Monday, September 3, 2007

Conquering Clutter

We have been doing a lot of changing around at our house lately. When we bought our house a little over two years ago the bottom level (it is a split level home) was completely unfinnished. My husband has been working on finnishing it, during which time we have used it to some degree. It is now nearly done (We do have a 3rd bathroom to put in but don't really need it so are waiting until we have more time and money). Anyway My husband and I moved down to a new bedroom for us, The girls moved into our old bedroom, My husband and I also moved all of our bathroom stuff to a new bathroom, I moved my desk and all of my crafting supplies and we moved my husband's office stuff. And then on top of that my husband totally redid his office downtown and ended up bringing an old desk home for a new workbench in the garage and so we started totally rearraging and going through everything in the garage.
When you do things like this it really makes you aware of all the clutter that has built up in your house. It is also a great time to get rid of clutter. I have compiled a list of things that have helped me in conquering clutter. Unfortanatly I am still in the conquering stage not quite to the have conquered, but hopefully I will get there eventually!
  1. Do it now! This is hard but a lot of the time it is more managably than you think. This is an especially good rule with mail. It is better to go through it and discard what needs discarded than to let it sit on your counter for a few days. Other things that aren't really to hard to "do now" are replacing a button that fell off, stitching up a hem or seam that is coming out or just pick up an item out of place and put it away as you walk by.
  2. Put like things together. You might have a lot of stuff but it doesn't have to look like a cluttered mess if; All the legos are in one container, the dolls are all in one basket, letters to be answered are all in one folder, library books are all together, etc. This helps at our house a whole lot.
  3. Do a little at a time and a little all of the time. As a busy mom it can be very hard to take a day( or a week) to just go through everything. Part of being a mother is constant interuptions. We can however do a little bit here and a little bit there through out every day and really get a lot accomplished.
  4. Don't buy anything new. This has been the goal at our house this year. I started thinking about how much stuff we had, how my closests and shoe racks are full, the kids have more toys than they use eccetra. (And this isn't from eccessive shopping on my part, at least not much, we are given many, many things!) Right now I am challanging myself to see how long (not thinking months but rather years) I can go without buying new clothes (I am allowing myself to re-make clothes that I have on hand or am given). We are also trying to think really hard about birthday presents and trying to get the kids and each other things that are either really needed or consumable.
  5. Have a garage sale. We did that this spring and it did work well to get rid of a lot of clutter.
  6. Realize that information is readily available on the internet. I love to learn and so I love information. I had a file that was quite full of various information, much of it which was out of date (health stuff and statistics) or elso would be easy to find on the web. I was also to get rid of a bunch of stuff and now have room to use my filing cabinet again!
  7. Set Goals. I like to challange myself ( I work better that way) so I will tell myself I want to have this room or rooms all gone through and clean before some company which we already have scheduled to come, arrives. Or if Ken has to go on a business trip I will rush to see how much I can get looking beautiful by the time he gets home so I can surprise him as he hates clutter.
  8. Designate places. Everything needs to have a home. Otherwise how are you going to know where to put it, much less have your children put it away.
  9. Label. As a frugal person I am not really recommending that you start throwing everything away, I think that mentality is wasteful. However if you save a bunch of stuff to use in your frugal lifestyle but then can't find it, that really doesn't help you out much. It is very important to label things and keep like things together so that you can find things when you do need them. Boxes of stuff especially need to be labeled.
  10. Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to read all your notes from college again? Do you really think all of the letters you saved will be needed to write history books? Will you ever do a craft that you have had the stuff to do it for 10 years and haven't done it yet? Do you really like all the decorations that need dusting around your house?
  11. Get Motivated. What helps me here is to either set goals as a mentioned above or to read books on the subject of organizing and decluttering. Our library has a bunch about that and I have enjoyed them and they always get me encouraged to work harder in my own home.

I hope this helps you. Now I had better go work at getting my office and craft room in order. I also have a question for all of you- what do you do with things that come into your home that don't have a home yet? For some reason that all ends up on my desk and I am trying to figure out how to end that.


betsy said...

Great ideas! Something that I've found helpful to keep our bills and mail in order is to have on my desk three of those stand-up file boxes for paper, one for "bills to pay" (or other things that need attention), one for "bills already paid" (that need to be filed in the file cabinet), and one for scratch paper. And then when the box that needs filed is full, I can file them away in the file cabinet all at once. I think this has saved us lots of time and helps keep the desktop organized.

pdo said...

I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to clean out a drawer, shelf, closet or cabinet everyday. Somedays it's only a drawer.....somedays a closet,,,,,but I have gotten alot acomplished without feeling overwhelmed. Pam, South Bend

Abbi said...

Thanks Betsy and Pam for the ideas!


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