Tag Archives: organization

Big and Small

14 May

My life has undergone significant changes this year. So has my body. Most of my clothes are two sizes too big.

I can’t afford a new wardrobe. I was smaller and then I got bigger. I thought I would never be smaller again, so I got rid of my smaller clothes. Now I am smaller but I can’t get rid of my bigger clothes. This is a problem.

Who wants to hear someone complain about losing weight? Not very many people. Of this I am certain.

I am happy to have a more active lifestyle, which is cheaper than a gym membership and more effective.

I have stairs in my life. I have a job where I can’t sit down or stay in one place. I have laundry facilities outside the home. I don’t know where various things are at home, so I spend a fair amount of time walking in circles, looking around and inside and through and under and behind. I am using all of the prepositions I can think of.

Months after moving, we still have Mystery Boxes. If you have ever moved, you probably know exactly what Mystery Boxes are.

We also have a shortage of furniture. We left things behind. Big things. Things that held smaller things. Where do the smaller things go when they are no longer held by the bigger things? They go on the floor. I can’t afford to get new bigger things to hold the smaller things. This is a problem.

These problems are not big problems.

I have loose clothing. I need to step over things on the floor.

These problems are small.

Your Clutter Just Wants You to Be Happy

7 Dec

“Never miss an opportunity to make others happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it.”—Unknown

Could some of your clothes make you happy by leaving your closet? Would the disappearance of that pile of papers put a spring in your step?

If the glass hummingbird figurine your grandmother gave you when you were in grade school suddenly took flight through an open window, would you breathe a sigh of relief?

Imagine that your clutter wants what is best for you.

If only the expired coupons had hands, they would toss themselves right into the waste basket. If the shoes that hurt your feet could walk on their own, they would have shuffled off to the thrift store ages ago.

Those old VHS tapes regret taking up your shelf space. They don’t want to stand in your way. They want you to be fulfilled, to live the life you have always dreamed of.

Make it an amicable parting of ways.

Letting Go

30 Nov

Let go of your past (what was and what wasn’t)

Let go of those years of clutter

Let your fears fly away

Live your life as if it were new

Be free

5 Signs That You Need to Organize Your Home

31 Aug

Sign #1:  You found your hairbrush in the microwave.

Sign #2:  The spiders have constructed a town hall and drafted a constitutional charter.

Sign #3:  The coat stand tipped over and crushed your favorite end table.

Sign #4:  To get to the spare room, you need to climb out the window, dangle from the eaves and crawl through a ventilation shaft. (Be sure to bring a flashlight and a grappling hook.)

Sign #5:  Poor Aunt Delores hasn’t been seen since she opened up the pantry door to find the dog food. What day was that? Where is the dog? Well, maybe they went for a really long walk…

10 Ways to Make Space When There Just Isn’t Enough of It

20 Jul

Are you living in a compact space?  Do you want your home to look and feel more open?  Here are some quick tips for increasing the amount of usable and/or visual space in your home…

1-Turn shelves into “drawers”.  Measure the depth, height and width of your shelves and look for some woven or plastic bins just under those measurements. The look is clean, and a bin generally holds more than a shelf.  If you can’t find the perfect measurements, feel free to mix and match.

2-Use fuzzy space-saving hangers. (The Real Simple variety is my favorite.) They really work, and in spite of their narrowness, they won’t stretch the fabric.  A stretched out shoulder “bump” happens when garments slide to one side, leaving all the weight on one corner of the hanger.  Hangers with a no-slip fuzzy texture will not allow sliding, and can often be used vertically, saving even more space. As a bonus, the similarity of the hangers will make your closet look neater.   Avoid the plastic hangers with the evil swiveling tops, commonly used in clothing stores.  The swiveling leads to annoying tangling, not to mention clanking noises.

3-Look for furniture with storage options, like seating benches and ottomans with removable lids.  Consider replacing end tables and night tables with small cabinets or dressers.

4-Use hooks in closets, on the backs of doors and anywhere else you think a hook can work for you.  Some hooks fit over the tops of doors, some require screws, and some stick on with adhesive.  If you want to hang something heavy, screw a hook into wood, not drywall, to prevent damage to the wall.

5-Before you buy, consider whether something you already own can serve the same function!  For example,  a firm ottoman can work as a serving table (and as storage: see #3), a sturdy drinking glass can hold flowers, and a vase can also function as a candle holder.  Some hangers can double as outfit planners, holding scarves, belts, or jewelry.

6-Use more vertical space to preserve horizontal space.  A narrow table lamp with a high shade leaves more usable surface space than a short and broad lamp.  Better yet, use hanging light fixtures suspended with ceiling hooks — you don’t even need an electrician for those!  (Not that there is anything wrong with electricians; I happen to be married to one.)  A loft bed can allow space for a desk underneath. Mounted shelving eliminates the need for bookcases.  A hanging pot rack can open up new cupboard space.

7-Decorate on the floor or walls, instead of furniture surfaces. Vases and candles can cover up a table and leave no room for hors d’oeuvres, drinks, magazines, or mail.  If you have a small sofa, the last thing you want to do is cover it with “accent pillows”, no matter how great they may look on HGTV.  Pillows reduce seating space and will also make a tiny sofa look that much tinier.  If you want to add accents of color to a room, try a bright patterned rug, new curtains, a hanging mobile, or a bold shade of paint.

8-Use under-bed storage.  Some bed frames come with drawers.  If you want to use storage bags under a plain frame, be sure to measure the height of your bed-frame first.  There are bed risers available if you want to increase this space.

9-Use collapsible items.  They do the same work, and they can squeeze into limited storage space.  I have seen collapsible or fold-able dish drainers, vegetable strainers, tables, chairs, storage bins, laundry baskets, hampers…

10-Get creative!  I was looking for a place to hang an over-door shoe hanger in an apartment with no doors, and found it worked well as a “curtain” hanging from the closet rod, with a shelf of shoes fitting nicely behind it. (These are not my shoes.  I own a total of twelve pairs, including my rubber rain boots, so shoe storage is not an issue for me.)

Prevent Paper Clutter in Your Home

30 Mar

Do you ever feel like you are surrounded by paper?  You can prevent paper from accumulating in your home by changing some of your habits.

  • Bills, Catalogs, Other Mail — Consider online statements or automatic payments to avoid paper billing altogether.  If you prefer paper statements, pay them when you get them, if possible.  This not only avoids clutter, but helps keeps your finances on track because you are less likely to lose or forget about a bill.    Be sure to shred any paper bills with personal information on them.  Try not to set mail down until you have decided which items you actually need.  Be realistic.  Recycle the rest immediately.  If you must put it down without sorting through, always put it in the same spot, and keep a recycling bin very close.  If you never buy from catalogs, get your name removed from the companies’ mailing lists so you won’t receive any.  It’s better for you, better for the companies, and better for the environment.
  • Coupons — Some people save hundreds of dollars with coupons.  If you are never going to be one of those people, then be honest with yourself about it.  Don’t save every coupon you see.  Are you really going to use it by the expiration date?  Do you even want that item?  Save coupons you know that you will use, for businesses you visit often, or for products you actually want or need.  Also, find out which of your favorite businesses or products have coupons available online so you can print them as you need them and they won’t clutter your home.  A word of warning:  do not use your personal email account if you sign up to receive coupons by email, because you will probably be spammed.
  • School papers — If your child earned a great score on a test, make a big deal out of it and then put it on the refrigerator or recycle it.  If an art project is special, frame it.  You can’t keep ALL your child’s work, so let your child know how impressed you are by the really special ones, and let the rest go.
  • Receipts — You don’t need that three-year old receipt for french fries, trust me.  Save your receipts for anything expensive, tax-deductible, or otherwise important.  File them according to date and review the file periodically.
  • Manuals — Most product information can be found online, so most paper manuals aren’t needed.  If in doubt, look it up.
  • Loose Papers Saved for Reference — If you want to save some papers for later reference don’t just put them in a stack.  Stacks get bigger; you don’t want that.  Consider scanning individual pages for digital storage.  If you need them in paper form, try folders in magazine holders, binders with plastic sheet protectors, and expanding or hanging files.  Be sure to label and date everything and review it once a year.  Be realistic about what you file.  Most people file things they will never need.

If you make some simple changes in your lifestyle to prevent paper accumulation, you will soon see a change in the amount of paper in your home.

It Was the Best of Junk, It Was the Worst of Junk

25 Mar

I am feeling Less Than Organized this week.

Our move has now progressed to the stage known as settling in.  In other words, we are in, but not settled.  Which box holds my son’s orthodontic appliance?  Where are my sneakers?  These are mysteries to be solved.

I was so proud of my moving file, with my list of address changes all checked off.  Then I realized my car registration had expired because I misfiled the bill.

I have also discovered that my fabulous color coding stickers should have been confined to cardboard boxes, and should not have been used on art or furniture.  It turns out that they don’t peel off very well…even the television has a sticky paper residue.

Speaking of televisions, there seems to be one in every room now, although I have little desire to watch anything, aside from “What Not to Wear” which I can’t resist.  Previously we watched only DVDs and streaming Netflix.  Along with the other rather dubious benefits of digital cable (provided by our new housemate), I have been recently exposed to commercials for yet another television program about the topic of hoarding.  I won’t watch those programs because the hoarders are full of anxiety, fear, and sadness.  The programs are sad; before you know it, I am sad, too.

Surprisingly, there is a happy kind of hoarding.  At least, it may be said that some hoarders are happy.  The happy ones are generally called collectors, and they collect out of a sense of purpose or a favorite passion.

I read an interesting portrait of one such hoarder here: Hoarder of History | Find an Outlet.  This is a blog post about a man who has spent most of his life collecting old cars, and it features photographs of both the collection and the collector.

If you watch a program called “American Pickers”, you may learn about a few more happy hoarders.  This is a show about guys who drive around in a van looking for people with massive collections of funky old junk, like antique oil cans.  The drivers are business men, not hoarders.  The plan is to talk folks into selling some of their junk, so it can later be resold to other collectors at a profit.  Some of the rural collectors are real characters, and they love their junk.

Meanwhile, we have moved in with a family member who is not a minimalist at all. Don’t take that the wrong way; the house is lovely, and clean (or as clean as it can be considering the age, sex, and species of some of the inhabitants).  However, I have spent the past five days trying to figure out how to fit our life into a house that is already full of someone else’s life.  Six televisions, two refrigerators, four sofas…you get the idea.  I am happy to report that our leather sofa fit up the stairs, although the box spring for our bed did not.

My first approach in the kitchen has been to clean out drawers and cabinets, looking for items that can be removed, thus leaving potential open space for some of the items we want to integrate into the household.

Emptying one kitchen drawer turned out to be an especially interesting task.  This one was what most people call a “junk drawer”.

The bulk of the items.

Chewing gum, paintbrushes, seashells, fortune cookies, warranties, fake flowers…those things go together, right?

Selected items.

Money, frilly toothpicks, eye glasses, corncob holders, tape, vegetable storage bags, batteries…

Slivered almonds anyone?

Don’t let this happen to your kitchen drawers!

A Peek at a Blog Called “Life With Lindsay”

7 Mar

In times of chaos, looking at images of organization, simplicity, and beauty can help inspire us to find these qualities in our own lives.

I recently came across photographs of the home of a blogger named Lindsay Meyer.  What impressed me is that Lindsay’s home appears very organized, open, and simple, but it still has a personal and comfortable look to it.  The link below will take you to Lindsay’s post, so you can be impressed, too!

sneak peek: my little marina studio «.

Looking around at the chaos of moving boxes recently, I found a fragment of beauty and simplicity, a spot still untouched by moving preparations.  Instead of looking at all the boxes, I chose to look at this

The cymbidium orchids are from my mother’s garden.  They last quite a long time, so I expect to be able to take them along when we move.  I won’t have a mantle available to me anymore, but there will be a place for flowers no matter where I go.

My last blog post, Lessons From a Life on the Move, was unexpectedly featured on Freshly Pressed, and I received a large number of views, comments, and also new subscribers as a result.  I want to give a very warm welcome and thank you to all of my readers for visiting, commenting, and subscribing.  I appreciate the community and the support, right now more than ever.

Organization vs. Uncluttering

26 Jan

SIMPLICITY IS NOT about making things perfectly straight, or perfectly matched, or perfectly beautiful.

You can make your home (or your life) look like that.  Sure, you can buy a lot of pretty boxes and cabinets, and you can color code and label everything and people might be impressed… Hey, even YOU might be impressed!

But, let’s be honest:  if your tidy, beautiful, color coded, labeled home is full of things you don’t need, don’t want, and don’t like, will your life feel simple?  Will you be free?  Will you be happy? 

I don’t think so.

Simplicity is about feeling relaxed and free, and having Space For Your Life, and time to live it.

Only things we actually USE are allowed on the kitchen shelf.

It’s not about perfection.  You can have a little chaos!  It’s normal. 

If you remove the unnecessary clutter, the organization will take care of itself.

This kitchen shelf (mine) looks nice and neat, but only because there is nothing unnecessary on it.  If it were more full, it could be just as “organized” –all the bowls together, all the cookbooks together — but it would also be cluttered, and I would have more difficulty getting the materials I need.

If you don’t use it and you don’t love it, don’t let it get in your way!

The idea is to keep only the things that Fit your life, have a Function in your life, and/or give you a Feeling of joy.  You can read more about my “Three Fs” decluttering method in my post “Should it Stay or Should it Go?”.

A friend/client of mine (I’ve mentioned her before) is gaining momentum in her quest to simplify her life.  It’s all starting to click for her, and she has been writing about it here: The Difference Between Being Organized And Uncluttered | The Music Within Us.

In the spirit of simplicity, I will let her blog post speak for itself.


Get Simple, Baby!

10 Sep

I asked one of my kids if he thought his life was simple or complicated.  He didn’t know what complicated meant, but he said his life is less simple than it used to be.  He meant that life was only “simple” when he was a baby– because he “couldn’t really do anything, so there was nothing to do”.

How simple can life be, for non-babies?  I don’t know, but I’d sure like to find out.  I believe that for almost everyone, life can be simpler and more organized than it is now.

Commit to finding  at least one way to simplify your life this week.  Protect your free time and your home from the clutter of habits and objects that suck all the time and space from your life.  You don’t need to color-code anything, you don’t need to buy anything, and you don’t need to make anything perfect– just make something in your life a little simpler, or faster, or cleaner.