Declutter and Thrive

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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De-Summer and Clean Out Your Car

School is now in full swing, and the long, lazy days of summer have given way to the regularity of school, work, after-school activities, and early bedtimes. You’ve transitioned your home and schedule to autumn’s rhythms. But have you done the same with your car? If it’s still full of July and August’s evidence, then it’s time to de-summer and clean out your car with these five steps.

Step 1: Empty the Car Interior and Trunk

I like to move my car to the driveway so I can work with all the doors wide open. If you’ve got items such as carseats, cargo organizers, sports equipment, beach toys, dog mats, etc., take them out of the car. Create two groups: items that need to go back in, such as carseats, and items that can be stored elsewhere (e.g., beach toys).

Step 2: Take Out the Trash

Take a small garbage bag and pick up all the trash. Inside the car check every door jamb, under the seats (best to move them forward/back to get everything), seat pockets, storage compartments, and the glove box. Chances are you will find all kinds of stuff! Food wrappers, empty ziplock bags, small toys, tickets stubs. You may also find things that were “lost”, such as your teen’s ASB card from last year.

Step 3: Clean It Like You Mean It

Take the mats out of the car. Use a car vac or a regular vacuum with a hose and crevice attachment, and thoroughly vacuum all the seats, floors, and trunk. If the storage compartments and cup holders need it, vacuum them, too. Next, use a damp towel to wipe up any seat stains; use stain remover on upholstered seats if need be. For leather seats I like the Armor All Leather Wipes. Wipe all interior surfaces—dashboard, console, steering wheel, doors—with a damp microfiber cloth. Use another microfiber cloth dampened with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and water to wipe all the interior windows and any glass surfaces on your dashboard.

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Organize Your Home Office and Boost Productivity

As the dog days of summer roll past and fall is just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking of settling into newer, seasonal routines. Crisp fall leaves changing colors, shorter days, and cooler temperatures can teach us a lot about letting things go—including choosing to be more organized. From launching an effort to declutter overall to deep cleaning and possibly even hiring an organizer, read on for some tips to ease into the fall season with an organized home office zen. A decluttered office space will help boost your productivity and lower your stress.

Operation declutter

Before you can take on decluttering your office and work space, you have to shift to a decluttering mentality. Take a quick glance at your workplace. What leaps out at you from that cursory glance of what needs to be pared down? Make a list of those things and realistically plan for when you can start to organize things, whether it’s all in one day on a slow work day or little by little in the evening at the conclusion of the work day.

Get rid of old papers

Have stacks of paper and mail collecting everywhere? Not only can lots of old papers get in the way of being able to see your desk and be productive in your office space, they can also attract layers of dust and bugs. Create a filing system and set a goal to put away all pertinent paperwork at the end of the day. If you get a lot of mail, designate a basket for all mail and go through it regularly at the end of each day or week. For whatever else isn’t needed, run it through a paper shredder and or recycle.

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How to Get Your Partner On Board for Professional Organizing

We often hear “How do I get my spouse to buy into hiring a professional organizer?” They have a variety of concerns, such as the time it will take, or the cost, or having to get rid of their stuff. They could be embarrassed to have someone see their cluttered home. It’s possible they consider asking for help a weakness. They don’t understand that it is an investment that will lower their stress levels or give them more free time. He or she may also ask, “Why can’t we just do this ourselves?”

What Are the Health Benefits of an Organized Home?

A home that is free of clutter and has organized spaces is beneficial to one’s mental and physical health. The Mayo Clinic details how an organized home brings down stress levels and helps you focus, among other benefits. It’s also easier to maintain: the average American home contains 300,000 items! Consider being able to actually park your car in the garage. Or looking for something in your kitchen and finding it in five seconds instead of 30 minutes, or never. Imagine coming home and feeling calm and content in your environment, instead of anxious and stressed out about the clutter lining the hallways or all over the living room.

Have You Hired Experts Before?

Have you hired pros to install an in-ground sprinkler system, do your taxes, tutor your children, or design your website? This wouldn’t be any different. Hiring a professional organizer means you’ve hired an expert to declutter and organize your home, to help you set up systems to manage and maintain your organized home, and to mentor you on these skills. This expert will work with you in your home, and the service is completely customized to your needs, your lifestyle, and your goals. Also consider that a professional organizer can accomplish in three hours what would take you 9-12 hours.

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How to Live Big in a Small Family Home

Living Large in a Small Space

Fitting a whole family into a small home can be a tough challenge, but not as much if you think ahead. Careful planning is the key to organizing and using free space efficiently. But where should you start? First, think about the needs and necessities of each family member. You (and maybe your partner) need a working area. Your kids need a space to study and play (think of pets here, too). Once you’ve made a list of all the space everyone needs to live comfortably, it’s time to think of some maneuvers to make this plan a reality. Here is a list of useful tips and tricks for your family to live bigger in a smaller home.

Go for the stars

One of the most important rules of efficient space usage is to think vertically. Use the space you have from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. If you look up in a room and see open space, keep that idea in mind and go for it. This is especially useful for rooms that are overcrowded with furniture. Organizing a home office or a living room in such a manner is easy—use plenty of shelves and hanging elements for all the books, souvenirs, and other décor accents you have. As for the kids’ rooms, you need to consider that they can’t reach very high shelves on their own. For their safety, you don’t want them climbing high shelves either. Provide them with a stool or a ladder. You could also use the higher shelves to store items they rarely use (or something that you can’t store anywhere else in the house).

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Tips and Tricks for Organizing Your Garden Shed

Many of us like gardening, but don’t enjoy opening up the long-unused garden shed after a wet Pacific Northwest winter. Looking at the cobwebs and damp leaves that have settled in, there is always that goal: “This year, I’m going to organize this place!” And then you dive in to the gardening tasks, you enjoy the blooms and the growth from spring through fall, and by the time you realize it’s almost winter again, the shed is still in disarray. Not this year! We’ve got a great list of tips and tricks to help you whip your garden shed into shape. Come this time next year, you’ll open up your post-winter shed, see and find everything you need, and love gardening even more. Green thumbs at the ready…set…go!

Small Tools

Your hand tools deserve better than being tossed into a sack and set in a corner. Storing them dirty and thrown about will cause them to rust and lose their edges quicker. If you invest in high-quality hand tools, you’ll want them to last many years. A trough or big clay pot filled with sand will keep your tools clean and sharp; wipe them with a rag before sticking them in the sand. If you are going to store them in a toolbox, wipe them down and line them up so the edges aren’t banging into one another. Add charcoal briquettes in a cloth bag—these will absorb any moisture. Of course we can’t forget the classic pegboard storage solution—so many ways to do it!

Serious DYI-ers will not recoil from this weekend project: build a potting bench! It includes a pegboard for your hand tools, as well as places for pots, soil, etc. Not a handy sort? Just order one online.

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50 of Marie Kondo’s Most Inspiring Quotes for Decluttering

Clutter comes in many different shapes and forms and is a very personal assessment. One person’s cluttered bedroom might mean someone else’s dream situation. It really doesn’t matter what clutter you have and the scale of that clutter—as long as you understand what clutter means to you and how you want to go about getting it sorted once and for all.

The first and most important step is actually just realizing that you have a clutter issue and are willing to change it. As you are reading this we’re assuming you are ready to take on the challenge. Bravo for taking the first step! Whether you’ve realized that you have an issue with clutter in your garage, your kitchen drawer, your entire house—or you’re looking for a digital declutter—look no further than Marie Kondo and her iconic organizing and tidying techniques.

You haven’t heard of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method before? Well, she’s pretty much the queen of organizing and she’s changing people’s lives through the magic of tidying up. Sounds too good to be true, right? If her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or her popular series on Netflix is anything to go by, she certainly practices what she preaches and has shown that her methods really do work.

To help get you started on your decluttering journey, check out this infographic by JD Williams. Designed to help motivate you and your tidying, the infographic shares Marie Kondo’s most iconic quotes from her Magic of Tidying Up book. You can use the infographic as a starting point to help get you inspired for a big clear-out. Or use it to  Marie’s top tips as a bit of a checklist. Good luck!

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