How many boxes and bins of stuff are you storing for purely sentimental reasons? How cluttered are your shelves and cabinets with stuff you’re reluctant to part with because of all the memories they evoke? Whatever your answer, you’re not alone. Keepsakes...memorabilia...souvenirs...whatever you want to call them, are often the most troublesome belongings to maintain control over for everyone, myself included...and I can be downright ruthless when it comes to getting rid of stuff I don’t use regularly. As we struggle to figure out where to start in establishing order over it, more trinkets continue to pile up, making the task at hand ever more daunting.
Organizing your keepsakes is no different from any other organizing project. We begin with three primary goals in mind:
Let’s take a closer look.
First, decide how much space you’re willing to devote to your sentimental objects. Remember that stuffing them into a storage bin in the back of a closet or the deep recesses of your garage won’t allow them to trigger the memories...and that’s the whole point of keeping them, right? With that in the front of your mind, try some of these strategies to reduce the amount of space they gobble up:
Creating Easy Access
Let’s be honest...how likely are you to dig out those big rubber storage bins and old cardboard boxes from the crawl space in your attic and spend hours pouring over your kids’ old artwork? Yeah...that’s what I thought. So why are you keeping it? While most people neither plan to nor need/want to devote time to regularly reviewing their scrapbooks and photo albums, those options offer the ability to more easily find and share precious memories as long as they are stored within easy reach. The less you keep, the easier it is to create easy access to your memories so that you can pull them out when the mood or opportunity to share them strikes. And you don’t have to be a crafty scrapbooker to do it. The key is to reduce the volume enough that you can store them in an easy-to-reach section of your living space rather than in the basement, attic or garage. Imagine Cousin Sue comes over for lunch and you get to reminiscing. How easy will it be for you to pull out that stack of old letters she sent you from summer camp when you were kids? Make it so.
Consider some of the storage methods below and select the ones that work best for you and your family:
Preserving and Identifying
Most people keep some combination of memorabilia they’d like to pass along after they are gone and items that carry meaning for no one else but them. Do your loved ones a favor and differentiate between these two categories to make their job easier when faced with the daunting and emotional task of going through your things after you pass. I know it may sound morbid, but knowing you have done your part to make that process a little bit easier for them will ease some anxiety for you now, while also ensuring that you will be leaving them precious memories instead of just more stress to add to their grief. Here are a few loving steps you can take to achieve this:
Of all the items you make space for in your home, your keepsakes are really the only ones that can’t be replaced. If they are worth keeping, they are worth devoting some time and effort to preserving with care. While it can be overwhelming to think about that huge stash of old papers, photos and trinkets stashed away in your attic (or wherever), tackling it now and making some intentional decisions to transform it into a more manageable storybook of your life will be some of the most enjoyable and thought-provoking work you’ve ever done. With these three stated goals and the creative, yet practical strategies I’ve laid out over the last few blog posts, even establishing order to your keepsakes can be easy peasy.
Home stores are making a killing marketing tools and gadgets to help you save space and organize your cabinets, closets and drawers. The problem, aside from their pricetag, is that many of them turn out to be uni-taskers, that is they can only be used for a single purpose. When your needs change, many of these specialized items are no longer useful and merely clutter up your home...which is the very last thing you need when trying to restore some order.
This week, I want to share with you just a few of my favorite DIY organizing tools that are not only helpful space-and-sanity-savers but also very easy and economical to make yourself. These are just a few examples. With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can come up with more of your own just by looking through your pile of excess stuff with an inventive eye.
I am listing the materials I used for each of the projects below and have estimated what it would cost if you had to purchase them all. However, it is my hope that you will be able to use whatever you already have on hand or acquire items for free from friends or neighbors who may have some to spare to reduce your costs...perhaps down to nothing. Substitutions are encouraged! Your local Nothing Project or Freecycle groups can be great resources for scoring free materials.
(See the photos above for reference.)
Keep jewelry easily visible, accessible and tangle-free while saving boatloads of space in your bedroom with this simple DIY organizer you can hang on the inside of your closet door.
Cost: Approximately $10
Cabinet Door Rack
Increase storage space in the kitchen and bathroom for as little as $1 with this quick and easy project. You’ll want one for every cabinet in your home.
Cost: under $5
Tip: Increase the versatility of these wire door racks by fitting them with small plastic cups or jars that can hold items that would otherwise slip through the wires.
Garbage Bag/Paper Spool
This clever trick keeps rolls of garbage bags, food wraps, paper towels, and wrapping paper at your fingertips and saves space in your overflowing cabinets!
Cost: You can make several for about $7 total
Keep everyone in your household on the same page with a fun chalkboard wall. Why limit yourself to one chalkboard when you can have an entire wall to write messages, share important info, and keep track of upcoming events, all in a central spot in your home.
Cost: About $8
Set up a cute coffee station in your kitchen or dining room to save oodles of kitchen cabinet space and make it easy for guests to help themselves to hot beverages when you entertain.
These projects are just the tip of the iceberg. Unleash your creativity and see what you can create to suit your organizing needs using stuff you already own. Convert a storage trunk into a filing cabinet or a piano bench into a giant jewelry box. Make a scarf hanger by taping shower curtain rings onto a hanger. Send photos of your creations to firstname.lastname@example.org or tell us about them in the comments.
Visiting Pinterest for ideas before ordering fancy organizers online can save you lots of money you can use on something way more fun than organizing your closets or pantry!
Don’t miss next week’s blog, where I’ll tell you how to shop smart and get more bang for your buck out of the stuff you own so that you can own less stuff.
If you’ve ever been inside The Container Store or gone shopping for new food storage bins for your pantry, you know just how overwhelming -- and expensive! -- it can be to purchase the tools all those home magazines say you need to get organized. It’s enough to scare off even the best-intentioned from getting started. So my first piece of professional advice when it comes to shopping for baskets, bins and drawer dividers to create order in your home is...just don’t. At least, not yet. And maybe never.
For starters, acquiring more stuff, no matter what it is, is probably the very last thing that will improve your situation. Most people already have way too much stuff, which is a primary factor leading to the current disorder in their homes. Purchasing more will only exacerbate the problem. Secondly, you can’t possibly know what to buy until you know how and where you will be using it. Guessing (and likely guessing wrong) will cost you time and money you may not have and lead to greater frustration. I’m assuming you already have plenty of that, am I right? Finally, your shopping excursion will feed into the false notion that it is a lack of organizing tools that has created the disorder in your home rather than the lack of an organizational plan. I’m sorry to tell you that there is no magical invention sold in the home goods section that will transform your chaos into calm without a solid understanding of how you use your space and a plan that reflects this.
Now that we’ve dispensed with what you shouldn’t do, let’s turn our attention to what you should. Obviously, you’re going to need a place to put all your stuff once you’ve purged your excess and sorted it into tidy categories. The good news is that with a little resourcefulness and a smidgen of creativity, it doesn’t have to cost you a single red cent to organize your home.
Start by raiding your recycling bin for jars, boxes (shoe boxes are great), plastic containers of varying sizes, and old shopping bags. Gather some ziploc bags, scissors, tape, a stapler, a few labels (or blank paper if you don’t have any) and a marker. You are now ready to begin purging your excess stuff, sorting what’s left into categories and designating homes for each category according to how you use it and how accessible it needs to be.
Once you know where you want to store your items, select or create holding spots or dividers as needed to keep them neatly separated and labeled using the materials you’ve gathered. Need drawer dividers? Make some using strips of cardboard and some tape. No crock to hold all your large kitchen utensils? No problem. Just grab a large jar, flower pot, or an old pitcher. Lots of earrings but no jewelry box? Repurpose a box grater to hold the danglers and a small glass dish for your studs. You are limited only by your imagination.
Yes, I hear you...you want a pantry worthy of Instagram, with matching jars labeled using trendy fonts. The good news is that if that’s your thing, you can still have it. The even better news is if that’s not your thing, or if you can’t afford that level of luxury, you can keep your homespun organizing solutions until you can...or forever. The functionality will still be there, and if the cardboard tears over time, there’s plenty more where that came from. Either way, you end up saving money by testing out your new organizing system without investing any money in pure aesthetics. If you plan to upgrade later, start making a wish list now of the organizing tools you want to purchase. Include specifics like what size, shape, material, color you want that will work in your space. If you used a transparent container to store something but are bothered by the visual noise, make a note to purchase an opaque version. If stacking your open bins would save more space in the cabinet, consider buying ones with lids. The longer you wait to go shopping, the more likely you’ll make wise choices to suit your needs once you do.
Save big bucks and add a personal touch to your space by repurposing purely sentimental objects into functional ones. This is an excellent way to place the object in your path where it will trigger all those wonderful memories instead of consuming valuable storage space in the back of a closet where you will rarely encounter it.
You’ll be amazed how easy it is to divide your spaces, create holders for items both large and small, establish zones, extend your storage, and make items more accessible by using everyday objects you already have lying around your home. Here is just a smattering of examples:
Don’t let a lack of fancy organizing tools or funds to purchase them delay you from getting started in restoring some order to your home. Visit my Organizing Outside the Box board on Pinterest to get more ideas for using everyday objects instead. If, after that, you still need to acquire something to get the job done, don’t overlook your local neighborhood giveaway groups, yard sales, thrift shops and dollar stores as viable sources. Remember, you probably won't be giving your guests a tour of your drawers and closets, so save your money for decorating the areas they are more likely to notice.
Next week, I’ll share some of my favorite easy peasy and economical DIY tools for creating more space and order in your home. Until then, keep it easy peasy!
Is the state of your bathroom stressing you out? For most of us, the bathroom is the first room we spend time in after waking up, and nothing is worse than starting the day by facing a stress-inducing mess. To wrap up Bed and Bath Organizing Month, I’m sharing my favorite tips for keeping your bathroom orderly and your countertops clear and clutter-free.
Between makeup and makeup brushes, hair care items, dental care supplies, nail and skin care products, shaving tools, and possibly even medications, there’s a lot going on in what is likely the smallest room in your home. And if you share a bathroom with others, multiply all of the above by two or more. Yikes! It’s no wonder your bath feels anything but spa-like. The good news is that with these five simple tips and some minimal maintenance, you’ll be able to keep it tidy, organized and functional.
#1 Streamline - Clear away all those excess bottles of...whatever. Get rid of the half-used conditioner you no longer use, empty bottles of lotion, expired eyeshadow and lipstick, and horrible hues of nail polish you will never wear. If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you know that I issue a simple 1-day (more like 1-hour) challenge each month...a simple task to put you on the path toward more orderly living. The June challenge is to perform this very task. Keeping half-used bottles of products you no longer use is not going to make you miraculously use them up. It’s going to make you lose your mind from having to navigate through the clutter they create on a daily basis.
(Aside: Once you’ve completed this step, go to my Facebook page and add a comment, photo or GIF to the pinned challenge post at the top for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card in the monthly prize drawing. You have until June 30th to enter.)
#2 Categorize - Once you’ve cleared your clutter, divide what’s left into some basic categories:
#3 Take stock - It’s okay to stock up on your favorite products to ensure you don’t run out, but take note of what you have before you purchase more. If you decide to switch brands, use up what you have first or otherwise eliminate the old brand so that you don’t end up having to repeat #1. Also be sure to organize to allow adequate space for storing your stockpile, and try not to exceed it.
#4 Think Vertically - Most bathrooms have limited space, so maximizing your vertical storage options can make a huge difference. Here are a few examples:
#5 Clear countertops daily - Put everything away after each use to reduce surface clutter. One easy way to do this is to place all of the items you use each morning in a single basket or tote you can pull out of a cabinet, closet or off a shelf when you’re getting ready and then put the whole basket away when you’re done. Easy peasy!
Following these five strategies is guaranteed to de-stressify your morning routine. What are your favorite bed and bath organizing secrets? Please share them in the comments or email email@example.com!
Coming Soon: July is Organizing for Dollars Month! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering how better organization can save you money and the financial benefits of owning less, as well as sharing some budget-friendly organizing tools and tricks to help you streamline your home and life. Make sure you don't miss out! Subscribe to the EPL Blog to receive each weekly issue right in your inbox.
The past 14 days have been quite a whirlwind in the Sheridan household! After celebrating three birthdays, a high school graduation, Juneteenth, and Father’s Day...all within a two week period...I’m ready to stop eating and finally fall into my bed...a nice, crisp, freshly-made bed, please!
Which brings us to this week’s topic: organizing your bed and bath linens.
Linen closets are high on the list of problem areas for many of the clients I visit. Whether it’s having too many linens, missing set components, not easily identifying sizes, or not knowing how to neatly fold fitted sheets...the struggle is real! Not to worry. With these easy tips, your neatly-ordered sheets and towels will evoke only feelings of soothing comfort and luxury instead of frustration.
How many is too many?
Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room. The biggest issue for most people is they just plain have way more sheets and towels than they really need. Why is it that everyone feels obliged to keep enough sheets and towels to open a hotel? Think about it: you can only use one set of sheets on a bed at a time, so two sets per bed is plenty...one on the bed, one in the wash. Include one set (two max) for each air mattress or sofa bed you use when guests visit. Your guest sheets can also serve as “backup” sheets if you ever need them during non-guest times. You really should not require any more than that. It is better to replace your sheets more often than to keep more sheets than you can comfortably store. So the formula is # of beds/sofabeds/air mattresses x 2. Period.
When it comes to towels, decide how many towels each person in your home uses between laundry days to determine how many you really need, then add just four more for guests unless you routinely have lots of guests visiting at once. Most guests won’t stay long enough to require more than two towels, and if they do, you can always do laundry. Any inconvenience of suddenly needing to wash a load of sheets or towels in the midst of their visit is far outweighed by the everyday inconvenience of wrestling with too many linens. Also remember, that if you really need to, you can always borrow extra sheets or towels for your visitors from someone who has too many. Trust me, there is no shortage of such potential lenders out there.
I know, I know….nobody wants to hear those two little words because almost nobody knows how to properly fold sheets and towels. However, taking the time to learn will save you hours of frustration in the end. Trust me, if I can learn how to fold a king-size fitted sheet, anyone can. It just takes some patience and practice. (Long arms are helpful but not required.) Check out this tutorial to learn more. The point is that when you take the time to fold everything neatly to the size of your space, you’ll not only fit more in, you’ll be better able to find what you need and keep it neat. You will be amazed at how much more you can fit when everything is folded correctly. I have organized many a linen closet that was too full to fit everything in beforehand and had room to spare afterwards...simply by folding everything correctly.
Take a little time to figure out what size to fold each item so that it makes the best use of the space where you are storing it. It will be different for each situation, but once you know how to fold items that go in a specific location, always fold those things the same way and store them in the same spot to ensure an optimal fit. If you place items so that the folded edge faces out (or up if it is in a basket), it will be easier to grab without upsetting the entire pile.
One size does not fit all
Don’t you just hate digging through all the sheets just to find the size you need? One way around this is to differentiate by color or pattern. For example, solids for twin, stripes and plaids for queen, and patterns for king. Even better, store your sheets in the closet of the room where they are to be used instead of in a central spot like a linen closet. That way, you’re not only guaranteed to get the right size, you will also have your extra sheets handy and won’t wake up the entire household if you need to do an emergency sheet change in the middle of the night (which any parent of young kids should appreciate).
Keep it together!
Stop wasting time searching for the flat sheet that matches your fitted sheet and vice versa! Keep sheet sets together either by inserting the folded fitted sheet and pillow case into the folded flat sheet to form one neat and tidy bundle, or by placing the flat and fitted sheets inside the pillow case. No more digging through your closet to locate the right pillow case!
Use your vacuum
Most people don’t think of their vacuum cleaner as an organizing tool, but when it comes to eeking out storage space for extra pillows and bulky comforters, it can be a lifesaver. Using vacuum bags for storing these items when not in use is a great space saver and keeps them well-protected from dampness, dirt and pests, even when stored under your bed or in the back of your closet or basement storage area.
Think outside the box
Just because it’s called a “linen closet” doesn’t mean you have to store your linens there. As I mentioned above, storing bed linens in bedroom closets offers convenience, as well as saving space for other things in the hall closet. Here are a few other alternative storage options:
What did I miss? Get more ideas and see photos of some of these by following my Organizing Outside the Box board on Pinterest. Share your ideas with us in the comments!
Have you taken the June 1-Day EasyPeasy Challenge yet?
In case you missed it: Each month I issue a simple challenge that can be completed in one day (usually in well under an hour) that will put you one step closer to more orderly living. Once you complete the challenge, you can enter a monthly prize drawing just by adding a comment, photo or GIF to the 1-Day Challenge post that is pinned to the top of my Facebook page. The June challenge is to eliminate from your bed/bathroom any makeup or toiletries that have expired or which you no longer use. Clear those half-used bottles of shampoo and conditioner out of your shower and toss the expired makeup from your makeup bag to make the products you do use more accessible. That’s it!
May’s winner received an Amazon gift card. Will you be next? Remember...you gotta play to win!
Last week, I shared my favorite tips on keeping your clothes organized, accessible and in tip top shape. But for many of you, the real struggle is what to do with all your accessories so that you can both easily see what you have when putting together an outfit and effortlessly put them away when you are done wearing them. Nothing is worse than realizing as you’re rushing out the door that you’ve misplaced a shoe or an earring. Not only that, it’s likely that a lot of your bedroom surface clutter consists of stray jewelry, scarves and other accessories that are strewn around, collecting dust and creating lots of visual noise and chaos in the one room that’s supposed to feel the most peaceful and calming. Never fear! You’ve come to the right place for options on maintaining accessible accessories.
Shoes, purses, jewelry, scarves/ties, belts, hair accessories...with all that going on, it’s no wonder your bedroom can get out of control so quickly! There are as many different ways to organize all these accessories as there are styles. The good news is that you don’t need to own a huge walk-in closet or spend a fortune on customization to impose an adequate amount of order. The key is creating an organization structure for each accessory type that:
1) fits within your available space
2) is accessible enough to both see what you have and easily put things away
3) accommodates your collection (paring your collection down to fit within your chosen organization structure is a great strategy for keeping it in check over time).
I’m going to share multiple storage options for each accessory type, along with some of the pros and cons for each, so that you can easily choose the right fit for you.
Shoe cubbies or shoe chest - whether you are lucky enough to have built-in shoe cubbies in your closet or a piece of furniture specifically designed for storing shoes, or you create one using boxes, cardboard tubes or crates turned on their sides, this option creates a spot for holding each individual pair in your collection so that they are all visible at a glance.
Tip for boots: Inserting pool noodles or cardboard tubes to keep them standing upright will preserve their shape longer and save space in your closet.
Shelves (tip: stuff purses to maintain their shape and help them stand up...great use for those air pillows that come with your Amazon purchases)
Belts and scarves/ties
Drawers - fold scarves, coil belts or ties and insert in dividers; or lay ties flat
Jewelry and hair accessories
Jewelry box, chest or trays (including drawer inserts or dividers)
Think outside the box
There’s lots of room for creativity when it comes to storing your accessories. You’ll find a wealth of ideas on my “Organizing Outside the Box” board on Pinterest. Some of my favorite ideas include:
Stay tuned next week for tips on keeping your bedroom and bathroom linens organized, easy to access, and under control!
Are you following EasyPeasy Living on Facebook? Don’t miss out on daily tips, advice and strategies for streamlining your home and your schedule to make more time for the things that really matter. Enter prize drawings by participating in the monthly EasyPeasy 1-Day Challenge that’s announced at the beginning of each month on Facebook. Find quick and easy recipes, discover simple solutions to everyday problems, and learn the answers to commonly-asked organizing questions from others just like you. It’s all at www.facebook.com/easypeasyliving.
Can you believe it’s June already?!! This month is Bed and Bath Organizing month. We’ll make your bed and bathroom the restful sanctuary you deserve with tips on organizing your clothes, accessories, linens and toiletries so that getting ready for your busy day or a peaceful night’s sleep will be seamless and easy peasy. This week I’m sharing my favorite strategies for keeping your clothes easily accessible, tidy and organized.
Now that the world is opening back up and life is beginning to take on some semblance of “normal” again, it’s time to take stock of that wardrobe. Some of us have put on a few pounds since the beginning of the pandemic, while others have lost weight. Whether you’re in a new size now or not, taking stock of what you have, purging what no longer fits the way you'd like or works in your current lifestyle, and organizing your closet and drawers will ensure that you're ready to get back out there in the real world looking your best. An organized clothing system will also save you time and hassle in the morning, keep clothes in better condition longer, and -- my favorite -- reduce dry cleaning bills and ironing. Follow these ten tips to maximize space and functionality in your dresser and closet.
Are you following my Facebook page? If not, you're missing out on daily tips, advice and strategies for streamlining your home and your schedule to make more time for the things that really matter. You'll find quick and easy recipes, discover simple solutions to everyday problems, and learn the answers to commonly-asked organizing questions from others just like you. What's more, you can win prizes when you participate in the monthly 1-day EasyPeasy Challenge that’s announced on the second day of each month on my Facebook page. You'll find it all at www.facebook.com/easypeasyliving.
My mother was an amazing woman loved by all who knew her. She was spontaneous, fun, compassionate to a fault, caring (a nurse!), gentle, kind, and able to laugh at herself...which was a good thing because she was also pretty klutzy and quite often found herself in some pretty - er - “unique” situations. (Someday I’ll share with you the Mom-in-a-manhole story.) She’s been gone for over 20 years now and I still miss her every single day. Although I didn’t embark on my organizing career until after she died, she continues to be the inspiration for a lot of the tips and advice I share with my clients and followers to this day. That’s because “organized” is not a word often associated with her. Let's just say, I didn't learn most of these tips and tricks from her, but I would have loved to have shared them with her. Many times, my blogs are written with her in mind as my audience.
Now don’t get me wrong...she maintained a pretty clean and tidy home and insisted my sisters and I do our part, including keeping our rooms picked up and our beds made. But I'd be lying if I told you that I was an organized kid or that everything was in its place in our home. Far from it! There is a big difference between a house that’s tidy and one that’s organized, as I will explain.
A tidy home, like the one I grew up in, is where everything looks neat at first glance. There is minimal surface clutter, laundry (both clean and dirty) is kept out of sight, coats and purses are hung up, and common areas look respectable enough to host guests on the spur of the moment. You are unlikely to find dirty towels littering the bathroom floor or toys strewn everywhere in a tidy house. However, many tidy homes harbor a secret stash of clutter and disorganization behind those closet doors. Growing up, my bedroom was tidy enough to pass Mom’s inspection...as long as she didn’t look under the bed, where all manner of chaos reigned. Or in the jumbled up drawers. Or risk the hazard of opening the closet doors. And you know what? She almost never did! I think she knew she wouldn't like what she'd find, so surface tidy was good enough. It isn’t really a mystery why I and other members of my family frequently misplaced items, as is often the case in many a tidy home.
Even in tidy homes, it can be difficult to find specific items quickly. That's because, just like untidy homes, they often contain way too much stuff for its occupants to navigate smoothly on a daily basis, leading to frustration. Too much stuff means it takes more work to put things away where they belong. That, in turn, leads to putting them away somewhere they don’t belong simply because it’s easier to access and thus quicker in our rush to get them out of sight, out of our way, and to keep things looking tidier. But this makes it harder to find later...which, my friends, is a main symptom of disorganization. If left untreated, disorganization will ultimately turn your tidy home into an untidy home when the time and effort to tidy up just becomes too great. Perhaps some of you have already discovered this.
My mother owned no less than twelve (12) muffin tins. Let me say that again. She had a dozen pans that made a dozen muffins all at once. A dozen dozens. (And no, she was not a commercial baker.) When asked why she needed to keep that many muffin tins in the teensy kitchen of her tiny mobile home, she responded that she liked to have some ready to go in the oven, some in the oven already baking, and some cooling on her (overly-crowded) counter...all at once. Because they took up a substantial percentage of her limited cabinet space, she was constantly having to move things around to make space for other kitchen items. This frustrated and annoyed her, yet it never seemed to dawn on her that the little bit of time all those muffin tins saved her on those rare occasions that she needed to make 144 muffins at once (which was probably never) was squandered many times over on her daily quest for more room in her cabinets for the things she used each and every day. If you find yourself regularly having to “reorganize” a shelf, drawer, or cabinet just to create enough room to put things away, you - like my mother - have TOO. MUCH. STUFF!
Fortunately, the remedy for too much stuff is simple...purge it! Purging is always the first step in getting organized and probably the one most people dread until they do it. That’s because they focus on what they lose by the process instead of on what they gain by it. Here’s what’s in it for you to purge your excess stuff:
In next week’s blog post, I’ll tackle why many people find it so difficult to get started letting go of their belongings and how to get over the most common hurdles people face along the way. The week after that I’ll give you suggestions for what to do with all the items you decide to eliminate from your home. But for now, let’s just focus on how to get started without feeling overwhelmed by the prospect.
First of all, there’s great news: Purging does not require you to set aside a huge chunk of time. You can accomplish a great deal in as little as 15-20 minutes per day. The key is consistency. If you don’t have a stretch of two hours to devote to purging this week (who does?), do 20 minutes each day and take a day off on Sunday. Or just decide to tackle one drawer or one shelf or one cabinet each day if that’s all the time you have. Either way, put it on your to-do list until it becomes a habit.
Here’s what you do:
Now I have even better news: Even if you don’t have any time to devote to the process described above, you can still begin purging right away! All you have to do is set up a box or bag in a designated spot in your home. Every time you encounter an object that:
And that's it! Like I said, I'll be sharing strategies for what comes next right here in this blog over the rest of this month. Be sure to sign up to get each new blog post emailed directly to you if you aren't already a subscriber so that you don't miss out.
So what makes a home organized? Having a designated spot for each item you own that’s easy to access and with a bit of extra breathing room. As I said, you can have a tidy home that’s disorganized, but can you have an organized home that’s untidy? Yes, you can. The difference between an untidy, organized home and a tidy, organized home is about 15 minutes!
For more tips and advice on purging and on organizing in general, follow @EasyPeasyLiving on Facebook. May is Purging Month, and I’ll be sharing strategies all month on how to rid your home of excess stuff and keep it that way. Plus, you’ll find out how to participate in the May 1-Day EasyPeasy Challenge. Hint: it will help you get your purge on!
Until next week, keep it easy peasy!
*If you’re on a purging roll and don’t want to wait until my future posts to get stuff out of your way, the quickest, easiest way to get rid of it is to schedule a donation pickup or drop your items off at a local charity that accepts what you are eliminating. Visit www.easypeasyliving.com/donatingrecycling for more information and some suggested recipients for your castoffs.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors...we borrow it from our children.”
-Native American Proverb
April 22 is Earth Day...the day we honor and celebrate our beautiful planet! I love Earth Day because this living, breathing, incredible home is the one thing all of us--regardless of race, culture, religion, political ideology, sexual orientation, nationality, or even species--share. This enduring world sustains us, and during the month of April, there are always endless opportunities to return the favor by nurturing nature, conserving and replenishing our natural resources, and cleaning up after ourselves.
And speaking of cleaning up after ourselves, one of the easiest ways we can show Planet Earth some love all year long is to reduce our dependence on harsh chemicals when cleaning our homes. In the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic, there was a heavy emphasis on sanitizing and disinfecting every surface, as fomite transmission was thought to be one way the virus was spread. Scientists have since learned that transmission of the virus through contaminated surfaces is relatively rare. Still, many of us are continuing to overuse chemicals because it makes us feel better. A more effective way to protect ourselves is by improving ventilation, wearing a mask when out in public, social distancing and frequent hand-washing. Definitely once you are vaccinated against SARS-CoV2, you might want to cut back a bit on the harsh disinfectants that can also harm your health and the environment.
“Green cleaning” our homes is also more convenient and easier on your wallet. With just a few versatile ingredients--most of which you probably already have on hand--you can mix up your own non-toxic cleaning solutions anytime you need them.
Compare the cost of a single batch of the commonly-used, chemical-laden cleaners below to the simple, everyday ingredients needed to make multiple batches of the environmentally-friendly versions:
Tilex - $3.99
Windex - $3.19
Comet - $.99
Fantastik - $4.99
Murphy's Oil Soap - $3.49
Windex Electronics Wipes - $2.99
Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent - $8.79
Shout Stain Remover - $2.97
Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Tablets - $4.99
Clorox Wipes - $4.99
Total Cost - $54.54
White Vinegar - $1.99
Water - FREE
Rubbing Alcohol - $.99
Dawn Dish washing Liquid - $2.50
Salt - $.89
Citric Acid - $2.97
Castile Soap with Tea Tree Oil - $6.69
Washing Soda - $3.97
Lemon Essential Oil - $6.99
Total cost - $32.97
Savings - $21.57 (That’s a 40% savings on just the first batch, plus you’ll have enough ingredients leftover to make additional batches for free!)
Cutting back on the chemicals in the cleaning solutions you use is just one way green cleaning helps the environment and saves you money. Consider the benefits of recycling as you clean. For example, instead of buying a new spray bottle of commercial glass cleaner or a jug of laundry detergent every month, refill your own spray bottle and jug with the homemade versions to reduce the amount of plastic your family consumes. Keep all those disposable disinfecting wipes out of the landfill by replacing them with reusable cleaning cloths. Recycle old newspapers for cleaning your windows. Heck, you can even put that old mateless sock to good use over and over again on your Swiffer in place of buying the disposable sweeper cloths. When your t shirts, towels, cloth napkins, and dish towels become worn and ratty, downgrade them to cleaning rags. I save the worst-looking ones that are truly nearing the end of their usefulness for washing the car or in place of paper towels for cleaning up the yuckiest messes before finally pitching them.
My family has been green cleaning for several years now and my house feels, looks and smells as fresh and germ-free as ever. I never have to worry about running out of cleaning supplies, and have saved a bundle of money! The best part is that the solutions we use are safe enough for my kids to help with the cleaning chores without the worry of exposing them to dangerous harsh chemicals. Now that’s a win!
Below are some of my favorite green cleaning "recipes". For best results, store them in glass containers whenever possible (especially if the recipe contains borax, which can weaken plastic over time and create leaks). Some ingredients may be harmful if ingested. Keep solutions away from pets and always supervise small children when using.
Hydrogen Peroxide (the king of green cleaners!)
You don't even need to mix up a solution for this one! This little miracle cleaner has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-mold, anti-fungal and anti-mildew properties and is non-toxic and environmentally-friendly. Use it to:
3/4 c. vinegar
1/2 c. rubbing alcohol
1/2 c. water
5-6 drops Castile Soap w/essential oil
This is great for cleaning kitchens and bathrooms. May not be suitable for all surfaces. Mix all ingredients together in a spray bottle.
1 cup Dawn
1 cup white vinegar
Spray over soap scum-coated surfaces and allow to sit for about 20 minutes. Scrub and rinse clean. (This stuff can be difficult to breathe...be sure to turn on your exhaust fan and/or open a window when using.)
Glass & Chrome Cleaner
1 c. vinegar
1 c. water
Spray onto newspaper or slightly crumpled coffee filters and wipe onto windows, mirrors and chrome in a circular motion.
1 c. baking soda
1/2 c. salt
1/2 c. borax
Works well on kitchen and bathroom sinks and toilets. Sprinkle generously before scrubbing with a brush. Note: this is an abrasive substance and may scratch some surfaces. Do not use on wood.
3/4 c. baking soda
1/4 c. castile soap
1 T. vinegar
1 T. Borax
1 T. water
3-5 drops tea tree oil
Store paste in a small glass jar with tight-fitting lid. Dip clean dish brush into paste and scour porcelain or stainless steel sinks. Rinse clean.
Quick Counter Cleanup Rags
3 c. hot water
2 T. castile soap
1 T. borax
1 cup vinegar
8-12 folded rags
I keep a jar of these at the ready to wipe up everyday spills and crumbs from my kitchen counter and table. Layer half of the rags in a large glass mason jar with tight-fitting lid. Combine other ingredients in a large glass measuring cup or pitcher and pour half over the folded rags in the jar. Layer the remaining rags on top and pour remaining liquid over top, making sure all the rags are saturated. Keep closed and use within two weeks.
Laundry Stain Remover
2/3 cup Dawn
2/3 cup ammonia*
6 T. baking soda
2 cups warm water
*NEVER COMBINE AMMONIA WITH PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN BLEACH!
Spray onto stain and gently rub (not too hard, or you may cause discoloration) before laundering as usual.
3 T. Dawn or Castile Soap
3 T. Borax
3 T. Washing Soda
4 cups warm water
Combine all ingredients in glass container. Shake before using. 1/4 cup per large load.
Electronics Screen Cleaner
1 part distilled water*
1 part distilled white vinegar
Lightly spray cleaner onto a microfiber cloth and gently rub screen to clean. Do not spray directly on device.
*Use only distilled water!
Wood Floor Cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
Combine ingredients into spray bottle. Spray onto wood floor and wipe clean with a dry cloth. Use no more than once/month. Use a simple solution of vinegar and water for weekly cleaning in between.
1/4 cup citric acid
1 cup baking soda
15 drops lemon essential oil
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and press into ice cube tray. Allow to dry completely overnight. Remove from tray and store in a large glass jar with tight-fitting lid. To use, drop tablet in toilet and let sit for 5-10 minutes; then scrub with toilet brush and flush. Clean back, base and seat of toilet with All-Purpose Cleaner.
With a few simple ingredients and the right attitude, even spring cleaning can be easy peasy!
Got an earth-friendly cleaning tip to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Have you ever tried to have a conversation amidst a lot of background noise? Read the paper with the TV blaring? Focus on work with your kids arguing around you? Or even worse, having someone yelling at you while you’re trying to concentrate on, well...anything? These situations leave most of us feeling stressed out and downright grumpy, not to mention unproductive.
But sound isn’t the only thing that makes noise. Stuff...clutter...mess create visual noise that can distract and stress us out just as easily. If you are surrounded by disorder and frequently feel yourself tensing up for seemingly no reason, it may be time to quiet your environment. It’s not as hard or time-consuming as you may think.
Obviously, the best way to maintain a visually quiet atmosphere is to purge your excess belongings, designate homes for everything you own, and then put things away as soon as you’re done using them, but getting that set up doesn't happen overnight. And if you have a spouse, roommate or kids, you know they excel at foiling those plans or at least at slowing your progress in reaching that noble goal. But regardless of your situation, there are still a few things you can do right now in just minutes to muffle the visual noise in your home until you have a chance to stifle it permanently. All it takes is regular (1-3 times daily) sweeps of the common areas where you spend the most time to do the following tasks:
Except in extreme circumstances, these tasks will only take 1-2 minutes each at most and the more frequently you sweep, the quicker it will be each time. After a while, it will become second nature and you won’t even have to think about doing it. I like to begin and end my day with a sweep of the main level and also do one before leaving the house. It rarely takes me more than 5 minutes. Doing everything on the list during your sweeps is ideal, but even just doing a few will make a big difference.
It won’t come as a surprise to those of you with little ones that kids are negatively impacted by too much visual noise, too. They often act out or have difficulty focusing in a cluttered environment. Get them to participate in the solution while they are still young enough to enjoy helping. This establishes in them the habit of regular and frequent tidying, underscores that home maintenance is everybody’s responsibility, and creates a baseline level of tidiness they will strive to maintain moving forward. If they are used to living in clutter, they will become desensitized to it (until it reaches an overwhelming or crippling level). If they are used to a more orderly environment, they will be more likely to maintain it.
Even very young children can share in the room-sweeping task before you leave to go play at the park. Assigning them a different “occupation” each day makes it sound more fun. Here are a few ideas:
If you’re not used to regular tidying, it can feel like a big chore to start. You may even try to convince yourself that it’s just a waste of time to put things away that you’ll be using again later. But remember that the purpose of keeping a tidy home is not to just have a tidy home...it’s to avoid feeling frustrated, stressed and anxious. When things are tidy, you will focus more easily, feel better about yourself, and relax knowing that you can find what you need. You’ll actually enjoy your surroundings more without your mess constantly yelling at you to clean it up!
With a quieter environment, life will become a whole lot easy peasier!
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Valerie Sheridan is a professional organizer, wife, mother of two, and Founder/Owner of EasyPeasy Living.