Un-organising

I read a recent article about certain spaces you shouldn’t bother trying to keep organised in your home. They included the junk drawer, kids’ toyrooms, laundry cupboards, your utensil drawer and photos.

It had an impact in my industry, with lots of Professional Organisers saying “WHAT??? WHY?? NOO!!!!” to the ideas expressed in the article.

But I agreed with the article (most of it, anyway, I DO think the laundry should be fairly well organised because having an efficient clothes-washing system and routine has a flow-on effect to the rest of the house). I agree because I think we place too much pressure on ourselves to have our spaces organised to the “nth degree”. To have all our drawers neatly divided and our books colour-coordinated. To have all the kids’ Lego sorted by colour. To have a house that looks like the ones on Pinterest.

I think life’s too short for that.

To show you how it’s possible to let go on some of these high standards, I’m going to show you my stationery drawers. They are sorted into broad groups (writing, drawing {my art}, attaching, labeling, personal and technical) and labeled all neatly on the outside. Now, that’s pretty organised; I always know what’s in those drawers (or what should be in them if I’ve been good and put stuff away!).

When you open the drawers, however, it looks like a bit of a shemozzle; it’s all just chucked in. And I think that’s fine. It still takes me no time at all to put my hands on what I want, and isn’t that what organised really means? I can see there are a few things that shouldn’t live in a couple of those drawers, but they aren’t bothering me right now so I don’t really care. I can find what I want when I want it.

Organised chaos. That's my thang.

Organised chaos. That’s my thang.

The same goes for my son’s Lego, which is in one big long, shallow tub. Not sorted. Not at all. He doesn’t care one iota. And neither do I.

And my utensil drawer – everyone just throws the stuff in anyway, so why bother trying to keep it tidy? I keep it decluttered so that it only holds what’s necessary, but… tidy? Not worth the effort!

So chill out. You don’t have to have everything lined up with the labels all pointing outwards to have an organised home. You just need to be able to find things when you want them, and have only what you can fit easily in their space.

So, if you want to throw stuff willy-nilly in your top bathroom vanity drawer, go for it. If you want to just throw your undies in with your socks all messy and unfolded, feel free. If you want to have your hairbands in the same box as your clips and bobby-bins, go your hardest. If you can’t be bothered putting your books in order of genre or author, that’s completely okay. You are free to have a jumble if you so wish.

You’re welcome.

Avoiding isn’t the answer

You’re cluttered. You feel out of control and overwhelmed. You want to escape the house. You aspire to a beautiful, organised home but despair that you’ll never get it. You’re anxious.

When you’re anxious, going shopping can make you feel better – every girl knows that ;) . But we also all know that it’s only a short-term hit, like a drug.

Sometimes you even buy organising products to try and get around that feeling in your gut that tells you to stop bringing more stuff into the house.

But more stuff, even if it is a useful container or set of shelves, will NOT fix your problem.

The only thing that will fix your problem is taking action on what you have got around you. The only way out is to stop avoiding your stuff and face it. To defeat it, you must take action.

When you next get the urge to run away from your home and seek solace in shopping, realise that the ONLY WAY to get the home you want is to stay in it and face your demons. Sort that pile, toss that stuff, create the life you want rather than buy it.

You CAN do it, I know you can xx

Storing kids’ artwork 101

artwork

Our kids' artwork can be very special to us (copyright Ethan Mezzino!)

This is such a common question I get that I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog post on it!

A Facebook fan asks “Do you have any ideas for storing kids artwork? I have already accumulated a pile of “treasures” and my daughter is only 3. I obviously can’t keep everything, but how do I decide? And I’ll have the double the problem when my youngest starts getting creative. Please help!”

There are several ways to deal with kids’ artwork, so I’ll give you a run-down of a method that works for me and I recommend to the majority of my clients. It might work for you, too.

 

 

 

 

Firstly, have a place to put all the artwork when it comes in. You can put it on the wall, or in an artist’s folio sleeve, or both (the wall for a month, then the folio or a combination). The folios are designed for one or two pieces of artwork but I’ve shoved 6 month’s worth in there fairly easily! Slide it behind a piece of furniture for safe-keeping. Ours goes behind our buffet.

artist folio

A2 Artists' folio - this one from Officeworks

Create a routine in which you regularly (when they are little do it every season, when they are older you can do it twice a year or so), go through the folio and photograph or scan every picture. Have the children pick out a few originals to keep, then recycle the rest (or use it as wrapping paper, or give to family – whatever you like).

The originals that my kids keep go in an A3 display book with plastic sleeves that they can look in any time they like, and is stored in their bedrooms (slid behind a bookcase).  The really special ones get framed.

If they are attached to their artwork this can take some coaxing, and you may get tears, but they do get used to it and if you can create a little slide show of all their artwork on the computer, you’ll win them over – they love it. You could even get a photobook printed of all their creations every couple of years.

It’s important for children to learn that there is a finite amount of space that we live in, and we can’t keep everything. The alternative of having the photographs means you save space and you still keep the memories.

 

 

Do less, be more

I have many clients that aren’t hoarders, but have too much stuff.

They don’t over-shop, but they are always in a mess.

They don’t refuse to throw things away, but they still never get around to it.

These people are busy – really busy. They have jobs (often more than one), they have study, kids that have stuffed-to-the-bursting schedules, friends that they drop everything for, hobbies, groups, committees, coaching and other commitments. 

They are cluttering up their schedules, and that in turn clutters up their spaces and their minds. They are overloaded.

I am constantly bleating on about slowing down, about dropping all but the essentials. My clients’ lives – YOUR lives – will not change if they don’t.

You don’t NEED to be doing EVERYTHING all at once. Slow down. Drop stuff. Pare back.

We have a long life, at the end of which very little apart from our near and dear will actually mean anything.

You don’t need to be doing all that stuff to be of value. You are of value just as you are.

Do less, BE more.

Don’t ask your kids to clean their room …

Instead of asking your kids

“Can you please go and clean your room?”,

try rewording it and saying

Can you please go and spend 5 minutes putting things in their proper homes?”.

 

The request is much more specific and it’s measurable for them. The limit on time also helps them to not get overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.

It doesn’t matter if the room isn’t finished in 5 minutes, but after another 5 minutes a few hours later, and then the next day, and so on …

you get the picture :)

A place for everything…

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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!

 

How to ditch your ironing basket

I used to iron most of our family’s clothes. I didn’t bother with underwear, sleepwear or linen, but ironed pretty much everything else. My friends used to tell me they never ironed, and I couldn’t believe it – I expected they’d be all wrinkled up, but they weren’t!

I wold spend around 3 hours a week ironing, and I hated the ironing basket. It was always full and always there, staring at me and reminding me I had to do something I hated doing. However, I was compelled to iron because the clothes were always so creased. I could not conceive not ironing.

Then my life changed when we went on a 4-week family road-trip style holiday. We lived out of suitcases the whole time, frequently moving and therefore frequently packing and unpacking (and never hanging anything). I realized that we didn’t look all wrinkly all of the time, and that it wasn’t so bad, this No Ironing Thing.

So when we returned home, I repurposed my laundry basket (it’s now our shopping bag basket) and never looked back. I got hints from my best friend, who had some great ideas (thanks Kym!) on how to prevent creases, and I’ll share them with you now.

Firstly, I still try not to use the dryer. It doesn’t rain much where I live, so we dry outside on the clothesline most of the time. We do this to save on electricity usage, mainly – cheaper and more environmentally friendly. When I do, I just apply the same rules as below, essentially (except for the drip-drying).

- I set my spin speed on my washing machine to the lowest spinning speed that I can
- I often don’t spin at all (especially in summer) and instead drip-dry the clothes
- I give them a good shake when they come out of the machine and hang them on the line as soon as possible
- I smooth them out on the line and leave them as smooth as I can to dry
- I always peg socks together in their pairs (this isn’t an ironing tip but it saves time later)
- As I get them off the line, I put them in the basket in this order: undies, socks (paired immediately), sleepwear (folded), shorts & pants (folded), things that don’t crease (folded). Then finally I lay flat out over the top of the basket the clothes that usually crease a little like t-shirts dresses and shirts (hanging stuff).
- Once inside, I take the hanging clothes off the basket and lay them on the back of the couch. I put the most creased pieces on the bottom of the pile. I smooth them out individually as I add each one to the pile (sort of like ironing them with my hands)
- I put all the other stuff away in the wardrobes
- A few hours later I hang the hanging items – they have ironed themselves on the back of the couch (sometimes I lay them flat on the bed, too).

20121104-222646.jpg
Sometimes I’ll get something out of the wardrobe to wear and it’s a little creased – so then I give it a quick iron, but this is rare.

I have also learned that your body heat will also smooth out wrinkles once you’ve had it on for a little while, too.

It’s also useful, of course, to buy clothes made from fabrics that don’t crease easily!

Finally, ditch your perfectionism – no one will notice, trust me! And you’ll be a changed person!

Weekend Weightlifter – the “To Donate” spot

This weekend it’s another small “Spot Creator” and it’s for 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!