Thursday, 24 February 2011

Half term hiatus

It's half term here, and even though my sons are big, they still manage to take up a lot of time when they are around all day! So I've been a little quiet, but will be back with gusto next week.

In the meantime, I've found some information about a lovely charity called Give and Make up - it's a non-profit organisation which aims to give women and children living in womens' refuges essential toiletries and make up. You can read more about it, and how to donate (they will take 'gently used' toiletries and cosmetics) on their blog here.  If you are decluttering your make up bags and boxes, please think of this charity. And thank you to the ladies on the Money Saving Expert forums for telling me about it.

Happy decluttering! x

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Wardrobe clear out Part 1

Image: Carlos Porto /      
I have a feeling this series of posts will go on and on and on ....

I am not good at clothes. When the fashionistas were in the queue for effortless style, I was obviously somewhere else. The library, perhaps. That said, I have lots of clothes, but it's recently come to my notice that I wear about 30% of them. So I need to get rid of things I don't wear, because really, they're just taking up space, and someone else could be wearing and enjoying them.

I've said earlier that in order to clear out cupboards and wardrobes, you need to get everything out . Everything. Then sort through the stuff and only put back what you want/need/love. I've tried this with my wardrobe, and it's the exception that proves the rule. I end up putting everything back! I've come to the realisation that I'm scared of not having 'enough' clothes. But of course, I only use what I wear, the remaining stuff is clutter!

My new method is slow. Very, very slow. And less scary because it's slow. Everyday, when I go to get dressed, I try and be aware of things I pass over becase .... it's got scratchy seams, it rides up, it falls down, the colour makes me look ill, it's too short, it's too long, the pockets stick out, the neckline is too low, I've got nothing that goes with it. And then I take the offending item and put it in the charity bag straight away. If it's something that I like but I don't have anything to go with it, I write down a note to look for something to go with it (and hopefully to go with other things in my wardrobe).

So here is one (just one *blush*) of my wardrobes, before.

Wardrobe - before

It doesn't help that I use my wardrobe to store things that are not clothes, but that I use in the bedroom. For example, my hand weights are stored in the bottom left of the wardrobe. But you can't actually see them because of all the other stuff.

So after a couple of weeks of discarding things as I was getting dressed, I have gathered a little pile of things. In this pile are shoes which don't stay on, a handbag that's too small for me to fit my life in, some jeans that are too small and some trousers that have faded in a very odd way.

Small pile of unwanted items

Ta da!! Ok, not that different ...
And my wardrobe 'after' picture is hardly inspiring, but does look a little tidier. I got rid of the various random items from the bottom of the wardrobe - some empty plastic bags (why??) and other bits and bobs. Now, I still don't wear everything in there, but slowly, slowly catchy monkey! Bit by bit, those unworn things will be leaving the house. Of course, that does mean I might have to go shopping, as there will be a lot of space and my sad lack of clothes will be obvious. And I am going to try really hard to only buy things that I will wear.

I had a little search to see if I could find any helpful information on building wardrobe, and I did find details of a capsule collection on My Capsule Wardrobe. The clothes in that collection work really hard, and actually get worn. My plan is to achieve a similar capsule, but that's very much a work in progress.

I have another double wardrobe and a single shelved cupboard which will be featuring when I've made more progress.

Happy decluttering!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

You home should rise up to greet you ...

... so says Oprah! I find that quote really evocative of the feeling you get when you open your front door after a difficult day, and immediately feel 'thank goodness, I'm home'.

My continuous quest for an organised and tidy home comes from the desire to have a house that says 'welcome' rather than 'where the heck have you been, have you seen the state of the kids' rooms?'!

I'll be back soon, with tales of my adventures with my wardrobe ...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

A small victory - files are organised!

I've finished!

This horrible pile of files and papers has now been transformed ...

My beautiful new filing!
... and now looks like this! I did have a bit of a dilemma when choosing my new files - when our office is finally completed the files might be on show, so I wanted to choose something I could stand to see on a daily basis. Spotty purple folders will always make me smile!

The newly streamlined cupboard
I faffed about with the cupboard last night, and removed, rehomed, shredded and recycled quite a bit, so even the cupboard is looking better.

The blue and red files on the bottom shelf belong to himself - I wonder how he would feel about purple spotty folders ...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Facing my nemesis - paperwork!

Paperwork gives me the heebie-jeebies. And our home filing system was set up when we were a no children, no car, two cat family. Now we are a two children, two car, one cat family and the system is struggling! Here are some shaming photos of our current 'system'.

Left cupboard
Right cupboard

Now, the top shelf in the right cupboard is all paperwork to do with statementing, IEPs and other things to do with my elder son's disability. As we are in the middle of The Big Fight for Funding for specialist college, all this needs to be at hand. The pale blue lever arch file and the purple file on the top shelf of the left cupboard is also to do with his disability benefits. The files I want to concentrate on are these two babies.

I don't know why I use lever arch files - it's not like I leaf through our bank statements and energy bills on a regular basis! But I find them easier to file things in. However, these two files (banking/saving and home and utilities) are heavy and overstuffed. This afternoon I sorted out the home and utilities file and managed to find some stuff to shred or store elsewhere.
Pathetic file decluttering result

Slightly skinnier, organised file. Still tatty, though.
And the file looks a bit skinnier, and is certainly more organised. I think it's time I invested in some new files - maybe when I've sorted out the banking/saving file - that's cheered me a bit, I love new stationery!

That's it for today. I'll do the banking one tomorrow, and go shopping on Thursday for new folders (yay!).

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Cable and lead clutter

Every device that enters this house seems to have its own entourage of leads and cables. For some reason, other people in this house just shove them in a drawer and forget about them. This means when it comes to declutter time, I find numerous important-looking leads, but nobody has a clue what they are for, and what they belong to! It was driving me bonkers, until I decided two things.

Thing number one - all leads and cables should be labelled when they arrive in the house - I love my LetraTag label maker!

Thing number two - all the various cables I find during the course of my decluttering, that cannot be identified, are moved to a lidded plastic box in the utility room cupboard.

Then we know where to go to look for them, as they aren't scattered throughout the house, wherever people (ahem ... son number 2, you know who you are!) decide to put them. This worked really well when my husband wanted to sell a computer moniter, but couldn't find the VGA connector, as it was safe in the box (you can see it in the picture - it's the blue cable on the left!).

Friday, 4 February 2011

All change

A nice clean, shiny look to my much-neglected blog. When I started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing, or why, and my lack of direction really showed! But I've been thinking (and it didn't hurt. Yay!) about how I want to use this blog and what I want to put in it. And I've decided on concentrating on decluttering and organising as my theme. I'm not an expert, but I can do it, and I'm quite good at it.

Now the blog has a new name, but the same old blog address, and I've included my favourite quote of all time concerning clutter and possessions - You can't have everything. Where would you put it? (Steven Wright).

There are lots of lovely blogs out there that are like organisational porn! The gorgeous images on IHeart Organising are enough to make anyone want to at least tidy up a bit, and shove the kids' toys in a cupboard!

But my own philosophy is that before I buy shiny new boxes and baskets for all our stuff, I need to get rid of the dross. Otherwise I still have too much stuff, it just looks neat. Neat and organised are not the same thing. I need to sort and declutter my instructions and guarantees before I neatly file them. What is the use of a beautiful file of instruction leaflets if it includes details of a toaster that died three years ago, and the guarantee for the trampoline when your youngest is off to university?

Over the years I have formulated some of my own guidelines for dealing with clutter and 'stuff', so I am going to share them here.

Baby shoes. Aww!

* There is room for sentiment. I am not a ruthless chucker-outer who lives in a big empty white space. I still have my elder son's first ever little shoes. They are small, and impossibly cute, and I can't get rid of them.

* Despite what I said above about sentiment (contradicting myself already!), this doesn't mean that absolutely everything that comes into the house has to be kept. As the quote says, 'you can't have everything'. I see decluttering as making space - yes for new stuff, obviously, but also for new experiences and new ideas. Keep small mementos of the past, but not everything, so you're constantly reminded of it - you live in the here and now, give it room!

* Start small. Particularly if it's overwhelming. A drawer, a shelf. When you've done it, sit back and look at it. And if you feel up to it, do another drawer. Or shelf.

* It'll look worse before it looks better. This is particularly true of decluttering wardrobes and cupboards. The only way to do it is to get it all out. Yes, all of it. Then sort it all out into piles - to sell, to keep, to donate, to throw away. Clean out the cupboard, and only put back what you're keeping. Admire. Then turn around and there are the other three piles, looking at you! Dealing with them is part of it - bag up the stuff for the charity shop. Allocate a space to keep all the things you want to list on Ebay, Gumtree or Freecycle. Ditch the rubbish.

* I like to recycle as much as possible. Selling or donating is great for this. Bras can be sent to the Bra Appeal, and high street opticians often collect glasses for Vision Aid Overseas.

* Know that decluttering is like painting the Forth Bridge. You have to keep doing it. Every day more and more stuff arrives in our houses. And we live in a time of abundance. I heard a statistic the other day that we now have 30% more possessions than a generation ago! I don't think our houses are any bigger, so we need to keep control, or we'll drown in stuff!

* I always find things that I can't identify. Particularly when the boys were small - little random pieces of plastic that looked useless but could be something vital belonging to a toy. I found a few more the other day, and the only toys my boys have now are electronic. I look on it as part of the fun - and then I put whatever unidentifiable little object it is in a pot and if I don't need it a few months later, out it goes!

That's it for now - I'm planning to do more posts on my decluttering dilemmas and how I resolved them.

Happy decluttering!