Monday, March 22, 2010

Now Do This

I recently came across a recommendation for the website Now Do This. Rather than keeping your to do list on scraps of paper, go to this page, click "edit list", enter in all your tasks to do on a separate line and click "save", then click "done" as it tells you everything to do until everything is "all done!" No deciding, no clutter...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

3 Decluttering Articles To Read

Sorry that I'm late with this column this week. I've been quite disorganised due to interviewing for a new job, so here I am on a Sunday catching up on my to do list. Better late than never, right?

Times Online - The space in homes taken by possessions has doubled, survey finds: First up, an article that helps remind us why so many homes these days feel decluttered, and why it is a good idea to look at decluttering your's. An interesting find from the survey was also that more young people are concerned about creating space in their home. Do you think the amount of possessions in your home has increased in recent decades or years?


homelife - Install a pediment: One of the great things about moving into an old house is being able to use old architectural features such as the (boarded-up) fireplace for displaying items. If you want something similar but your house is too new, follow the instructions in this article for installing a pediment, whether above your bed or in a living area.


The House Diet Blog - What to do with hideous heirlooms?: Whilst you may not have had the issue of dealing with heirlooms and what to do with them, where you treasure them because of who they used to belong to but they aren't something that you want in your house, this discussion applies equally to all types of gifts. I like this quote: "gifts (including those bequeathed) should be given unconditionally, giving the recipient the right to decide for himself or herself whether they want to keep the gift, return it to the shop it came from, re-gift it or simply give it to charity. It is the act of giving that is important here." Do you agree?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and the upcoming week!

(images: homelife)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Inspiration: kikki.K Goal Book

One of the best ways to stay inspired from day to day, whether it is in regards to your personal life, your financial plans or your home life (including your decluttering plans), is to write down your goals on paper so they are more concrete and you can refer back to them.

kikki.K have created a beautiful book, the Goal Book, to do just this, with tabs for different categories of goals. Additionally, rather than just allowing for the listing of high level goals, it also has space to break down the goals into multiple steps, with dates to achieve each step, meaning that you'll be more likely to achieve your goals.

(Unfortunately this product is not currently available online, but check it out when you are next in a kikki.K boutique.)

(image: kikki.K)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Decluttering Challenges for the Week

So, it's now been two weeks since I've moved into my new house and despite having gone to the trouble of transporting all these goods a fair distance to this place, not to mention carrying everything up the stairs, I've already decided to do some decluttering. It's a good idea to do this once you get settled and adjusted to your new home, and realise what you no longer need or no longer works in your new environment. So here are my two challenges:
  1. Go through my boxes of "ornaments" and determine what I want to keep. I dislike having too much out on display, so usually have a stash of extra decoration items that I rotate amongst, however, these days I have far too much. I will have to determine what I still like and works for me, and the rest I will eBay or list on the local FreeCycle group.
  2. After having spent a while travelling a lot and consciously not buying many new clothes, I'm getting tired of my wardrobe and need to freshen it up. I want to go through all my clothes and work out what I no longer like that much (at the moment I am finding it hard to let go of stuff that is not yet worn out), and then treat myself to a few new items.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Recommendation: 4 Organising Books to Read

Back in January, I recommended the Australian organisation book Sorted! I recently found out that this book was a finalist in the 2010 Los Angeles Organizing Awards, held by the LA Chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers, in the Best Organizing Book category. So, what other books were also finalists and merit checking out? (Note that I haven't been able to find these in Australian bookstores, so haven't been able to view them in person.)

The winner of the Best Organizing Book award was Organizing Outside the Box, by Hellen Buttigieg. This book focuses on determining your natural learning style and applying this to your methodology for organising, plus understanding the learning style of your family and co-workers when it comes to organising your house and office.






The Clutter Diet, is by Lorie Marrero, who also writes The Clutter Diet Blog, which I've previously linked to. It looks like a very comprehensive book on decluttering and organization, and a free chapter download is available from the website.







Organizing A to Z, by Lisa Lelas, is somewhat different in that it is a book aimed at children, taking the format of a children's organising alphabet.









Finally, Organizing for a Living, by Jackie Tiani, is a book for professional organisers, which Lissanne Oliver (author of Sorted!) described in a newsletter as being "comprehensive and well written".

Friday, March 12, 2010

3 Decluttering Articles To Read

When deciding to declutter your life, you can take so many different approaches. One approach is to regular declutter and be more organised, but then there's also the opposite approach of simplification and having less clutter through owning less. The articles I've found for you today reflect these different approaches...

Unclutterer - 10 more uncluttering things to do every day: I really love these approach, or doing lots of small incremental decluttering, which means it's easy to fit into your everyday life. I challenge you to select one new thing to do from this list and see what a difference it makes to your life.

Lifehack - 5 Types of Emails You Should Be Automatically Filtering: This week I switched off nearly all of my email notifications for Facebook. I regularly use Facebook already, so unless it's a change of event date and time (for just in case I need to know before I next log in), there's no reason I need to receive email notifications as well as see the notifications in Facebook (sometimes before I get the email). They were simply clogging up by email box unless I immediately deleted them. Another approach (although unsubscribing from notifications is often a good idea) is to filter types of email like this out into special folders. This article will take you through the steps of doing that, and getting your email inbox back under control.

My Year Without Spending: Finally, this is a blog that I came across recently. Whilst Angela doesn't completely go without any spending (hello, food anyone?) (see her first post here and the list of exceptions here), she does place a lot of restrictions upon her expenditure. Regular posts include Thrifty Threads, Meatless Monday and Food Waste Friday, plus she recently posted about How to generate less trash. Lots of ideas for other people wanting to adopt at least some of her approaches to reducing unnecessary spending and wastage.

Have a wonderful weekend (I'm going away on a road trip) and I'll be back with more posts next week.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Susuharai

I came across a reference the other day to the Japanese tradition of "susuharai". Basically, it's their equivalent of spring-cleaning, but it takes place at the end of the calendar year, before the start of the next year. And it's more than just a physical cleaning out of the house, there is also the intention to be spiritually cleansed. When you clean out your house and attempt to declutter, do you just concentrate on the physical or do you also see it as something more, as a new beginning?

For more information on this and other Japanese traditions, see here.

(image: NeoShinka)

Setting Up My New Room

Well, I moved house this week and I've gradually set up most of my new room, although still want to make some more changes. It's great to finally be somewhere more permanent after spending most of the last year travelling, staying at my parent's and house-sitting, and this means I can bring you more photos.

It's an old terrace house and I have the front room on the second story, complete with a balcony and two sets of doors onto it, so it's lovely and airy. It's also good old fashioned features such as a fireplace, ceiling roses, high skirting boards and high ceilings, although it has been carpeted.

(image: Shandos Cleaver)

Friday, March 5, 2010

3 Decluttering Articles To Read

It's been a busy week, due to moving house and looking for a job, so I promise I'll write more posts next week than I have this week. But, it's time for Friday, which means three new articles that I've recently found for you to read. Here goes...

Real Simple - Fix the top 6 causes of clutter: This is an oldie but a goodie, that concentrates on the emotional and psychological aspects of decluttering. For example, the first obstacle examined is "if I get rid of this wedding vase, I'll feel guilty." Who hasn't felt guilt about getting rid of stuff, even if you don't use it or like it?


O, The Oprah Magazine - Oprah's Great Closet Cleanout: Another magazine article, and something you may have already heard about as it's about Oprah, of course. This goes to show that it's not just us mere mortals who have issues with clutter, but celebrities do, too. (I mean, look at all the free stuff most of them receive!) Oprah, putting the trendiness into decluttering.


:mnmlist - Wash your bowl - Finally, going to the other end of the spectrum and a website I recommended recently, here's an interesting article taken from a famous Zen story that gives the advice "Have you eaten your rice porridge? Then you had better wash your bowl." Basically, finish cleaning up what you're doing after you finish doing something, without thinking. So, put things away, throw out rubbish, tidy up after yourself - start doing it automatically and you'll find a lot of your small clutter issues will go away.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Clean Up The Great Outdoors

Don't forget that this Sunday 7th March 2010 will be Clean Up Australia Day - in fact it will be the 20th anniversary. This is your chance to get outside into the environment and help "declutter" it from unnecessary garbage. At the same time, it should help make you more aware of the effect of rubbish and littering on our surroundings. If you're not in Australia, check out the global initiative Clean Up The World.

Friday, February 26, 2010

3 Decluttering Articles To Read

I always find so many wonderful decluttering and organisation articles scattered around the internet, so from now on, on each Friday I will aim to post a list of three recent (or maybe not so recent) articles for you to read and inspire you to declutter. So, here is my first selection:

The Everyday Minimalist - The small space test: Have you ever examined whether you really need all your furniture? Yes, your furniture could be clutter, too! This article will make you think about what you really need, and guide you through removing what you don't. Check out the room below and consider whether all the furniture is really necessary.

MSN Money - 10 things not to buy in 2010: If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I believe that digitalisation can help you reduce clutter around your house. This list of consumer products becoming obsolete mainly covers items that you can replace with digital versions (such as DVDs and newspaper subscriptions), plus some energy-inefficient options.

homelife - Organise your jewellery: Originally published in the January 2010 issue of Notebook: magazine, this article has six ideas on beautiful ways to store your jewellery, such as using lots of delicate boxes, as above.

(images: The Everyday Minimalist, homelife)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Moving House

Next week I will be moving into a new house. As it is a sharehouse, I will just be moving items into my new bedroom, leaving the rest of my furniture stored at my parent's house (or to be sold). However, it will be nice to, firstly, decorate a whole room for the first time in a long time (I lived in my last apartment for five years, and although I made gradual changes, it's different starting with an empty room) and, secondly, to be permamently settled somewhere for awhile (the last few months I've been house-sitting, travelling and temporarily staying at my parent's house). It's a lovely big bedroom with a balcony, so I will be taking some photos once I'm settled.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What is Minimalism?

Becoming a minimalist is not the same as decluttering. Decluttering may just be applied to parts of your home and lifestyle, on an as-needed basis, whilst minimalism takes decluttering and simplification to a whole new level. For a good definition on minimalism, head to :mnmlist (a website that is the epitome of minimalism design-wise) and check out this short 50 word definition.

Are you a minimalist, or do you just declutter? Can you see yourself becoming a minimalist?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cutting the Clutter from Doing as well as Having

I came across the article 42 Essential Ways to Take Action Against Your Clutter at Clutter Cubed and was pleasently surprised to find that it covered ways to cut the clutter from what you do, not just what you have. So for example, number 1 is "Stop doing something that means nothing to you", whilst number 29 is "Stop whining about what you can't get." I believe that this is as important as decluttering your wardrobe or desk, and hope that this article also inspires you to cut out what is not important in your life.

Friday, February 19, 2010

How-To: Straighten Your Linen Cupboard

When I one day own a house, I hope to have a linen cupboard. All of the places so far that I've rented (mainly apartments) have, unfortunately, not had one, so I've usually just stored my sheets, pillowcases, towels and face washers in the top of my wardrobe. And more that just a linen cupboard, I want to have a beautiful looking linen cupboard. Follow these steps to straighten up your linen cupboard:

  1. Remove all the items out of it and clean the shelves.
  2. Go through everything and see if anything is threadbare and should be chucked. I don't know about you, but I like my towels to be nice and fluffy, not old and worn. I usually move old towels and sheets to the garage to use when moving stuff in the car, camping or just when working in the garage. (Alternatively, pet shelters may appreciate donations.)
  3. Start dividing everything up into sets. I generally like storing sets together, rather than towels with towels, etc, but you may prefer to do the opposite.
  4. Look at how many sets you have and check whether you really need everything. I have previously blogged about how you only really need two sets of towels for each member of your household, plus one set for guests. Consider taking any items you don't really need (including ones you've never liked) to a charity bin.
  5. Learn properly how to fold towels and sheets, especially fitted sheets. Go here for a tutorial on fitted sheets. Note that there are a few variations, but it is worth while practicing folding fitted sheets a few times until you have the technique memorised, so that they don't look messy in your linen cupboard.
  6. Finally, return everything to your linen cupboard. Consider adding some fragranced satchels to keep everything smelling beautifully, or pieces of cedar wood to deter moths.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Site Design Changes

You may have already noticed that I changed the look-and-feel of this blog today, to more closely match the visual image I want for this blog. I will continue to make some tweaks here and there, although not too many more major changes, and hope that you like the new look.

Getting Through Your Decluttering To-Do List

I recently came across a great article on reducing the size of your to-do list, Sprint Through the Small Stuff. It mentions the more obvious approaches of being wary about adding too much to your to-do list, regularly purging your to-do list of items you no longer need to do, and just simply steadily working through your to-do list so it doesn't get too big, but it mainly focuses on the wonderful approach of periodically doing a whole bunch of the smaller items on your to-do list in a set time limit (i.e. sprinting through the small stuff, timer optional!)

This article may help you get through all the decluttering plans that you have building up. (I know that getting started can often be the hardest part of decluttering.) Choose some of the simpler areas you want to declutter and declutter them first, with a time limit on how long to spend, and use this to build up your confidence to approach the bigger chores.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Advice on How Long to Keep Skincare

I previously discussed how long to keep beauty products from in How-To: Declutter Your Beauty Products. The article How Old is Your Skincare? at shesaid goes into more detail on this topic, with their main tip to ensuring your skincare range isn't past its expiry date being to stick to a regime, which will also ensure your skin is looking its best.

Tips for Storage in the Kitchen

I found a very comprehensive article on kitchen storage over at homelife. Originally appearing in the November 2008 issue of Notebook:, Top Tips for Better Kitchen Storage starts off by asking questions about what you want from kitchen storage, and includes an excellent, extensive list of storage ideas.

(image: homelife)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stop Clutter: Wrap-Up

I hope you've enjoyed my stop clutter series that has been running since the start of the year. If you've missed any of the posts, here is a full listing of all the posts in the series:


Let me know of any other areas you want me to create a series around (or if you want me to delve more into stopping clutter)!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

5 Twitter Accounts to Follow

I use Twitter regularly (@scleaver) and find it's a great way to come across new articles to read, whether they're written by the person you're following or they're just items they have come across. So if you're looking for new ideas on decluttering, follow some of the following Twitter accounts:
  • @un_clutter: Uncluttering the way to happyness: useful resources and tips about decluttering, organizing, minimalism and simple living
  • @TexasOrganizer: All about being a Houston mom and Gigi, organizing others and simplifying life
  • @metrozing: Hoardologist ☺ Professional Organizer. Disorder Specialist. I help the disorganized transform their homes from Casa de Chaos to Casa de Calm.
  • @OrganizeLife: Creator of Tips to Organize Life, the website that provides shortcuts, tips and tricks to help you feel more efficient and less overwhelmed
  • @RecoveringSlob: Inveterate slob, tortured perfectionist, food voyeur, cat-loving knitter, potato expert, once and future bassoonist. Constantly switching addictions.
I've also created a list with all of these accounts being followed to make it easy for you to view them all together (@scleaver/declutter).

Friday, February 12, 2010

How-To: Declutter Your Living Room

Your living room, along with your kitchen, is the room in the house that your visitors are most likely to see. And keeping in mind the stress of having unexpected visitors, it helps to keep this key room looking presentable and decluttered. Take a look around your living room now and work out what is creating clutter (CDs, DVDs, magazines, toys?) then consider the following ideas to spruce it up:

  • Avoid having CDs and DVDs visibly on display, unless you can display them neatly. Many entertainment units will have space to store these away, out of sight, underneath your TV and DVD.
  • If your collection is larger, consider a wall unit with a spot for your TV that takes up a whole wall, with enough room for everyone in your family to have a section.
  • Minimise the number of magazines and newspapers left lying around. Regularly clear them away, and if you want to keep copies, consider finding somewhere special to store them, such as magazine holders to go on shelves or on the floor.
  • If you don't use your TV that often, consider hiding it away behind a curtain (which could be quite neutral or a decorative touch to the room) or inside a storage unit with sliding panels. This means your living room becomes a space that is about more than just watching TV.
  • Try to have a coffee table with a second shelf. This means that you can store things on it without cluttering the top surface.
  • Another coffee table alternative is to use a large wooden chest. With plenty of storage inside, this is a great option if you have children that sometimes play in the room, meaning there's a great place to store their toys and games afterwards.
  • Some lounges these days have special under-seat storage to store bulky items such as vacuum cleaners - definitely something different to consider! (Try King Furniture.)
(image: Freedom)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's Your Clutter Personality?

Remember how you used to do quizzes in magazines when you were growing up, that were meant to show what type of guy you were into, what movie star you were most like, and so much more?? Well, this is a slightly more grown up quiz, and there's no multiple choice answers to add up, but it will help you work out what type of clutter personality you have. Organized Home have an article on What's Your Clutter Personality? Are you a Hoarder, Deferrer, Rebel or Perfectionist? Read the article to find out.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Join Febusave

I know this is off-topic, but I keep on hearing about ANZ's FebuSave promotion and wanted to share it with any fellow Australian women out there. The aim is to set a personal savings goal (perhaps related to not shopping for new unnecessary items?) for the month of February and register on the website, where you can also find tips, tools and calculators. You can also enter the competition to win a $5000 account at the end of the month (only opened to Australian residents 18 years and over, check the t&c). So, get saving!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Product Recommendation: Listography

I recently recommended the kikki.K Daily Notes Notebook, which unfortunately is only available at kikki.K stores in Australia, unless you order it over the internet and fork out the overseas p&h. However, someone recently recommended to me a similar product, albeit focusing on lists: the Listography books. Available in the USA (at a wide variety of stores, including Borders) and many other countries (try to search online first), in addition to the original guided journal there are a range of speciality editions, including Friends, Music and Love.

And then there's the part that really got me excited... On the website, there's also the ability to create your own set of lists online. Simply signup, click "create list", select a category and title for the list, and get started. There's even the ability to click "generate a list topic" for the site to suggest a list for you to create, if you're feeling stuck about what to list. Just keep in mind that the lists you create are publicly viewable, unless you create them in the private folder.

(image: Listography)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Inspiration: Home Office Insights

I found this lovely article, Down to Business, on The Age website that gives us a peek into the home office of kikki.K founder, Kristina Karlsson, along with a photo. She makes great use of a whole wall of small boxes to store items in - something I haven't seen done much and a great idea to keep in mind for your next office spruce up. There's also some other tips on setting up a home office and keeping the clutter down from experts at Howard's Storage World and Ikea.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Your Next Rainy (or Snowy) Weekend

At the moment it's been rainy a lot in Sydney, Australia, and I've been seeing the reports about the snow in the eastern USA. So, if you're sick of watching movies, reading books and mindlessly browsing the internet, put some of this inside time to use by doing some uncluttering inside. I found this great post over at Unclutterer on Three uncluttered activities you can do on a lazy Saturday, which suggests sorting through your magazines and catalogues, backing up your computer, and clearing the clutter from your laundry room. I'm especially in favour of the first one for an enjoyable but productive way to pass a lazy afternoon or evening. I also recommend sorting through your email and responding to all your unanswered emails you haven't got around to yet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Inspiration: The Art of Display

I recently came across a link to a post on the blog Chez Larsson called The Art of Display. This is the perfect post to read if you're jealous (like most of us are) of how some people just create the most beautiful displays on shelves, and you have no idea how they do it. Benita introduces us to five key tricks: triangles, grouping, empty space repetition, and keep it simple: yes, don't display all of your nick-nacks at once!

(image: Chez Larsson)

Upcoming Clothes Swaps

Whether you've never attended a clothes swap meet before and want to give it a go or if you're a swapping devotee by now, here are some upcoming clothes swap meets being held over Australia:


Sydney: Addison Road Centre Upstairs Gallery, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville - Saturday 6th February 2010 - 5:30pm check-in for 6:30pm start

Melbourne: BMW Centre, Federation Square, Cnr Flinders St and Swanston St, Melbourne - Wednesday 10th February 2010 - 6:30pm check-in

Perth: Hotel Northbridge, 210 Lake St, Northbridge - Tuesday 23rd February 2010 - 6:30pm check-in for 7:30pm start

Go here for further information and ticket sales.


Hobart: Australian Italian Club, 77 Federal St, North Hobart - Saturday 6th February 2010 - 1pm

Go here for further information and ticket sales.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Stop Clutter: Strategies to Stop Shopping

I love this post over at The Everyday Minimalist that presents their top three strategies to stop shopping, and an example of how it stopped the author from buying something new. You may have a slightly different strategy that works best for you, but these three are a good place to start.

The 80/20 Rule

Lately, I keep on coming across this rule. Basically, it was originally created to describe the observation that 20% of people own 80% of the wealth. Lately, whilst reading The 4-Hour Workweek, it was mainly applied to the scenario of 20% of your activities taking up 80% of your time (and making you inefficient). However, naturally, it also applies to clutter. For starters, look at your wardrobe. Do you wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time? Read the great post that lists a number of areas where this is relevant to clutter over at Becoming Minimalist.

How-To: Clean Out Your Laundry

Whilst your laundry is probably the home of your cleaning products, don't forget that your laundry also needs to be cleaned itself, and naturally that includes an occasional declutter. Follow these steps to declutter your laundry:

  1. Go through your cleaning products and work out whether you really use everything. Don't hang onto something just because you think that one day when you move out and need to clean your place to get the bond back, you may need to use it.
  2. When disposing of old chemicals, check the label for disposal instructions. Some councils offer special pick-up or drop-off services for chemicals that can't go into general household waste collections.
  3. Try to minimise the number of cleaning products you use: if you use a different product (or multiple products) for everything, the number of bottles will add up and take up a lot of space. Try to have products that have multiple uses. I also recommend investigating green cleaning methods, which often uses common household products (such as white vinegar and bicarb soda) for cleaning. Here's a handy factsheet.
  4. I find that storing all of my most commonly used cleaning products and cloths in a single bucket (or other container) that can be taken out when it's time for cleaning very handy.
  5. Finally, if you have items out on display, rather than in a cupboard, there's a variety of pretty containers for powder and pegs, plus enamel buckets, available today to beautify your laundry. It may be the smallest room in the house, but it doesn't have to also be the most neglected.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stop Clutter: Borrow Not Buy

One way to stop possessions from accumulating in your life is to not own everything you use, just to borrow items. Of course, you've still got to keep these temporary possession organised (with their own homes) to stop them from cluttering, but consider some of the following:
  • Join your local library. Borrow books, magazines, movies and albums, depending on the library. Generally you can also reserve books if you're after something specific and are happy to wait.
  • Ask your friends. Most of your friends will be happy to loan you their books (I know I love to know my friends are reading the same books as me, just be sure to finally return them), plus some friends will loan out their clothes (I borrowed one of my cousin's dresses for a formal, rather than buy a dress I'd only use once). I've even heard of friends who live close together than jointly own some rarely used kitchen appliances.
  • Rent rather than buy movies. Stick to only buying DVDs of movies that you believe you'll re-watch (kid's ones frequently fall into this category). Otherwise choose from renting from your local store (watch out for coupons and find out about discount days to make it even cheaper), renting through an online site that posts the DVDs to you, or watch movies from over the web (although if you're outside of the US, lack of choice and download speeds may limit you).
  • Hire that designer bag or frock. Here in Australia a number of websites have recently started up that will hire out designer gear to you for a few weeks, for far less than the cost to buy it new. Great for if you like new bags and dresses regularly, and don't like to wear the same thing.
  • Hire the glasses for your next party. Many bottle (liquor) shops will allow you to borrow glasses to use if you buy enough bottles of alcohol from them, with the payment of a deposit. This means you don't need to own heaps of glasses that you will rarely use.
I'm sure you can think of plenty more ways that you can borrow (whether for free or with a payment) items. So before you buy something, think of whether you can get away without owning it permanently.

(image: Shandos Cleaver)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Product Recommendation: kikki.K Daily Notes Notebook

One of the most difficult forms of paper clutter to tackle are all those notes, ideas and things to do jotted down on random bits of paper and post-its. You could instead write them (or transfer them into) a notebook, but kikki.K have created a notebook that goes one step further: the Daily Notes Notebook, which has sixteen tabs to help organise your notes and make them easy to find. There are eight printed tabs (Books, Films, Gift Ideas, Music, Misc, Bars/Restaurants, Shops and Websites), plus eight more plain tabs for you to label yourself. There's also a small pocket to file items such as loose notes, receipts and business cards.

(image: kikki.K)

How-To: Declutter Your Kitchen Cupboards

No one has yet invented cupboards with an infinite capacity, so one day, as you keep on buying more gadgets, crockery and utensils for your kitchen, your cupboards are bound to get full. And even if they aren't yet full, most kitchen cupboards could do with being re-organised to improve the ease and speed of access to items, particularly for when you're in the middle of cooking. Follow these steps:

  1. Take everything out of all the cupboards and drawers, and put them on the dining table or a clean surface.
  2. Place similar items near similar items. This will help you detect duplicate items, where you only need a single item. Put one aside to be given away or chucked out. (Make sure you throw out old items in future, when you replace them, rather than keeping both.)
  3. Is there anything that you never use? If you haven't used something in the last year, you probably won't use it in the future. Put these also aside to be given away or chucked out.
  4. Finally, are any of the items broken, and need replacing? Make a list.
  5. Now, it is time to repack your cupboards. If there are any items that are infrequently used (such as special Christmas items), put them in a difficult to get to place (such as the top or back of cupboards), or store them elsewhere (such as in your garage).
  6. Frequently used items should be placed as easy to get to places in cupboards - generally at the front, or even out of the benchtop. However, try to minimise the number of things out on your benchtop, otherwise this will clutter them.
  7. Finally, make sure things that you use together (such as all your baking trays, pans and utensils) are stored together.

Happy cooking!

(image: Shandos Cleaver)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book Recommendation: Sorted!

Sorted!, from Melbourne-based personal organiser Lissanne Oliver, is a guide to organising your life, with 42 organising 'recipes' covering the areas of Work, Paper, On The Go and Living, along with sections on Truths and Techniques. Originally written and published in English, it has also been translated into four languages. It's available from the Sorted! website: http://sorted.bigcartel.com/product/sorted-book.

You'll also find on the Sorted! website a monthly newsletter to sign up to, and a blog, although unfortunately it hasn't been updated in awhile. Lissanne also has her own blog, http://lissanne.wordpress.com, with a wide variety of organisational and decluttering posts.

(image: Sorted!)

Start Decluttering Your Office NOW

The best time to start decluttering is always right now. So, this helpful post from Unclutterer on Five uncluttering things you can do in your office right now should help you get started without even leaving your desk.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Website Recommendation: Becoming Minimalist

I can't believe that I haven't yet mentioned Becoming Minimalist, a minimalist/decluttering blog about a family of four in the suburbs becoming minimalist. Two of the great features of this blog are the benefits of minimalism section, with 23 different posts ranging from "not tied to the past" to "more opportunity for rest", and the stories category of posts, where different personal stories (as submitted to the share your story page) are posted. Whilst you may not want to embrace minimalism, many of the same strategies for becoming minimalist share much in common with decluttering.

Inspiration: Apartment Therapy

Apartment dwellers have more likely to need to declutter compared to people living in houses. After all, if you have no built-it cupboards, just a parking space rather than a garage and no garden, let alone a garden shed, there's not many places to squeeze all your junk into (and then quickly shut the door before anything falls out).

So, Apartment Therapy is a wonderful site for people living in apartments to turn to for some inspiration of what your place may look like once you declutter and add some pizazz. I particular like the Home Tours section for real world examples of people's apartments, including (usually) their size in square feet.

(images: Apartment Therapy)

Stop Clutter: Storage, Storage and More Storage

It's hard to stay neat and tidy if your possessions don't have a home. Your t-shirts may go in a certain drawer, cutlery in the top drawer in the kitchen, your toothbrush in the toothbrush holder, but what about everything else? In order for your home to not be cluttered, things must have their own home. Which means one thing: storage.

Storage may take many forms. From custom built wardrobes and kitchen cabinets (I recently stayed in a house where even the fridge was hidden behind the cabinetry) to boxes large and small, you need to consider a variety of storage options for your home, to meet all your needs. Some smart storage choices you may like to consider are:

Stylish hat boxes to go in your wardrobe and store hats and other accessories, particularly scarves and belts. (Kaysa Box, Ikea)

Woven boxes to go on shelves and store trinkets and odds and ends. Multiple identical boxes look particularly pleasing on a bookcase. (Byholma Basket, Ikea)

Cosmetic bags to keep all your makeup together; consider one for your everyday makeup and one for special occasion makeup. (Apple & Bee Fold Out Bath Bag,Ciao Bella Travel)

Shoe racks to double the space for storing shoes in your wardrobe. (Discontinued, Ikea)

Dividers in your kitchen drawers other than just cutlery trays, especially for your large utensils, to make it easy to find what you're looking for. (Utensil Tray with Grip Base, Howard's Storage World)

A hat stand for frequently used coats, jackets, hats and umbrellas. (Breton Hat Rack, Freedom)

Small plastic boxes with dividers, generally used for craft, are great for any bits and bobs, such as the elastic bands, bread-ties and batteries, that accumulate in kitchen drawers. (Solution Box 1002AB, Craftainers)

Just remember that the more you own, naturally the more storage you need to have. And sometimes rather than getting more storage, that you may not have room for, you should really be getting rid of some of your stuff.

(images: Ikea, Ikea, Ciao Bella Travel, Shandos Cleaver, Howard's Storage World, Freedom, Craftainers)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

AARP The Magazine Clutter Challenge

Most things in life are easier to do if you feel you have some company, even if it is only virtually, and decluttering is the same. If you're a resident of the US and 45 years or older, be motivated to declutter the best you can by joining the ATM Clutter Challenge. The challenge consists of posting an essay of 200 words or less in the group forum, along with a before and after photo in the group photo area, with prizes awarded for the most dramatic improvements. And even better, there's a deadline: 28th February 2010 if you want to be eligible for a prize!

How-To: Declutter Your Computer

Computers these days seem to have so much space on them - so many giga- or terabytes of storage. In contrast to the past, when hard disk space was so much more expensive, it can be tempting to never delete anything, to never "virtually declutter" your computer. However, the ease of using your computer can be improved by following some of these steps:

  1. Regularly go through the list of installed programs and uninstall any old programs that you no longer need, including those programs that you installed and didn't use more than once. If you still want the program installed, for just in case, remove short cuts and menu items used to access the program, so it is easier to find the programs you do regularly use.
  2. Conversely, make sure it is easy to run the programs you regularly use. I have a Mac and have shortcuts for all the programs I regularly use, and only those programs, in the dock at the bottom of the screen. When I used to use Windows XP, I had two rows of shortcuts in the toolbar.
  3. Minimise the number of icons and documents on your desktop. As their number increases, it becomes hard to find the one you want, and if you already have any programs running or documents opened, you need to minimise them to acess the desktop icons. There is a program on Windows computers that runs by default and prompts you to move unused icons to a sub-folder.
  4. Develop a system for storing documents (instead of keeping them on your desktop!) In your Documents or My Documents folder, create sub-folders for the different documents you store. Choose your own folder system, and every now and again alter this system to stay up-to-date with your current use.
  5. Regularly go through and delete old documents, including from the location where downloaded documents are automatically saved. (Ideally documents you are permamently keeping should be moved to an appropriate folder.) If you're uncertain whether you should delete something, move it to an archive folder or burn it onto a CD or DVD first.
  6. Empty your recycle/trash bin. It's easy for a huge number of files to accumulate here if you never empty it.
  7. If you have a Windows computer, every now and then run a system defragmentation (generally overnight). This basically attempts to store entire files together, rather than split up into fragments, improving the speed to run programs and access large files.
  8. This is also a good time to make sure your virus protection program is up-to-date (plus a full virus scan has recently run), your operating system is up to date and your files have been recently backed up.

Additionally, there may also be a utility application already installed on your computer that will help you detect temporary files and other files taking up space on your harddrive that can be safely removed.

(image: Shandos Cleaver)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stop Clutter: More Help to Stop Shopping Needlessly

Do any of these sound familiar to you?
  • "I don't want to wait!"
  • "Hey, at least I didn't buy the $150 version. Buying the $50 one is like saving $100!"
  • "I deserve a treat, it's a reward for such a long, hard day at work."
  • "You only live once."
  • "It's an investment."
Then check out 5 Lies We Tell Ourselves to Help Up Continue Spending at Fabulously Broke in in the City (a sister blog to The Everyday Minimalist) for more help to stop shopping for the wrong reason.

How-To: Lighten Your Suitcase

Packing as little as possible when travelling has a practical purpose above reducing clutter: lightening your bag for checking in and when hauling it around. Follow these steps to pack less when you next travel:
  1. Work out in advance what you need to take. Write a list or start making a pile of everything. Ensure that you only get out what you need, not things with the thought "what about" in your mind.
  2. Make sure your clothes work together. There's nothing worse than getting to your destination and finding out that there are no tops to go with a pair of shorts or skirt.
  3. If you're intending to go shopping during your travels, allow for this. Pack less, and wear some of your new clothes plus have room for your purchases
  4. Shoes are one of the most bulky and heavy items in your suitcase. Minimise the number of shoes you'll take. For most destinations you probably won't wear those high heels you're thinking of taking - stick to a pair of decorative sandals or thongs instead, that are comfortable to walk in, but can be dressed up. And the repeated advise to wear your heaviest pair of shoes on the plane is a good tip - particularly in the cool air-conditioned environs.
  5. Take advantage of accessories to make your outfits more versatile without the weight. A scarf is good, as are plenty of earrings. (But make sure you pack any valuable jewellery in your carry-on; cheap costume jewellery is fine in your check-in.)
  6. Take advantage of gadgets. Use your mobile phone to store addresses and use as an alarm clock. Download PDFs of the relevant Lonely Planet or purchase language guide applications for your smart phone or iPod Touch. Store backup copies of your documentation in your email account after scanning. Use an electronic book reader to replace that stack of books.
  7. Think small when it comes to toiletries. Due to the new limits on taking liquids into cabins (100mL maximum), there are many more travel size shower gels, shampoos, conditioners and other products out there. My local Coles supermarket has a section in the toiletries aisle just for travel products. Even if you're putting your toiletry bag into your check-in luggage, it's still a good idea to minimise their size.
  8. Finally, remember that most things will be available to buy at your destination if you do forget them (or decide you really do need it, after leaving it out of your suitcase), particularly a variety of clothing. (Sunscreen is the one thing I've found less readily available and more expensive to buy in some non-Western countries.) Just make sure you've got your wallet!
(image: Shandos Cleaver)

Stop Clutter: Doing Rather Than Shopping

gThere are many reasons that we shop. Often it may be from necessity: the weekly grocery shopping, buying new clothes for work, buying a new fridge after the current one dies a sudden death. However, then there are the times that it is simply due to boredom, or to forget about your worries, or to make yourself feel special. And if you look at objects around your home that you don't really need, and that are cluttering your home, you'll probably find that many of them were bought during such shopping trips, not during ones based on needs.

So one one of stopping clutter from forming, is to reduce the amount of time spent shopping without a need in mind: shopping for the sake of shopping, shopping as a pasttime. Find something else to do when you need a distraction and time-out, such as:
  • Visit a new exhibit at a local art gallery
  • Go for a walk somewhere you haven't been before
  • Meet up with friends in the park for a picnic afternoon
  • Hit the gym for a workout
All things where you are doing something, but where the end result isn't likely to be a armful of shopping bags.

(image: FreeFoto)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inspiration: Quotes #2

Here are some more quotes to inspire you to declutter:

"To change skins, evolve into new cycles, I feel one has to learn to discard. If one changes internally, one should not continue to live with the same objects. They reflect one's mind and the psyche of yesterday. I throw away what has no dynamic, living use." - Anais Nin

"Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness." - Henry David Thoreau

How-To: Get Started

If you're using the new year (and the summer holidays here in Australia) to start decluttering your home, check out a selection of my how-to posts for places to get started:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stop Clutter: Banish Paper

Take a look around your room now. The chances are that there is some loose paper - bills, catalogues, coupons, newspapers, letters - lying around somewhere. And that this isn't the only room in your house with bits and pieces of paper. Here are some ways to stop the influx of paper into your home:
  • When you get your mail out of the mailbox, before you put it down anywhere, go through the bundle and immediately chuck junk you don't want into the recycling bin. Similarly, when you open the mail, immediately chuck items you don't want or need, and those envelopes, into the recycling bin. Stop it even becoming a pile somewhere.
  • Designate a set place in your home for putting paperwork, such as a small basket or a spot on a sideboard. This should be the only place where paperwork piles.
  • About once a week go through this paperwork pile. Should it be actioned (such as paying a bill?) Should it be chucked (such as a leaflet for an event that has now passed or you have decided to not attend)? Should it be filed (such as your latest bank statement)?
  • File your paperwork somewhere - don't just perpetually leave it in the pile. See How-To: Declutter Your Paperwork for steps on filing either in paper or digital format.
  • Cut down on the amount of paper you receive in the mail. If you don't ever look at the catalogues you receive, get a sticker requesting no advertising material to be addressed. Request to receive bank statements and utility bills electronically, if you have the option.
  • I tend to find that bits of paper pile up in my purse and handbag after a shopping trip. Periodically, go through everything and chuck out the old bus tickets, shopping lists, receipts (unless you need to file them). This can even be done if you're waiting at a bus stop or train station and need to fill in time.
  • Make sure you also keep on top of piles of magazines and newspapers by occasionally going through them and getting rid of old copies you no longer want. (If you want to keep back issues, it's usually best to keep them stored away in a magazine holder.)
(images: Freedom)

Bringing in an Expert

If you needed electrical work done or your roof painted, you’d probably bring in an expert, who does that for a living. So, what about decluttering? Whilst professional organizers haven’t been around as long as electricians and roof painters, a growing number of them can be found in cities all over Australia and the world.

Susanne Thiebe, a professional organizer from LessMess in Sydney, says that most people hire her because they “have tried various self help methods through books, TV shows or seminars”, but they find that “getting organized personalized solutions which are mostly not available through books. A solution that’s right for someone in America doesn’t necessarily work for a client in Australia.”

Working in both homes and small offices (and with a lot of home-based businesses), Susanne has found that there is “no common ‘worst area’” for clutter. With both a lack of motivation and know-how holding people back from decluttering, she adds, “it doesn’t really matter where you start; it has to fit the situation and timeframe. The most important thing is to start and not to fret about where and when.”

To keep on top of clutter and not let it get out of hand, Susanne recommends to “accept that being organized takes time and commitment. Have a time plan and routine and stick to it. I tell my clients that they should do a 5 minute organizing job per day or ½ hour every three days. For the rest of their lives!” And her final tip? “Don’t walk through your house empty handed – there is always something to tidy away.”

If you’d like to contact Susanne and LessMess to get assist with organizing your home, go to their website http://www.lessmess.com.au. Alternatively, view the list of professional organizers who are members of the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers Inc to find someone in your area.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stop Clutter: Organised Grocery Shopping

Shopping more wisely won't just help stop clutter forming in your wardrobe, it is also the solution to stopping clutter forming in your pantry and fridge. And whilst clothing doesn't have a shelf life (unless you're very fashion conscious), food that is cluttering up your pantry and fridge will eventually go off, meaning a cluttered kitchen is more of an issue. So, here are some ideas for being organised when grocery shopping:
  • Aim to go grocery shopping less often. It's easier when doing lots of little shops to inadvertently buy something you don't need, but you just spot on the shelf looking tempting.
  • Always go shopping with a list! This is by far the most important rule about being organised when grocery shopping.
  • Before grocery shopping, go through your pantry and fridge and work out what you currently do and don't have. Add anything that you don't have, but need, onto your list. Don't feel the need to add things that you don't really need onto the list (or maybe add it with a special symbol, to indicate it should only be bought if on special). A good idea is to start writing the list when you first notice something you need to buy, although it's always helpful to do a final look over your shelves.
  • Make sure you know what you currently have on your shelves, so that you don't buy any of those items when shopping. Try to aim to use your existing items up in meals for the upcoming week, especially for items with a short shelf-life.
  • I find it helpful to plan in advance some meals to make, including ones that use up items I already have, and then add the ingredients that I need for these meals to my list.
  • When shopping, be familiar with your supermarket and only go down the aisles that have items on your list. This will both save you time, and reduce the temptation to buy extra items - especially if you skip the fizzy drink and confectionary aisles!
A recent book that advocates some of the above ideas, plus focuses on minimising your grocery bill (to $21 for the week!), is The $21 Challenge, which is currently available in Australian bookstores. Check out the book's website for a sample chapter.

Don't miss my old post How-To: Spring-Clean Your Pantry for steps on how to get rid of the existing clutter in your pantry.

(images: Shandos Cleaver)

Stop Clutter: Make Smart Wardrobe Choices

In celebration of the start of the new year, this is the first of a series of tip articles on stopping clutter from forming, concentrating on some of the most clutter prone areas. First up, here are some ways to focus on making smart wardrobe choices to stop your wardrobe from becoming cluttered:
  • With most of your items, look for quality over price. Look for good quality items that will last longer, rather than cheap items that will quickly wear out and date. This will also save you time in shopping.
  • However, I make exceptions for t-shirts with prints. I prefer to have new ones to wear regularly, so buy cheaper ones, rather than pay the ludicrous prices that some fashion labels charge. And I regularly donate my old t-shirts to charity.
  • Choose items that will work with other clothing already in your wardrobe, e.g. colours that work together, tops and bottoms that work together. Before you go shopping, look over your wardrobe and have a fresh idea in your mind of what it contains.
  • Know what colours work well on you. If you're unsure, ask for advise from people you know well - they'll know what current items look best on you, partially due to their colour. Don't buy the latest fashionable colours without knowing that they'll look good on you.
  • If you have a full wardrobe but simply have to buy something new, try to get rid of something at the same time. For example, if you're buying a new pair of jeans, get rid of one of your older pairs.
  • Finally, don't buy items that don't quite fit, unless you plan to have them altered and know that they will then properly fit. This is probably my number one area in making fashion mistakes!
Don't miss my old post How-To: Refresh Your Wardrobe for steps on how to declutter your wardrobe.

(images: Shandos Cleaver)