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Calling all experts - come and give me your No1 tip for decluttering/organising please

(29 Posts)
AddictedtoCrunchies Mon 17-Mar-14 17:42:28

Inspired by the threads on here for organising, tidying and decluttering, I have decided to do it. But I just don't know where to start.

We live in a three bed semi - me, DH and DS (6). DH doesn't have much, DS has lots of cars but they are all in storage boxes so not too much of a mess. Problem areas appear to be:

- kitchen (tupperware and other crap)
- office-y type stuff (paperwork, DS's school stuff etc)
- my clothes blush
- lotions and potions (although in my defence I am being strict and trying to finish off odds and ends)
- the loft. Trying not to think about that yet.

What would you do? Where would you start? What would be your No1 tip to give me just to get the motivation to even start?

Thanks in advance.. thanks

ishouldcocoa Mon 17-Mar-14 17:46:25

Keep calm and make a list - start with the easy stuff, and work upwards (maybe towards the loft?)

comicsansisevil Mon 17-Mar-14 18:26:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AddictedtoCrunchies Mon 17-Mar-14 18:40:17

What is the 20/10 theory Comic?

Housemum Mon 17-Mar-14 19:26:09

Lotions and potions were a big one here - unless you are cash strapped I'd be brave and get rid of a lot. Any unused & sealed body lotions/bath gels etc I had went to the school tombola. I corralled all the shower gels/shampoos/moisturisers together - we had 15 shower gels (21yo DD was to blame for a lot). I put 2 unused bottles of each in the cupboard, took out 1 part used bottle of each to have out to use, and the rest in a plastic box in the garage. Some I didn't like the smell of so just chucked. Every time one was finished, the rule was take another out of the garage box.
I now only have one large-ish make up bag. Technically these things should be chucked after a year or two anyway (unless the bacteria theory is bull made up by the manufacturers to sell more)

Housemum Mon 17-Mar-14 19:30:57

Paperwork - I have 4 ring binders with punched pockets in. Everything is alphabetical (roughly) in there - I label the pockets with categories such as TV licence/gas & elec bill/MOT/VW services/Toyota services/Tax code & P60s - Housemum/Tax code & P60s - DH/mortgage/copy deeds etc. these sit on a shelf on the bookcase. Any new documents slip in the front, and I ditch the old ones. You only need to keep financial records for 6 years. Keep receipts for large purchases (TV etc) in case of insurance claims. (I have another folder called "Receipts and Guarantees). go through the folders once a year at leat to ditch old stuff.
When the post arrives, recycle as much as poss immediately, deal with everything else straight away either by filing it or taking the relevant action. If it needs to be done at a future date, tuck the letter in your diary at the relevant page.

comicsansisevil Mon 17-Mar-14 20:02:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

comicsansisevil Mon 17-Mar-14 21:09:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Mon 17-Mar-14 21:16:12

Buy one of those stamps that obliterate your personal details from paperwork, makes sorting through the mail much easier as you can just stamp and recycle instead of putting stuff aside to shred.

My other best thing is using plastic baskets to organise the contents of drawers and cupboards, makes it so much easier to keep stuff sorted out and where you can find it again.

AddictedtoCrunchies Mon 17-Mar-14 22:22:39

That's brilliant - thanks everyone. I'm writing a list.of all the advice.
I will look at the app too. Am determined that, by the end of the year we will be streamlined. thanks thanks

AddictedtoCrunchies Mon 17-Mar-14 22:23:59

Whoknows - that stamp thing sounds good. Will investigate grin

PolkadotRosa Tue 18-Mar-14 14:11:33

Hello and congrats for starting your declutter/organisation mission! I've been motivated loads myself by threads and support on here and I am much, much better than before I came on here.
My tips would be to finish whatever task you start, e.g never leave a cupboard half sorted out, make your decisions there & then.. Be strong! Remember it's 'stuff' and not worth nearly as much as the clearer home and mind you'll have by sorting it out. Letting stuff go really does get easier the more you do and especially when you start seeing the results. Learning the importance of 'Don't put it down, put it away' has been a massive help in keeping on top of things. Everything should have a place.. The 'toothbrush principle' you never lose your toothbrush, right?!

Maybe grab a binbag and start by getting rid of any obvious rubbish/unwanted items then start organising things into piles eg. Paperwork - after gathering it all together, bin the junk mail etc, sort into kids stuff, important utilities stuff, health docs, banking, insurance, work stuff etc etc then you could put it into labelled a4 files in plastic wallets. I keep passports, marriage licence, birth certificates, - my VIP paperwork(!) - in a separate box file.
Try not to let perfectionism get in the way (I'm guilty of this) as it stops you getting things done! Read this (ignore dodgy title!)

PolkadotRosa Tue 18-Mar-14 14:24:27

Ps not trying to infer that you live in squalor!! And nor do I! Haha. But I am a professional (recovering) indecisive procrastinator! Mantras to help: Better is Good Enough, Make a start on something/anything and you'll be further on than you were beforesmile

AddictedtoCrunchies Tue 18-Mar-14 18:39:50

That's brilliant thanks so much grin grin

Nojustalurker Tue 18-Mar-14 20:42:14

Realise ypu will never finish dexluttering. Just like hoovering or cleaning the bathroom it is another chore you need to do regularlly.

AddictedtoCrunchies Wed 19-Mar-14 08:20:27

Today it begins. I'm going to order a label maker. And after school pick up and reading, I have 30 minutes before swimming lesson that I usually use to MN. But today I'm going to sort the small bookcase in the corner of the dining room.
Only three shelves so should be able to deal in 30 minutes.

What's the theory? If it's not useful or valuable you sling it?

PolkadotRosa Wed 19-Mar-14 09:31:13

Morning. Go you! Yes I use the rule of useful and if it has been used in the last 6/12 months not if it may be useful --but you've already had it for four years untouched or beautiful (do I love it, does it make me smile.. Not just that it was a gift/momento that I feel obliged to keep but don't really like!)
Arm yourself with a bin bag, a donate bag and a 'put where it lives' box/bag then you can sort the books into groups or categories on the shelves.
Let us know how you get on!

Tinkerisdead Wed 19-Mar-14 14:22:26

Get three big tug trugs or similar and focus on one area and you first of all separate into keep or chuck. Only then do you sort through the chuck pile for charity/sell or tip. Its much easier if you just go with the keep/chuck instinct before you start dithering over whether its saleable.

Paperwork. I scan all my kids art work, wait for a groupon offer on photobooks and turn it into an art book. Financial stuff i put into a filing box with fuel, phones, taxes etc all seperated. At the end of the financial year i archive last years stuff into the loft and chuck the box thats now 7 years old, so one in one out.

Toys, always sort when the kids are out. Be ruthless with what you know isnt played with regardless of sentiment. Buy stash it away, loft/garage/shed. If its asked for three times i find it again if not i sell it and make sure the kids get that money.

Photos i make into photobooks as they are less cumbersome than old albums.

Lotions and potions. Chuck or keep pile. Be realistic that you really only need probably a couple of each thing not nine different body lotions five hand creams etc. chuck them out or donate them.

evertonmint Wed 19-Mar-14 14:47:09

Three tips rather than one smile

1. Rather than asking yourself "What should I get rid of?", ask yourself "What do I need to keep?" The grey area between the two is usually the clutter that you need to make the tough decisions about, and you should be aiming to be closer to getting rid of most stuff rather than keeping most stuff smile

2. Don't overwhelm yourself. Break your decluttering into discrete tasks, or give yourself a time frame to accomplish one thing, or an area of focus to be completed before you move on to something else. I'm currently focusing on the kitchen. I have a big plastic box in the corner of the kitchen. So when I'm waiting for pasta to boil or sausages to cook, I go through one drawer and get rid of anything that is a duplicate, old, broken, unused etc. It's taking me a couple of weeks but that's ok - I've lived with this stuff for so long, what's another few weeks?

3. Deal with post as it comes in. Even if you can't actually process bills etc until later, immediately put the empty envelopes and any junk mail into recycling and have a letter rack to put the bills in so they are at least neat and findable until you're ready to deal with them.

justkeeponsmiling Wed 19-Mar-14 16:32:19

Placemarking! There are some really great ideas here!
I am currently decluttering and spring cleaning the whole house. I'm a perfectionist - thank you polkadot for a very interesting link on this, I have always suspected that my "condition" has held me back from getting on with things and it was a bit of a revelation to finally have it confirmed in black and white.
So, I'm trying to give the house an almighty clean up but I've been worrying about how to keep on top of things afterwards and not to let things slide into chaos again, so thanks for some really inspiring suggestions smile

AddictedtoCrunchies Wed 19-Mar-14 18:00:00

So DS's swimming was cancelled tonight. A sign? grin

I attacked the bookcase that was full of everything except books. It's now tidy and everything is labelled. We have a Lego park, a Lego garage (all broken Lego in separate sandwich bags ready to be rebuilt), games stacked neatly and two plastic crates of cars on the bottom shelf.
A carrier for the charity shop and a couple of bits for younger cousin. Am really pleased.
Then I went upstairs and put all the clean washing away and did all the ironing. Am SERIOUSLY polishing my halo now grin
Going out for a run shortly then I shall relax with my tea and a glass of wine.
Thanks for all your guidance. Tomorrow I'm going to do DS wardrobe. smile

AddictedtoCrunchies Wed 19-Mar-14 18:02:06

Oh and I also sorted my necklaces which had been on the floor after the sticky hook had fallen off. Found a tie and scarf holder on the bookcase downstairs which is perfect for them. But I did put some in the charity bag too.

stuckindamiddle Thu 20-Mar-14 08:55:03

Whoknows - where can I buy a stamp like the one you mention? Sounds handy.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeGoes Thu 20-Mar-14 09:21:41

I've got the green one at the top, but there are lots of them. Tip - don't buy the expensive refills, just buy a bottle of rubber stamp ink (got that from amazon too) and refill the existing pad as needed.


Technical Thu 20-Mar-14 09:30:13

Do 15 minutes every single day. Honestly it really is amazing what you can get done in 15 mins and in a month or two you'll have made a real difference.

You really need to get rid of "stuff" rather than try and organise it though.

I quite like Flylady's tip of getting rid of something similar every time you buy new. e.g. when you put new shoes away, you need to find a pair to send off to the charity shop.

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