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 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.