Simply Put Organizing

Clutter Control

Clutter has a funny way of expanding to fit any undefined spaces in your home. For that reason, it is very important to assign a purpose for each room, cabinet and closet you have. Once spaces are assigned a definite purpose you can go about the job of relocating items in your home to the places they belong and remove the excess as you go. I once had a boss who taught his employees to never walk anywhere in the restaurant empty handed. He knew there was always something to be relocated and put away. He didn’t know it then,but he helped me develop a lifelong habit that has helped me save time in everything I do. Below you’ll find more useful tips and inspiration to help you clear the clutter everyday and reclaim your spaces.
Food for thought

Determine your priorities in life: It is impossible to know what you don’t need if you haven’t determined what you do need. For example, I need more time. I had to take a look at my time wasting habits. I have decided that I don’t need to tear out and save pages of things I want to buy from magazines anymore. If I tear something out of a newspaper or magazine it becomes a to-do. I don’t need anything else to do. And if I really need that thing so badly then I won’t forget to get it. It has been so liberating to flip through a magazine and enjoy it without feeling the need to tear and manage all that paper and to make a trip to the mall to get the thing I thought I had to have in the magazine. This small tweak in my habits has saved precious time, mental energy, and, most likely, a lot of money.

Determine your priorities and what you are willing to spend time on and what you’re willing to give space to in your home.

Clutter is a delayed decision: Take a look at any cluttered areas in your home and you will see that each item there is really a delayed decision. Maybe you just didn’t decide where the item should be located in your home or maybe you haven’t decided if you will ever wear something again or use something so it has been relegated to a spare closet until a decision can be made. Make decisions on the things in your home right away. Choose if it stays or goes and, if it stays where will it ‘live’. If you have given thought to what you really need to support your values and priorities this becomes very easy.
Make a Plan

Choose a charity: For many of us, it is easier to let things go if we think it is going somewhere where it will be appreciated and put to good use. However, sometimes finding the right place can be paralyzing so you stay stuck in your stuff. Charitynavigator.org can help you find a charity in your area you can to be good stewards of your things. Set up a donation receptacle to make it easy to unclutter your home on a daily basis.

Schedule regular decluttering sessions: whether you are drowning in clutter or just a little it is important to assign a time each day or week that you will devote time to relocating items and clearing clutter. It could be 10 minutes a day or 1 hour each weekend. Whichever works for you, it is important to be consistent with the commitment.

Create a landing spot: Organization is about everything having a place. A landing spot is the place where you unload things as you come in the door. Clutter happens when we put things down in random places and then become too busy to go back and put them away. Your landing spot should be located near the entrance you most often use. It needs a designated place for mail, purse, wallet, keys and an area for any shopping bags or other things you may not have time to put away at the moment. In having it all in one spot-it is easier to go back and clear it as time permits. Caution: don’t fill up your landing spot and then make a new one. Take time each day to process what has accumulated there.
New Habits
Set goals; Daniel Hommer M.D., is an expert on brain imaging and motivation. He shared in Real Simple magazine that there is a phenomenon called delayed discounting. If it takes a long time to reach a goal we value that goal less then one we can reach quickly making it harder to get started at all. The solution is to make projects small and rewards immediate. For example, if you clear off a surface, dress if up with something you love keeping in mind that eventually your entire home will be that orderly and beautiful.

Don’t bring it home: Walk away from bargains. Just because you can buy three for the price of one doesn’t mean you should. Ask yourself: Where will I store it? Will it expire? If you find yourself accepting a freebie there’s nothing wrong with putting it in the donation bag straight away.

Put it away immediately: We all have good intentions to do things later. The problem arises when “later” creates piles all over our home. Put things away right away or, at least, the same day. Remember it’s all contained in your landing spot.

Give yourself time: If organizing doesn’t come naturally to you putting things back where they belong is not going to happen overnight. According to Charles Duhigg New York Times reporter and author of the book ‘The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business’, habits are hardwired into our brains. They are our brains way of simplifying our lives, saving us stress and energy. The trick is not to focus on undoing the habit but to replace the bad behavior with a better one. If each time you walk in your kitchen you drop everything you are holding on the counter think of the better habit of putting things away where they belong or using your landing spot to hold them until they can be put away. The reward: clear kitchen countertops.

Five Ways to make your Holidays Merry

The holidays are here again, if their arrival has once again caught you by surprise you are not alone. This is a season filled with fun and festivities, but for many it can feel like a season of stress. If you’re feeling more frantic than festive the following tips can help.

1. Identify your priorities. As an individual or a family consider your values and priorities. Many of us do what we do during the holiday season because we always have turning the month of December into a mad whirl of activities. If the things on your list that you have to do outnumber the things you want to do, it’s time to identify the things that truly bring joy to you and your family and consider eliminating the rest.

2. Make a list. It works for Santa and it will work for you. Lists reduce stress. Getting it out of your head and onto paper help keep you in control of your time and relieves the mental pressure that comes with trying to remember everything. Use a master list to keep track of the big picture and a daily list to make the most of your time and daily to-dos. Don’t expect to get it all done each day-strive for progress not perfection. Transfer anything you haven’t done on your daily to-do to the next day’s list. Cross the things you’ve completed off the master list. Keep your lists in one place, whether on paper or electronically and maintain them each day.

3. Clear Clutter. Less stuff equals more time. This is a great time of year to reassess all of your possessions to identify the things that are truly useful to you. Consider donating household items, toys, and holiday decorations to those in need. It’s a great time to teach kids about charitable giving by helping them to identify toys and clothing they may no longer need or love. Recycle wrapping paper you haven’t used in years or donate it to the art department of your local school, church or synagogue. Evaluate your decorations annually and discard anything damaged or overly worn. Excess items only complicate your storage.

4. Reassess your holiday storage. When it comes to storage I am a big fan of consistency. If you are storing your holiday decorations in cardboard boxes or mismatched bins consider buying a new set of containers this year. My favorite bins are available year round at Costco. They cost around seven dollars and have interlocking black lids that remain attached. These industrial strength containers will stack together to create a storage system that will last for years. Use numbers to label the bins and list the contents of each numbered bin in a Christmas binder. If you love to save cards that you receive, create a home for them in an archival photo box you can find them at www.exposuresonline.com. Gather all you kitchen supplies that you only use once a year and designate an out of the way shelf to store them. If your kitchen is small store them in a bin. Bins work great for holiday linens as well.

5. Plan ahead for the next holiday season. Create home for holiday information using a binder, binder pockets and a zippered pouch all found at office supply stores. Use the zippered pouch to store receipts for purchased gifts. Use the binder pockets to keep track of the following categories or create your own.

  • Christmas card list. You can add any address changes you receive throughout the year.
  • Christmas Decoration Inventory. List each box number and the contents. Take photos of each room’s décor to make decorating a snap the next year.
  • Entertaining. Be an inspired hostess by saving entertaining ideas throughout the year.
  • Gift ideas. Use this pocket to capture all the perfect gift ideas torn from magazines.
  • Recipes. This is a great place to store your favorite holiday recipes old and new.
  • Tips. Anything you tear from a magazine or print from the web you want to refer to each holiday season.
  • Travel. Keep travel itineraries, tickets and directions here.

I have added CD pockets to my binder to store holiday music and added lyrics in page protectors. Another helpful addition is a business card page to keep track of vendors you use seasonally. This binder can be tailored to fit your family and your personal needs.

The holiday season should be a pleasure, not an ordeal. With a little planning, a great list and a dash of simplicity you can bring back the comfort and joy.

Repurpose. Replenish. Renew. Restore. Relax.