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Archive for the ‘Decluttering’ Category

I will never forget when I graduated college and got my first job.  It was as a home energy surveyer where I had to go into homes and show customers how to save energy.  Most of the day was spent driving around in my car and very little time in an office.  My car became my office.

I had a mentor at the time who told me one thing I will never forget. She told me that since my car was my office I had to take some personal pride in it and make sure that it was presentable to customers.  Wanting to do a good job I complied and I have always treated my car in that manner even when I eventually moved onto another job and no longer worked out of my car.

One of the reasons why I am organized is because, for me, it gives me a great sense of pride to look at my belongings whether it is my home, my office, or my car and see that they are being well cared for, clean, and tidy.  It sends a statement not only to myself but to others who live with me or who come to visit.  My personal pride is what drives me not the need to be some sort of perfect, super, eighth wonder of the world. I don’t organize and keep tidy because I want to impress others and I don’t judge others to live to my personal standards.  I just like the way my house looks when it is clean. 

The best aspect about being organized is that I have a better chance of not losing things when I know where they are or when they are in their designated places.  If putting stuff in their place helps save me 1 minute or 1 second of my time in the future then it is worth the time I take to create the designated space to begin with.  It’s definitely easier to throw my mail in a big pile and then deal with it later but then I might miss a bill I need to pay or a paper I need to address.  I don’t like that feeling of thinking I am missing a deadline or forgetting a child’s event because I procrastinated and didn’t take care of it or put in on my calendar.

I can’t speak for everyone who is super organized.  I can only speak for myself.  For example,  I don’t spend lots of time doing laundry.  The reason why is because every time I do laundry I think of a way to shave off time and then I try to make the process more efficient.  Because if I am inefficient I waste time and I have precious little time to waste on laborious tasks. I would rather spend my leisure time with my kids or laying by the pool not searching for my keys or the unpaid bills or doing piles of laundry.

Yes some of my thinking came from the way I was raised. I tended to be a kid who tried to find a solution t0 every problem.  I even went on to get an engineering degree where I learned how to be a professional problem solver and thinker.  All of the jobs that I have ever had have been centered around making something more efficient whether it was a process or a project or something like that.

I guess you would say I was meant to be organized.  And I can tell you for a fact that my husband likes that I am.


In honor of hump day I am going to be give myself and YOU the challenge for the week.

Here goes:

1. Get a kitchen garbage bag.

2.  Carry bag from room to room and go through as many drawers as possible.  If you see something you will NEVER use again toss it in the bag. 

3.  Move from room to room QUICKLY!  Don’t stop as you walk around.  Instead go fast.  You don’t need to pick everything up but maybe the stuff you can quickly grab. 

4.  The objective is to get rid of a few layers of clutter in each room in 5 minutes or less.

When you are done call your local charity and give your bag of stuff away.

I used to have a really small kitchen in an apartment I rented after I got divorced. I hated it.   It was so small that I could not open the refrigerator at the same time I opened the dishwasher because the doors would collide.  But then I got married and then moved into a home that is much more spacious.  The refrigerator and dishwasher doors no longer touch and I actually have an island in the middle.  One thing has remained the same and that is the way I approach organizing them and keeping them free from clutter.

So how does one approach keeping a kitchen organized especially if one has a particularly small one? 

First of all,  one of the big clutter spots in any kitchen is right at the sink.   It’s a highly visible area and people notice the sink as soon as they come into the kitchen.  It is important to keep dishes washed and out of the sink as much as possible.  I have always been fortunate to have a dishwasher so keeping the sink area is very easy. I don’t even own a dish drainer.  If I am cleaning pots or pans that don’t go into the dishwasher I will wash and dry by hand and then put them away right away.    However I do know people who don’t have dishwashers and the luxury of having an easy place to put their dirty dishes.  To them I suggest getting a dish drainer and placing it in the sink (if space allows).  Once the dishes are cleaned and drained they go into the cabinets where they belong.  It’s no more work to put the dishes away as soon as they drip off than it is to do it the next day so why wait?  Make it your priority to have all dishes out of the dish drainer after dinner and before bed. 

The next obvious area of clutter are the countertops themselves.  I have seen kitchen counters that have so many appliances and do-dads on them that it’s impossible to use the countertops for real function like meal preparation.  My rule of thumb is that appliances should be stored unless they are used on a daily basis.  Other do-dads, containers, and non-essentials should be stored or eliminated.  On my countertops I have a toaster.  Nothing else.  At my stove I have salt and pepper shakers and a glass olive oil jar.  Everything else (which is pretty minimal) is in a cabinet underneath the countertops.

Speaking of cabinets, there are all kinds of ways to find space in your cabinets for your items.  The first obvious way is to get rid of anything you don’t use or haven’t used for over 6 months.  Think about all of your items and ask yourself if you really need it?  If you don’t it should go out.  Do the same exercise with your food storage containers like tupperware.  I don’t understand having more tupperware containers than your refrigerator will allow you to store.  If you have more than that then you have too much. Purge this area really well.  Ditto for all of those plastic cups you may have in the cabinets. Think about how many people are in your family and how many plastic cups you own and then ask yourself what you can and should be getting rid of.  You could potentially free up a lot of space.

The pantry should not be neglected either.  It should be cleared and sorted through each week before the grocery shopping day.  Ditto with the refrigerator.  Don’t just look through the food on the shelves.  Look in the doors at all the condiments.  If there is anything there you have not eaten in a year (EWWW) or something you no longer will eat, toss it.

There are many kitchen organizing gadgets in the stores today that may also help you to free up some kitchen space.  One example is shelf helpers.  These helpers are little stand along shelfs that you can stack dishes on top of to fill in the dead space in your cabinets.  If you have adjustable cabinet shelves you may not even need to buy shelf helpers. Simply adjust the shelves and watch the freed space grow!  Every drawer should have a drawer organizer in it whether it is silverware, cooking utensils, or baking supplies. 

And last but not least, get rid of the junk drawer.  I have to laugh at this and I used to have one in my earlier years.  Now I just don’t understand the logic behind a junk drawer.  I mean if it’s filled with junk why isn’t the junk in the garbage?  If the drawer is filled with items you don’t have a home for, then find a home for those items.  Everything can be categorized.  And when you have tossed the junk in the junk drawer, you will have one more drawer space that you can use to your advantage.

It’s a buyer’s market out there and therefore you have a lot of competition with other sellers to make the best impression with potential buyers walking through the house.  You don’t want to spend a lot of money fixing up the house because you don’t want to invest.  With some really simple tips and tricks, you don’t have spend too much money if any at all to make your house look neat and clean.  And the impact could potentially be big.  You don’t want clutter to take over the buyer’s perception of your home.  You must declutter now.

I have organized my tips into categories to make it easy.


1. Make sure that all beds are made every day.  This is an absolute must.  First of all, your home can be clutter free but if the beds are not made your house will look messy.  Do this every day because you never know when a buyer could show up at your doorstep.

Beds Are Made

2.  Look over every flat surface in all of the bedrooms.  Remove almost everything on that surface.  You might ask what will you do with the stuff you are clearing away.  If the items are things you want to keep with you, then pack these things away in a container or box. These boxes or containers need to be moved into the garage or attic while your house is being sold.  If the items are things that you feel you no longer need or want to move with you, then decide to throw it out or give to charity.  Remember that you want be judicious about what goes into the “move” pile because you don’t want to move stuff that you don’t use or will eventually give or throw away. 

Clean Surfaces

3.  Clean up your closets.  Straighten out the clothes in the closet and make sure the shoes are neat and orderly. Remove any trash or anything on the floor. 


Bathrooms are clutter zones.  Here are some tips on how to minimize the clutter in the bathroom.

1.  Close all toilet lids.  It just looks cleaner.  Trust me.

2.  Clear almost everything off the countertops.  I personally would not even leave out my toothbrush.  People know you brush your teeth so no one needs to see your used toothbrush.  Put it all underneath the sink.  I would recommend leaving out a nice soap container in case people want to wash their hands. 

3.  Make sure all towels are hanging nicely.

4.  If you have kids and they tend to use toys in the bathtub, get a container and put those toys away. 

5.  Make sure mirrors are clean and trash cans are emptied on a daily basis.

General Areas/Living Room/Dining Room/Family Room

1.  I can’t emphasize enough that all flat surfaces should be cleared off.  If you have a nice decorative item to put on a flat surface that looks appealing then add it.  But I would recommend only one item at the most. 

2.  All old magazines or newspapers need to go into the trash.  These are big time clutterers for your home.

3.  All kids toys should be in boxes or bins and away from the general areas of the house. 


1.  Pay close attention to clearing out your kitchen.  Most people spend a lot of time in the kitchen and most kitchens are big clutter zones. 

2.  Pack away any and all recipe books, decorations, etc. into boxes.  Clutter in a kitchen can make the kitchen look small and hide countertop space so the more you can free up the better it is for you.  Also, people are turned off by a messy kitchen and it really can leave a bad impression if you are showing a big mess. 

3.  Never leave dishes in the sink at any time and don’t leave a dish drainer in the sink either.  Put all dishes away and put away the dish drainer.  Put any dishes in the dishwasher and if you don’t have a dishwasher you will have to hand clean, dry, and put away the dishes every day.  I know that takes an extra effort but it is worth it if you want to sell your house and have it look good. 

Clean Kitchen Countertops and Sink

4.  Any appliances that you don’t use every day should be put away in the cabinets. 

5.  Keep your refrigerator clean.  Once a day or every two days take a sponge to the refrigerator and clean off the shelves.  Buyers will be looking in there. 

6.   If you have a pantry keep that as neat as possible.   It does not have to be perfect but the items should not be falling out when you open the door either. 

7.  Every day you should wipe down the counters.

Clutter Free Kitchen

8.  Your sink area should not have anything in it or on top of it.  I would even go so far as to put your soap and sponges in the cabinet under the sink.  It makes a big difference to the look of the kitchen.

Laundry Room

1.  There should not be dirty or unfolded clothes in the laundry room.  Make sure you regularly put these away.

2.  Any items that you don’t need to do your laundry should be boxed up and put away.

3.  Anything that is on the floor should be picked up and put away.

As you are working around your house decluttering it is important to remain objective.  Think about what you want to see if you are walking into someone else’s house and that should help to guide you in this process.

If you have any other questions or suggestions please feel free to leave a comment!  🙂

Here is the second part of my series of 6 posts that I developed based on what I do to help keep myself organized.  I love being organized and over the years I have realized that I can describe how to be organized in six easy steps.  Last week my first step was about keeping things in perspective with young kids.  The next step is really obvious but not always so easy to do.  It is…

Get Busy and Just Do It

Why does it seem so hard to just do it?  Everyone gets so busy and it’s easy to procrastinate.  So ask yourself how you can overcome this procrastination.  For me I just have to keep reminding myself that even though it is easier to put off what I can do tomorrow, I still have to do it so may as well do it while it is fresh on my mind.  That doesn’t mean I never procrastinate.  I have 4 kids, remember?  Things aren’t perfect in my household.  But I try to remind myself that even though I may be too tired to file the paperwork it’s best to just do it when I first get it.  I also try to remind myself that procrastinating only makes things worse later. The paperwork pile becomes so big that it takes so much longer to work through it. 

The worst thing you can do about getting organized is sit around look at your piles and worry about how to get rid of them.  The best thing you can do is stop thinking about it, stop analyzing where to begin, and just start out somewhere.  Take a pile and start putting your stuff into categories – Keep, Discard, Give Away.

When you stop procrastinating and dive into an area with energy you will be happy to accomplish something and you will feed off that energy.

I will give you an example of what I do in my own house that applies to this theory.  I never leave dirty dishes in my sink.  I always wash them as they get dirty.  Why? Because it is too easy for the dirty dishes to pile up and if I procrastinate on that chore, it will only get worse.  I will eventually run out of dishes.  Not only that but I will eventually have a huge mountain of dishes that will take me an hour to wash. And most times I don’t have an hour to spare.   It’s just so much easier to take care of one or two dishes as opposed to 20.  And I am all for saving myself time.  Are you?

My Kitchen

So what do you procrastinate on when it comes to cleaning or organization?  What do you do to overcome your procrastination?  Think about how you can overcome this bad habit.  Get busy and just do it.



I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and we were on the subject of decluttering.  Surprise, Surprise.

I asked her what she felt was the reason why she was letting the clutter in this one particular space remain.  Much of the answer revolved around “I may need this piece of paper someday”.  Interestingly in my informal poll amongst my friends I have found that most of the time people don’t throw needless stuff away because they fear they may need it one day.  I even knew of a person who had moved to a new home.  There were a couple of boxes marked “Very Important”.  Those boxes made it to the attic in the new house.  Several years later those boxes were still there and sealed.  I wonder how important the very important stuff was.

There are a couple of exceptions to this line of thinking.  The first is seasonal stuff.   That’s obvious.  The other exception is treasures, family  heirlooms, and momentos.  Naturally there are some things in your life that you want and should keep.  Things like photos, albums, scrapbooks, your baptism gown that your grandmother made by hand.  Of course all this should be kept and passed on to the next generation.

But take a look at everything you have in your “very important” boxes and determine if you REALLY need to keep this stuff.  Was the stuff that you thought was important 10 years ago still important today?

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