Get organised! Decluttering Tips..

Catching those great ideas!

A couple of the most common places when great ideas will pop into our head are in bed, and in the car. Keep pads and pens on hand to capture those ideas, random thoughts and, of course, to-do lists and shopping lists. It’s a great way to recycle your paper―make scratch pads held together with bulldog clips and leave them everywhere…. I keep a scratch pad in my car, beside my bed, in my magazine container beside my sofa, in the kitchen, in my home office in-tray, and if I could―I’d keep one in the shower (where I get some of my brightest ideas).

Decluttering Busy Office Desks

Decluttered office deskIt is so important to keep your working area clear―you will be more relaxed and happier in your work environment. A clear, uncluttered space on your desk enables you to work unhampered by files, books or paper nudging your elbow. Stacked file trays, or stand-up file containers are useful, particularly if they are kept to one part of the desk, ie lined up along the back of the desk, or to one side. Stationery items such as pens, stapler, paper clips etc are best kept either in a desk drawer or in a container which can be pushed to one side when more working space is needed.

Organising your Magazines

Organising MagazinesThere is a great choice of magazine storage containers in the shops now. Being an avid magazine lover from way back, I used to have probably one or two hundred at any given time stacked up in various places of my home. In the interests of living clutter free, I have become more discerning and now read them and pass them on to grateful friends. Or, if they are of a type which I know I will refer back to on other occasions, I keep them in a magazine container, which is a finite space so once it gets full I know it’s time to give some away.

Hanging Your Accessories

Hanging your accessoriesAren’t scarves and belts some of the most awkward things to store away? If you have lots of room in your walk in wardrobe (if only….) then you can hang the belts by the buckles on a few hangers. Likewise with the scarves: just put two or three to a hanger though so they’re easy to see and to extract from the hanger.

If you’re a little pinched for space, you can hang your scarves on tie hangers which won’t take up so much room. Belts can be hung on the inside of your wardrobe door, or rolled inside each other on a shelf―make it a low shelf for easy visibility.

Stationery Storage

Stationery storagePreserve your pretty stationery and unused gift cards in a decorative storage box or file, perhaps on a shelf in your library. If it’s on view you’ll find it easily and be more likely to use it―I think it’s wonderful to receive a lovely card or a note on pretty stationery. If you’re storing it in a box, you could also add your spare scissors and cellotape so everything’s at hand when it comes to gift wrapping.
Ideally, office stationery will be stored neatly away in a cupboard. It needn’t take up much space if you stack paper, envelopes and writing pads alongside each other. A shelf in a cupboard should be sufficient, along with your spare printer cartridges. A box of spare stationery items such as pens, pencils and rubbers, stapler and hole punch, can be stored on the same shelf, to keep these items off the desk but still accessible.

Jewellery At A Glance

Jewellery at a glanceA useful and colourful way to store your necklaces is on a cork board. Instead of becoming entangled in a jewellery box, using dressmaking pins on a cork board is a great way to display each necklace individually.
Putting the pin at a downwards angle the necklace hangs beautifully and it’s so easy to see which one you want to wear, and to slip it off the pin.
The board also makes a pretty display, or you can unobtrusively hang it on the wall behind the bedroom door.

Preparing For the Taxman

Please don’t be tempted to throw all of your receipts into a supermarket bag―‘to be sorted one day’. It becomes a nightmare to sift through them and often you’ll find yourself wading through ‘non-claimable’ supermarket receipts along with your GST receipts.
Here’s a very simple way to have your accounts and receipts captured in the one place so you’re ready to prepare your GST return when the time comes. Keep your GST claimable receipts in a separate part of your wallet, and periodically empty them out and transfer them into a plastic sleeve. Keep this plastic sleeve inside an envelope file, where you will also file all of your accounts for the particular GST period. I find a transparent plastic envelope file is good―the one I use closes with a dome so receipts etc don’t fall out. If you also file within this envelope your client invoices, when you’re ready to do your GST return, you then have all accounts, receipts and client invoices together. It makes it very quick and simple to calculate your return, and once it’s completed, your accounts, receipts and invoices can be filed away.

Dreams and projects

Dreams and projectsCreate a dream board―it’s a wonderful way to display your dreams and projects. It’s like taking a trip back to childhood, sitting on the floor surrounded by glossy magazines, cutting out photos and sayings which represent your dreams. Then display your board where you’ll see it often―dream boards are inspiring and beautiful, and are a step closer to fulfilling those dreams.
You can also try a colourful ring binder with dividers and plastic inserts for your special projects. Whether it’s a long dreamed of holiday or overseas travel, renovating your home, or learning a language, start gathering brochures, articles and anything else that will help you put your project together. Your project folder can also be used to gather together notes, photos and items relating to the dreams on your dream board.

For book lovers

Book loversMy sister commented once that my apartment is full of books. I am a book lover, and I must admit I did have to find a good storage system for my multitude of books. I managed to get it down to a small bookcase in my bedroom (for the favourite books I delve into
regularly), and two bookshelves in my dining room (which double as my office storage systems behind closed cabinet doors). If you’re wondering if my books are ‘filed’―yes you would be right, though I would prefer the word ‘categorised’. Since it’s a wonderful eclectic collection of books ranging from business, cookbooks, self-development and spiritual, languages, art, health and fitness, and a few favourite novels I can’t give up, it’s so much easier to go to my library and go straight to the appropriate section to find the book I want.

Organising Your Pantry

Organising pantryWhether your pantry is large or small, it’s still one of the most difficult areas to keep in any sort of order. Pantries need to be cleared out on a fairly regular basis and expiry dates kept an eye on. Those foods with expiry dates need to be near the front so they’re consumed first.
I find it’s always easier if items are stored in groups i.e. all the cans and non-perishables on one shelf; soups and quick meals on another; cat/dog food on a separate shelf; herbs and spices alongside the vinegars and oils. Yes, it’s a bit like filing―if foods are grouped logically, and easy to find, it’ll make cooking and preparing a meal that much quicker, and less frustrating.

The Beauty of Databases

With the amount of activities, and people, we cram into our busy lives these days a quick and easy database system soon becomes invaluable. Probably one of the easiest databases will be your Microsoft Outlook program. Fully utilised, this program is more than just an email centre, it will also handle your address book, your day to day activities and upcoming events. And it becomes a useful record keeping device which may be used alongside your hard copy diary, or Blackberry.
The Contacts function is simple to use and can store your business contacts, personal contacts, and also useful phone numbers. I have found that breaking my contacts down into groups allows for easy and quick retrieval. These groups may be: clients, prospects, suppliers, family, friends, tradesmen, important contacts (lawyer, accountant, dentist, doctor and vet).
The Calendar is great for keeping up with your day to day activities, as well as logging in birthdays and special events. And of course, instead of all of those bits of paper where we jot down things that need to be done, you can slot all of your ‘to do’ items into the Task Pad.

Important Papers

Important papersThese will be many and varied, ranging from your house records (title and mortgage papers etc) to bank documents, vehicle records, birth certificates, medical records and insurance papers. It makes life so much easier when these are kept in an easily retrievable filing system where you can immediately put your hand to what you need. If you don’t have a filing cabinet, these papers can be collated quite easily into a concertina file―you can buy the hard covered version with a handle, which is durable and less likely to fall apart, from Warehouse Stationery. It’s then just a matter of itemising each of the categories such as: Bank; Automobile; Medical; Insurance; Legal Records (birth certificates, marriage license etc); Property; etc … then label each of the pockets relevant to the contents.

Websites and Passwords

I have found by far the most useful method of keeping track of the various websites I use, and the website usernames and passwords, is by using a small hardcover book (pocket size is fine). I keep a note of all of the websites I plan to visit, or already enjoy, in one section; and the website usernames and passwords in another.
Also useful is the Favourites section on the Internet for storing your favourite websites―create specific Folders within the Favourites facility to file the website link into. These may include network organisations, business websites, travel sites, inspirational, and personal (e.g. I have filed the website links for entertainment, cinemas and other interesting sites).

Photos and More Photos!

Organising your photosIsn’t it wonderful to sit for hours and gaze through old photograph albums; it’s always a walk down memory lane. With many of us using digital photos now, we have to look at new ways of storing our photos. If you are keeping hundreds of photos in your My Pictures area of your computer it is useful to file them into categories, and years. Open a Folder in My Pictures for each category, which may include: Family; Friends; Special Events; or you may prefer to create a Folder for each year and file them that way.
There are also numerous wonderful ideas for preserving your photos such as digitising them, and of course storing them on the internet. There’s no risk of losing them and you can access them whenever you want to.

Filing for the Home Office

Filing for home officeI love my home office; however I do not want a filing cabinet sitting anywhere near my neatly laid out home office area. All of my files are meticulously sorted and contained in their own coloured plastic file sleeves―the ones that are open on two sides―and these in turn either go into a cupboard beside my desk, or stand up in a brightly coloured plastic file container. We may not be paperless yet, but we can certainly cut down on what we need in our home office, and filing our papers in a way that not only takes up very little space, but also looks attractive, is to my mind essential.

How to store ‘memorabilia

Although I am a ‘declutterer’ by profession, I have a strong belief that there is always room in our homes for memorabilia. Depending on the size of the items, they can either be displayed in special niches within the home, or stored neatly in variable sized pretty storage boxes. These can make an attractive display in a corner, particularly when boxes of different sizes are stacked one upon the other. These storage boxes also come in so many different sizes that you will be bound to find a size to fit your favourite pieces, whether they are photos, favourite cards, much loved toys or treasures.

Junk Repositories

Junk repositoriesThere may be many areas in our home which become junk repositories―why is this? It will usually depend on their location as to what they tend to collect. For example, a small side table just inside the front door will become a dumping ground for unread mail. A larger table, again near a door (front or back) will often be used for briefcases, jackets, newspapers and magazines. The kitchen bench may become the favourite place to leave keys, mail and junk mail. The dining room table may also be piled high with these same items. Keys, mail, newspapers and magazines are items commonly left in the closest and easiest location by the user.
Keys: try nailing a pretty key holder to the wall in the room closest to the entry in the house―this may be the kitchen, hallway or entrance lobby. Your keys need to be handy, and easily locatable, when exiting the house. When entering the house, if there is a logical spot where the keys can hang, then it will soon become a habit to use the key holder.
Have a ‘mail container’ handy where mail and magazines can be placed until opened. A small wicker basket or tray will work and, as long as it is continually emptied, it will remain relatively uncluttered.
If the family is using a table to drop items onto as they enter the house, remove the table completely. Have hooks handy (in a downstairs cupboard for example) for hanging jackets, and use a key holder and mail container for those other items.

Storing Your Music

Storing your musicThere are so many pretty storage boxes to be found these days, wherever you look, and I have found numerous uses for them. After trying a stand up CD storage rack for all of my CDs I decided this was not the best system for me. The CDs collected dust and I had to get down on the floor to see the titles of those in the bottom rack. A pretty storage box, black with an embossed fleur de lys pattern, now sits in the corner of my lounge containing all of my CDs. The box is of a size where I can stand my CDs sideways so I can easily read the titles. DVDs equally slot nicely into storage boxes, and if you get a matching set of different sizes they can create a pretty display while at the same time keeping your music collection free from dust and organised.

Childrens Toys

Children's toysI’m a great believer in children keeping their toys in their bedrooms, or the playroom. I would find it difficult to believe if anyone said to me that they feel perfectly relaxed and in harmony in their living areas where toys are scattered around. Children are the same as adults―if there is a specific area where they can leave their things, they will tend to use that area. This may mean putting in bookshelves in their bedroom/playroom for all the treasured books, or building shelves on the wall for favourite dolls/soft toys (always making sure they are child height of course).
Cupboards and wardrobes can be utilised to their full with extra shelves for games, while large plastic storage boxes are easy for kids to use when it comes to tidying up at the end of the day and putting their toys in one place.

Email Sorting

We are all inundated daily with emails, and a system whereby we can file and sort them becomes vital. Like any filing system, we need to sort our emails into categories and then decide whether to file, cull or archive.
Delete emails that you know you will never refer to again. Create folders in your archive box for previous years and file the older emails into these folders.
Then create folders [and sub-folders where necessary] in your inbox for each of your categories and highlight and drag the relevant emails into the folder.

Pretty and Practical Bathrooms

Pretty and practical bathroomsShelves attached below the bathroom mirror and above the vanity are useful for holding the often used items such as toothbrush and toothpaste container, bottles and lotions, particularly if you have a vanity basin with rounded edges which means rounded items such as lipsticks and mascara tend to roll off into the basin. Glass shelves are lovely to hold makeup and perfumes and maybe a tiny vase of flowers.
I spied recently, at Freedom Furniture, a handy storage system which is actually a white painted ladder ($119) – great for displaying your nice towels and beautiful soaps. It can even be used in the kitchen or the kids’ rooms for storage.
Hampers are also great for dirty washing, or for the ironing. Again, the attractive storage boxes can be useful here – I use a largish one for my hair dryer, irons and brush; and a smaller one in the same colour for all my makeup so I can see everything at a glance. I find that if I don’t see an item, I forget I have it and it doesn’t get used. And the two boxes just sit on top of each other, are easy to access, and don’t take up much room.

Linen Cupboards – why does everything seem to end up in a jumble?

Organised linen cupboardsMy golden rule is to organise and compartmentalise. So often I’ve seen linen cupboards where towels, sheets and pillow cases are all just piled on top of each other. If you have single, double and queen size sheets – sort them into separate piles with their own matching pillow slips so you can immediately put your hand on the size you need when you need them.
Sort the towels so that matching sets with their flannels and hand towels are folded together. Tea towels and table cloths again should have their own spot in the linen cupboard. Spare linen that you don’t often need to use should be either stored at the top of the cupboard out of the way, or store it in a spare cupboard or storage container. The idea is to have everything organised and with space so that you can reach into your cupboard and pull out what you need, preferably without other things falling out on top of you!

Bathroom Vanities can be a nightmare!

Organised bathroom vanitiesWhether you live alone, or have a family, the bathroom vanity cabinet always seems to contain a multitude of clutter. The easiest way I’ve found to organise a bathroom vanity is to compartmentalise everything into open containers. You can use simple plastic containers [such as take away containers] or customised containers but the main thing is to sort by person and/or type of product. For example, hair products go into one container; dental care into another; after-shave and razor in another. Lining the containers alongside each other in the cabinet allows each person to pull out their container, if necessary, or just reach into their own box to find their own products.
I have found with families they seem to prefer to have their own container of bathroom ‘goodies’ so you get to have one for your beauty, makeup and hair products, hubby has one for his razor, shaving cream, dental floss and toothbrush etc., and the kids may have their own bits and pieces (depending on how old they are).
Also compartmentalise into containers the generic products that you all use such as sunscreen, lotions and ointments, and of course medicines. I do suggest you declutter your bathroom vanity every few months and check the expiry dates on your medicines, oils and lotions (these things can go off).

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

Organising shoesI have 25 pairs of shoes and 4 pairs of boots! Does that sound like a lot? Or not enough (I’m sure Imelda Marcus would have definitely felt hard done by with so few pairs)? However, again I use my storage system for Winter shoes and boots, and Summer shoes and sandals. The storage containers used for out-of-season clothes also work for the shoes you’re not going to wear for the next few months. It’s all about space and organisation.

Some people prefer to keep their shoes pristine in the boxes they bought them in. In this case, why not pack them in environmentally friendly plastic shoe boxes which neatly open each end so you don’t have to pull the box out to get to your shoes. Check http://www.theclearboxnz.com for their clear plastic shoe boxes, just $99.50 for a pack of 12 or $29.95 for a pack of 3, and there’s free delivery on orders over $99.

Alternatively, Freedom Furniture has nice looking stackable shoe racks in chrome finish from $36.95. You can have them stacked as high as you like, maybe under the tops and shirts section of your wardrobe, or have the lower stackers which can run along the bottom of your wardrobe.

Archiving Your Wardrobe

I love a change of season and it’s a great excuse to bring out next season’s clothes. In the interest of having a spacious wardrobe, i.e. allow air flow between your clothes and easily find the garment you’re looking for, I always suggest storing last season’s clothes.
If you have a spare room with an empty wardrobe, fabulous, you shift all of your out of season clothes into that wardrobe. If you’re like me and don’t have a spare wardrobe then storage containers which slip under the bed work just fine. You can buy long narrow plastic storage containers from the Warehouse, and they keep out-of-season clothes nicely stored away so when you get them out again in a few months they don’t have a musty smell. You can even pop some nicely scented sachets among your stored clothes so they come out sweetly smelling next season.