Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tight Spaces

Do you suffer from a small space and no storage room? Guess what- time to get creative! Believe it or not, there are ways to store your things when tight on space.

What's under your bed? Is junk and that lost sock lingering under your bed? If so, you're not utilizing that space very well. Find narrow boxes or old dresser drawers that don't have a home anymore, and use them for under-the-bed storage.

Time to redecorate. Cover uniform boxes and/or tubs that have lids with decorative fabrics to create side tables and ottomans. Place a glass top or table tray on your new tables to keep them from getting squished or concave in the center. Large picture frames with the glass still in them make a good table tray, and you can personalize the art inside and paint the frame to match your decor.

Vacuum sealed bags are marvelous! I only recently discovered how awesome these space saving bags are. They really do work, and you can fit so much more into your closet! It does take an investment, but well worth it.

These are only a few suggestions. Take a look around your space and find the "empty" spaces that are hiding all around you. Just be sure you're not storing junk and creating more clutter!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

What do the "3 R's" of being green have to do with being organized? Well, quite simply, it keeps clutter out, and more money in your pocket. Here's how:

REDUCE Use less disposable products. Example-Use a terrycloth towel to clean a spill vs a gazillion paper towels. I usually pull one out of the dirty laundry to do this, so it's not adding to laundry already needed to be done. You will also have less garbage, and not have to buy as many paper towels! We live in such a "throw away" society that we often forget that for generations people got along just fine without all these "conveniences."

REUSE Tin cans are great organizers! Clean the food remnants out, remove any sharp edges, and take off the label. Leave it plain looking, or add a cute label for the new contents with scrap booking supplies. They are great for pencils, pens, crayons, buttons, paper clips, scissors, eating utensil caddy for a party, etc... Use your imagination! You can also punch a hole near the top and hang it on a hook on the wall if you are limited on shelf or counter space.

Check with your local disposal company to see what items are recyclable. Most areas have free recycling and offer curbside pick up and/or drop off sites. Recycling as much as possible reduces garbage build up in your home and the landfill. It does take discipline to not just toss it in the trash, but getting organized and clutter free does too.

My family follows these guidelines regularly. Our household has 7 people, and we only go through about two 13 gallon bags (standard kitchen size) of trash a week, and that's with a kid in diapers (Yes, disposable. We did cloth for a long time, but other circumstances changed that.) We will have even less when we get our compost going.

Once routines are established, it's really easy to keep up. Getting there is half the battle. You can do it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Moving Forward

Originally posted on June 17, 2010

So now that you have a clutter free space, how do you organize what is left? If you have the funds, there are lots of wonderful drawers and organizer systems that you can customize. But reality is, it can be very expensive. I suggest looking on Craigslist for people in your local area who are giving away or selling for cheap their old organizers. There are also flea markets, thrift shops and businesses that are liquidating. I just got a paper organizer from a friend who's office was downsizing and getting rid of some equipment. Keep in mind too that buying used and/or free stuff most likely will need clean up and repair work. If you are not up for the task, then don't take in these items. They will just become more clutter.

Once you have figured out what organizers work for your space (bookcases, photo boxes, file cabinets, tackle boxes, spice jars, etc...) it is time to get to work! Put like with like. For instance, if you are working on your craft/hobby space, put all your ribbons in one spot, all your buttons in another, cutters in another, and so on. Small jars work great for sorting buttons and other small embellishments. Shoe boxes are easy to cover with pretty fabric or scrap booking paper for a personal touch for your storage needs. Most cutting system supplies will fit in an adult size shoe box. Putting ribbon spools on a dowel keeps them together and still allows easy access. If you feel like working a little more, you can drill a hole on each side of a bookcase for each dowel, and they will have a permanent spot to rest and not be kicking around. At IKEA there are portable paper roll holders in the children's section that work great for ribbon too. I use these use for my ribbon, and it allows me to take them anywhere I need. Tackle boxes or the large pill boxes are also very useful for sorting needles, thread, trinkets, notions, or anything else you need.

If you are trying to get a living space organized, I suggest looking through home type magazines if you don't have an idea of the look you're going for already. Furniture layout makes a big difference to the feel of the room. Find what works for your space, and leave out unnecessary pieces. There may be another space that extra chair or side table would work better. Placing your pictures on one wall as a gallery also helps make the room feel less cluttered. It creates a focal point, instead of the walls looking like something spewed all over them. Books should be neatly placed on shelves with candles or other decorations strategically placed. Try not to have too many object displayed outside of a curio or hutch. This will give a cluttered feel, which is what we are trying to avoid. Inside a display case is just fine; that's what they're for.

Deep cleaning after a good purge will also give a big boost to the "fresh" feel of a room (including washing the walls, trim, ceiling, light fixtures, window coverings, picture frames and glass, windows, shampooing the carpet and upholstery, and dusting). Also, be sure to take out of the room and put away the items that do not belong to that room! This should be done on a daily basis to keep clutter from rebuilding. A great way to do this is to get a laundry basket and put everything in the basket that needs to be put away in other rooms. If you have kids, have them put the stuff away (it was most likely them who got it out in the first place).

Once the room is put back together and to your liking, sit back...relax...and be pleased with your fine job!

Getting Started

Originally posted on June 10, 2010

Getting organized can be a real struggle for a lot of people, even terrifying to some. But rest assured, I have tips to help make it easier than you think. Plus, it doesn't take a bunch of money or gadgets either. It does take time, patience, discipline, and FORGIVENESS! I feel guilty when I see how I have dropped the ball in some parts of my organizing. A lot of people have commented when they come to my place that it looks so organized. I laugh inside, but politely thank them. I think, "If only they looked in the closet under the stairs.... They'd see crates filled with papers and junk mail for the past 6 years that have waiting to be sorted, shredded, recycled, and/or filed. Plus a bunch of boxes of VHS tapes I promised my mom I would copy to DVD once I buy the machine to do it (which I still haven't). Or if they looked in my walk-in closet which is supposed to be my craft room, but as my husband refers to it as "the dungeon", they would see 2 black bags of soda bottles (from my husband who drinks them while on the computer in our bedroom) that have not made their way to the garage yet, a 75% finished closet remodel project that has sat that was since last February, and craft items that were brought out for the card classes I teach twice a month, and haven't put away yet. Why do I mention all this? Because I am human too and need to forgive myself of my short comings so I can move on and not be stagnantly stuck on guilt.

Alright, back to the lesson... The very first thing I do when I start to get organized, is have a vision of what I want it to look like in the end. It may not end up exactly as I picture, but getting is DONE is the point. After I have that picture in mind, I pick the area I want to tackle first. Now I know it can be extremely overwhelming when there is a whole room that needs to be done, especially for those who have the "pack rat" mentality. But you can do it too! It just takes some learning to let go. So in these circumstances, pick a corner, or stack, or buried piece of furniture to FOCUS on. It's so easy to get distracted. Get 3 boxes and a trash can. Now for those of you that have ever watched the show "Clean Sweep" my methods are along those lines, but you don't have anyone over your shoulder challenging your decision. Label one box "donate" another "keep" and the last "recycle." I am a big fan of reduce, reuse, recycle. It has been embedded in my brain since I was a small child. The trash is for everything else! Where ever you chose to start, remember these are your only options. If you can't decide to keep or donate, answer this question....Have I used this in the last 2 years? Will I HONESTLY use it in the next 3 months? If the answer is, "no" to both questions, it needs to go! Believe me, I know it's tough....but trust me. It is so liberating to let go of material things and have clean open spaces!

When we moved a year ago, I threw so much away that had been accumulating for something like 7 years. Granted, most of it was from my well meaning (pack rat) hubby, but most of it was honest to goodness junk. Come on, really.... do we really need to hold onto the broken brake pads that came off a car we don't even own anymore because they might be useful someday? Needless to say, a LOT of stuff disappeared and has not been missed this whole year!

So once the boxes are full or you finish your section, which ever comes first, take care of the boxes. Dump the recycle stuff in the recycle bin, put the donate stuff in your car, and get a new box for keep. This is because you will go through these boxes again later. Continue these steps until you are done with all the clutter. Then make sure you go to the local charity of your choice and drop it all off. Be sure to get a tax receipt!

Now it's time for the keep boxes. It's best, in my opinion, to wait a week at the earliest before going through the keep boxes (unless you're on a time crunch or need something in them). Just make sure you do get back to them. The reason for this is because you have now given yourself some "cool off" time from the stressed manic of sorting. As you go through the keep boxes, you may find yourself thinking..."When did I put this in there?" or "Why did I put this in there?" or "I don't remember having this!" If these are any thoughts that happen to you... let the object go. Put it in the donate box. This even further reduces the unnecessary clutter. When finished going through all the keep boxes, take a deep breath and say out loud, "I DID IT!" Now take the donate box to charity before you change your mind!

This whole process can be quite tiring and time consuming. Take a break as needed. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and eat some snacks. Just make sure you return to the task after you finish your break. Half done tasks are just as frustrating as ones that never started!

Next week will be on what to do with the stuff you do keep, and keep from it building up again. GOOD LUCK!