If you often race to get out of the door in time, then this post is for you. Be organised and try to make sure there is a place for everything. Tidy up after yourself when you come in. Plan ahead and get ready for leaving.
Read on for more detail.
Is this your scenario?
Tearing about the house with your heart thumping, followed by a rushed scramble for the door is not a good start to any journey. Halfway down the path, halfway down the road, you’re asking yourself ‘Have I got my [insert name of something essential]?’ ‘Did I pick up the [insert name of something else essential or perhaps even not essential at all]?’
There’s adrenaline all over the place, it seems, accidents happen and then you’re suddenly exhausted.
A smooth exit is altogether a better look, and it’s one to pull off again and again. Much better for your state of mind and your state of health too, come to that.
Let’s work out how to be organised and do it.
A place for everything …
You probably know this proverb:
A place for everything and everything in its place.
This has the potential to be a game-changer, even though it’s been around since at least the early 17th century. A place for everything and everything in its place gives you a strong foundation for smooth departures from the house.
You need a good place for these important items.
Keys. Some people have a bowl by the front door, a key rack or a key press.
Coats. A cupboard, the back of a door, a rail – whatever you’ve got, make sure you use it.
Bags. Put them on a shelf, a cupboard or a special bit of floor.
Put the keys in their special place so you can find them. And the sunglasses too.
Put the shopping away.
Put your phone on to charge if the battery tends to run down quickly.
Be organised and have a system to process things (swimming stuff, for example) when they come back into the house.
Be organised and plan ahead
If you know you’re leaving the house tonight or tomorrow, run through what you’re going to need and get things ready in advance.
Do you need work or other special clothes? Choose them and lay them out or hang them separately. (I keep my decluttering clothes together, my gymn clothes together and so on. Having school uniforms together also helps a lot!)
Iron your clothes if you need to and clean your shoes.
Do you need to take a packed lunch, a water bottle or a portable cup for takeaway coffee? Get them ready.
Your ordinary bag, your briefcase, your gymn or swimming things, your library books? Anything else you need?
Have you got change for the bus or parking or a locker or a school trip? Don’t be caught out: not everything can be done with a card or a smartphone.
Lay the breakfast table the night before. It simplifies decision-making and cuts down on movement around the kitchen.
There you have it
How to be organised and get out of the door in good order. Even if there’s a last minute change of plan like I had this morning, laying these foundations will help you take off as smoothly as possible. Good luck!
Paperwork is the single most annoying thing in most people’s homes. In this post I’m going to tell you how to be a paper warrior and to keep it simple. We’ll cover stopping paper and paperwork getting into the house, keeping it all in one place and taking immediate action, and dealing with it once a week. We’ll also look at filing, and emergency action when it’s all got out of hand.
Paper and paperwork? It’s a force of nature. It’s often unrequested, and it gets dropped and forgotten. It ends up in piles and heaps all over the house and attracts more clutter as it goes. We’re talking about forms to sign, magazines, junk mail, bills, catalogues, newsletters, newspapers, letters, postcards, lottery tickets, raffle tickets … And all the rest.
Yes, paperwork when it’s out of control is annoying. And piles of paper are the thing we notice most often in other homes – long before dusty corners or unwashed mugs and plates.
What’s more, paper and paperwork when it’s out of control is very unrestful. That’s because it’s unfinished business. How can anyone relax with unfinished business about? They can’t.
What a long way from the paperless paradise we heard about a few years ago. Time to be a paper warrior!
Be a paper warrior and be strategic
Take control. This is the only way to prevent paperwork becoming paper clutter.
1. Stop as much paper and paperwork as possible from getting into the house.
2. Put all the paperwork that does make it inside in one place. Deal with as much as you can immediately. Put the rest in your in tray.
3. Set a regular time to deal with your in tray.
4. Have a simple filing system and use it.
1. How to stop paperwork getting into the house
Prevent junk mail
You can stop quite a bit of junk mail from getting through your letterbox by registering with these four organisations:
Mail Preference Service – a service funded by the direct mail industry to remove consumers’ names and home addresses in the UK from lists used by the industry.
Royal Mail Door-to-Door – opt-out form. (Be aware that registering to opt out means that you will not receive leaflets from central and local government and other public bodies. This includes unaddressed voting and election material, and information about local recycling and so on.)
Review and reconsider
Review your subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. If you don’t read them then it’s time to stop them coming through the letterbox. You could consider a digital subscription.
Reconsider any magazines you buy in shops and from newsstands. Are they one-off or regular purchases? Once again, do you read them?
Manage your ‘paper and paperwork’ online
This is a good idea but, of course, it can generate more email. (Keeping that under control is a story for another day!)
Online, you can, for example:
manage your bank and other financial accounts
pay your council tax through a direct debit
manage your utility meter readings and bills
read magazines and newspapers
keep a ‘look book’ for design projects on Pinterest.
2. Keep all paperwork in one place and, if you can, deal with it immediately
All paperwork in one place
This will stop it from going walkabout in the house. Choose a place and use it. It doesn’t matter what you call it – ‘command centre’, ‘landing pad’, ‘my desk’ – put all your paperwork here and do that consistently.
Deal immediately with as much paper and paperwork as you can
This takes away paperwork’s power to clog up your head with unfinished business.
Recycle immediately – junk mail flyers, unwanted catalogues, takeaway menus, other adverts, free directories, spare envelopes etc etc etc.
Shred immediately – charity request letters and other junk mail with your name and address on.
Open letters (I use an old vegetable knife to do this quickly and easily). Recycle or shred the envelopes and anything else you can.
Do what you can straightaway. Then it’s done and out of the way and out of your head! Sign school permission slips and reply to invitations, send money to school or other places. Note any important dates. Once again, recycle or shred anything you can.
Put the rest in your in tray. This will probably be paperwork to think about, file, scan and so on. (By the way, you don’t have to use a tray. I like using one because it keeps things straight and I know I’m going to go through it at the end of the week. For some people it means that things get buried. Choose what makes sense to you.)
3. Set a regular time to deal with your in tray
Every successful paper warrior I’ve met sets a regular time to deal with their paperwork. It’s usually once a week and it becomes a habit. They focus on their in tray and whisk through it, quickly and effectively.
Work through your in tray.
Sort through it. I put similar things together so I’m dealing with them all at the same time and I don’t have to change gear.
Write letters and cards.
Take action on anything else that requires your attention.
Recycle or shred what you can.
File what’s completed.
Some paperwork will need more information before you can deal with it. Other papers you may be undecided about. Put those back into the in tray for next time.
4. Your filing system
Know what paperwork you need to keep and for how long.
Have a filing system. Keep it simple.
Only file what you need.
What you need to keep
There are some papers to keep because they are essential and other papers to keep because they may make life much easier for you in the future.
Papers that are essential – for example, birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, examination certificates.
Other papers to keep (and this depends on you and your circumstances) – for example, school reports, current passports, business documents, some financial documents.
The main thing here is to make it easy for yourself, so choose a system that will be easy to use! You want to be able to file paperwork quickly and without fuss – and to find things again quickly and without fuss. Depending on your circumstances, you could choose a filing cabinet, a concertina file, a banker’s box (these are the right size for files or folders) or other boxes.
Set up simple main categories that make sense to you, and label each folder or file accordingly. You could have one for each person in the house, each animal in the house, bank and other financial institutions, health, and business, for example. And each main category can be divided into sub-categories, if necessary.
5. Emergency action
This is for when your house is awash with a sea of paper. Or perhaps it’s the house of someone who is ill or has recently died. Emergency action is required.
Walk through each room and collect all the paper and paperwork. Put it into a bag or box.
Find a space where you can sort it. Sort all the paper and paperwork into three piles:
Anything you need to keep. You can get to this later.
To shred. That’s unwanted paperwork with names, addresses or financial details.
Recycling. That’s everything else.
Good luck with decluttering and organising, Paper Warriors!
A quick tidy up is simple and makes a big difference. Take 10 minutes to clear the decks and stop clutter building up. Set the timer and work through each room, clearing the surfaces and putting stuff where it should go – junk mail in the recycling, clothes in the laundry basket, crockery in the sink or dishwasher. You can get quite a bit done in 10 minutes and you’ll feel much better about how things look.
Places you can declutter in the bathroom
Declutter those small bottles of bubble bath, hand and body lotion and soap from hotels where you’ve stayed. Yes, they remind you of holidays past but you’ve probably got photos. Toiletries do go off, you know, and they also collect dust and grime in the bathroom. Have a clean sweep. You deserve it!
Do you actually like all those mugs you’ve got in your cupboard? Are there simply too many of them? Are there some that you never, ever use because they’re chipped or downright embarrassing? Wave bye-bye to mugs you don’t like and say hello to space in the kitchen.
Herbs and spices don’t last forever, you know, and fresh ones make your food taste so much better than stale ones. Go through your collection and throw away those with little or no smell, and those that are past their best by or use by date. Invest in new herbs and spices and taste the difference!
If you haven’t used those small packets of sugar and condiments from takeaways by now, then you probably don’t need them. Fish them out, chuck them in the bin and wipe the shelf or drawer clean. Trust me, you aren’t going to miss your mini soy sauce collection.
More places you can declutter quickly
Let’s face it: you don’t really need those old biros, bits of crayon, broken pencils and feeble felt pens. Crank up the music, sit down at the table with some scrap paper and find out what works and what doesn’t. Tip: include those pencils that will never sharpen properly because their lead is broken all the way down.
Is there any house without a bag of bags, often bags for life? Probably very few. Use the bags for your charity shop donations or just hand them straight over to smaller local charity shops which don’t have their own branded bags.
Declutter the bedside table so you can find things in the dark without spilling your glass of water. Give the table a dust and polish and you’ll have a much better night’s sleep.
If you love growing plants, as I do, your collection of plant pots seems to grow as well and soon becomes clutter. Luckily, more and more garden centres are recycling them. Get rid of pots which are broken, very small or an odd size or shape.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by chaos at home, this is a good place for you. In this post I’m going to talk about how you can start to organise things at home and get things running more smoothly. I’ll look at small steps you can take towards having a home where you can relax.
Take small steps and you will soon move from overwhelmed to organised. You’ll feel much better overall, and you’ll have a sense of calm.
Two recommendations for organising your house
First of all, focus on just one area at a time, such as one room or one drawer or one shelf. Make the area quite small because then you won’t be overwhelmed. In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew!
Don’t be distracted. Focus on just one area at a time and you will see good progress quite quickly.
Secondly, most of us are busy people without much time. Fit in just 20-30 minutes of decluttering and organising every day and you’ll soon see a difference. Set the timer if you like!
Decide on your goal
It’s tempting to have a huge and ambitious goal like ‘I want to sort out everything in the house, the garden, the car and the children – oh and work too! As soon as possible and definitely by the end of next month!’
It’s a great goal but, realistically, decluttering and organising a house takes time. Let’s break the big goal down into do-able chunks. That means that you won’t be disheartened, you’ll be able to keep going and you’ll make steady progress.
The size of your do-able chunks will vary, depending on how much time and energy you’ve got. One drawer or one shelf at a time is absolutely fine.
Many people start with organising the area that annoys them the most. It might be shoes all over the place, for example, or piles of paperwork.
Make a note of the problem areas that really niggle you. Also make a note of any ideas you’ve got about why these areas are problems.
Choose whichever area makes sense to you, set the timer and get started!
Make a big difference straightaway by putting all the obvious rubbish in the recycling or the bin. Great!
Things you want to keep but which belong somewhere else in the house. Try to keep similar things together because it will help you to decide what to keep and how to organise them.
Things to be mended
Things to give to people or organisations who would appreciate them and make good use of them
Any recycling or rubbish you’ve overlooked.
As soon as possible, get the recycling and the donations out of the house. Go round the house to deliver those things that should be elsewhere.
Great work! This is a good start!
Now on to organising
Here are a few questions about different places and spaces in your home. Take your time to think about the best answer for you. You could try a few things out until it feels right.
Q. Are your items in the best place?
Do you keep things near where they are used? For example, is the bread knife near the bread and bread board? Are cups and mugs near the kettle?
Grouping things together with other similar items makes sense. You will probably have to rethink where you keep some things as you work through organising your home.
Q. Does some things have no permanent home at all?
That could be why they keep going walkabout. Keys, for example, seem very keen to disappear. Some people swear by always putting their keys in a bowl near the front door. That’s a good place – if there is somewhere to keep the bowl. Where would make sense for something like this in your house?
Q. Does this area of your home do what you want it to?
If it does, that’s terrific. If it doesn’t, can you change things around or compromise a little? I know that sometimes it’s just not possible, though, because space is limited. It’s often difficult to fit in a drum kit, for example! Time to do what you can and be creative!
To label or not to label
Some people are mad keen on labelling as part of organising the home. Others? Well, they are not so keen. I think there’s a happy medium somewhere between.
Labelling certainly helps in bringing groups of things together, such as all the Christmas cards ready for next year, the spices, the medication or the batteries. And grouping items together helps you know what you’ve actually got. That means you don’t waste time trying to find things, or buying duplicates.
Secondly, labels distinguish between similar items such as keys.
Labelling also helps other people in the household or visitors to find what they are looking for. And maybe to put things back after they’ve used them!
Whether you use a label maker or make your own labels is your choice!
Learn from other people
Remember how you made a note about particular problem areas? You’re definitely not alone here! Keep your eyes open for how other people have met similar problems because their answers might work for you.
Shoes in the hallway? Would an over-the-door organiser work? What about more shelves?
Plastic lids that keep falling out of the cupboard? Does each one have its own container and would a box keep them all under control?
Finally, could a professional organiser help you to organise your home?
If you’re overwhelmed with stuff, short of time and can’t see the way through, Uncluttered or another professional organiser would be pleased to help you. Getting professional help is a great step to take. That’s because we’ll help you to decide exactly what you’re aiming for, and we’ll work with you to get there. It makes it all do-able. (And we won’t be shocked or judge you.)
You know what’s actually in your house, your office, your car – and where it is.
No more buying things you’ve already got. You’ll stop thinking that thing is somewhere but where on earth is it?
You have a warm heart when you give things away, pass things on to charity or recycle.
Helping you see and appreciate your special things.
You have space – floor space, hanging space, space on shelves, space in the airing cupboard, space on the landing, space in the shed, space in the garage, space in the office … You get the idea.
There is room to think your thoughts.
Everyday life runs more smoothly. It’s so much easier.
There is calm.
It seems you have more time.
You find you have more money, or less money going out.
You can respond to unexpected events.
Somehow you feel so much lighter.
You’re able to move forward with your life. You feel more optimistic.
Making a start with decluttering
How do you make a start with decluttering? The short answer is however it suits you, because if it suits you then you will carry on doing it. The key to successful decluttering is to be aware of clutter and to keep at it!
Some people like to declutter all in one go, following the celebrity declutterer Marie Kondo. (She emphasises what to keep, what ‘sparks joy’, rather than what to discard.)
Another way is to declutter a bit at a time. Some people do this whenever they’ve got a moment or five minutes or half an hour.
Then there is the challenge way. Some people set themselves a challenge – decluttering 10 things every day, for example. Or just one thing every day. That’s 365 things in a year!
It’s perfectly possible to declutter on your own but it’s OK to ask for help! Working with a professional organiser and declutterer helps enormously because they keep things moving and make the process fun and productive.
Read on for some tips and tricks to help you declutter successfully.
Boxes help you declutter successfully
Set out four boxes.
Box 1 is for things you want to keep but which belong somewhere else in the house. You know, those slippers in the garage that should be in the bedroom, the toothbrush that lives in the bathroom but has ended up in the kitchen, the homework under the chair that should really be in someone’s room.
After that, there’s Box 2 for things to be mended. Be realistic about this. Do you still need this item? Are you able to mend it and – the crunch question – will you ever do it?
Box 3 is for things you no longer need that you can give to people or organisations who would appreciate them and make good use of them. For instance, someone might love your 1980s cardigans because they love ‘vintage’ clothes. Similarly, a charity shop could sell those ornaments you don’t like. That sort of thing.
Finally, Box 4 (or perhaps a bin bag) is for those broken or useless things whose time is up. The broken cardboard box that can no longer hold anything at all. An old crisp packet. The jammed stapler that hasn’t worked for years and will never work again. Old newspaper cuttings.
Categories help you declutter successfully
Sort items into categories so that all similar things are together. Work on just one category at a time, using your keep/mend/give/throw away boxes.
Here are some examples of categories. And a few questions which might help you decide what to do.
All the little black dresses. Which ones do I love? Which ones don’t I like very much? Do they fit? Are any the same?
The crime fiction. Will I read any of these books again? Did some frighten me too much to finish? Are there any duplicates?
All the plastic storage boxes. Do they have lids? And do they fit? Are there lids without boxes? It’s likely that one or two are stained or even smell.
The children’s jumpers. Do they still fit the children? Are they in reasonable condition? Maybe there are jumpers that nobody will ever wear.
The garden tools. Are any broken beyond repair or downright dangerous? Are there any you don’t use at all and can never envisage using? Could a specialist charity make better use of them than you?
Donating and recycling your decluttered items
Recycling your unwanted items, by giving them away or donating them to a charity shop or taking them to your local recycling centre, gives you a lovely warm feeling.
Clothing and other items in good condition are welcomed by charity shops up and down the land. Many also accept clean rags if they are in a clearly marked bag. Always drop off your donations when the shop is open so they reach the right place. You could give to a charity which you support or drop donations off at a place which is easy to reach. Some charities have larger units on industrial estates or retail parks. Unopened food still in date can be given to food banks.
Depending on where you live, the waste collection service can make it easy to recycle your unwanted possessions. In other places it makes better sense to take things directly to the recycling centre. Check online what facilities your local authority provides.
Congratulations! Now you’ve decluttered successfully, what next?
What hard work! Well done! And what a great achievement! Above all, I hope you are basking in your newly decluttered environment and enjoying every moment.
Unfortunately, though, it’s all too easy for clutter to creep back into your life.
Stay alert to the dangers and be aware when clutter appears in your life. You know what to do then: put on your decluttering hat and shoes and get to it!
Uncluttered is a professional organising and decluttering service in North Wales. Our base is Parc Menai, just beside the Britannia Bridge on the Gwynedd side, so we’re ideally situated. It’s moments to Anglesey, just a short journey to Pen Llyn and Meirionnydd and not very far along the coast to Conwy, Denbighshire and beyond.
We are also happy to work further afield. Recent clients have been in Dorset and London. Get in touch for a chat and let’s see what we can do. If we can’t help, we’ll certainly know someone who can!
I think I need help with sorting, clearing and organising stuff. Oh, and paperwork! Do you do this kind of decluttering in North Wales?
We certainly do, and we work further afield as well.
Getting professional help is a great step to take. That’s because we’ll help you to decide exactly what you’re aiming for, and we’ll work with you to get there. It makes it do-able. (And we won’t be shocked or judge you.)
What sort of jobs have you worked on?
Firstly, helping households run more smoothly. The old saying ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ really does makes a lot of sense. If you don’t take determined action to keep clutter under control, it has such a nasty way of building up. Yes, we’ve been there!
Then, moving house. Getting ready to move, managing to sell a house and then moving into a new place takes a lot of work. In short, we can help you make the most of your old property so it sells, and organise the new property so it’s easy to live in.
Bereavement touches all of us, and affects us in different ways. Often the best thing to do is to wait a little while, if you can. There’s such a lot to do, though, after a death in the family or the death of a friend. That’s why engaging an understanding professional organiser for some (or all) of what has to be done can help enormously.
And then there is, for example, paperwork, clothes, kitchens, garages and garden sheds, books and art collections … In other words, you name it and we can probably lend a hand with it!
What do you do with everything that’s decluttered?
It depends entirely on what the client wants, but most items are usually recycled at a recycling centre or a charity shop.
Do get in touch if you think we can help you
If you think we can help you with professional organising and decluttering in North Wales and further afield, do get in touch.
You’ll find our contact details under the ‘Contact’ tab.
Decluttering is just one word and it can offer you so many gifts. Amazing! I’m feeling festive and thinking about The Twelve Days of Christmas, so I’ll have a quick look at twelve gifts, but there are more. Let’s look at other gifts decluttering gives you another time.
Ready? Off we go …
Decluttering gives you knowledge, a warm heart …
1. Knowledge. You know what’s actually in your house, your office or your car. So no more buying things you’ve already got – they are somewhere but where? Like screwdrivers, sellotape, the other sock … And that’s just S in the alphabet.
2. A warm heart when you recycle or pass things on to charity. You don’t need them any more but charity shops do and their clients benefit. Recycling is good for us all. Help the love go round.
3. Appreciation of those special things you choose to keep. Don’t hide them away in a load of clutter. Give them room to be seen and to shine.
4. Space. As my art teacher used to say, look at the space in between things. It has value all of its own. Luxuriate in it!
Decluttering gives you thinking room, opportunity …
5. Thinking room to think your thoughts. When there’s clutter everywhere – or even just somewhere – it can be hard to find room to think your own wonderful thoughts.
6. Opportunity to organise things to suit your lifestyle. Everyone benefits when everyday life runs more smoothly. Everyday life running on fumes is hard work.
7. Calm. No more needy ‘stuff’ at home, chirruping that it needs attention. No need to think that you’ll sort it out one day. You’ve done it. (And decluttering is good at work, too.)
8. More time. What a luxury! How will you spend it? Looking after yourself is a good choice.
Decluttering gives you lightness, a springboard …
9. More money, or less money going out, at the very least. That’s because you make fewer last minute desperate purchases, you don’t buy duplicates and you’ve got more time to plan ahead.
10. You’re able to respond more easily to unexpected events. Whether it’s a lovely surprise or an emergency, you’ve got more in the tank.
11. Lightness. You’re no longer weighed down by all that clutter. That’s got to be good for your health.
12. A springboard to move forward. Where will it take you when you’re no longer held back by stuff?
Decluttering helps the world go round
I give presents to people I love and value, and to myself. It helps the world go round. Decluttering is a brilliant thing. It gives you so much, at this time of year and all through the year.