Declutter and Thrive

Fall Decluttering: What To Get Rid Of

It’s probably safe to say most people are spending a lot more time at home these days! With Fall coming and the cooler, wetter weather on the horizon, there is even more indoor time to be had. While we’re all looking forward to pumpkin spice lattés, new Netflix shows, and the start of the holiday season, we should also take the opportunity to get rid of stuff. “Stuff” is an excellent catch-all term for items that just seem to accumulate over time and overstay their use and need. I look at the start of every season as a perfect time to clear out certain spaces around the house. These are awesome mini projects that should take no more than 1-2 hours each. Do one or two for a few weekends, and by Halloween you’ll have accomplished quite a lot!

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Put Your Home On An Organization Diet

We’ve all gone on a food diet at some point—changing the way you eat to create a more balanced and healthy body, mind, and lifestyle. Ever think of putting your cluttered and disorganized home on a diet? It’s the same idea, except this time you’re working on changing your household patterns and habits instead. Clearing out the clutter and getting your home more organized is a huge boost to your health, both physical and mental. With more time spent at home than normal, it’s the perfect time to work on your home environment. Enlist your other household members and spend a weekend or two on this new “diet”! Of course, if you don’t have the time or the energy, or if you just feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to bring in a professional organizer.

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What Happens During A Simplify Experts Assessment?

If you’ve been reading our monthly newsletters, following us on social media, or checking out our website, you are probably familiar with Simplify Expert’s amazing offer of a complimentary consultation. Founder Denise Allan visits your home and spends about an hour meeting with you and assessing your organizing needs and goals.

I am a Simplify Experts employee, but I am also a homeowner with current decluttering needs! With one child launched, another off to university in the Fall, and only one teen left living at home, our family will be downsizing to a smaller home in a couple of months. Our current home has 10 years’ worth of accumulation. Going from a fairly large home to a medium-sized home means getting rid of significant pieces of furniture; toys, games, sports equipment, books, and clothes that our older kids no longer need; and all kinds of household items we no longer use.

The closing date for our new home was looming, and the listing date for our current home was moved up. We weren’t quite in “panic mode,” but we did need to speed up our process and get the house ready—fast!—for the video/photo pro, and then to list a few days after that. You’d think after four months of quarantine we would have already completely organized and decluttered the house (as well as learned a new language and kept a sourdough starter alive). Our home wasn’t particularly messy or disorganized, but once we started the process of going through everything, it felt and looked like a small tsunami had hit. My kids took everything out of their closets, shelves, and under-bed storage. My husband and I did the same with our offices, the storage room, rec room, and study. The hallways and larger rooms became depositories of everything and we could barely even walk through! Overwhelmed much?

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Creating Your Very Own Real World She Shed

She shed sea shells by the seashore. That’s what she shed. Wait…what?! The whole “she shed” concept came about several years ago as the woman’s equivalent of the man cave: a personal sanctuary to recharge, relax, and de-stress. Doesn’t that sound divine? Search Pinterest for “she shed,” however, and the photos can overwhelm one with their full-blown cottages replete with high-end decor, skylights, a mini fridge, porch swing…you name it. While the concept of a private retreat is a major plus for self-care, creating a she shed shouldn’t become yet another burdensome house project or expense. And honestly, most people don’t have an old garden shed, gazebo, or cottage on their property to transform into an English garden- or fairy tale-inspired she shed. We’ve got ideas on how to bring the she shed idea back to a realistic and manageable level so that every woman can create one without stressing out or spending a lot.

Find Your Space

If you do happen to have a structure on your property you want to convert into a fabulous she shed, that’s awesome—more power to you! If you don’t, you’ll need to get a little creative. Think of “she shed” as a concept, and not necessarily a building. Is your kiddo off to college? Consider transforming their bedroom into your she shed, and having them bunk with a sibling when they’re home for a spell. Does your garage have an extra bay? Do you have a screened-in porch? A sitting area in your bedroom? A never-used “formal” dining room? A really big walk-in closet? See where I’m going with this? Find even a corner that you can make your personal oasis; then cordon it off with a room divider or screen for more privacy.

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Easy Tips to Keep Your Entryway Dry and Tidy During This Wet Winter

Your entry need not look like a post-deluge mess! These quick and easy tips will keep your entryway dry and tidy:

  • Mats on both sides of the door to help floors stay dry and mud-free
  • Boot trays to keep those galoshes from cluttering up and dirtying the entry
  • Small racks or hooks for keys, umbrellas, and hats
  • Heavy-duty racks or hooks for wet coats and backpacks
  • Cubbies, bins, or baskets for books, lunch bags, sports equipment, mail
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Why You Aren’t In Love With Your Bedroom…And How To Fix It

If you think of your bedroom as the room you merely sleep in, we’d like to change your philosophy on this. Your bedroom is definitely your shut-eye space, but it could be so much more—your personal sanctuary, romantic hideaway, self-care she-shed, or zen retreat. It should be a place you can feel calm, peaceful, and safe in. We’ve come up with several possibilities of why you aren’t in love with your bedroom, and how to fix this.

Don’t Let Chaos Reign

There is no way you can feel relaxed in your bedroom if clutter is covering every piece of furniture and floor space. Spend a weekend cleaning your room (pretend you’re a grounded teen!): sort clean and dirty laundry, put everything back in its place, remove items that should be in other rooms, and get rid of donations or rubbish. An organized, decluttered bedroom will help you sleep better, then wake up to a smoother, calmer start to your day. It also improves air quality when you don’t have a bunch of stuff collecting dust. Your bedside tables should have minimal items on them: a lamp, the book you are currently reading, maybe hand lotion or a candle. Don’t forget to make your bed and put your folded PJs under your pillow each morning!

Move the Stressful Stuff Elsewhere

Do you sit in bed and work on your laptop? Do you have an exercise machine in the bedroom? This is a tough one, but seriously consider moving these activities and their accompanying physical pieces to another room altogether. Work and exercise are excellent and necessary, but so is a bedroom devoid of stressful, demanding things. Waking up and seeing your laptop or elliptical first thing is not conducive to a relaxing start to your day. If you really want to take it up a notch, stop taking your phone to bed with you. The screen’s blue light mimics daylight, which messes with your circadian rhythm, decreases your REM sleep, and hinders you from falling asleep.

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Making Self-Care A Priority This Year

There was a time when the metaphor for self-care was, “Put your oxygen mask on first, before you help others,” like the flight attendant instructs on the airplane during take-off. But self-care isn’t something you should wait to do until it’s already emergency-level. It’s what you should do regularly so that you don’t reach that escalated state. Don’t be burned out or suffering from deteriorating physical or mental health before implementing self-care. In her TEDx Talk, kayaking champion Susannah Winters defines self-care as, “deliberately taking care of your well-being through restorative activities.” We should all be on board with that! Here are some realistic, easy ideas on how to make self-care a priority this year.

Start Small

People seem to think “self-care” means indulging in a 3-day spa getaway. Sure, it could mean that. Or it could mean simply taking 30 minutes out of your busy day to have a cup of tea in a quiet space while perusing a magazine or reading a book. It’s not about how much you spend or the length of time it takes. It’s about carving out a regular spot of time for yourself to decompress, to wind down, to be alone, to get physical, to take a nap—basically, to do whatever you need to do in order to feel better.

Define Your Self-Care

Make a list of five things you find to be self-caring. Everyone has different tastes so of course, everyone has different self-care needs. Make it even more specific by making different lists defined by time. Some examples:

30 minutes:

  • Take a walk (possibly with an audio book or some favorite music)
  • Have a glass of wine and watch an episode of “Friends” or “Fleabag
  • Read a book or magazine for pleasure
  • Call, text, or FaceTime with a special person you don’t see often
  • Draw the curtains and take an afternoon nap
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Top 5 Things to Do in January

Take care of these tasks this month and stay more organized for 2020!

  1. Make all the regular medical and dental appointments for you and your family for the rest of the year. You’ll have your choice of days/times if you do it this early, and you’ll be less likely to juggle last-minute calendar changes.
  2. While you’re working on your calendar, also add in dates for home and family upkeep: changing the furnace filters, changing the brush heads on your electric toothbrush, oil changes for your car, etc.—anything you do once or more annually.
  3. Buy cards! Hit up your favorite card store and buy birthday cards for your special people for the whole year. Also replenish your Thank You card stash, and get holiday cards while they’re on sale this month.
  4. Clean out your recipe sources. Whether you use cookbooks, index cards, a sectioned folder, or a binder, January is a great time to cull these down. Sit down and go through your recipes; recycle anything you didn’t cook last year, and will likely not cook this year.
  5. Do you have donation boxes that filled up after your holiday haul? Don’t wait; get these in your car and drop them off at your donation center of choice.
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Say Goodbye to Your Storage Unit

Are you one of the 9.4% of U.S. households that own a storage unit? Be honest and think about the last time you needed to get something stored in your unit. Has it been three months, six months, or even a year? Chances are you could get rid of that storage unit and most of its contents, saving you an average of $89 a month. If you rented the unit as a temporary storage solution, consider the “temporary” part and recall why you had to rent the unit in the first place. Was it to store overflow items before or after a move? Did you rent it after you downsized your home or an aging parent’s? Were you using it to store items for a future estate sale? Whatever the reason, it’s probably time to clean out and say goodbye to your storage unit.

Step 1: Prepare yourself

It’s a big project that could take more than a day. Work in 4-hour time chunks if you can (it may take multiple sessions!). Do a last-minute pit stop at the location bathroom, and have a water bottle and a protein bar on hand. This is physical work and you’ll hit decision fatigue by the 4-hour limit. If you haven’t been to your storage unit in a long while, you likely won’t remember every item in there. Bring in extra hands, not just for heavy lifting and sorting, but for emotional support. You may come across items you have not seen in ages, such as your departed grandmother’s favorite dishes. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and sentimental about things you have dear memories of, but know you need to part with.

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The Don’ts of Decluttering and Organizing

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

There are endless articles out there sharing tips and hacks on how to declutter and organize your spaces. Of course you should start with a plan and a set of priorities. Yes, you should set aside a realistic of amount time and energy to undertake this project. If you can, enlist your partner and other family members to help. Those are just a few of the DO’s to organizing. What I’ve got here is a list, gleaned from our very own Simplify Experts organizers, of some excellent DON’Ts to decluttering and organizing.

Time Solutions

  • Do not try to do it all in one day.
  • Don’t establish unrealistic goals such as the entire house in one day or the whole garage in two hours.
  • Don’t expect things to go quickly; i.e. the disorganization did not happen in one day, so it won’t be fixed in one day.
  • Do not try to do an entire room, closet, or garage all at once. Divide the space into sections and get through each one before tackling the next.
  • Don’t underestimate the time it takes to sort through things, whether it’s paper piles, clothes, or toys.

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