Spring into action! Step 6: Finishing up

Step #6.  We are almost done.

Now it’s time to check out any other areas around your house that might need a little decluttering love.  Other rooms that may have problem areas.  See if there are things you don’t use, don’t need, or don’t really want in these areas.


 

•  Dining room:  How is the dish storage in there?  The dining room table — has it been hidden?
•  Other closets:  Hall closet, Linen closet and Coat closet.  What do you actually use that’s in there?  Would this space be more useful as something else?  Do you need brooms, towels and/or coats in this area of the house?  How better can you share the space and have multiple items in there?
•  Living room:  Most of the time, the flow in and out of this room, so it might have mostly been taken care of in Day 2.  If not, see what problem area is lurking in there.
• Other spaces that might need some attention:  playroom, mudroom, laundry room

The garage, basement and attic are not mentioned in this spring cleaning week.  These are areas that will have to be special projects later!  They take way more than a day or two.  Collecting things for a long time, most of which may be forgotten, these places are like long-term memory.

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Once you go in, sometimes you get lost.


The main focus of this week were the main living areas.  Reclaiming the space for day to day life.  Seeing what you actually have – and finding things that you thought were lost.  Taking off that top layer of clutter and disorganization.  Seeing what is working – or really, what isn’t.  Getting ideas of spaces you really want to dive in and tackle completely.

In the next few months, I plan to go around the house, to different rooms and areas, with more details on how to declutter and reorganize your spaces in useful, creative and functional ways!

 

Spring into action! Step 5: The Office

Paper.  Paper.  More and more paper.
The office areas, family hub, crafting areas (whether adult or kid)

We are tackling the paper areas around the house.

This is step number five.

So much paper coming in – not much going out.  School papers – mail – crafts at home – drawings at school – paintings – bills – magazines – ads – junk mail – real mail – more and more information…

And it just piles up.  And up.  And up.  So you need a system for things coming in and for things going out.  There are SO many options and filing systems out there.  Getting rid of what you don’t need is the first step to get ahead of all the paper.  Throw away what you don’t need anymore.  Old magazine and catalogs.  Junk mail.  Shred if needed.  BUT save and organize all important information – like tax documents.  Keep these in a safe place, out of the way, but accessible.   Put a trash can by the door for junk mail to go straight to it.

For kids’ artwork, try to only keep what is really special and unique, things that stand out and things that mark a milestone — like the first time that “J” gets flipped around correctly when she writes her name! 

For this challenge, just get rid of and/or deal with as much as you can.  That you don’t need.  That needs action.  That has been waiting for a while.  I have piles of papers waiting for me too.  Then start to think of a few systems that might work for you – for the different types of things that come into your home.

Here are some things that I do with our incoming papers.


We have gone paperless on most all of our bills, so that has helped the incoming mail decrease greatly.  On a day to day basis, mostly what we get is junk mail — which goes directly into the trash/recycling.  What bills and notices we do have, I have recently added a things-to-deal-with filing system – functional decor.  One side is for NOW; one is for SOON.  And bonus, since it’s hanging on the wall, the kids do not doodle on stuff we need!

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an arrow…I love arrows!

So that’s for the “official” paperwork.  I have a french message board in the kitchen for upcoming school & social information and invitations.  Visible, but kind of out of the way.  And then the big one at our house…artwork.  A budding artist (not me) and all three kids bringing things home from school.  I made an art display wall for pieces they are really proud of and seasonal pictures.  So that we can enjoy them for a little while!  And as new items come in, it’s easier to see which ones are special pieces that I want to save for a little while longer, at least.   They are proud to say “I made that!”

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artwork hung on the wall with little 3m clips


These are just a few of my sorting/storage ideas for dealing with incoming papers, etc.  But the key here is to sort and purge.  Go through what you have now.  And find a system that works for you — for everything that you know will be coming in tomorrow!

Spring into action! Step 4: The Bedrooms

Step four.  The bedrooms.

Maybe you are wishing for a relaxing, peaceful place for rest at the end of the day.

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ooh, fancy

Maybe you just wish you could see what the floor looks like.

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my favorite part is the empty picture frames hanging on the wall 

And kids rooms – from toddler to teenager – there is no keeping up with the mess.  It generates overnight… sometimes literally!


 

Let’s get started!  These will work for both adult and kid bedrooms!

• Look for things that belong in a different room.  Or things that should be in a different room?  Do you have to have a desk in there? (I do – sometimes there is no other place)
• Then, put things where they go, clearing off surfaces as much as possible.  Bedside tables, dressers, desks, floors, etc.  Leave the alarm clock.  Aw man! 
• If putting things away was not easy, then there may not be a place to put things. See what you might need — like a hamper, shoe rack, etc. — BUT before shopping for storage or moving things around…

Sort and purge!!  Use a similar purging process as Step 3.  Look for unused items, things that have seen better days, stuff you no longer want or need and those things that you wonder why they are even in your house.

The main place you will probably be working is in the closet.  Closets are a huge week-long month-long challenge within themselves, so right now only tackle obvious stuff in the closet.  A few quick glances and a browse through for those things you know are already in there.  Go through a couple of times and pull out some of the obvious stuff.  One day soon, we could do a complete closet makeover… 

Another big item group that could be lurking in bedrooms are kids’ toys.  Again with this, it could take you for-ever to go through all of these.  Maybe hit a few high points – the things in the bottom of the toy box.  Are there things not age appropriate? Broken? Things you haven’t seen in a while?  It will make room for the stuff they do play with – and that means less on the floor!


The main purpose of this step – the bedroom sorting and purging – is to get a little more breathing room right now.  To have just a little extra space in your closet when you are looking for clothes in the morning.  To have a little peacefulness in your bedroom with the surfaces nice and clean.  To have a little calm when your kid can actually find the toy they were looking for, since it was right on top in the bin.

 

Spring into action! Step 3: Kitchen & Bath

It’s time for the fun part!!  Going room by room!   It’s time to focus on a specific spaces and see what works – and what doesn’t.  What you need – and what is excess.

This room-by-room purge is not going to get to everything that you have.  But is either going to 1) make you feel better about a space by making a little headway or 2) get you moving & motivated to just go ahead and tackle the project completely.  This is designed to do either — or both!!

So we are going to start with the kitchen.  And then move onto the bathrooms.  These are good places to start because they usually have very little in the way of sentimental items, which make for easier decisions.  And most likely in the past two steps, you have not been in these rooms much, with most of your traffic being in the living spaces, bedrooms and office area.

Let’s get started!

• Go through and get rid of things that are expired, unused, or things you are wondering why you bought in the first place.

• Go through dishes, cups, cookware, and small appliances.  See what you actually use, check for duplicates or things of similar usage.  If you have more than one, is one more useful?  Do you have too many water bottles or coffee mugs?  I’m guilty. Big time. 

• Storage containers.  Yikes.  The lids?!  What goes with what?  Try to pick out the ones that you go to most often and get rid of the rest.  If yours are looking really rough, then consider a new set completely.  Like a glass storage set – or ones with self-locking lids.  Whichever will fit your kitchen style.  Sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and go for it!

• Now, look around and see if there is anything that’s not working.

Not actually working:  If you see something that just doesn’t work, time to say goodbye.  Every time I use this spoon, it hurts my hand and doesn’t stir very well.  I always have to grab another one.  If something is not functioning very well at all – and it’s something you use – make a plan to get a new one in the near future.   When I use the toaster in the morning, I have to hit the side of it for it to turn on, but I’m used to it…   

Not working flow-wise:  If you make your coffee every morning, but you have to go to the opposite side of the kitchen from the coffee maker to get a mug, maybe think about moving the mugs closer.  This will probably displace something else, but it may be worth it to move things around — when you are fumbling for your coffee at 5:00  6:15 a.m.

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So now that you’ve given the kitchen a face-lift, time to tackle the bathroom!  The steps in here are very similar to the kitchen, but on a much smaller scale!

• Go through and get rid of things that are expired, unused, or things you are wondering why you bought in the first place.  Yay!

• In the bathroom, you may have duplicates of things – just in different colors or slightly different uses.  But think about if you really like something or if you are just keeping it because you might like it or use it later.  But later hasn’t come yet.  If you bought a lip gloss in a great color, but it’s just way too sticky and you never reach for it…get rid of it.  

• One of the tricks in the bathroom is finding creative and convenient storage for things like toilet paper.  Think about somewhere you can store a few rolls.  And then hope your family can figure out how to work the toilet paper holder.

• One last thing to think about.  Do you have routines for morning and evening?  Are there things you could group together in a container to grab and go?  Are the things you need accessible?  Do you share the space with someone else – and is there a better way to use that space?

How can your kitchen and bath function best — to make things easier for YOU?

Spring into action! Step 2: Group & Sort

This week’s challenge is more of an overview purge.  It’s to get that first layer DONE.  To find the thing that you’ve lost because “I know it was right there” at one time.  You probably won’t get into the farthest corners of your closets.  But after clearing out the main problem areas that you find yourself dealing on a day to day basis, you will reclaim your space and your HOME!

Today is STEP TWO: Grouping!

There are two parts to step two.  The first part involves moving stuff…

#1  Moving things back to the room that they belong
#2  Grouping like items together (to be sorted through)

Choosing items to group:  Think about the stuff that seems to overwhelm you – and your house.  What do you have an overabundance of?  What do you always seem to be cleaning up?  What drives you crazy?  You may think of lots of stuff, but for today, just pick your top 3 or 4.  Pick groups that you think you can pull together and sort in a day.  Things like:  books, papers, multimedia items, toys, toiletries, linens, clothes (sometimes this one can be a bigger project than it seems at first).  Items that seem to scatter around the house are a great choice!

You can do the moving and grouping at the same time.  Or depending on how many things are out of place, you can complete #1, then move to #2.  Using a laundry basket, etc, to carry items from room to room will make this process easier.  And this part does not require making decisions – so enlist help from the rest of the family!!

Now that you have gathered your groups completely, the second part of step two is the purge!

This is why you only picked a few!   It is time to sort and purge.  Now you can see what all you have.  You may find something you forgot you had.  Maybe you will find duplicates.  Go through and decide yes or no.  Here are some questions you can ask yourself to decide whether something stays or goes.

Do I use it?
Has it exhausted its usefulness?
Does it interest me or bring me joy?
Is it special or have significant meaning?
Do I have similar items?
Is it easily replaceable if I do need it in the future?
Am I hanging on to this just in case one day…?

Have those black trash bags handy and work through each group of items.
Group – Sort – Purge!

 

Extra credit: Decide where you are going to keep each group.  And keep only what fits in that area.  I have a HARD time with this, and it is definitely an ongoing process!

Spring into action! Step 1: How do I start?

Spring break is upon us… And thoughts of warm weather and the beach fill my head. But the weather is cool and rainy.  And we aren’t headed to the beach.

Ok, focus…  I’m not going to be talking about warm weather fun –

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unless you are me and think cleaning out is fun.

I am going to spend this week going through a workshop of  SIX STEPS to spring into action – how to get started decluttering around the house.

And since spring break is usually an out-of-routine week, it’s a great time to start.  But really anytime is!   As my bro-in-law asked me a few days ago:  “Where do I start?”  A great question.  So enough talk…  Let’s get started.

STEP ONE:  

Get some large black trash bags.

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I like to get the force flex ones.  The reason for black and force flex is that you can’t see IN the bag and there is less of a chance that something will poke OUT of the bag.  If these two happen, there is a greater chance that it will be REMOVED from the bag.  And we don’t want that!

This step is important if it’s been a while since you have done any purging or cleaning out.  However, I do this step every few months – in certain problem areas around the house.  It’s a great place to start.

So, armed with your garbage bags, go room to room and gather obvious trash items and obvious items that you want to get rid of and start filling bags!!  Don’t forget bathrooms and closets.  Remember, this step involves quick glances and obvious answers to the question keep or toss.  If you have to think about it, save it for the next step!

During this step you will NOT move things from room to room.  Also, you will NOT sort. If it’s something that you have to go through, move on.  You will be back later.

Fill bags ruthlessly — but thoughtfully!

Some tips:
• Since you may have a bunch of black trash bags, I suggest labeling them with a strip of masking tape (I use blue painters tape) and write what is in the bag.
• Once a bag is full, take it to its designated spot.  Take trash directly outside.  Designate a spot for all donation items.  If you plan to have a garage sale later, LABEL what it is – now.  Also, the back of your vehicle could be a great place to put donation bags and go ahead and get it halfway out of the house!
• For some items – books, plates and heavier items, you may need boxes.  I seem to always have Amazon boxes around the house.  You may want to get some of these if you are, say, book heavy…

For some of you, step one may not last very long.  For others, step one might take a while.  But this is a very important first layer of decluttering to make the rest of the steps go smoothly!

Now get ready for STEP TWO!

Cat Nap

I have discovered the cat nap.

I know people that can nap in the afternoon. But to me that was an elusive magic trick.  I only nap if I am sick. Really sick.  If I fall asleep and it’s not bedtime, I know it’s bad.  Sick. Every. Time.

And I’ve always thought of naps being an hour or two.  I don’t have time for that.  And after that long, I just feel gross and sluggish.  As in like a slug.  Yuck.

Alas… I was reading something the other day about the power nap. A nap less than 30 minutes. Because it can increase energy and brain function. Yes, thank you, please. I need both of those.

Challenge accepted!  Let’s get this cat nap started!

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Ahh…the cat nap.
I wonder if I look this cute when napping
(answer: no) 

Then I found this cute little app for cat naps (complete with cute kitty cat), I knew I had to try the power nap.  You set it for 30 minutes or less.  It has white noise and a happy little alarm. It’s amazing.

**** What is my deal with cats recently. First the kitten me blogNow the cat nap. I am so not a cat person. Sure, I like them from a fluffy, cute animal point of view, but I really don’t want to live with one.  Weird.  Anyway. ****

So now I’m cat napping during the afternoon.  When that time comes when I come like a slug — needing coffee, staring into space and snacking uncontrollably — I slip away for just a few minutes.  It’s short enough that the kids don’t do anything super CRAZY.  And I wake up more alert and active and functioning like a real live person!  My cat nap is 15 minutes. About 5 minutes to relax and calm down, and then when the happy alarm sounds, I’ve been asleep.  Or at least mostly unconscious.

I may have found the secret to surviving the afternoon…

 

The silent P

The word around here last week…  pneumonia.  Seriously.  I had pneumonia.  Who gets that? I didn’t have just a regular virus or the flu – or something boring, which I usually have.  More specifically it was walking pneumonia.  I guess the walking part means that you aren’t in the hospital.  Because I wasn’t doing much walking around.  I was taken OUT.  After my stumbling sick Frankenstein walk, it got so much worse.  105 degree fever.  Shortness of breath.  Coughing…so…much. Ugh.  But when the doctor said “it’s pneumonia”

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Well, at least it wasn’t a wasted trip to the doctor.  I got a shot and lots of medication.  It was glorious…  Well it was a few days later when I could breathe and I wasn’t coughing so much that I thought my eyes were going to bleed.  Ok.  A little much.  But it was probably the sickest I’ve been in a very very long time.  At least in my adult life.

And of the kitten above… Little Monkey has a shirt that she picked out at the Red Bullseye Store.  I thought it was cute with kittens, but the other two kids were hiding in the clothing racks, I just grabbed it and threw it in the cart.  Hey, it was on sale.  Only after it was deemed her favorite shirt did I actually READ it.  “You’ve got to be kitten me, right meow”  Ok, so not my first choice of shirts.  But now it’s ours.  At least it’s a long sleeve shirt and will be phased out in a few weeks.  And now we have a catch phrase to say in our family, if someone is being ridiculous.  Not that that ever happens around here…

The one good thing about the pneumonia – I got to teach the girls about the silent p.  I knew there was a spelling lesson in there.  In between the coughs.

Walk like an Egyptian

Or, maybe not.  For me, it’s more like walk like a baby deer.  I have been taken out — again — by a sickness.  This is so not like me. I don’t get sick all the time.  I think…  I don’t really know.  I have fever brain.  And really, I’m not sure how this post is going to end up.  But I thought it would be fun!

I couldn’t move for almost two days.  I had a high fever.  I was just moaning and groaning.  Yes, it was pleasant.  Right…  Then the coughing started.  Incessant coughing.  Can’t breathe coughing.  Amazing feeling.  And then finally my fever broke.

So now I feel sort of like a person.  Well, more like Frankenstein.  The walk.  The look.  Sort of a person, but not really.  So now it’s Walk like Frankenstein.

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Yep, that’s me.  Arms out to brace myself on every surface.  Heavy, straight legs stumbling across the room.  Not sure where I’m going.  And I kind of look like that too.  Two sick days at home do NOT look pretty.

Oh and yes, Frankenstein parenting totally works.  With the cough between every other word and the stumble walk, let’s just hope there aren’t any emergencies.

The “fancy” walk is probably courtesy of two days of not moving at all and not really being able to eat.

So here’s to Frankenstein stalking on into the kitchen to find something for lunch.

Procrastination

I am good at getting things done.

But I’m also good at getting distracted…

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Wait… where was I?

See, it happened again.  So I’m setting a goal for myself.  I’m going to try to fight through my procrastination tendencies.  Really, my procrastination is this:  getting distracted and underestimating how long things really take or how long I’ve spent on them.  It’s a distracted underestimation procrastination!!!   say that fast 3x

I’ve always had the underestimation thing.  It takes 10 minutes to get everywhere, right?  Maybe that’s why I have a tendency to be late.  The lateness is something that I have almost cured.  It only took a year of training to break that cycle.  I still have my moments…

But the distractions are still here.  And it’s time for them to hit the road.

Let’s chalk it up to mommy brain:  maintaining children, maintaining a household, and everything in between.  My brain seems to just takes little breaks every now and then, and I guess I’m not aware of it.  So here’s to being aware of what my brain is doing!!

So the first step is to identify when it’s happening.  To catch myself in the act of doing nothing!  I’ve started keeping a daily chart, tracking what I’m doing every half hour.  I feel silly.  But it’s helping me get more done, just by writing it down and being able to visualize my day.  I’m mindful of the time already.  But I want to make it a habit to not lose time.  So I will continue and find where those timelessness pockets occur!

The second step is to just do it!

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Just jump into whatever I’m putting off, all the while being mindful of how long it’s taking.  So what I’m doing is working in 15 or 30 minute increments, depending on the task.  I also need to realize that tasks really don’t take as long as I think.  Like emptying the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, or …blogging.  The end result is good, but checking something of my list — great!  Whatever the excuse in my head, I need to just do it anyway.

And I need to remember to keep a eye on those

…what was it,

oh yes, distractions.