Category Archives: Before and After

Kickstart to Clutter Free: Day 3 – Kitchen Counters!

You know what this means for me. Kitchen Counters = My dear sweet kitchen island gets to be uncovered again.

Here’s where we started this time:

Clutter Island 2000

It could be worse, right? A little worse?

For some reason I didn’t feel as overwhelmed as I usually do by this task. That makes me happy.

By the way, those Star Wars oranges are delish. Much better than regular oranges.

I actually remembered to start the timer this time. So after 15 minutes:

papers on island

Of course. Papers! Grrrr.

I set the timer for 15 more minutes:

100_9583

I recycled a bunch, and these are sorted small stacks.

I decided to go for 5 more minutes to see what I could do. I’m wild that way.

Oh! I almost forgot to show you this Easter basket that I found (yes, in the kitchen, in January).

I put all of the kids’ things that I found on the island in there for them to put away. I left that as one of their chores for the morning.

kid stuff to put away

(Not sure what the story is with this picture in the basket, but apparently there is a stolen lunchbox situation. “Hey! You took my lunchbox!” “Hands up!”)

The 2 piles behind the basket are for me and the hubby.

So here is what is left. A pile of mail and a small pile of papers for me to deal with.

Not Too Bad Island

 

Time for bed! It’s not perfect, but I have to get over being perfect so that I can make progress and not wait for the “perfect” time to be able to make it “perfect.”

Ack! I just realized that I forgot to count the things I decluttered this time! It was supposed to be 25 things. Things I got rid of included: trash, papers (mail, coupons, receipts, cards), and food. The rest of the items were relocated to their correct home. I just counted the papers from my recycle bag and there were 25 there, so let’s call it 30. Whew!

How are your kitchen counters doing? Getting rid of any clutter there?

I’m taking Kathi Lipp’s ecourse Kickstart to Clutter Free. If you are interested in the ecourse, you can read more about my thoughts on it here.

Next stop is the home office, whatever that means for you. Looks like I will be getting rid of more paper….

This post contains affiliate links, so if you buy something from clicking one of those links, it helps keep things running around here. Thanks! 

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up, Paper Clutter

Kickstart to Clutter Free: Day 1 – Paper!

Here we go! I’m so excited to be doing Kathi Lipp’s Kickstart to Clutter Free e-course! Day 1 was paper. The assignment was to get rid of 100 pieces of paper.

Kathi thought this might be a hard one for people. Not me!!! Do you know why? Because I have gobs and gobs of paper clutter!

I am really really good at collecting and keeping paper that I don’t need!

Here’s a before picture of my “desk”:

paper clutter

 

I decided to go for a section where I mainly keep the kids’ school related papers, because I knew that most of them could be recycled. I grabbed a huge stack and started going through them quickly.

For this class, each decision counts as an item. So a stapled pack of papers would count as one if you just need to basically look at the top piece and decide, but one piece of paper can also count as one. I had both situations here.

To help me keep track, I grouped the papers I was getting rid of in stacks of 10. I am so distracted, I knew I would lose count if I tried to count all the way to 100 at once.

Here are the papers I recycled. There are actually 310 here! Yippee!

kids school papers

This is the stack of papers I am keeping:

keep papers

And believe it or not, I actually put these papers where they needed to go!

This “Stay at Home” tray is now cleaned out!

Paper tray for school papers

Here’s the “after” picture of the “desk”:

Some papers gone

 

Okay, so there’s lots more to do here, but 310 papers out the door is a great start!

If you are interested in taking the e-course, you can sign up hereIt’s not too late! You can start anytime. You can read more of my thoughts about it here.

Have you decluttered any paper lately?

This post contains affiliate links, so if you buy something from clicking one of those links, it helps keep things running around here. Thanks! 

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Weeks 7: The 365 Declutter Challenge – House Guests!!! Before and After pics, too!

Hi Everyone! Sorry I missed doing a week 7 update! I’m hoping to get week 8 posted tomorrow and then I’ll be caught up.

Here’s what happened: Our dear friends who live out of state called to let us know they were coming into town for a funeral. I offered to let them stay here if they needed a place to stay. They accepted!

A couple of crazy things about this:

1. Am I crazy??? Have you seen the state of my house?? Serious disaster area!

2. This is a 3 bedroom house. We have 5 people in our family. They have 7. Last time I checked that means 12 people in a 3 bedroom house. Crazy! But super fun, too!

A couple of good things about this:

1. We were motivated to clean and declutter. We had to, or people would be standing, sitting, and sleeping on clutter.

2. These are awesome friends (they were both in our wedding). They know us well enough not to expect a super tidy neat and clean house.

Well, Mr. RSS was not kidding around about making progress in the basement. Here’s what he was able to accomplish in less than one day.

Ready?

Before:
(FYI – these are before pics I took in January, so that rocking horse is in the pictures even though I got rid of it a few weeks ago):

cluttery basement

After:

basement progress

Before:

basement clutter party

2 After shots:

Yay!

Much better

What went out the door?

3 old computers

old computers

2 shoes (actually 3 individual shoes – 1 pair and 1 single), a book/cartridge from an old LeapPad (water damage), and a bag of miscellaneous clothes and kid stuff (I counted this as 10 things)

shoes, book, cartridge

7 boxes of mostly clothes (I counted each box as 15)

boxes of clothes

Soooo that means I had a lot of little x’s to make….

121 things out the door!

121 things out the door for week 7!!!

In summary: My husband is a decluttering rock star.

What have you been up to? Any decluttering?

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Week 1: The 365 Declutter Challenge – Easy Bake Oven!

So, I decided to get rid of 365 things in 2014. Oh! And I decided on a name for the project: The 365 Declutter Challenge!

Here’s what’s leaving from week 1:

week 1 decluttering

The goal is 7 things each week. This week I have gone to 11!!

What’s Heading out the door?

  • An Easy Bake Oven!!! I always wanted one of these as a kid and I never had one. (Boo hoo.) So when I had the chance to get one for free from someone at church, of course I jumped on it! How cool! And we had so much fun with it…about 3 times. And then I realized that this thing is a lot of work to make 1 teeny tiny little itsy bitsy cake. Wouldn’t it be more fun to just use the real oven and make a big cake? Then I just went ahead and left that Easy Bake Oven in my kitchen cabinet for about… 4 years. Until now! This one is sneaking out the door. And now I have more space in that cabinet!
  • 7 miscellaneous small toys – the kids helped with these. The (off brand) “Mega Bloks” are from a set we already gave away.
  • The stuffed dog. The dog was a sweet gift. And it looks just like our old dog who died. Which is why this thing has creeped out the adults in this house too many times. It looks too real when you just catch a glimpse of it from the corner of your eye. And it’s watching you. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. I didn’t tell the kids I was getting rid of it, but they don’t play with it anymore. I’m sneaking it out. Here’s a picture of our real Snugs. She was the best dog!

Chillin' on the dock

  • 2 pots – One has a coating that is peeling badly and I’m not interested in eating that stuff with my food, the other one I just don’t use. Here’s a before and after of that space:

decluttering pots and pans

 

How I’m keeping track of my progress

I found this great super-easy chart for tracking decluttering from Nourishing Minimalism. She is doing a 2014 in 2014 Decluttering Challenge, which is so awesome but a little too overwhelming for me right now. You just have to subscribe to her mailing list to get the printable chart for free. Of course you can make your own or keep track in other ways, too. But this was perfect for me. I put a red border around the 365 box so that I can see my goal a little better, but I’m hoping to go past it and I think 2014 things is a great stretch goal for me.

Keeping track of decluttering thanks to Nourishing Minimalism

 So how is your decluttering going? I would love to hear about it in the comments! It’s not too late to join me on this challenge!

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Goals, Kids

Decluttering with Clutter Interrupted!

Last week I showed you lots of clutter pictures, especially of my Clutter (Kitchen) Island. I also told you that I found some new inspiration. Now you get to read all about it and see some progress and an after picture!

Here’s the story.

I was visiting one of my favorite organizing blogs, I’m an Organizing Junkie, and she was talking about how she was interviewed on the Clutter Interrupted Radio show. Well, I love listening to podcasts while I do household tasks like dishes and laundry (so that I’m not bored out of my mind), so I was all over it!

Once I heard the show (the hosts are Tracy and Chelle, by the way), I was pretty much hooked. So I listened to all of the archives, too. And they have great blog posts to go along with each radio show topic each week, too. Sweet!

Now for the show that inspired me and changed my thinking about my constantly cluttered kitchen island. It’s this one: Next Stop. The Clutter Zone.

On that show and in a blog post, Tracy and Chelle talk about the 3 Steps to get Started Organizing your Clutter Zone.

Here they are:

Step 1: Ask, “What is in the clutter? Why?”

This is the one that was earth shattering for me. WHY is this clutter here??? WHY? Why didn’t I think about the why before?? Maybe it was just the right timing for me to really hear this, or maybe it was my auditory learning kicking in, but it was like a lightbulb went on.

Later I remembered that I actually have analyzed my clutter once before. When I decluttered my master bedroom. That might be the only time.

Of course I needed to figure out why this island keeps getting cluttered and then make changes to help us keep it clear. And I’m not talking about a  general/big picture-type analysis, I’m talking details.

I actually wrote down a list of the things I found on the island and tried to think of why they were there. No, I didn’t write down every single item, but I did notice trends as I was writing things down. This is just the front side of the paper to give you an idea of what I did.

100_6994

Step 2: Reenact: Reality first. Ideal next.

In this step we are supposed to “reenact” what happens when we put things on the island and then talk about what the ideal situation would be. The way I did this was sort of interviewing my family members (except the 3 yr. old) about why they put things on the island and leave them there.

Gabe (7), had a cheery response, “It seems like a great place to put it.”

Ok! Let’s find an even better place!

This step fit in really well with adding to that Why list I made.

Here are some of the reasons that came up more than once:

  • Item doesn’t have a “home”/Don’t know what to do with it
  • The place to put it is too hard to get to, or already overflowing with clutter
  • Keeping things “safe” (away from the 3 yr. old, usually)
  • Keeping things (usually paper) handy, because some action needs to happen with it, or it has important information to refer to later.

I sort of forgot to talk to everyone about the “ideal” part, but I know at least the adults in this house want everything to get put away in its own proper place (and some of those places are yet to be determined). There.

Step 3: Use END CLTR to organize your clutter zone.

END CLTR is an acronym for Tracy and Chelle’s signature organizing method. It gives you the steps to follow to organize a space. You can read more about it in this blog post where they used END CLTR to do a Mud Closet Makeover.

So here’s how it went for me and the island:

E: Empty

Start by emptying the space. I do this for some decluttering projects, but for some reason I haven’t done it with the island. I usually just pick and plod away at it trying to get everything put away. It wasn’t working most of the time.

So I grabbed some boxes and bins and started removing everything from the island and categorizing it as I went, which brings me to the next step….

But first I have to say that it felt SO GOOD just to get all of that stuff off that island!

N: Name Piles

THIS is all the stuff that has been cluttering up my island! Seeing it this way also helps with the “What is in the clutter?” question. There was more paper than anything. A decent amount of kid stuff, kitchen stuff, and look at that trash/recycling that was just sitting on my island!

Categories of clutter from the kitchen island

D: Decide

This is where we decide what to keep, donate, and relocate. Most of this stuff just needed to be put away in the correct place.

I put away the kitchen stuff (had to throw away a few things). I put an apple bookend in the donate bin. I put the arts and crafts stuff in the arts and crafts bin (which needs its own decluttering). I gave the kids’ stuff to them to put away (I may have thrown out a few things first).

C: Contain

The fact is, I don’t want much on my island at all, so I don’t want to do too much containing of stuff there. Right now I have 3 things that should “live” there (and they could get kicked off, too): My fruit bowl (Which should only have food, not toys and paper!), my pretty flour container, and my paper towel holder.

Here’s my BIG idea for the kid/toy clutter that I know will end up there unless I can invent a force field for protection. I’m going to keep that blue container (from the picture above) in the kitchen and whenever I find toys and such on the island, I will put them into that bin. Then it’s the kids’ job to put it where it belongs! I hope you love that idea, because I do!!

Now about that paper clutter. Huge amounts of paper clutter. Guess what? I have a solution worked out thanks again to Clutter Interrupted! One new thing I have is an inbox, but that’s not all. I’ll tell you all about it and show you pictures in my next post! I can’t wait to show you!

L: Label

Not necessary in this case. 🙂

T: Test/Treat

Now I need to test things out and see how they go. Right now things look good. I know a lot of it is just putting things away every day so that it doesn’t pile up to an overwhelming state. I may need to test out some different places for my inbox. I’m trying to pick a place that is not actually on the island, but near it.

I’m planning to test things out until October 1st, because that is about a month into the new school year, and you know school = clutter.

Can you believe I almost forgot to put a before/after shot in this post? The after picture is the “Treat” part of this T.

Clutter Island Before:

Kitchen Island 7-20-13

Kitchen Island After!!

Kitchen Island!!!

R: Revisit

On or about October 1st I’m going to revisit the kitchen island and see what is working and what needs to change (if anything). I’m going to put that date on my Google calendar to remind me.

Thanks Tracy and Chelle from  Clutter Interrupted  for helping interrupt my clutter!

And in case anyone is wondering, I am not affiliated with Clutter Interrupted in any way. I just love what they are doing and wanted to share!  🙂

I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you have a clutter zone where you would like to try this method? If you have any additional ideas for me, I always love to hear those, too!

I linked this post up with the Organize It! Link Party.

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up, How To, Kids

Cleaning and Decluttering Progress in the Kitchen

I’ve  actually been doing pretty well at doing cleaning/decluttering projects with the kids lately. We pretty much do at least one project a day. Cleaning their room, sweeping the floor, wiping cabinets….that sort of thing.

I’m actually on kind of a cleaning kick lately, which is strange….but good.

One project we did this last week was the kitchen floor. First we did a big sweep. We put things away and threw away the trash and dirt. My plan was to do some spot cleaning, thinking that over several days we could get through the whole floor. Well, I guess we were on a roll, because we did the whole thing in one afternoon!

The kids asked if they could put sponges on their feet so that they could skate around the kitchen to clean the floor.

My answer: Of course!!

They had fun trying it, but it didn’t really work as well as they had imagined.

We kept on cleaning anyway! The kids were into it. Maybe a little too into it at times, but it all worked out and we got it all done!

Simple pleasure? Walking barefoot on that floor without stepping on little bits of who knows what. The floor feels so smooooth now.

 

I’ve also been battling with the infamous Clutter Island. This picture is from Thursday:

This is how it looked on Friday:

And here’s how it’s looking today!

I don’t really love that big pile of papers, but let’s just say this is a big improvement!

Coming Soon: A BIG toy decluttering project. That’s right. We already started. Later this week [Edit: Or early next week!] I’ll post the before pictures and the progress we’ve made so far.

Have you been working on any cleaning and decluttering projects? I’d love to hear about it.

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The entryway closet: A new solution for shoes | Before and After

I am so excited to show you the progress I made in my entryway over the last couple of days! I picked up a shoe organizer from someone on Freecycle hoping I could use it in the entryway coat closet, and I am thrilled with how it’s working out so far. Of course, I couldn’t declutter and organize the closet without also working on the space around it. I went a little picture crazy on this one, so hang in there!

Here’s the before picture of the entryway area:

Yes, that picture was taken just a couple of days ago. Yes, it’s July. Yes, those are Christmas hats and winter coats.

Here’s a closer look in the bottom of the closet:

The last time I worked on the entryway, these bins were my solution to the shoe problem. I knew they weren’t perfect, but they were an improvement. Keep reading for my new and improved shoe solution…

A before of the whole closet:

Time to get started!

I took everything out from the bottom shelf down. Part of my grand plan was to actually remove the bottom shelf. Here’s some of the closet stuff:

Next, I vacuumed the closet. At this point I wondered if I could just move into the closet. You know, live in there. It’s so calm and peaceful in there. It was a nice thought.

So I had 6 coats and jackets there (one is not shown in this picture):

Mr. RSS had 11 coats and jackets in that closet. The irony of this is that I am always cold and he is always hot. I wear coats and jackets all the time (sometimes even inside the house), and he hardly ever needs one. Go figure.

I am getting rid of one of my coats and I moved one up to my closet upstairs. Mr. RSS is getting rid of some of his coats/jackets also. For now, I moved 4 of my coats and 5 of his back into the closet.

Here are some things that moved upstairs at least for the summer.

And here are some of the things that are going out the door:

I removed this add-on shelf:

Are you ready to see my new solution for our shoes? Here it is!

In case you are wondering, the lady who gave it to me (through Freecycle) said she got it at Target. I don’t even think she used it at all. Score!

This makes it SO much easier to grab our shoes and put them away. We each have 2 slots.

And now I actually have a place to keep my vacuum so that it’s not just sitting out wherever we used it last. A place for everything, and everything in it’s place, right? We’re getting there.

And now I present the organized entryway….

Before:

After:

I can close the door to the closet now!

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

And finally a view from the stairs…

Before:

After:

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Decluttering and Organizing Food Storage Containers

My cabinet where I keep all of my plastic food storage containers has been bugging me for a while. It’s basically an avalanche waiting to happen. I can’t even tell you how many times in the last year I’ve taken before pictures of this cabinet. But this time I finally did something worthy of posting an after picture!

I found this before picture from a year ago.

And here’s my most recent before picture.

Time to declutter and organize!

The Steps

1. Take everything out of the cabinet.
2. Wipe the inside of the cabinet clean.
3. Match up containers and lids.
4. Get rid of items that are damaged, disliked, mismatched, unnecessary, or just not fitting well in the space.

I used to keep lids and containers separate. I kept the lids in a bin and stacked the containers. One problem was that I simply had too many lids and containers. It was a pain to dig through that container to find the right lid.

Another problem was having too many different, yet similar containers and lids. I would pull out a container and lid that seemed like they should fit, but they wouldn’t! I have wasted way too much time with this process.

I had tons of lids that had no bottoms! These are all lids that were extra!

5.  Arrange and organize the items you are keeping. Make sure they fit well in the space so that it is easy to find what you need and easy to put them away.

Here’s my after picture!

At some point, I would love to switch over to mostly glass containers, like this Pyrex set, but for now I will use what I have.

How are your food storage containers looking?

This post contains an affiliate link.

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Guest Post: Office and Craft Supply Cupboard | Before and After

A new feature I’m starting here on Ready Set Simplify:  Guest Posts and Reader Pictures! I asked what you all thought about this idea on my Facebook page a week or so ago, and everyone seemed to like it, so we are giving it a try! If you are interested in writing a guest post or if you just want to share some before and after pictures to help inspire all of us, click the contact tab and send me an email telling me a little about it. I’ll let you know if I think it will be a good fit to share here.

Here’s our first guest post by Katy, from Purposely Frugal. I read Katy’s blog regularly and enjoy her frugal ideas! Frugality and simplicity go together, I think. She also writes about small space living. You might enjoy this tour of her home.

 

I’ve been doing some sorting and organizing around our little travel trailer home. I usually just do one spot a week. I wanted to show all of you some of the results, because I love seeing how other people organize and thought you might too!

Here’s the cupboard under our TV where we keep office supply and craft type stuff.

As you can see it was in need of some help! I worked on it a little one night but didn’t finish it.
When I finally got around to working on it again, it looked like this….

…so yeah, not much better than before. 🙁

This time I finished it though!

One of the things I did to try and be more organized was to make use of the many empty folders I found. I’m hoping this helps cut down on the papers that seem to always be sitting around the house, just getting moved from one shelf to another. I made one for my daughter’s drawings, one for old letters I want to hang onto, one for loose coloring pages, and  one for e-books that I’ve printed out. Now I just need to be faithful in putting papers away in their designated folder!

How do you organize your office and/or craft supplies?

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Junk drawer? What junk drawer? Oh! The organized drawer!

I’ve been decluttering along with Simple Mom’s Project Simplify this month, and last week the topic was closets, drawers, and countertops. Well, since I focused on the countertops already (and my counters still look pretty good, by the way!), I turned to the junk drawer. That seemed like just the right speed for me last week: 1 drawer.

Here’s what we were working with:

I know it looks maybe a little like a trash drawer, but really, there’s some good junk there. I piled it all up on my nice clean kitchen island and started sorting.

Mr. RSS deemed me to be a rock star for finding the plug for our rechargeable work light. Ella was thrilled that I found her little black Lego hat. See how decluttering and organizing makes everyone so happy?

I knew that I needed to do some containerizing to um, contain some of these items in an organized way, so I went on a little search to find some things that would work. I am always able to find something around the house. Most of what I found was from The Crazy Cabinet of Avalanche-Ready Food Storage Containers. Perfect.

And of course some things I put in other places that made more sense and some things I tossed or recycled.

Now for the napkin notes. I love making these for my little girl to find at lunch. And they so often seem to come back in the lunchbox still clean (just maybe a little wrinkled), so sometimes I save them and use them again on a busy day. Plus I’m turning a napkin into a sentimental thing, so that sort of makes me want to keep it, too.  I had way more than I thought in there, though. I took some pictures, and I think this will help me feel a little more free to get rid of at least most of them. Maybe save a few?

Here are some examples of what I found:

 

Sometimes I use them as a flashcard, like that 8+2 one up there. The answer is on the other side.

Now I have them by the other napkins instead of crumpled in the junk drawer.

And now….

Here’s the finished drawer!! The organized drawer!

Let’s talk about those twist ties. Are you laughing at me for keeping so many? Mr. RSS was. I don’t know why it was hard for me  to throw those away. I’m sure I don’t need that many. Although I’m sure someone has posted something on Pinterest with a cute crafty idea for these, right? In fact, I thought of one myself. A garland!

Then of course there’s twist tie jewelry. Come on. Who hasn’t made a ring out of these things at some point in their lives? Mr. RSS even made a nose ring out of one. Too bad I didn’t get a picture of that.

How is your junk drawer doing? Do you have anything interesting in there?

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