Thursday, December 31, 2009
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.
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:
- Keep the cards to use in making low-cost Christmas decorations for next Christmas, such as this Christmas Card Bunting.
- Donate the cards to a local pre-school, child-care centre or school for craft activities. (Birthday cards are also great to donate.)
- Make gift tags from the cards to use for next year's Christmas presents - without spending a cent.
- 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.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
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
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.
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.
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):
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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)
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
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?
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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Value what you have more. If you don't own as much, you should make more use (and treasure more) what you do have.
- 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.
- Relax more. Reducing your amount of clutter should make for a more relaxing home environment.
(images: Shandos Cleaver)
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
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.
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.
(images: The Everyday Minimalist)
Friday, December 4, 2009
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.
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
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:
- 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.
- Use bulldog clips. Whilst paperclips are okay for a few of pages, nothing beats bulldog clips for keeping a bundle of paper together.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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?