Wednesday, March 31

The Pile By My Chair

Many of us have a tall stack of papers and magazines sitting next to our favorite chair, or on the floor next to our side of the bed.  There was some reason we kept each of those things, but the pile is so overwhelming we fear to even try tackling it.
If you have 10 minutes take no more than 2 inches off the very top of the stack and move it to a clear surface in another room.  Using a kitchen timer will help you stay on task, as well.  Caution:  If you stay in the room with the rest of the stack and work on it where it is, it will be harder to de-clutter it because it wants to stay in the room with its friends.  By taking it to another location, and only taking 1 or 2 inches of it, you will be much more likely to review the entire portion and trash, recycle or act on what you're handling right then. 
If the kitchen timer goes off and you have 5 or 10 additional minutes, set the timer and work until it rings.  Even if you're super energized and on a roll, stop earlier than you think you should and tidy up the surface you've been working on.   If you haven't finished going through the 1-2" of papers, put the leftovers back on the original stack.  We don't want to start baby stacks of "good intentions" all over the house or office.
I bet you will uncover unread magazines as you dig down in the stack.  Save the ones from the last 3-6 months and recycle/donate the rest.  Don't let your feelings nag you into keeping older ones--you're on a mission toward freedom from too much stuff.  If you can stand it, give them all away or recycle them.  Relax, you'll receive more in the mail real soon.  The more you give away, the more freedom you will feel when you walk about your house.  I take my old magazines to work and put them in the lunchroom.
We all need a mental "oasis" area in our homes.  Your reading chair or bedroom can be that place.  Gather together the last month's worth of unread magazines, wrap them up in a leftover ribbon and give yourself a present to take to your oasis area.  By tying them with a pretty ribbon you'll know that you made a clear decision to keep and enjoy them; also, they won't get mixed up with other papers.  As you read each one, pass it along to someone else the very next day.

Sunday, March 28

Reclaiming the Kitchen Table

Leslie K. and I worked with a friend this afternoon to de-clutter her kitchen table and find a method for whittling down and saving preschool art.  With two guys under age five there is a lot of preschool art coming home every week.  What to save???

As an experienced Creative Memories consultant Leslie suggested:
  • Save the best stuff--what pulls at your heart when you try to toss it?
  • Give priority to what the kids actually made on their own--the fingerpainted duck beats out an Easter egg decorated with store-bought stickers.
  • If it's 3-D it's going to be hard to keep over the years.  Take a photo and toss the real thing.
  • Forget trying to save anything decorated with marshmallows, Fruit Loops or macaroni.
  • Write your child's name, the teacher's name, the "school" and the approximate date on the back of each item you keep.
  • Go ahead and keep something you're unsure of, but review your stash in a year and whittle it down again.
On Friday I had told Fiona that we were going to be helping a friend sort through preschool art.  Fiona described how she had attended a workshop at the JCC and learned how to make an inexpensive portfolio from two pieces of large poster board. This worked great today, we just taped the pieces together at the bottom and it was ready to use.  The poster board portfolio should hold several months of saved art work.  Cost?  $1.04 plus tax at Wal-Mart.  We used colorful folders for 8.5 x 11" papers, one for each guy, and stuck them in the portfolio.

Stay tuned for how we made the refrigerator shine again.

We found the table!  Note the hanging art that now decorates the kitchen table area.  Each guy gets one picture to display for a limited engagement!

Saturday, March 27

East meets West

My friend, Amy, and I had so much fun de-cluttering and organizing her pantry shelves.  See the "before" photo of the whole pantry, then look at the close-up of her canned goods shelf after she streamlined and organized the contents.  Notice that the Asian foods are separate from her other foods, to make finding them easier.  I admit, I could pick up the can of tuna much easier than the one of eel--Eek!!!  I'm such a wimp!

We used about 2 hours to tidy up 3 shelves, but we also took some breaks to talk about kids and life during the process.  My favorite part of the morning?  Amy fixed dumplings with vegetables and spicy dipping sauces for our lunch--Yum!

Doesn't her son look adorable as he drags the out-of-date canned goods to the back door?  Kids love to help.

Saturday, March 13

Spring in Virginia

Pretty soon the roads around Richmond will look just like this--ain't it gorgeous! I started spring cleaning a little early--my friend, Amy, and I worked on her pantry for a couple of hours this morning and she's a natural space organizer. She was able to make decisions about what to keep, share and toss within seconds and the time flew by. Even her little two-year-old son helped take out the trash--keep tuned for a cute photo of him hard at work.

Remember, make labels for your piles of items to Keep, Share and Toss. If you have some items you just can't decide about right then and there, make another pile for things to decide about later--your ????? pile.