A fresh calendar year is a time to be out with the old and in with the new–and that goes for all of the stuff that may have accumulated around the house over the past 12 months.
You know the stuff we mean–the papers piled along the kitchen counter, the shoes and jackets crammed into closets, the toys and books strewn across the floor–the odds and ends of daily life that junk up our living space and crowd out our sanity.
Which brings us to the topic at hand: Decluttering.
Each of the three of us have a little something to say about this matter so…
Let’s talk about it!
» We would also love to hear your tips, so be sure to leave a comment! «
Marcy’s Pet Peeve » Paper Piles
I am convinced that mail, coupons, school permission forms, and school papers multiply within the walls of my house.
Paper piles are definitely my greatest and most time-consuming clutter challenge. Because I dislike paper piles so intensely, I’ve learned a few tips that I am happy to share:
• Mail »
Junk mail doesn’t even come in the house anymore. On my walk back from the mailbox, I stop by the recycle bin and toss in what I know I don’t need. You would be surprised how drastically this one quick action cuts down on the clutter pile!
I attempt to put the rest of the mail in its spot–instead of on the kitchen counter. The key here is to remember what our mothers taught us: a place for everything and everything in its place!
• Coupons »
Coupons are a great money-saving strategy, but if you can’t find the coupon you need because it is buried within a pile of paper clutter somewhere, it’s useless.
I have a basket in my house and a coupon book in my purse, and for me the best strategy is to put it in one or the other based on when and where I plan to use it–and to put it there ASAP!
• Permission forms »
These sheets stay in my child’s school folder until I am ready to fill them out. I complete the forms, put the date in my phone calendar, and then put the forms right back in the folder.
• School work »
I am so proud of all the work my children do but, seriously, my house would be the clutter capital if I kept everything. It’s hard to narrow down what to keep and what to trash.
For me, math and grammar worksheets hit the recycle bin (when my child isn’t looking, of course). For a handprint craft, note, or essay that pulls on my heart strings, I write the child’s name and the date it was created on the back of the paper and then place it in a large basket that rests on top of a book shelf.
At the end of the school year I pick my favorites to keep; it seems easier to narrow down my favorites after some time has passed, and I have all of the choices from the entire year when I am picking my favorites. I have also heard of moms who take digital photos of a child’s artwork/project–a great idea to use if you want to memoir each craft or if you want to remember a large school project that is too big to store otherwise.
Hilary’s Household Helps »
Small Stuff Storage
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no mastermind of organizational ingenuity. And it’s the small stuff that really does me in. Large items I can stack or store on a shelf or in a closet, but the littles of everyday living–what do I do with those?
I have lately found 3 household items to be of especial handiness for helping me to not sweat the small stuff:
• Can caddy » for the refrigerator
One of my vices is soft drinks, which means I typically have several cans in the refrigerator at any given time. I find that individual cans can sometimes be a nuisance in the refrigerator, falling over or getting in the way of other items as they are shoved in and out.
Just recently I have discovered that a narrow plastic bin on a refrigerator shelf will hold 10-12 cans (more than I usually have loose in the fridge anyway) and is easier to move in and out for rearranging the shelves or for cleaning up spills.
If you don’t have need for corralling cans, you may find this method useful for other single items like individual yogurts, juice boxes, or even produce.
• Multi-layer pants hanger » for the closet
Closet space is at a premium (especially since I have to share it with another person), so any item that saves space is a winner. One of my favorite space-savers is a multi-layer pants hanger that has 4-5 horizontal spaces allowing for several pairs of pants (or skirts) to be hung on one hanger, optimizing the vertical space in the closet. In this way, I have like items grouped together and I have fewer hangers to force back and forth across the closet pole.
I also use the swing-arm variety of these hangers for storing handbags: the swing arm allows the bags to slide easily on and off, and the hanging display makes for easy visibility and access when I am looking for a specific purse.
• Nesting ceramic measuring bowls » for just about anywhere!
Not just for baking any more, these accents are a help for keeping littles safe and sound in an eye-pleasing way. Typically, these bowls come 4 to a set, include measurements from 1/4 cup to 1 cup, and are more decorative than utilitarian in nature.
For example, of a set of 4, I use 2 in my bedroom (one for my most-used make-up and one for my most-worn jewelry), 1 by the kitchen sink to hold my vegetable scrubber, and 1 in my daughter’s room to catch whatever comes out of her pockets that day.
Leigh Ann’s Organization Goal »
the Home Office
When my grade-school children were under mama-orders to clean their rooms, at least one of them would stare wide-eyed at their personal space, overwhelmed with the enormity of the task.
That’s, um, pretty much how I feel upon entering my home office.
Somewhere under stacks of books, papers, idea files, magazines, and office supplies, there’s an actual desk (and maybe even a chair).
So here’s the plan. Each weekday, I’m going to set aside 15 minutes and tackle one small area of my office. Just one. Otherwise, I will dissolve into an emotional ten-year-old and simply give up.
My first target? The bulletin board. You know, the one with appointment cards from previous years and slips of paper with scribbled phone numbers—but no name.
Next, I’ll get tough with a corner of my desk. When the beautiful wood grain begins to shine through, my heart rate will pick up and provide enough adrenaline to finish the task.
From there I hope to move on to file drawers and bookshelves. It’s remotely possible that I will need extra trash bags.
I must say, I’m excited just thinking about it. There is nothing quite like a fresh start.
Organizational bliss is on the horizon.
This is the year!
Is decluttering one of your New Year’s Resolutions?
Please comment below to share with us the tips or ideas you have found useful!