changed consistency or it is separating.
  3. Go back through everything remaining and see if there is anything you no longer like or use. Don't keep old makeup just because the colours may come back into fashion - see point 2 for why it doesn't have a long life span like clothing. And if the colours or the formulation don't suit you, there is no use in keeping it. If it was barely used and isn't likely to have been contaminated by your use of it (such as a blush or hair product), you could ease your guilt over wasting it by giving it to a friend or sister who it better suits.
  4. Now, go through everything and clean the containers. Clean around any messy product lids with anti-bacterial wipes. Wipe around the necks of nail polish bottles with cotton balls soaked in nail polish remover. Clean your make-up brushes with conditioning shampoo or warm, soapy water, then leave to dry thoroughly. Sharpen your eyeliner and lip pencils to get rid of bacteria on the tips.
  5. Finally, pack everything away. Usually it is best to store everything together in the one place, but you may have a reason to store different things in different places. (If it's simply because you have too many products to store together, look at buying a bigger bag or questioning whether you need everything.) If you don't have a proper place or nice bag to store them in, buy one. Keep in mind that many products (such as skincare products and perfumes) are best stored in a dark place, not out on a dresser; that way they'll keep for longer. Aim to have your beauty products looking, well, "beautiful".
(images: Shandos Cleaver)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Website Recommendation: Paul Graham's Article on Stuff

I came across a link to this article today on Facebook, about stopping to value "stuff" for its own sake and the burden of possessing too much stuff. If this gets you thinking about changing your attitude to stuff, it'll help a lot in decluttering your life.

Continuous Decluttering

You may not currently have much time to go through everything you own and declutter your whole house, or even an entire room or cupboard. But, this shouldn't stop you from starting to declutter. Instead, start decluttering by doing a little bit, all the time. As you're getting an outfit out of your wardrobe, put aside that shirt you no longer wear. As you're packing away sporting gear to a cupboard, put aside that broken, old tennis racket that isn't going to get mended.

I find it useful to keep a bag somewhere and fill it gradually with old stuff to take to a charity bin or shop. You may also want to keep a box to put in stuff to sell on eBay, when you have the time. (If you're wanting to have a garage sale, it is probably best to do a thorough clean-out and maximise the items you'll have for sale on the day.) However, if the item only deserves to go in the bin, bin it - don't waste time trying to sell it or leave it to a charity to pay the cost of disposing of it. And don't let these bags and boxes become clutter themselves - take them to the charity bin or shop regularly, and if you don't get around to eBaying items, get rid of them an alternative way.

Why Declutter?

Apart from wanting to have a neater looking home, these are the top five reasons you may want to declutter:
  1. You don't have enough space, especially if you only have a small apartment or house.
  2. You want to make more space, such as for a study or a new child's bedroom.
  3. You're moving house, and want to minimise the amount of stuff you will have to pack and transport.
  4. You're selling your house, and want to maximise the amount you get for your house.
  5. You want to make some money from selling unneeded possessions, such as through a garage sale or eBaying.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Store Recommendation: kikki.K

A store that I love here in Australia for helping me get organised is kikki.K. Focusing on selling gorgeous Scandinavian stationery to bring a sense of style to your home office, the stores also have a strong focus on organisation, even offering organisational workshops. Well, with stationery this beautiful, you'll want to have a neat desk to show it off!

There are stores throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well as a few new stores in Singapore and the Middle East, plus you can also order online through their website (note that the delivery charges to overseas via Air Mail Express is quite pricey). Check out the Get Organised section on their website and the range of "My Series" organisers (click on the filters) - I particularly love having the My Receipts organiser.

(images: kikki.K)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How-To: Spring-Clean Your Pantry

Whilst most people think of paperwork when it comes to decluttering (or clothes for the fashion slaves out there), I believe that one of the most important places to start decluttering is the pantry (plus the fridge). Cleaning out your pantry will not only mean you can now find that ingredient you need for dinner, but it will also be good for your bank balance (by using ingredients that have gotten lost) and for your health (by ensuring that you're not eating food past its use by date). I earlier wrote a blog post on my food blog, Quick & Tasty, about Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter-cleaning the pantry.

Website Recommendation: Zen Habits

For more ideas on improving productivity in your life, check out the website Zen Habits. In particular, check out their article 18 Five-Minute Decluttering Tips to Start Conquering Your Mess.

How-To: Declutter Your Email

Here is one way you can start decluttering immediately, without leaving your computer. When was the last time you cleaned out your email? Do you regularly clean out your email or is your inbox generally full of hundreds of emails from the last few months? Decluttering isn't just about physical clutter - it can also be about digital clutter.

I generally try and clean out my email at least every couple of weeks (although it has been awhile at the moment...). Maybe once a month will be fine if you don't receive many emails. Here are the steps I take:

  1. Create folders to store emails in - e.g. one folder for Family, another for Financial, another for friends you regularly email.
  2. When you receive email, immediately delete emails you don't want to keep, such as airline sale notifications you aren't interested in or those Facebook emails about people commenting on your status.
  3. Regularly, such as every couple of weeks or once a month, go through all your emails in your Inbox. With each email, delete it, file it into a folder or leave it in the inbox if you still need to action it (e.g. you want to reply to it or you are interested in the sale being advertised). Ideally you will only have a short list of emails left, if any.
  4. If your recycle/trash bin is not set to automatically empty, empty your recycle/trash bin now of all the emails you have newly deleted.
  5. Now is probably also a good time to reply to some of those emails that you've re-discovered in your inbox.

Welcome

Welcome to my new blog about decluttering your life. I hope I can share a lot of tips with you for getting your life organised and less weighed down with clutter.