Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Daily Planning

As I said here, I like to plan. Not only getting out the things I need for the next day, but also planning what I do each day, and when.

I have a diary, the old-fashioned paper kind you keep in your handbag - I'm a pen and paper kind of girl ;-) I do use the calendar function on my phone - as it helpfully reminds me of things each day, but for making appointments, I use a paper diary.

I also plan each day out, a week at a time, roughly, to make sure everything I need to do gets done (work/volunteering/chores/appointments/exercise) and for this I use a piece of scrap A4 paper, torn in half. I prefer to re-use the blank side of already used paper for this, as it just gets recycled at the end of the week. I've always done this by hand, dividing the page into seven sections, with an extra section for 'next week' (forward planning!) and 'supermarket'. Doing this helps me see if I have too much going on on any particular day and gives me the chance to jiggle things around a bit.

I have found online the most fantastic free printables which incorporate all sorts of different categories, such as keeping hydrated, from Life's a Journal. Or one that includes your children's activities, too, here, from Mommy Tracked. I love the illustrations on this planner, from Arian Armstrong - far too cute to hide away! Jana Laurene's weekly planner includes space for weekly and monthly goals, too. There's a nice simple one here, from, with lots of space for freestyle planning!

I'm going to try some of these out (printed onto the blank side of an already used piece of paper, of course) - if you don't plan your day/week, give it a go, it's amazing how much you can achieve!

Happy planning!

Lemons xx

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Five of my favourite organising products

If we had The Container Store in the UK, it would be heaven! But we don't . There are still great organising products available in the UK, however, so I thought I'd do a post of my favourites. I use all of these products in my home (some of them are quite old, so I have linked to newer versions), and I haven't been paid or asked to recommend any of them - I just love them and want to share!

1. Vacuum Tote Bags


These are from one of my favourite shops - Lakeland. I have the standard sized one, and plan to buy the jumbo one soon. Unlike some of the vacuum storage bags on the market, these ones don't re-inflate in the cupboard while you're not looking! They are basically a vacuum storage bag inside a zip-fastened tote bag, with straps to 'hold' the storage bag. Worth the money, in my opinion, and useful for storing out of season clothes, duvets, pillows and bedding and anything else soft and squishy (soft toys?) that you can think of.

2. Corner Plate Rack


I know, exciting, right?! I've had mine for about 25 years, again from Lakeland. Mine are that plastic coated metal, but now they are fancy pants chrome. It's much easier to get plates out from this than one huge stack.

3. Label Maker


One of the organising bloggers most important tools - mine is a Dymo LetraTag, and has been very handy for labelling boxes, containers, files and folders over the years.

4. Drawer Dividers

From Lakeland, obviously. They're not paying me, I promise! These are called an '8 piece interlocking bin set'. Catchy. I have an older, similar set, which I use for my make up drawer, as seen in this post.

5. Ecloths Window Pack

Not strictly organising, but I am a complete convert to these microfibre window cleaning cloths. The cheaper imitations I haven't found as good for window cleaning. Just warm water and a wipe over with the waffly cloth, then I use a squeegee to get most of the water off the window, polish with the polishing cloth and hey presto, super clean windows (or mirrors). You don't have to use the squeegee, but if you're cleaning a lot of windows (it's very nearly fun with these things, you might get carried away) the polishing cloth will get wet more quickly and then it doesn't polish effectively.

So that's it, five of my favourites. What are your favourite organising products?

Happy decluttering!

Lemons xx

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Sentimental clutter and memorabilia - Part 3 - the final round up!

This is my final round up of sentimental decluttering and organising, dealing with a couple of categories which can be tricky.

Children's artwork and creations
Children are little clutterbugs - and I don't mean that in a bad way! Even a child who is not that keen on drawing and crafting will bring piles of artwork and school work home. When my children were little, I dealt with this in a very slapdash way, randomly picking 'favourites' to keep, and putting other things on the wall in their rooms or on the fridge. I know better now! If I'd have thought about it, I would have kept one year's worth of art and work for each child, and at the end of the year picked out 3 or 4 items to keep, with the help of the child, of course. It would have been far more manageable! I know in
the attic there are several boxes of school papers and art to deal with.
I will be doing an attic declutter post in the future!

Another thing that occurred to me, when helping my younger son to sort out his bedroom, is that there will be things your child wants to keep, and things that you want to keep, and they'll probably be different! I now have in my memory box a couple of his drawings and pieces of written work that I wanted, but that he wasn't interested in keeping. I don't think many children would like to reach adulthood and have their mother give them every piece of art, craft project and school book they had ever owned! Be realistic about what you have room to keep, and why you are keeping it - a few pieces that make you smile are better than an overwhelming attic crammed full. Someone will have to deal with this stuff when you're no longer here.

Another alternative, particularly good for those towering creations made from cereal boxes and barely held together with glue, is to take a photo and then dispose of the object. A friend of mine used to use her children's paintings, cut up, to make their party invitations, thank you cards and as presents for doting relatives. I also found these rather pricey frames for children's artwork. I think simple, cheap frames from somewhere like Ikea or any large supermarket would serve the same purpose.

Greetings cards

I don't keep them. They are displayed for a week or so after the event (longer for Christmas cards) and then they are recycled. Occasionally I will keep a card with a special message written in it, but other than that, out they go. I'm aware, though, that many people keep all the cards they are sent. All. The Cards. That's a lot of cards, in the case of one of my relatives who is in her eighties. Realistically, how often is she able to look through them all? And does she remember who the sender was (I'm not casting aspersions at her memory - I recently found a leaving card from a job I'd had in my twenties - I didn't remember 90% of the people who'd signed it!). It seems the issue of what to do with greetings cards divides lots of bloggers - Colleen of 365 Less Things is against keeping them, here, and Jen keeps and stores them here at IHeart Organizing. Whatever you decide, you need to have the room. And, just my opinion, but why store something if you never, ever look at at it again?

I'd love to know what you think about keeping cards and children's artwork.

Happy decluttering!

Lemons x

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Things I've learned from other bloggers

Apparently, this was all over blogland and Pinterest, but completely passed me by until I read this post by Jen at I Heart Organizing.

Here is my drawer 'before' - despite only have two appliances in there, they still used to get tangled, and I'd pick up the hairdryer, only to have the plug of the straighteners fall on my foot. That hurts a lot :-(

I used cut up kitchen roll insides, rather than loo rolls (I used to volunteer in a primary school, and using the insides of toilet rolls for any crafty activities was frowned upon for hygiene reasons). I also don't have scrapbook paper, so I used wrapping paper.

And there you have it, the after shot. No more plugs landing on my feet in the morning.

Simple, but brilliant.

Thanks Jen, and all the other bloggers and pinners, for sharing.

Happy decluttering!

Lemons xx

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sentimental clutter and memorabilia - Part 2

I said in my last post that I would be dealing with my own memorabilia - and here is my current memory box. During my general decluttering, I unearthed objects which should be kept here, rather than hidden away in my underwear drawer or my jewellery box or other random places.

The 'box' itself isn't that big, and although I love it's basket-y gorgeousness (I'm a sucker for a nice basket), I don't think it's ideal material for a box which is going to be storing things for any length of time as the dust can get in. It also fastens with fiddly little leather straps and buckles.

I would have loved to have bought a brand spanking new box (I love the largest size of these boxes) but I have unused boxes around the place which it would be more sensible to use.

I unearthed this box from the shelf at the top of my younger son's wardrobe - no idea what it was doing there, and it had nothing in it. Now, I don't really like pink. Or flowery things. But obviously some sort of brainstorm caused me to buy this (from Lakeland, a long, long time ago, if I recall) and so I should use it!

I spent a happy afternoon reading and sorting through the things I'm keeping - an assortment of newspaper clippings, birthday and mother's day cards made by my children, a couple of little drawings they did for me, medals from some charity runs I've done and a few love letters. I didn't get rid of any of it, and that's ok. There's room for growth in the new box and I will look through it all again regularly to assess if I still want to keep it all.

The box lives on the top shelf of my wardrobe, and it's easily accessible.

As I discovered when I went through my photos, this sort of decluttering can be very emotional - these things are kept precisely because they evoke some sort of emotion - even if it's sad or bittersweet. I would say that it's probably best not to keep things that make you feel angry or remind you of  very distressing times of your life.

I'm pleased to have finished this little piece of organising - it feels so much better to know everything is kept in one place now!

Enjoy sorting through your own memories.

Happy decluttering!

Lemons xx

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sentimental clutter and memorabilia - Part 1

This song has been going round in my head while I've been writing this post, so I thought I pop it up here to get you in the mood!

Photos, children's artwork, greetings cards, trophies and other ephemera are tricky things to deal with, and back in March I decided to start to tackle a couple of spots in our house where these things were building up. Before I did, I researched what my favourite organising bloggers were saying about sentimental clutter. Here's what Katrina at The Organised Housewife has to say, and I particularly love Small Notebook's post on treasured things! Having read that, I gave myself some little 'rules':

  • I am not aiming to have a museum dedicated to my life (or my children's lives) - I just need a small collection of special objects that hold particular importance to me (whatever other people think I should keep).
  • I need to set limits and boundaries for these things - our house is for us to live in now and not a museum of our past, so they can only take up the space I assign for them.
  • I need to make sure that I leave just enough room for the future, and that means I need to regularly look at and reassess what I've kept.

I began with our photos - by far the biggest job, and we're not even particularly keen photographers. We were both born and raised before the digital age, and our children were born in the early to mid-90s, when film cameras were still used. We still took lots of photos of our children as babies, hoping for one really good shot, but the difference was that instead of deleting the bad photos, the whole film would be developed, which, for us at least, resulted in a lot of photos of basically the same child in the same pose. Having invested the time and money in the film and developing, we seemed to have decided to keep all the photos!

These are our photo albums - a mixture of those self-adhesive ones, and the slip-in kind. We also have a lot of theme park ride photos (both boys are mad for roller coasters!). They are kept at the top of our linen cupboard - please excuse the horrible wallpaper inside the cupboard!

You can see there is no more room for expansion, and the self-adhesive albums need to go - they're bad for your photos and take up too much room.

This is a photograph of Paris, taken in 1979 and kept in a self-adhesive photo album. I can confirm that Paris wasn't that colour! I have older photographs (from the 50s and 60s) that have been kept in proper albums and have kept their colour. Some of the photos couldn't even be removed from the albums as they were firmly stuck. If you have precious photos stored in this way, I would urge you to have a look and see if you can remove them and care for them more safely.

I bought some new, matching slip-in photo albums (but I did also re-use the slip-in albums I already had) and began the marathon task of sorting through all the photos, getting rid of duplicates, fuzzy, blurry shots and unflattering photos of anyone. Oh, and photos of people I didn't know - if I couldn't name/place them, out it went!

It. Took. Ages. And Ages. I was doing it in bursts of about an hour or so every day, but it still took far longer than I'd anticipated! I also found it really emotional. We've all lost people in our lives, or maybe had a major, life-changing event (for us it was the birth of our first son, who has a disability, which for me dissected my life into Before and After) and seeing the photos of those people or times had me sobbing on several occasions. So if you're planning this sort of organising project, make sure you're feeling strong! And have time.

The ride photos were relocated in a box in my younger son's cupboard, and I was left with tidier shelves and some room for growth. My plan is to have photo books printed for each year from now on, and not to use bulky albums.

I'd love to know your system for organising your photos.

Happy decluttering!

Lemons xx

Friday, 15 June 2012

Ten Minute Tidy - scruffy shelf

While I've been away, I've been doing a few little tasks that needed attention around the house.

This is a shelf on the dresser in my kitchen. It's not untidy, as such, but it is not looking its best - there are manuals for the oven and hob in tatty plastic folders, a ring binder that's seen better days and cookery books I don't use. (Random fact - my mother works in a charity shop and says the type of book most often donated is cookery books). I tend to get recipes from the internet now (they're in the purple folder).

Calling this a ten minute tidy is a little bit sneaky, as first I assessed the situation, and then when I was next out shopping, I bought the little beauty on the right (from here, currently out of stock on the website). The blue ring binder on the shelf has various papers like the council recycling and waste collecting calendar, local information, my master shopping list (so I don't forget anything when I'm making a list) and other stuff which needed to be neatly kept. Just not in that ugly (and old) blue folder.

Also pictured to the left are the tatty plastic folders with the manuals - these have been rehomed with all the rest of the applicance manuals.

I was then able to sort through the contents of the blue folder, some of which was recycled, and the rest put into rough categories and filed in my beautiful new file.

A couple of the cookery books that I wasn't using were put in the charity shop bag, and everything was then put back on the shelf.

And here is the end result. Much better.

The actual tidying did only take about 10 minutes, not including the time taken to go and buy the new folder.

Happy decluttering!

Lemons xx