Friday, October 26, 2007

Challenge - Organize the Hall Closet

I found this picture of a hall coat closet in an old edition of Country Home dated Jan/Feb 2005. It got me thinking that my coat closet could use some work! So I'm taking on the challenge.

I like the idea of the 5 shelf bag. It never occurred to me to put one there. Great for winter gear, especially with kids. I also like the hooks on the door. That got me thinking that I don't necessarily need hooks on my coat closet door but could definitely use them on my bedroom closet door. We somehow ended up acquiring several more umbrellas....guess that happens with kids. We have about 6 now. We could really use an umbrella stand. Thinking creatively on that one. I also like the cleanliness of the shoe rack, but we don't keep our shoes in the hall closet so not sure if that is necessary. I like the look of it though.
I've got the closet decluttered now. Removed about 10 coats that will not fit the kids this upcoming season, so they are off to friends. If you need more information on decluttering clothes, click here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Inspiration: Eliminate 40% of the Housework!

I have to add this quote from Jean Chatzky’s book Make Money Not Excuses.

"Getting rid of excess clutter could eliminate 40 percent of the housework in the average American household."

Now that is reason enough to motivate me to declutter and organize! I'd love the extra time to spend with my family! Her book, got me into action mode (anything that inspires me into action is a wonderful thing). I wrote a recent entry about organizing my paperwork after reading her book. After I completed decluttering my paperwork and revamping my system as well as reorganizing it, I reread her book to see what I missed! =) I noticed the above quote at the second reading and wanted to share with you.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Be Creative, Less Trips to the Store!

In my quest for a simple life, I've started only going to the store, once a week. We go to a store for food shopping that offers most other items we may need there as well. Every once in a while, I find I want or need something before my next trip. The great thing is now I have to get creative. What do I have at house, that I can use instead? Most often I find I have SOMETHING I can use and it works out really well. I’ve saved myself the trip, the time and the money. I’ve also found a purpose for another item not being used. I’m amazed at the creativity I find when this occurs. It’s rare that I can’t find something to fill that need. So here's the challenge - only go to the store once a week (or once every 2 weeks if you can!) and be creative for the things that come up in between!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Organizing Paper

I love to read. I just finished Jean Chatzky’s book Make Money Not Excuses. I added it to my bookstore under finances. While reading it, it put me in to action mode! That’s exciting. I realized I needed to revamp my paperwork system. We experienced a lot of changes in the past year and a half and my paperwork system did not reflect those changes. It didn’t take me long either.

The kids and I spent the day at home on Friday. I started going through my old system and tossing, basically decluttering my current system. I like the system she had in her book. I also like how she put a time limit on how long to keep certain papers. I sometimes get a little lost with that, so having a time limit is great!

First you need a system in place. You may like Jean’s, if not, find one you do like. You need a file folder box, hanging file folders and manilla folders. Break down the different categories where you spend money. Remember to also include areas you invest in as well. Start going through the paperwork you have. Make a "keep and file" area & "take action" folder and bring a trashcan and shedder to your party! Start going through your paperwork and place it in the right category in “keep and file area” and file it away! I did it. I updated my paperwork system in 2 days!

After you get a system in place, you need to create a quick way to maintain that system. Once you have that, make it a routine and add it to your weekly routines list! I will pay my bills as they come in. I use to keep my incoming bills in a basket – BIG MISTAKE! That basket grew and grew… was breeding clutter! That was another accomplishment for me this weekend. I completely emptied and filed the items in the basket as well as shredded and threw away the rest of it. The basket is completely empty and I am washing the liner that was inside of it. I WILL NOT put any more paperwork in that basket. I will find a new use for that basket! =)

I was also able to differeniate the "bills to be paid" folder and "take action" folder. Now I have a folder for bills to be paid. I throw away as much paperwork as possible when it comes in the house. I immediately go though the mail and shred and toss the junk. I will now also have a “take action” folder. These are things that come in the mail that may not necessarily be bills…they always ended up in my basket. No longer. I have a separate folder for them. Once the bill is paid, it will be filed. Once the action has been taken and resolved, I will file and shred. I will also allot 15 minutes of time on Fridays as part of my Friday routine to look in the bill folder and take action folder and declutter and file as needed to maintain my system.

Take action! Develop a system - declutter, organize & simplify. Then develop a maintenance program. Add that program to weekly list of routines.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Simplicity of Canning Jars

I love canning jars. We bought a quite a few several years ago when we were making our own Soy milk. I started using them for everything! They are great! We had these older white canisters for flour and sugar. I got rid of them and replaced them with canning jars. I buy a much smaller amount of sugar now and place it in a few canning jars. I like it’s natural look at you can see it through the clear jar.

I also use them to store leftovers in, especially gravy. They make great containers to store gravy in. I place them in the refrigerator and I can easily spot it when I’m ready to use it again.

They are so many possible uses for them. Beyond storage for food, I also started using them as banks for the kids. The kids never knew how much money they had in their banks. I finally got rid of the small banks they had on their dressers and replaced them with canning jars. They can easily spot their money and take down the jars and count how much they have.

I love the simplicity of the canning jars. The natural state of say the sugar in the jars. You can dress them up or decorate them if you like or just leave them plain. I also love that they are multipurpose storage containers.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Paper Plates

Aaah, one of my favorite simple tips: using paper plates! I am home all day, often making 3 meals and cleaning up after 3 plus meals and snacks per day. Every once in a while, I give myself a rare treat - I buy a stack of paper plates! Not because we are having a gathering. I use them for lunches! It’s one less meal I have to clean up after eating! Just throw the paper plates away, rinse the utensils and place them in the dishwasher. Sounds simple right? That’s what I am in search of! Simple ways to make my life a little easier!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Places and Spaces for Our Things

Just as we have routines, we also need places for each of our things. This is the trick to keeping on top of any NEW clutter.

After you declutter, you need to organize what you are keeping. In order to organize, make a space for each item that you are keeping! That way when you are cleaning up you know where each item belongs. It will be much quicker to put things away, when you know where it belongs. It will also be much easier to stay on top of "clutter control."

Another idea when you make a purchase, if you are replacing an item, throw the old item out, bless someone else with it or give it to Goodwill.

Look around your home or office, the things that are piling they have a place where they belong? Or is that part of the problem? They need a designated spot.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Keep it Simple

Take the time to make a routine for you and your family. Set up a calendar and keep it consistent. Don’t make it complicated.

I sit down and write all of the activities we do during the week and put them on the calendar. Then I write down all of my jobs for the week. One of them is trash day. Trash day tells me, yes the obvious, put the trash out. It also tells me the day before we are emptying the little trash cans around the house. One of the kids' jobs is to empty those trash cans. I make that part of my routine and put it on the calendar. Also the day before trash day is the day I clean out the refridgerator! So that also goes in the routine and on the calendar. Next I add all of the other weekly things and write down the day I do them. The day I go downtown to the library is also the day I run errands as many of my errands are located there. Keep it simple. No matter how simple it is, write it down.