Archives for July 2012

Recylcing: A Possible Solution to Clutter

The clutter around our house at some point had meaning, value and a purpose. Whether it was a gift, inherited or purchased, we had it for a reason. But things change. New styles, outfits, colors, seasons of life, new inventions etc.

Toto, We’re Not in Idaho Anymore

My mother-in-law grew up on a farm in Idaho. From what I understand nothing was thrown away but always recycled. She taught classes in sewing, quilting, cooking and every possible craft you can imagine. Many of those crafts were from recycled things around the house.

If my kids ever had a project at school you could count on her for the most clever ideas using things around that would not be missed. She was a good example of someone having a hobby with lots crafts and yet kept it organized.

After my husband and I had our first baby we moved in with them for a year to save money. During that year she taught me everything about crafts. One project we worked on was taking old clothes and creating amazing quilts. I even made money in several boutiques selling those quilts.

She and I both get the award for crocheting the most wire hangers on the planet.

If you are finding it hard to throw things away, could you possibly recycle them? Make a quilt out of old clothes or using old socks for cleaning.

I saw her take big soda bottles and turn them into Santa Clauses and Angels.

With a little sewing, shirts can become backpacks, upside bar stools now become shovel and rake holders. Old scarves that have not been worn in years can be used in many ways, from decorating to colorful rugs.

Although this was a wonderful time in my life I haven’t done crafts in years. I’m very happy to donate many of the items that I know someone else will use in some clever way.

Crafts may not be your thing

I completely understand that crafts may not be your thing but it is for many people. Look around your house for homemade gifts people have given you. Trends come and go and after thousands of those crocheted wire hangers I don’t have one in the house. No regrets.

It’s time to declutter old home projects and crafts.

Making My Case

As the year goes by I will attempt to make my case.

You will feel better if you declutter your house.

There is a good possibility that you are feeling frustrated because you have too much stuff not being used or not being enjoyed.

Lets start with, not being enjoyed.

Look at the paintings on your wall and the decorations around your house. Do you enjoy them? Are they outdated and dusty? When you look at them ask yourself, does this create any negativity? Do the decorations and photographs on the wall need replacing or maybe taken down?

Whenever I get in a conversation with people about organizing I try and ask, why is it so hard to get rid of stuff we don’t use or enjoy. Opinions are all over the place and we will try and deal with as many of those ideas and opinions through out our year of organizing.

1. I spent a lot of money buying it

Most of us at some point in our lives have felt crummy about a purchase we made. It may have been a well planned purchase or an impulsive purchase, but either way we spent a lot of money. We then later acknowledge it was a mistake and not worth it but we are stuck with the product or decoration.

Another bummer of a situation is, we buy something only for it to go on sale a month or two later.

If you spent money on it and you don’t like it or you were taken advantage of then anger might be your issue. Anger isn’t always a bad thing. There are some things you should be angry about. But what can we learn from being angry over a purchase that went bad?

We learn to do more research. We learn that impulse buying is usually a bad idea and we learn to not be bullied or intimidated by agressive sales people.

Learn from the pain.  Accept it and move on.

Guilt may be another feeling rearing it’s ugly head. Maybe it is not such a bad thing to feel guilt and maybe your guilt is trying to tell you something. Your guilt could be trying to protect you from another bad decision.  God gave us guilt for a reason.

Insted of feeling guilty every time you look at something in your house, try to acknoledge and accept that it is what it is. Get rid of it the item. Sell it or give it away and move on with your life.

What about the photographs on the wall? Do they need changing?

Many of us have decorations that we are storing and have been storing for a long time. Is it possible that those decorations will never be used again?

Maybe it is time to declutter those old decorations. If you do decluttter and sell or give away you will feel relief. You’ll have more space. Less to worry about. Less to clean. Less to insure. Less of a fire hazard. Less time thinking about those decorations.

Start today. Even if it is something small.

Just start!

My Coat Closet is Stuffed with Really Good Coats

The coat closet that you see when you enter the house is stuffed with nice expensive coats and jackets. The problem is, I don’t wear most of them. It isn’t just my stuff but my husbands jackets as well. Although the majority are mine.

It’s time to tackle that closet. I keep in mind that I am not emotionally attached and I call my mom to see if she can come over because she or my sister might want a few of these. Some of them I bought, some were gifts and some were hand me downs from others in the family.

My mom arrived and we decided it would be a good idea to time the task at hand. I had recorded one of our favorite half hour sitcoms and since we both had seen it we let it play out as background noise only stopping to watch the funniest scenes.

The Biggest Blizzard to Hit Southern California…

The last time we had any sort of accumulating snow in the Los Angeles area was in 1949. This 100 year storm dropped a whopping… drum roll please… 3 inches of snow.

Back to the closet

There were jackets and coats for every season including the heavy wool coat that would only come in handy if that blizzard hits Southern California again. When I lived in Africa I had one tweed jacket and one rain coat. When we moved to England I had many many many coats and jackets and now that we are back in So Cal I just don’t wear them anymore.

The total count was 43 jackets. Please know that decluttering is easier the more you do it.  I was excited knowing soon that closet would be cleared out of stuff not being used. Here were the big questions.

  1. When was the last time I wore this?
  2. Is this flattering to my figure?
  3. If I haven’t worn it in a year and it isn’t flattering, then it goes.

This process took 30 minutes. There are now 15 coats and jackets hanging in the closet with room to spare. It is a good feeling getting rid of stuff not being used. Someone else will use them and the price will be right.

If You Haven’t Worn it in a Year

If you don’t have time or the emotional stamina to go through your coat closet today then try this…..open that closet and take a brief look at what you haven’t worn this year. Make a mental note and do that a few times this week. You’ll know when you are ready. Remember you have a year but time is ticking…..

Moving Tips

There are many ways to have an organized move. Lots of moving tips to keep your life simple like checklists, time lines, and getting friends and family to help.

But the absolute best moving tip that you can have is to declutter. Get rid of stuff before your move, and everything else will be much simpler. Moving is the perfect opportunity to organize, declutter and experience the freedom and happiness that follows.

There are many reasons for moving:

  • New Job
  • Job Transfer
  • Change in Marital Status
  • Need a Bigger Home
  • Need a Smaller Home
  • Foreclosure
  • The Death of a Spouse
  • Health Reasons
  • Can’t Do Stairs Anymore
  • Want to be Closer to Grand kids
  • Want to be Further Away from In-Laws
  • Natural Disaster

Today we’ll focus on those of you in your 3rd quarter of life. Those of you who are perhaps retired but still active or maybe have even started a new and different career.  You are ready to downsize.

Life Long Friends

One of the biggest problems with this group is the emotional attachment to decades of stuff. Some of you knew your own great grandparents and now you have your own great grandchildren.

The Stuff

Photographs. The memories are endless. Photographs are spilling out of every drawer. Most of the people we know but a few we don’t remember.

T V’s. You remember when your family back in the 40’s got their first TV and now you have a flat screen in every room while the older bigger TV’s are stored in your garage and they still work.

Closet. The closets in every room are bulging with clothes from several decades, along with clothes for every season.

Kitchen. The kitchen is stuffed with the most fantastic gadgets for every possible dish from every culture waiting to be cooked even though you eat most of your meals outside the home.

Computers and electronics. Old computers, cell phones, i-phones and i-pads now clutter your space. The electronics industry moves fast and you’ll most likely have a new computer in a few months. You think to yourself how shocked your grandparents would be at the technology today.

Coat closet. The coat closet is stuffed with coats including the big wool coat you’ll need in case you book that long awaited trip (on your bucket list) to Alaska.

Cleaning supplies. Cleaning supplies are under every sink and in several rooms through out the house.

Garage. You no longer can park your car in the garage because it is now used for storage. A walk or drive around your neighborhood will prove that point.

Furniture. Lots of furniture that won’t fit into your new house or apartment including expensive antiques.

This is your time and possibly one of your best opportunities ever to get rid of or pass stuff onto kids and grand kids.

This is the best time ever to donate and get a tax write off.

You may not have another opportunity like this one. The question is not “If I die what will happen to my stuff?”  it is “when I die what will happen to my stuff?”

Decide Your Own Legacy

Over the years I’ve helped many families go through the belongings of someone who has passed away. It can be very emotional and also very daunting. Do your family a favor and make the decision now. Right now, you can make the choice about how you are remembered. Do you want your family’s last memory of you being a frustrating experience getting rid of all of your old junk?

Begin to let the word out to family and friends that you are going to move, and you have stuff to sell or give away. If you are moving into something smaller and intend to downsize, you won’t be able to take it all with you. Your only other option is to rent storage space and PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!

Never rent storage space!

The program I promote is A Year to Organize and Declutter. Taking a year is practical, but consider yourself lucky if you are moving because this will force you to go through everything in your house. It just speeds up the process. So whether it is a 30, 60, or 90 day escrow take advantage of this great opportunity.

Busy, Busy, Busy…

You’re going to be busy, but busy is good. You’ll laugh and cry over memories as you go through decades of stuff. Remind yourself that you are not attached to the item but the memory. Make sure your children and grandchildren know the stories.

Keep it simple with questions like, “Do I use this?” or “Do I wear this?” Have a friend help you. Someone who is not emotionally attached, but someone who will be respectful. Your stuff isn’t junk but you just can’t keep it all. And besides you don’t even use it all now anyways.

Last year I helped a woman (hi mom), move from a big house with 5 full bathrooms into a smaller house with 2 bathrooms. A lot of stuff was given away to family and friends and the Goodwill made out pretty well.

She, along with others who have done the same thing will tell you over and over again how freeing it was to go through this process.

The mood and atmosphere are important during this process, so don’t play sad music while trying to made a decision on whether to keep or not. The point being, you’ll have to get rid of stuff if you are downsizing.

You have a lot of life experience and wisdom under your belt. Time is precious and being more organized will give you extra time to spend with the people that mean the most.

Now is the time.