Category: Organizing

Another crazy idea from the organizing freak

Yup, that’s me, an organizing freak.

So I have an idea for getting rid of clutter in your house. If you care about clutter in your house …. which I do. I live in about 4-1/2 small rooms, and clutter makes a big difference. Space is valuable around here. So anyway – every year in early January I do an inventory of all the stuff, a.k.a. loot, which entered my living quarters as a result of the holidays. I count all the different items we got for Christmas, except for food items of course which I have already nom’d by then. Nom nom. :-) Say the number is 20. (If you have a lot of siblings, which both my husband and I do, the Christmas presents can really add up.) So then I have to go through the house and find the same number of objects which I don’t need or don’t use anymore, and I put them in bags to be either donated or thrown away. Got that? So for every item that came into the house, you have to choose an item that will leave the house. It’s like a game. Yes, this is the twisted thinking of an organizing freak.

Now if you’re even MORE freakish than I am, you can make this “game” harder. You can make the items “match.” So if you got three items of clothing, you have to get rid of three items of clothing you don’t need/like/wear anymore. If you got something for the kitchen, you have to get rid of something in your kitchen. If you got a book, you have to get rid of a book. WAIT!! No, forget I said that. You can never have too many books. That’s the gospel truth.

Anyway, I don’t take it that far, although that extreme approach kind of makes sense to make sure that you’re not all LAME and CHEAT. Cheating is when you have to get rid of 20 items so you go dig in your bottom drawer and find 20 pairs of cruddy old socks you never wear anymore and you throw them out and say “OK done.” I mean, technically I guess this would be fair but you know, if you really think about it, that it’s just not right. You need to get rid of more than that. Stop drowning in stuff you don’t use and you’ll never use again and FREE YOURSELF! Are your piles of junk paying you rent? No? Then kick them out!!!

Wow, I got a little excited there …. sorry. ;-) But seriously, getting rid of stuff is one of my favorite things to do. I’m aware that that is weird, and I’m OK with it. If you get rid of stuff with any regularity, you will love it too. When I declutter I usually get kind of carried away and get rid of more stuff than I was planning on in the first place — and I can’t remember one time when I regretted donating or tossing something I no longer used or liked.

This year I had about 30 things to get rid of — yes, Santa really came through this year — so I went through my whole apartment, starting with my bedroom, where old T-shirts go to die. I got rid of a lot of clothing I had been hanging on to, who knows why. That’s where most of the de-junking took place this year. It didn’t take long at all to have 30 items, but I had a lot more stuff I knew was taking up space, so I kept going. Everything I got rid of was small, but it really added up. When the dust cleared I had about 4 (tall kitchen size) bags of stuff to donate, and about 3 to throw away. And I didn’t really even get to the kitchen! I sure had a lot of useless stuff, even in my tiny apartment. It’s always kind of a shocking revelation.

One tip to go with this: It can be really tempting when you are de-junking to get sidetracked with other jobs that need to be done. While you are digging through your closet you might realize your closet is really kind of DIRTY and you should clean it, but don’t. Put it on your list to clean later, then keep going with the de-cluttering. Otherwise you will just run out of steam and you won’t end up making much of a difference. Plus, think how much easier it will be to clean the closet next week when it has so much less stuff in it because you’ve gotten rid of unwanted things. Yay! It’s a win-win situation. And I love those.

I’m going to wrap up this super-stirring, super-freakish organization post with an inspiring quote from the great William Morris, whoever he was:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

I really like that quote. Not that I live by it 100% or anything. In one of our TWO precious closets, I have an entire (quite large) box filled with stuffed animals that belong to Ben & me. Stuffed animals! And none of them are useful, and most wouldn’t be considered beautiful either. But I hang on to them, and probably always will hang on to most of them, because I like them! (Well, maybe not Ben’s stuffed Spider-Man collection; I don’t like them but I keep them because I do love my husband and I don’t want to make him cry.) :-)

All right … I’m done now. Good night. :-)



Spring clean your purse/bag

One of the things that always seems to escape regular cleaning is my bag or purse. But having a messy, disorganized bag is one of the most annoying things in the world. And it’s worse if it’s actually dirty. Like there was this one time we were going to the beach, and I accidentally dumped an entire box of Cheez-Its straight into my bag. Yeah. That was just a bad day. It took a long time to get all those crumbs out of there. Ugh!

So today we’re going to do spring cleaning on our bags/purses. Having a clean and organized bag may be a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

My two biggest tips to avoid messy-bag-related insanity are as follows:

1. Keep everything inside your bag organized into smaller pouches/cases.

Yes, this will necessitate buying a bunch of small pouches or cases to hold your stuff, but it will make a huge difference. One, you won’t have to dig into the bottom of your purse to find pens all the time. And two, every time you need to switch bags it will be much easier because you just throw the pouches from one bag to another.

May I suggest that you buy pouches in bright colors so they will be easy to spot in your bag? If possible, buy them in different shapes, sizes or even textures, so you can tell which is which when you reach into your bag.

In my bag I usually have the following small items:

– Wallet

– Small cosmetic pouch for lipgloss (I’m a lipgloss fiend)

– Larger pouch for essentials like tissues, ibuprofen (never leave home without it), mints and so on. Depending on your preferred level of “emergency preparedness” you may need more than one pouch for this stuff — tide pen, lotion, band-aids … and so on.

– Note case that holds a pencil or pen as well (whoever invented this was a GENIUS)

– Cellphone and keys (Not kept in a pouch, but I always put them in the same pocket of the bag so I remember where they are. Because I hate freaking out that I lost my keys.)

– Small tape measure (I never know when I’m going to have to measure something. I guess I take after my dad in this. I used to have a cute tiny little tape measure I got from my grandma, but tragically I lost it at IKEA. Now I’m in the market for a new one.)

2. Once a week (or so), clean out your bag.

Regular maintenance is the key to keeping things chaos-free. Stuff builds up, and you just have to keep up with it. So once a week or so I try to remember to dump everything out of my bag. Then it just takes me a few seconds or minutes to throw away nasty wadded-up tissues, wrappers or any other garbage … file receipts I need to keep … and put everything back into the bag. Everything important is still safely contained in your cute lil’ pouches, remember? So it’s easy.

Once in a while the cleaning will need to be a little more thorough. When the bag is beginning to feel a bit crumb-y in the bottom, take everything out, then pull the lining out of the bag, take it outside and shake the dickens (and the crumbs) out of it. If it’s leather or vinyl, wipe the outside with a soft cloth; if it’s cloth like many summer bags are, you can hand-wash it.

Let’s finish up with some inspiration: Cute things to tidy up that bag.

I love this preppy wallet from ALDO:

These cosmetics pouches from JCPenney would be quite easy to spot in the dark recesses of an oversized bag.

Amazon has lots more cosmetics cases in all kinds of designs, like Hello Kitty (but this one’s $18, sheesh!) You can find inexpensive pouches in all kinds of places — Target, Walmart, etc.

Isn’t this note-taking case the bomb? Has a pen and everything. It’s called “Wellspring Flip Note” and Amazon has them in more colors and designs than you would believe. I’ve also seen them in gift shops.

All righty folks, happy purse spring cleaning!! Go do it today and forever stop cursing your purse. But first leave me a comment and tell me what the grossest thing you ever found in your bag was. I’ll start things off. I was flying once and bought a bottle of Snapple Mango Madness juice. I didn’t put the lid on right, I guess, because I was crammed into the window seat on the airplane when I found that that the Mango had wreaked some serious Madness all over the bottom of my bag. It was so sticky and awful. I had my Bible in there and it smelled fruity for months. So sad. But I did learn not to put bottles of juice in my bag. :)