Saturday, 7 April 2007

Household tips #1 - How to have a clutter-free home

Not sure where it came from, but I have this Family Circle magazine from January (Sister B probably gave it to me while I was in hospital with Doo Dah or something). Anyway, there is this great article in it about How to have a clutter-free household by Karen Heinrich. She divulges some fantastic tips, and, as you know, I am always looking for ways to improve my organisation skills and improve the functionality of the home. So here are the key points that Karen recommends:

  • Think in acheivable chunks. You will procrastinate forever if you think of the house as a whole, so set realistic goals. One room at a time. Karen suggests doing one room per month and allowing a day per room.
  • Don't forget to maintain once you have sorted!
  • Make yourself a timetable.
  • Use visualisation - make a sketch of the room concentrating on how you would like it to look. Use this as your motivation.
  • Make two action lists - things you can do now (such as organise the CDs) and long-term aims (budget a save for a new wall unit).
  • Use the four-box method for organising as you go. Grab four boxes and label them: TOSS, DONATE, UNSURE, KEEP. Pick up every item in the room and decide which box it goes in. Be ruthless. When finished, put the TOSS into the bin (don't forget to recycle!) and take the DONATE to the local charity. Put the UNSURE in the middle of the room and vow to deal with them before the day is out. In the meantime, reorder and find a place for the things you decided to KEEP. Anything that doesn't belong in the room you are decluttering, move it out! Once you are finished, return to the UNSURE box and re-sort it. Be ruthless, just because you have more space now doesn't mean it needs to be filled!
  • Ideas for specific areas of the house
    • Children's rooms - devise a system that works for them and they'll be more likely to maintain it. Crouch down to your child's level and see what they see. Their most used items should be low and within their reach. Too many toys? Pack some away for a few months and one rainy day, swap them for other toys that have lost their appeal.
    • Living room - Storage. Storage. Storage. e.g. Frame doorways with shelving or invest in a coffee table with drawers or under-unit storage. Store loose items in baskets in wall units or bookshelves.
    • Kitchen/dining room - Make use of any space that you have. Mount your microwave on a wall bracket. Fit your sink or stove top with an appropriately shaped cutting board to extend your work space. Use adjustable tables that can be extended or minimised depending on your needs.
    • Bathroom - free up floor space by using wall-mounted shelves over your sink or toilet,, hooks for towels, and a narrow, high cabinet and adjustable shelves in a spare corner. Put your make-up and other, small loose items into boxes and store them on shelves or in cupboards.
    • Bedrooms - Keep a small box (or a bedside table with lots of storage) next to your bed for mags, books etc. Store spare bedding in vacuum-sealed bags under your bed.
    • In the wardrobe - Make sure that everything you use often is in view. Try hanging canvas shelves, storage boxes for last season's apparel, hanging rather than folding clothes, shoe boxes and drawer dividers.
  • Day by day - make the art of de-cluttering a daily habit (involve the family)
  • Never leave a room empty handed
  • When you get something new, TOSS or DONATE something you already have e.g. books, newspapers, magazines
  • Develop an official household routine e.g. twice daily "pack-away" ritual
  • Get the right gear - upright magazine boxes, display books for recipes, folders with insert pockets for bills, archive boxes for storing documents you need to keep for tax, filing cabinet for recent documents, in-tray for urgent documents, CD boxes, shallow storage boxes for under-bed storage, clear plastic boxes and divider trays.

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