All the little gnomes are coming out to play. They’re everywhere this season as a holiday motif. You can make your own little, felt gnome Christmas ornaments in just a few minutes.
Over ten years ago, these dark, espresso stained end tables were a big buy for my new little apartment. The whole place was white from the walls and trim to the tile floors and ceiling. So, the brown provided a great contrast.
If you are only going to make one project for your baby’s room, this is it!
If you’re looking for a scrunchy boho-chic headband, these super-soft styles are for you. They don’t dig in behind the ears and they sit nicely on top of bangs or buns. Also, the plain versions do well in the wash on a hot cycle. So, they’re a perfect addition to your workout! Continue reading
When I got my first apartment, I quickly became aware that homes take work to maintain. Each item takes up space and I wanted as much space as possible to be peaceful and creative. But the process of decluttering can be time consuming, especially when you try to tackle an entire room. One trick is to break up each room into several smaller tasks, cleaning each slowly.
This works well for two situations. First, some people don’t have large chunks of time available to declutter their whole space. So, they may be inclined to put off any home organization because the timeline is impractical. Second, some people have a strong attachment to their stuff. In fact, many struggle to dispose of trash and useless items. In either case, these little tasks can help you organize spaces that often collect clutter.
15 Things You Can Organize in 15 Minutes
I kept this list simple to encourage quick tasks. If you do one of these each day, you will have a much more organized home in about two weeks.
- One Shelf of Books: While it is difficult to deal with an entire bookshelf, or book collection, one shelf is less intimidating. Pick one and pull everything off. Dust the shelf and the books. Look through the pile to see if there is anything stored between the books that doesn’t belong. Often, little papers get stuck between volumes. Check each book to make sure they all belong to you, making a plan to return borrowed publications to the rightful owner. If you’re feeling brave, pull out anything you want to discard or donate. Put the remaining books back on the shelf.
- Magazine Bin: Whether you have a bin, basket or box, almost everyone collects magazines over time. Pull them out and count how many you have stored. Then, separate them into three piles. First, make a pile of magazines you still need to read. Second, make a pile of magazines you plan to store, clip or reuse. Third, make a pile of magazines that you need to discard. Leave the first pile in the bin to read later. Move the second pile to a workspace where you can tackle the bigger organization task. Recycle the third pile. If you’re feeling ambitious, cancel all your subscriptions for the year. Don’t renew them until you’ve dealt with all of the magazines you currently own.
- Coffee Table Top: Most people collect clutter on top of their coffee table. Take a quick moment to clear off anything that doesn’t belong and return them to the rightful place. Dust the top and arrange the remaining items nicely.
- Silverware Drawer: Silverware drawers can collect random items. Empty it onto a towel and wipe out the drawer. Then, add back in the forks, spoons and knives into the appropriate places. You’ll find that you are left with odd utensils (and maybe some junk). Discard the junk. Return odd utensils to the appropriate place or relegate them to a donation bin.
- Mug Shelf: Mug shelves get out of control quickly, with so many cute designs and Instagrammable moments. However, a home can only use so many mugs before the dishwasher overflows. Pull all of your mugs out and wipe down the shelf or hooks. Count the number of mugs and compare that to the number of people in your household. Really, you only need one mug per person per day. Pick one mug for each person (or let them select their favorite). Return only those mugs to the shelf. Move the others to long term storage, for special occasions and guests. Also, you can replace one of the mugs if it breaks. If you are feeling ambitious, consider donating or selling some of the mugs to cut down on your clutter.
- Fridge Condiments: Most people have at least one shelf of their fridge covered in condiments. Lay a towel on your counter top and remove all of the condiments from your fridge. Wipe down the shelf. Review the condiments, removing anything empty, expired or spoiled. Wipe down the remaining condiments and return them to the fridge. If you are feeling ambitious, make a list of the meals you can make to use up obscure sauces before they expire. Also, make a plan to limit your purchases in the future to avoid duplicate items (like five different mustards).
- Pencil Holder: Surprisingly, pencil holders attract random objects. Dump yours out and wipe down the inside. Test each pen, pencil and marker to make sure it works. Discard any that are used up or dried out. Return the writing utensils to the pencil holder. Discard any trash and return other objects to their appropriate place.
- Bulletin Board: The brilliance of bulletin boards comes from their ability to change. Keep yours fresh by removing all of the items and placing them on a flat surface. Dust the board and remove any broken pins. File any papers, receipts or mail that you need to keep long term. Discard any reminders that are past the date. Pack away mementos in a memory box or scrapbook. This should leave you with some fresh space to curate new ideas.
- Loose Cables and Cords: Most desks are cluttered with cables and cords. Check yours and remove any that don’t belong. Return those to their appropriate devices or discard any that don’t match your tech. Label the remaining cords and attach them to the correct items.
- Sock Drawer: Maintaining this monster will make your morning so much easier. Dump out all of your docks onto a clear surface. Wipe the drawer. Match each of your socks and return them in pairs to the drawer. For the socks without mates, make a small pile and set aside. Check them as you do your laundry. Discard or reuse any mismatched socks.
- Scarf Collection: One downfall of this trend? Scarfs can quickly overwhelm your closet. Collect all of your scarves for the season in one place. Make sure they are all clean and lint-free. Remove any that are damaged or don’t match your taste. These can be donated or recycled. Put them back in one designated spot, like an organizer or hanger. If you’re feeling ambitious, make a goal to limit your collection to a certain number. Only buy or accept a new scarf if you are willing to get rid of one.
- Shoe Rack: Shoe racks can become magnets for clutter. Empty yours and wipe it down. Check each pair of shoes, wiping them down as you return to the rack. Remove any worn out or uncomfortable shoes. Also, collect other items and return to their rightful place. Take it to the next level by vowing to limit your shoes to the number of spaces on your rack. Don’t buy any new shoes until you wittle down your pairs. Then, you can only buy a pair when you are ready to remove one.
- Medicine Storage: Whether you keep your medicines in a drawer, box or cabinet, collect them all on a flat surface. Check each item for an expiration date. Set aside any old or expired prescriptions to dispose of properly. Return the remaining medicines to their rightful place. You may also need to make a list of missing items and replace them at a later date.
- Everyday Makeup: Although decluttering all of your beauty products may take a while, most people have a bag or bin with the items they use every day. Place these on a towel. Remove anything expired. For anything you don’t regularly use, move it with your other long-term storage or discard. Wipe the rest of the items and return to their regular location.
- Tub Products: With all those shelves and racks, tubs collect clutter quickly. Lay down a towel and place all of your tub products on top. Discard empty bottles and old bath accessories. Check for duplicate items. While some households may prefer a separate soap or shampoo per person, no one needs multiples out at the same time. Store the extras and don’t buy more until you use those up. Return the necessary products to the bath.
Once you have cleaned all of these spaces, you’ll have a more organized home. In fact, the process may inspire you to continue your the organization process in other areas of your home. If you’re thinking about it, I would recommend 100 Tips to Declutter your Home. Read it for tips and ideas to clean out your place.
Do you have any other ideas? Leave your tips in the comments.
This world is but a canvas to our imagination. Henry David Thoreau
Some people tell me that creativity and clutter must go hand-in-hand. I refuse to believe it. I agree that little inspirational bits accumulate around imaginative people. I disagree that we need to surround ourselves with disorganization. In fact, I find that I do my best work, creative and functional, in a clutter-free space. And I say this as someone who has boxes with broken costume jewelry, a collection of ostrich feathers, and a plethora of paints. It’s the curation and usefulness of these items that facilitates the creative process.
I do my best creative work in a clutter-free space.
Offices become hotspots for clutter because they attract paper, supplies, and castoffs. The space naturally collects everything for “later.” Think of: those bills that you paid but, need to file lay in a stack on the floor. That broken teacup, waiting for superglue, rests on top of a cabinet. Layers of mail and coupons, that you proactively moved from the kitchen counter, now litter baskets and bins. And despite all this collecting, you keep bringing in duplicate items because you can’t find the right tools when you need them.
This is the goal of office decluttering: A useable workspace that promotes productivity. Below are the steps I take for an office cleanout.
Like Items and Labeling
The first phase creates a huge (temporary) mess. In fact, it often involves my whole house. With time, items creep into the wrong spaces and must be sorted. So, the process starts by pulling together like items and labeling their storage space.
- Grab a basket and put a piece of masking tape on it. Label it “Office”.
- For a week, take on each room slowly, opening every storage space. In each space, grab everything that constitutes an office supply and put it in a basket.
- As you fill the basket, start taking note of duplicate items.
- Once you review the whole home, put the items out in a large, uncluttered work space. Group like items together.
- Make a list of any missing tools, refills or supplies.
- Toss or recycle any broken items.
- Looking at what is left, consider the duplicate items. Some items, like scissors, may be needed in more than one area of the house. However, you may find one stapler on a desk is plenty for a household.
- After reviewing the duplicate items, pick the best ones to keep and label them for the space where they will reside. For the scissors example, one set of scissors will be labelled “kitchen” and one labelled “office.”
- Next, put the items back in their appropriate rooms. You should have significantly less items than before.
- Finally, create a shopping list for the storage bins and missing supplies you’ll need. Label these inconspicuously, such as on the bottom, to ensure they end up staying in the correct space.
Once you complete these steps, you’re ready to start planning your space.
Define Work Zones
To best maintain your organized items, define work zones throughout your home. While some people have distinct office areas for each family member, others make do with multi-purpose zones.
- Start by considering what kind of “office” work you do. Make a list of tasks such as filing, checking emails, sorting mail, schoolwork, take-home projects or paying bills.
- Think about where you like to do this work. Do you prefer to sit at a desk? Do you like to spread out on the living room couch? Define when and where you will do your “office” related tasks.
- Make a plan for how you will keep the necessary tools and supplies organized and in reach. For example, if you like to do your filing at the kitchen table, your folders should be in several small boxes or a rolling cabinet. Then, you can bring it with you when you add new papers. Conversely, if you prefer to answer working emails sitting at a clear desk, make sure you have a space set up.
- List any storage that may need to change. You may require a new cabinet, caddy, or bin.
- Sketch how you plan to use the space to help you visualize the process. Even if you aren’t artistic, you can cobble together a collage. This helps you plan better.
- Start shopping or making the appropriate pieces to store your supplies.
- As you bring in each piece, be careful to keep the receipts. You may find that you will return some of the items if you find a better product.
- As you put together your work zones, label the items that “live” there. This helps ensure that you don’t buy duplicates again in the future.
- Discuss the new situation with other household members. They should be aware that items need to be returned to the appropriate spaces.
- Monitor how you use each space over the coming weeks. You may find some adjustment is needed to suit your natural rhythms.
Then, you can start making it pretty!
Hide or Display
The decision to hide or display office supplies is a highly personal one. Some people prefer to stow away items in something opaque. Others like to display neat, organized tools and supplies. For each preference, there are so many ideas to customize your office storage.
Below are some ideas to hide you office supplies.
- Cube Shelves with bins
- Files in a Trunk
- Pegboard Box
- Over-the-door baskets
- Drawer Dividers
- Storage Box
- Printer Pull-out Cabinet
- Tech Drawer
- Storage Bench
- Extendable Desk
Below are some ideas to display your office supplies.
- Floating Shelves
- Colorful Corkboards
- Hanging Folders
- Glass Apothecary Jars
- Industrial Printer Cart
- Wire and Clips Display
- IKEA’s Fintorp System
- Peg Boards
- Book Rack
- Industrial Shelving
Depending on your preferences, you’ll gravitate toward a “hide” or “display” style of organizing. Take note of this as you plan your space and make sure you keep things tidy.
Plan your Projects
Now that you’ve completed the first level of organizing, it’s time to start ticking projects off your long list. The purpose is simple: cleaning out old supplies and tools. Over the long term, this will free up your mind to focus on the projects that you truly wish to complete. Often, I find I have the weight of potential projects keeping me from productivity.
Use These Up
- Notepads or Journals
- Specialty tools
- Fittings, fasteners or connecting pieces
- Pens, markers or writing tools that may dry out
- Anything with scents that may expire
- Paints or inks that could dry up
- Kits for hobbies or crafts
- Patterns or instructions
- Seasonal or holiday supplies
- Supplies with trendy colors or patterns
- Leftover paint or glue
- Fabric scraps
- Lace, Rickrack or trimmings
- Paper scraps
- Yarn or String
- Wood or wooden pieces
Once you have used up these supplies, create a project list to use anything leftover. You should only keep supplies that you plan to actually use. Work through these like they are a priority. Soon, you’ll find your self and your space will feel lighter.
Tips to Declutter Your Office
Now that you have organized your office, you’re ready to get to work. I’d love to see your work spaces, whether they are a separate room or a movable setup.
Send me links in the comments!
According to every magazine, blog and instagram quote, each January, a new year promises a new you. We make resolutions, or anti-resolutions, with the goal of bettering ourselves and transforming our lives. One of the most fulfilling goals is that of having a peaceful organized home.
However, the path to a clutter free life challenges most of us. Typically, the process starts with an initial clean sweep. Then, a cycle of maintenance begins. Usually, a book or an article inspires the change.
Today is that day. This is the last article about clutter you’ll ever need to read.
Ask Yourself “Why?”
When I moved into my first apartment, I felt overwhelmed by the task of running a household. I had recently graduated from college, finished an internship and started my first job. The hours for work were very long. My time to myself was limited. When I considered how I wanted to spend my free time, I pictured myself reading, painting, writing or exploring. Instead, I was planning means, shuffling piles of laundry and trying to organize my stuff so that I could exist in my small space.
Then, I had enough. I started looking for information on living in small spaces. Since this was over ten years ago, I only found a few random articles from various sources. Notably, I found several blogs and articles from people living in similar situations; they lived in the city, worked long hours and made the most of their free time in a small space.
What was what I wanted!
I just wanted to make the most out of my time. I wanted to make space for the kind of life I loved to live. So, I had the answer.
Why aspire to be clutter free?
More of the life I loved.
Make This Your Only Goal
Whether you are planning for a new year or looking to make a change, organizing your life is a big goal. It’s more of a resolution than a task. Creating a clutter free life requires new habits and new focus. This will become your main “thing” for months. Most processes will take a year or more to really fix your clutter problem. Then, you’ll spend more months and years maintaining the system.
So, don’t pair it with another goal. Don’t try to learn a language. Don’t plan to lose 15 pounds. Don’t start a new hobby.
Instead, focus on being clutter free. That’s it.
Augment, not Overhaul, Your Life
The quote at the top of this post is from The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath. Most people, who haven’t read it, think it’s simply a mental health tome focused on the main character’s time in an institution. Instead, much of the book focuses on the events that led to the breakdown. In that story, Esther begins her journey as a successful student who wins an internship at a prestigious magazine. She aspires to be a writer. She wants to live life fully. Several small and large traumas impact her mentally causing a suicide attempt and subsequent therapy.
Throughout this fiction novel, Plath focuses on extremes. “If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days,” proclaims Esther.
Similarly, resolutions and goals fail because of an “all or nothing” attitude. We’re hard on ourselves. We develop strict rules. We make impossibly long task lists.
And then, the plans fall short.
If you aspire to live in a clutter free space, think of it as a way to augment your life. It won’t fix “everything.” Organization can’t promise to solve every problem. It just makes some room. It just lessens your “stuff” over time.
So, as you add a process for cleaning out your home, remember that it’s not an overhaul. Decluttering slowly nips away at your stuff. Decluttering changes your life but it doesn’t CHANGE your life.
Develop Easy Rules
Pick whatever system you like to clean out your space. Just make sure the rules are easy. In fact, make them even easier to match your life. Lower the standard to whatever you can reasonably do.
Some of my favorite methods:
- Minimalist 30 Day Challenge
- Apartment Therapy January Cure
- Peter Walsh’s Enough Already with his clutter personalities
Just remember that this process will probably start with a month of heavy work. Then, you’ll repeat that cycle for about a year. This allows you to form new habits. Going forward, the new mindset will shape your daily routines. What goes into your home and what comes out of your home will change as you live in a clutter free space.
Clutter Free in 2018
As a goal, a clutter free home remains a worthy choice. It took me nearly three years to get to a point where my home only contained useful and loved items. And it’s still a daily process.
You’ll find that clutter creeps into your life unexpectedly, often from other well-meaning people.
For example, my friends and family sometimes offer me their clutter as they organize. They know I am fairly decisive in determining whether something is of use to me. So, they try to give me things in hopes that I’ll either accept it or dispose of it for them. Sometimes I have the time to work through that process for them and sometimes, I just have to say “no”.
I’ve learned that saying “no” to stuff means saying “yes” to the life I want. Remember? It’s that life filled with painting, writing and exploring.
Here’s to your clutter-free plan!
What are your tips and tricks to keep your home free of clutter? Let me know in the comments!