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 – organise your car

It’s quite common for our cars to get a little messy inside.

This weekend your mission is to clear out the junk and make sure you’ve got all the things you need in your car.

1. Empty out the rubbish.
2. Take out things that don’t live in there and out them in their homes inside the house or garage.
3. Give it a bit of a wipe down and vacuum if it needs it.
4. Make a list of things that are handy to have in the car. It may include: tissues, rubbish bags, shopping bags, maps, first aid kit, spare sunnies, books, notepad, pens, a bottle of water (for the radiator, not to drink), spare hats, spare umbrella, sunscreen (essential in our hot Aussie summer!) or anything else you find you need when out and about.
5. Find suitable storage for those items (you can get special organisers for the car or just make up your own) and put it all back in.
6. Try to make a habit of tidying your car whenever you get home and teach your kids to do the same with the back seat.

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!

How to Shop from Your Own Wardrobe

Photo courtesy of Lookbook.nu

This is a guest post by Natalie Tucker. I needed help with my Fashion Embargo (it’s really tough!) so I have called in the expert!

We have enough clothes in our wardrobe right now to last us the next 3 years, but we see a model wearing something fabulous and of course she looks amazing (why wouldn’t she, this is what she is paid for) so we go out and buy that exact same item or even the entire outfit.

Okay, so do you now look amazing? Or rather, you feel completely depleted because somehow it just does not look the same on you?

STOP! Let’s not do it anymore!…it’s time to make a stand!

Why don’t we try only wearing what suits us by using clothes that are currently hanging in our wardrobe, you can do it…so come on.

First of all, take some time to make a date with yourself and your wardrobe, spend 3 hrs on a Sunday afternoon trying absolutely everything on. Below is a guide of items that will have you looking up to the moment, interesting and most of all effortlessly stylish, yes, EFFORTLESSLY STYLISH! Because we all know that really, this does actually take a great deal of effort.

  • Pull out all of your interesting tops, printed, unique design, unusual collars, fabulous fabrics, button down shirts and lay them on the bed. These are your foundation pieces because they are worn closest to your portrait area (your face). Everyone looks here and often, you never get a second chance to make that first impression!
  • Grab a blazer…now this could even be just a denim jacket, we all have at least one of those. Try and find one in a colour that makes your top STAND OUT…this means that it will not be black on black or grey on grey. Harsh, I know, but colour is what keeps life interesting.
  • Next step, put out all of your pants, skirts or jeans. As long as they are in a different colour from both your interesting top and your blazer/denim jacket,you will look fabulous. You now have a great ensemble…but wait, there is more…
  • NOW TO FINISH! A shoe or boot that is related to your top. It can be the same colour, have a print relationship or just simply be the same depth intensity (dark top, dark shoe…light top, light shoe). If your shoes do not meet this criteria, just find one in your hair colour, you will be book ending your outfit with pizzazz. If you are blonde, in Winter, tan will do the same trick. If you have dark hair, mahogany adds that spice of life.

If you would like to receive some more visual inspiration, just head on over to my Defined Image facebook page. I will give you a daily pic of what I am wearing and maybe, just maybe, you may have some of these items already hanging in your very own closet. I hope to see you there.

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.

 

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).

 

My Fashion Embargo Experiment for 2012

I recently thought I might try something new this year. Something that I haven’t done before, and that many people couldn’t do if their life depended on it (and that others regularly do it rather easily).

I decided I wasn’t going to buy any new clothes in 2012. For the whole year.

I’m the kind of person that gets bored easily – I like to update my wardrobe through the year, and always have a bit of a spree at the start of winter and summer.  I have been long exploring the idea that you can be happier if you can accept what you have rather than always wanting more. I have been practising it a lot, and wondered if I could take it this one step further.

So, I’m going to have a new clothes embargo in 2012. No new clothes or accessories for a WHOLE YEAR. These are the rules I have made:

  1. Replacement of essential items that have been damaged are allowed. By essential I mean that there is only one of them in my wardrobe, and it’s needed for work or something important (like underwear!)
  2. Gift cards can be redeemed (I have none, but if anyone wants to join me they can do this)
  3. Clothes-swapping and borrowing from friends is perfectly acceptable
  4. Clothes received as gifts are also acceptable (I have to wait until December for my birthday so this will be of no use to me!)
  5. Accessories are included – no new shoes, jewellery or handbags either (unless conditions satisfy rule #1)

Why am I doing this? A few reasons:

  1. I bought more clothes and jewellery this year than I ever have (BEFORE I decided on the embargo!) and I think I have everything I need to get by
  2. It will teach me to be patient
  3. It will teach me how to be more creative with my wardrobe instead of just buying something when I get bored
  4. It will save me money (this is a minor reason; I’ve never really spent a load on clothes or shoes)
  5. I just want to see if I can do it!
  6. It will show me that I don’t need new things to be happy
  7. I won’t have to go shopping (I don’t like it!)
  8. It’s something fun to blog about and share with others
  9. My wardrobe is full.

Would you like to join me?  It will be good for you, I promise! You can attend the Facebook event, and follow @rebeccamezzino and use the hashtag #fashem2012  to join in the discussion on Twitter.

Tell me what you think – could YOU do it?

The ONE thing that can get you organised

A line in the sandI had a  journalist ask me recently that if there was only one thing she should do to get organised, what would it be?  Of course, there are quite a few things you can do, and quite a few adjustments in your thinking that you can make. However, if there is one thing that could singularly make a change to your life now, it would be boundaries.

Boundaries are everywhere. There are physical boundaries (the block of land your home is on, the walls of your house; curbs and fences), legal boundaries (one must not shop in the supermarket without any clothes on and you can’t take a stranger’s car just for the fun of it), social boundaries (we don’t sing at the top of our voices in the library nor take our own dinner to eat in a restaurant) and self-imposed boundaries (being vegetarian, a teetotaller or a non-smoker or never ever ever wearing runners with jeans, for example). Not all boundaries are ‘good’, nor are they all ‘bad’, but they are there nonetheless.

And you can also use boundaries to help you get organised and stay organised. And if you stick to them, you can’t fail!

If you’re cluttered:

  • The 1-in, 2-out rule will put your home on a diet and ensure that you have more going out than in. Every time you bring a new item into the house, 2 have to go. Useful for all collections of belongings, especially shoes, books and magazines. If it’s a particularly large and overwhelming collection, you may want to have 1-in, 5-out!
  • The ‘nothing lives on this space’ boundary. Visualise your home as the way you want it to be. Which horizontal spaces were empty in that visualisation? Pick one, and make a rule that no matter what, nothing is allowed on there anymore. If something turns up on that spot then it immediately has to have a home found for it. Once you’ve got that as a habit, choose the next spot.
  • The “Don’t Put It Down, Put It Away” rule: this is self-explanatory. Make a home for it if it doesn’t have one – don’t just put it down on the closest horizontal space
  • Shopping with awareness. Shop with a list and determination not to buy anything not on the list. Try to avoid shopping at garage sales or op-shops (as most of this type of shopping is impulsive and unstructured). Also ask yourself when you are purchasing something “Where will this live? Do I have room for it?”.

Once you’re decluttered:

  • Shift to 1-in, 1-out and keep that rule in mind on an ongoing basis
  • Spread your awareness of empty horizontal spaces to the whole home
  • Every time you open a cupboard, check that everything is in its home (it only takes a few seconds)
  • Set up routines to maintain your wonderfully organised spaces.

Leave the void empty sometimes

Today I don’t want to give you any answers. Instead I want to ask you some questions.

I had a discussion yesterday with a wonderful and insightful friend. We talked about why we have this innate need to fill our emotional voids with ‘stuff’, from clothes and shoes to chocolate or mindless pursuits such as TV.

So I want to ask you – what voids are you filling? What are you filling them with? Is this void-filling having the negative effect of filling your home up with things you don’t need, use or love?

Are you looking for instant gratification and sacrificing long-term happiness?  Are you afraid of empty spaces in your life? Why is that? Wouldn’t it be lovely to embrace emptiness sometimes? Accept it as a truth and let it be?

Why are those voids there? What created them? Are they good voids or bad?

Mull it over, you may find a truth in there that will help you move forward.

 

freelancer web developer