As the year comes to a close, I am taking time off from the blog to finish projects. I wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous year to come.
If you want to motivate yourself to clean up and clear out, invite someone to stay over. Having company is a great motivator for decluttering.
If that’s too much pressure, rearrange your furniture instead. When you have to empty shelves or clear off surfaces, you’re more likely to make decisions about what to keep and what to let go. Once you see, for example, 100 books on your bed, you’ll wonder if you really want them anymore.
That was my bed last weekend.
I don’t buy fiction, because I can get it at the library; however, I do have an awfully large collection of organizing, psychology and business books. When they came out of the bookcase, I decided to be ruthless about what went back in.
10 books didn’t make the cut, and two more are destined for donation after I read them. Here’s what I learned from the process:
- If someone had asked me how many books were on the shelves, I never would have said it was 100. If felt more like 50, although I know what I have.
- It was surprisingly easy to pull those 10. Books I haven’t referred to in years or that are similar to ones I like better are on their way to someone else’s collection.
- It was surprisingly difficult to let go of books by the same author, even if the content is similar (how many Peter Walsh decluttering books do I need?).
- There are loads of books that I want to read and I’m probably not going to reread books I already have. I’m giving myself a deadline to read or donate them.
- Before I started sorting, I thought I would let go of much more. My discard pile didn’t even fill one bag, yet 10% sounds like a lot. One more pass will open up some breathing room on the shelves.
During presentations, people ask me for guidelines to help them choose which books to keep. I suggest asking these questions: Will you read it again? Is the information available elsewhere? Are you still interested in the subject? Your answers will bring you one step closer to deciding whether or not you want to keep a book. In the end, only you can decide whether a book is worth the space it takes up.
How do you keep your book collection from becoming clutter? Leave a reply, below.
Thanksgiving is a little more than two weeks away and, for many people, company keeps on coming until the beginning of January.
A reader asked how to prepare, so they don’t end up tossing clutter in bags and hiding them in the closet, garage, attic or basement.
The most important thing to remember is that people are coming to spend time with you, not inspect your home. If someone does have a reputation for remarking on your residence, however, you need to feel comfortable with the way it looks. That means learning to brush off any negative comments and/or making some changes.
Doing a little every day will make organizing your spaces more manageable. Maintain realistic expectations, given the amount of time and money you have to spend. A complete bathroom renovation probably isn’t going to happen, but you can clear off the countertop and bathtub ledge; empty the vanity and medicine cabinet, and put back only the things you use; all of which add up to a room that looks and functions better.
If you have a guest room, remove anything you threw in there because you couldn’t think of a better place. File or toss accumulated papers, hang up out-of-season clothes and put toys in a large basket or plastic bin in the closet. Make the bed, dust, vacuum, and set out clean towels. If there’s a clock, make sure it’s set to the correct time. If there’s a TV, make sure the remote works. If you have extra blankets and pillows, let guests know where to find them. You don’t need to provide hotel-level amenities for guests; basics are fine when they’re clean and operable.
Provide some space in the closet to hang clothes, or install over-the-door hooks if the closet is full. If guests are staying more than a few days, it’s nice to offer a drawer for them to put their stuff in. When you have closet space, but no empty drawers, consider a hanging organizer. You can use it when guests leave or you can fold it up and store it.
What if you don’t have a dedicated guest room? Make your space feel welcoming with the ideas above, and communicate expectations so everyone feels comfortable sharing the room.
Don’t wait until the day before your guests arrive; start preparing now. Make a list of things you want to accomplish, work on one task each day, and look forward to enjoying your company and your space.
Do you have any tips for making overnight guests feel comfortable in your home? Leave a reply, below.
Productivity is not about getting more done.
It’s about getting the important stuff done so you have time for the things you enjoy. You may not realize that eating, sleeping, social connections and overall mental health have a greater impact on your productivity than chaining yourself to your desk.
Here are three articles that might make you think about changing your habits:
Take care of yourself in order to increase work productivity
Eating at your desk wrecks your productivity (so does what you’re eating)
How to have a more productive day
What can you do to take better care of yourself and improve your productivity this week? Leave a reply, below.
There are lots of ways to show you care for people. Giving them stuff they don’t want is not one of them.
This isn’t about gift giving in the traditional sense. (That would be this post.) This is about cutting articles, recipes, cartoons and other scraps of paper for someone else.
You do it because you read an article about a medical condition that a friend has. Or you spot a vegan macaroni and cheese recipe that your niece could make. Or you laughed out loud at a cartoon that your optometrist would enjoy.
Chances are that your friend has already read the article, or his doctor told him about it, or he’s tried it and it didn’t work. Chances are your niece has plenty of recipes she downloaded from the internet. And chances are you won’t remember to take the cartoon with you when you get your eyes checked next year.
Do yourself a favor and step away from the scissors. A lot of the clutter I see at clients’ homes is what I call “good deed” clutter. You think you’re doing someone a favor by sharing information that person will use. What you’re doing, instead, is creating clutter. You create clutter for yourself by having scraps of paper floating around until you give them to the appropriate person. Then you create clutter for that person who takes it home and puts it in a pile.
I wanted to title this post “Don’t be a Friend,” but I didn’t think it would be well received. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson: The path to hellish clutter is paved with the good intentions of friends who give you scraps of paper. (Yes, you can quote me.)
If you feel strongly about sharing information, ask whether it’s wanted before passing it on. You can email articles so neither of you has to deal with the paper. Or address an envelope to the person and mail it when it gets full. Otherwise, find different ways of strengthening your social connections.
How do you feel about sharing articles with friends? Leave a comment, below.
October is National Crime Prevention Month. It’s getting dark earlier, which makes it easier for criminals to take advantage of opportunities. Here are a few simple things you can do to protect yourself and your property:
*Pay attention. Remember where you parked your car so you’re not wandering around streets or parking lots. Have your keys in your hand so you’re not searching for them in the dark.
*Put away the phone. If you’re looking down at your phone, you’re not going to be aware of traffic or people around you.
*Watch your wallet. When you pay for a purchase, don’t set your wallet down on the counter.
*Lock the car. Vandals and petty thieves look for easy targets, so encourage them to keep moving. While you’re at it, remove everything from the car when you exit, so there’s nothing attractive to take.
*Close the garage door. It takes minutes for someone to enter your home through an open garage and walk out with valuables.
*Turn the lights on. A well-lit house is less inviting to vandals and thieves. Use timers on interior and exterior house to make it look like someone’s home.
*Don’t open the door to strangers. You wouldn’t do it at home, so don’t do it on your computer. Don’t click on email links unless you trust the sender.
*Be mysterious. Avoid becoming a victim of online identity theft by keeping your personal information private. Consider whether you want to make your address, birthday and other identifying information public.
*Finally, if you have Halloween plans, take a look at the The National Crime Prevention Council website for Halloween safety tips.
Do you have a safety tip to add? Leave a comment, below.
I hate to dust. Yes, I’ve said it before, and it’s still true. I think it’s because dusting is interminable. Ten minutes after you finish, the surfaces are sprinkled with dust again. If I weren’t so allergic to dust, I’d probably just let it build up until I could draw pictures in it.
Yesterday, in the midst of my most despised chore, I thought there must be some way to make it less burdensome. If you have the same aversion to dusting, there are some simple steps you can take so you spend less time at it.
The room where I notice dust most often is the room where I spend the most time – the bedroom. Certainly, reducing clutter in any room reduces your need to dust. The fewer surfaces you have, the less there is to dust. If you want medicine, books, magazines, cosmetics, eyeglasses and tissues close by, choose a bedside table that has doors or drawers. You’ll be able to reach everything you need, but you won’t need to dust them when you put things away.
If you read in bed, you’ll need a lamp. I have an ornate lamp beside my bed, which has lots of crevices to collect dust. Although it’s beautiful, it would be more practical to have a simple shape made of glass or Lucite that could be wiped down quickly. Trade textured and pleated lampshades for smooth, plain fabric or glass globes, for the same reason.
Fabric surfaces present another potential challenge. Consider reducing the number of pillows on your bed and covering the ones you keep with allergen-reducing protectors under the pillowcases. You can cover your mattress and box spring, too. Fringe and trims on fabrics may add style to your bedroom, but they also add to your dusting time. Streamline bedding and window treatments to reduce dust.
My headboard, footboard and bed rails have trim that needs to be dusted, too. Steel, iron or wood beds with minimal details are easier to keep clean. I won’t be replacing my bedroom furniture any time soon, but I am eyeing alternatives to the 1970’s louvered closet doors. While they’re great for air circulation, the slats collect dust, and a better choice would be doors with a smooth front.
You don’t need to sacrifice aesthetics to practicality; there are options at every price point in every style. If all these changes seem overwhelming, remember that you don’t need to do everything at once. In fact, you don’t need to make any changes at all, if you don’t share my disdain for dusting.
Have you discovered any ways to simplify a chore? Leave a comment, below.