Weekend Weightlifter – the cutlery drawer

20121123-115546.jpg

My cutlery drawer after a little spruce-up

This week we’re tacking the cutlery drawer. It’s a short job, but with great satisfaction because you use it so frequently.  I did it today myself and it took me only 8 minutes! (mind you, mine was more dirty than cluttered so most of the time taken was cleaning the cutlery tray!).  It should still take you less than 15 minutes.

Here you go:

  1. Pull everything out and place it all in like groups on your counter-top or table (knives together, spoons together etc)
  2. Take out the cutlery tray, if you have one (if you don’t, get one as it prevents a lot of searching!) and give it a good clean.
  3. Wipe out the inside of your drawer
  4. Assess your piles on the counter. What do you use all the time? How many do you REALLY need? What do you never use? What can you live without? (ie, if you didn’t have one, you could still make do).
  5. Put the frequently-used items back in the drawer in their groups
  6. Find homes elsewhere for the stuff that doesn’t belong
  7. Donate or trash never-used, duplicates or broken items
  8. Smile every time you  open the drawer!

 

Clutter-free gift ideas

We all have too much stuff and not enough quality time these days. Rather than make it worse this Christmas, why don’t you have a go at reversing it a little? What better way than to get some gifts that won’t clutter up the lives of your loved ones. After all, who needs more stuff? Here’s some ideas to get you thinking:

  • 20121120-100031.jpgMovie tickets
  • A dinner voucher (or you can combine them and get a movie/dinner package)
  • A baby-sitting voucher (again, combined with dinner and a movie would be awesome for busy parents)
  • A voucher for some organising or decluttering (from Clear Space, of course!)
  • A voucher for an assistant-for-a-day/week
  • Tickets to a theatre show or sporting event that is meaningful for them
  • A home-made “I’m your slave for a day” voucher (or if you prefer..”I’m your personal assistant for a day”)
  • A donation to a charity (see Oxfam Unwrapped or World Vision Smiles to buy a goat, a school kit, or blankets on behalf of someone – there are hundreds of gifts to choose from)
  • Flowers delivered every month for a year (or even once is just as nice..and far less expensive!)
  • An annual membership for their favourite sporting club
  • A car detailing package
  • A spring-clean service for their home
  • A gardening service (don’t do this if they love their gardening!)
  • Singing lessons
  • Music lessons (guitar, drums, piano etc)
  • A massage
  • Dancing classes
  • Art classes
  • Gym membership
  • Voucher for a treatment of their choice at a beauty salon
  • iTunes (or similar) gift card
  • A homemade frozen or fresh dinner home-delivered (great for new or extra-busy mums)
  • A zoo membership (South Australians click here for Zoos SA membership details)
  • A ticket for an adventure such as a ride in a racing car, vintage fighter jet, jet boat, hot-air balloon, sky-diving (but be sure they’re up for it!) or something milder like a hike, canoeing or a day-trip boat cruise
  • An opportunity for them to meet their hero. For my husband’s 40th I hired Stuart Dew from Port Adelaide FC to make an appearance at his party. He will never forget it!
  • Take them out for the day and let them do whatever they want to do, eat whatever they want to eat and go whereever they want to go (great for kids)
  • Hide a picnic lunch somewhere for the two of you and give them the GPS coordinates so they have to find it (make it a scenic route!)
  • Photography classes
  • A session with a stylist
  • A coupon that entitles them a few hours of your time helping them organising their digital photos
  • A week of full-time housekeeping (yes, please!)
  • A week of a personal chef (again…yes, please!)
  • Take them out volunteering for a day with you (you have no idea just how much you’ll gain in return)
  • An e-book reader (so they can reduce their book clutter)

All of these things either save time or space or give a unique experience and memory. Far better than adding to our cluttered lives, don’t you think?

 

Weekend Weightlifter – cull some paperwork

This weekend we’re going to attack some old paperwork. You don’t need to spend all weekend on it – you can spend as little as 15 minutes and make a difference!

Find some old filing in the home and take a handful of it out of the files.  Assess each piece of paperwork one at a time and ask yourself if you need to keep it or not.

Reasons to keep papers include:

  • It was used as supporting documentation on one of your last five (seven in the US) tax returns (invoices, receipts, superannuation)
  • It has historical significance (your grandfather’s migration documents)
  • You need to keep it for legal reasons (your car registration papers or your Will)
  • You need to keep it for warranty reasons (the receipt for your vacuum cleaner)
  • It’s useful when something goes wrong (your dishwasher user manual)
  • It’s a hand-print of your daughter when she was a baby
  • It proves something (residency, that you paid for something, that you did a certain qualification, medical records etc)
  • You’re going to use it soon (a gift voucher)
  • It makes you very happy. VERY.

Reasons to ditch papers include:

  • It’s a document you can obtain online whenever you need it
  • It’s a user manual for an item you don’t have anymore
  • It’s a bill that was paid 2 years ago and you didn’t claim it as a tax deduction
  • It’s one of 3,000 drawing of stars your daughter drew (a handful of the same drawing from the same age is sufficient)
  • It’s one of 50 payslips from 1987 (again, keep one for nostalgia, sure – but you don’t need them all)
  • You took it out of a magazine several years ago because you thought you might make that stool/soft toy/cake/party decoration one day (you can get SO MUCH online these days)
  • It’s memorabilia that makes you sad/angry/guilty

You can spend as little or as long as you want, as long as you ditch as much as you can in that time!

 

The “To Donate” spot

It’s a great clutter-controller to have one spot to put things you want to donate.

Find a box that is a fair size (too small and you have to head to the charity place too frequently!) and create a home for it that’s fairly accessible, but not in your high-usage areas. I’d suggest the bottom of a laundry shelf, bottom of the linen closet or in the garage.

Label it “To Be Donated” and teach the family to put anything in there that they no longer need, use or love in there so it can be loved by someone in need.Whenever it gets full, take a quick trip to the nearest charity and drop it off, replacing the box in its spot again to continue the cycle (don’t leave it in the car for 3 months!).

The 2012 Christmas Countdown Planner

Source: http://www.design-decor-staging.com

Back due to popular request is the Clear Space Christmas Countdown Planner. Download it here: Clear Space 2012 Christmas countdown calendar

It’s a simple “one task a day” planner that isn’t fancy or complicated. It doesn’t promote perfectionism, nor does it have unrealistic expectations of you.

It’s just a no-frills, get-it-done kind of thing!

Enjoy!

Creating a “Not Ours” spot

The Not Ours spot (or box, or basket…). If you don’t have a home for things that don’t belong to you, you need one of these!

Some of the things that can go into it include:

  • library books & books borrowed from friendsbaskets
  • borrowed DVDs
  • salad bowls and platters left after a dinner party
  • hair clips, water bottles, hats or socks etc left over after a playdate

Create a home (it needs to be fairly accessible if frequent-access things like library books will be stored there) and use a basket or tub to contain the items.

Every time you have a visitor, check your box to see if they have anything in there that belongs to them. Likewise if you visit someone – check the box first so you can return their items to them.

Report back when you have created your “home away from home” spot. Feel free to post pics of it so we can celebrate with you!

A modest life is a life to be proud of

Everyone has different ideas of what a modest life entails, but for me it’s not being dragged into the whole consumerism, materialistic way of life to a point that it has you living outside your means or being extravagant.

It means you don’t go into debt for a big-screen TV or a luxury car, you don’t spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery and shoes each year. You don’t buy designer clothes, or borrow money for extravagant holidays.

It means you live within your means, disregarding what this does to the way people see you.

So many people complain about not having enough money, yet they drink excessive amounts of alcohol, have Foxtel and a big-screen TV and drive a brand new car that they have borrowed money for, and spend a fortune on takeaway and junk food.  They sell their house and upgrade to a bigger home with a bigger mortgage so they can fit all their stuff in that they found one sale somewhere sometime but never use. They put their immediate comfort and their ‘facade’ in front of long-term benefits such as being debt-free.

People have forgotten what a real need is. They have forgotten that in the 1960s a family of five quite happily fit into a house with 3 bedrooms and one living area. They forget that a car that is over 10 years old can still drive them from A to B.  They forget that they live a quite privileged life compared to many and that they are so much luckier than they think they are.

They still look around them and want what everyone else has whether or not they can afford it, need it, or have room for it.

I get really frustrated when I hear how “tough” people are doing it, when I know very well many of these people are in debt because they lived beyond their means.  They did it because they couldn’t tell the difference between a need and a want. They didn’t ‘save for a rainy day’ and instead told themselves “I deserve this”.

People who lead modest lives are happier than those that don’t. They are more financially stable. They are self-sufficient and live within their means. They are leaders, not followers. They accept their life as it is and don’t strive for excess. They give freely of themselves. They aren’t overly concerned with what others think of them, and are therefore more uninhibited and self-assured.

How does one live a modest life?

  • Don’t buy things just because everyone else has one, unless you can afford to buy 3 of them without debt (and then still only buy 1!)
  • Recognise that at the end of your life, you will not be remembered for your designer shoes
  • Understand that you are still a valuable person without all the ‘stuff’
  • Learn to be content with what you have, and enjoy what you have instead of wanting more all the time
  • Don’t go into debt for anything other than the necessities (food and shelter, essentially – and that doesn’t count luxury resorts!)
  • Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s, and be proud of not buying into the hype
  • Remember to look long-term and not just for the short-term ‘hit’ that buying something new gives you

There is nothing to be ashamed of in living a modest life, but so very much to be proud of.


On a personal note:

I am not infallible nor am I a monk – sometimes I don’t live a modest life, despite generally trying to. When I bought myself an iPad (I tried to tell myself I ‘needed’ it for work but to be honest, I mostly play and read on it), I was being more extravagant than I normally would, even though I could afford it and did pay cash, because I didn’t really need it.  Sometimes I yearn for a bigger wardrobe, more shoes or a guest room in my house(or a bigger house), or a flash new sofa because I’m tired of the old one. And I was very keen to upgrade our car earlier this year – to the point of nagging!

But  most of all, I live within my means and without extravagance, as does the rest of my family. We’re not overly frugal but we’re not careless either.

Our family is debt-free (and we worked hard to get that way – it wasn’t handed to us on a platter) and we save as much as we can, whilst still enjoying our life.  Our home is not large or fancy, but it’s nice and we all fit just fine and we resist the urge to spend our savings on upgrading. When we last bought a new car (we had had our other one for almost 12 years) we spent around 10% of what we could actually afford to spend in cash and it was still a nice, shiny new (less than one year old) car and I still love it to pieces. The rest of the money is earning interest for us while the small investment is driving me around!

Product feature – “narrow spaces” trolley

3-tier trolley

I’ve decided to add product features to my blog, and I hope it helps you in your quest to get more organised. Many of my clients buy an organising product without thinking about its intended purpose so I thought if I help you do the thinking first, you won’t have to buy anything unnecessary!

The first product is rather exciting – I couldn’t wait to try it out!

The narrow trolley (pictured is the 3-tier version – it also comes in 4-tier) is a clever way to gain storage in an otherwise unusable spot. It’s on wheels, so it can be moved in and out of spaces easily – this means you can even put heavier items in it without having to strain to pull them out.

Some possible uses for it:

  • Keep pet food and accessories in it (this is what we use it for) either in the kitchen or laundry.
  • Put all your cleaning products in it and wheel it around with you when you clean (and then hide it away in a narrow space when you’re done!).
  • Take off the wheels and put it in the under-sink cupboard for some extra shelf storage that doesn’t get in the way of the pipes (note, it could be too tall for some cupboards).
  • Use it as a portable nappy-change station. Slide it behind a piece of furniture in the room you do most nappy changes in so you have everything on hand when you need it.
  • Keep tall bottles that won’t fit in the pantry in it alongside the fridge.
  • It’s great for storing craft materials like paints, cups of pencils and paintbrushes and tubs of glitter, sequins, pins, eyes, pipe-cleaners….the list goes on!
  • My husband wanted to grow seedlings in it. I talked him out of it (not that it’s not a good idea, but I’m sure there is a cheaper way to grow seedlings!)
  • Keep your washing items in it between the washer and dryer (powders, softeners, bleach etc) – great if you have no room for over-head storage or want to keep the top of the dryer free for folding.
  • Spare soft-drink, water or juice bottles that you aren’t refrigerating yet.

What I wouldn’t use it for (feel free to try anything though!)

  • Toys (it’s not stable enough and most toys aren’t the right shape)
  • Paperwork
  • Small stationery (you’d waste the vertical space)
  • CDs and DVDs (same as above – they’re too short and although they’ll fit, they’d waste space)

Other stuff to know about it:

  • It has nice tall shelves, so even the tallest bottles and jars will fit in it easily.
  • Note that it’s specifically designed for small spaces – if you leave it out in the open it could tip over if you have heavier items in it (or small children who tend to look one way and walk another) because it’s tall and narrow with a high centre of gravity.
  • Note also that the wheels are quite small, so they work best on hard surfaces. They don’t get along overly well with carpet.
  • They also don’t turn, so if you have a spot that you can’t put it all the way out straight in a line, you might want to re-think the space (although it will happily slide sideways if you force it to).
  • It washes easily, and is easy to put together and pull apart if necessary.
  • It’s strong and solid, not flimsy.

You can get this particular one online at Lifespace – no need to even leave your comfy chair!

Here is ours in use:

Hidden away in the laundry ...

... and voila! There's all our stuff when we need it.

 

6 Quick Tips for Back-to-School

Going back to school after the summer holidays brings mixed feelings. Personally, I’m sad to see the holiday feeling leave us – I love the holidays. However, many kids are ready to get back into routine, and quite often their parents are more than keen for that, too!

Here are some tips for kicking off the year in an organised manner.

  1. Reinstate (or introduce) a morning routine. We keep ours during the holidays, but have a more relaxed version. If we didn’t keep it, I’m sure the kids would never clean their teeth! The morning routine should hand responsibility of their own self-care over to your children, encouraging their independence and easing your mental and physical workload.
  2. Similarly, ensure you have an after-school routine in place, even if it’s as simple as putting their bag in its home and handing over empty lunch boxes and any notices from school.
  3. Make sure they are getting enough sleep. If your family is anything like mine, they’re often in the pool until 9pm at night during the holidays. This works just fine because we let them sleep in to compensate. Once school starts, however, our kids need at least 10 hours of sleep a night to function at their best, and because they have to get up early to go to school, a 10pm bedtime is a bit late to squeeze all those hours in! Ensure they get back into the routine of a healthy bed time as soon as possible (depending on your child, you may need a week or more of transition – ours cope okay with a couple of days).
  4. Set up a system for organising your paperwork so that the school notices don’t get lost or forgotten. There’s nothing like having your child turn up for school in uniform and everyone else is dressed up as a pirate. Your child will take some time to forgive you that little slip-up!
  5. Have a home for bags, sports uniforms, shoes, hats, sunscreen and library books, and help reinforce the habit of keeping them in their homes. You’ll need to issue lots of reminders before it becomes second-nature to them, but it does happen.
  6. Introduce Menu Planning into your own routine. It will help ensure you never run out of bread and have to resort to buying lunches. It will save a lot of money and reduce morning stress.

What are your own tips for making Back-to-school time organised and stress-free?

 

New Year, new … somethingorother …

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It’s New Year’s Day, a time that many of us decide we will make some resolutions to change for the better, and that 2012 is going to be better than 2011.

More money, more friends, less stress, less fat, more fat, more joy, more holidays, less travelling, more clothes, less clothes, more stuff, less stuff, new car, new house, new partner …*takes deep breath*… new friends, no more new friends, more muscles, less crying, better parenting, better job, no job, see family more, see family less, help more people, get help more often, quit smoking, drink less, eat more meat, eat less meat … the list goes on!

Most people want to improve themselves or their lives to some degree; we’re all alike in that way.

Most New Year’s Resolutions fail (I won’t go into detail, but there are stats supporting that sweeping statement!). So I recommend that you just don’t make any. But no, you cry, how will I improve if I don’t make a resolution to? Easy – you take action. A resolution is just a decision to do something, and decisions don’t get you anywhere.  To change, you need a goal, some determination and action. Action is what gets you over the line!

Here’s a few tips:

  1. Choose a theme (“financial freedom” “healthy living” “learning journey”). You can’t change everything – it just doesn’t work. Pick a theme for 2012 and base your goals around it. Don’t stress, though; if you want to lose weight AND learn French this year, that’s fine!
  2. Restrict your goals to only a few (maybe 3?). Brainstorm a list then trim it down to the most important ones to you. Keep the rest to review next year.
  3. Write your goals so they are as specific as possible, and preferably measurable (eg – fit back into size 10 jeans, or get debt down to $50,000, or finish a graphic design course)
  4. Once you have a few specific, large goals, break them down into some smaller goals so that you have a plan of action to follow and not just a vague notion (ie, visit dietitian, decide on exercise routine, start routine, change diet, lose 5 kgs, lose 10 kgs, fit a size 12, fit a size 11 … )
  5. DON’T give up altogether if you stumble. Just start again! Perseverance is the key.

Share your theme for the year with us – what are you focusing on? (In case you were wondering, mine is “Acceptance” – rolling with the punches, flowing with the current and being grateful for all I have).

 

freelancer web developer