Category Archives: Hot Spot Check Up

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

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

Have you missed seeing my clutter pictures? Look no further! Clutter Island: Before Pictures

Hi Everybody! I hope you have been having a fabulous summer! I have. It’s just been really nice to spend time with my family. I love my family!

I really, really, thought I was going to get my house back in order (as much as I can do “order”), but I haven’t gotten very far. I’ve hinted at it before, but things really fell apart around here when I went back to work last year. I’m going to be brave and post a picture I took in May:

Clutter, clutter everywhere

I know. It’s craziness. This was a “before” picture. We worked on it the same day and improved it (especially all of the random stuff on the floor), but I never took an “after” picture because it just didn’t seem like enough improvement to me. It’s not like I cleared the kitchen island or the desk or the big stack of boxes of junk.

Oh my dear Kitchen Island, a.k.a. Clutter Island.

The last time my island was clean and clear was around October of last year. I kept taking before pictures thinking I was going to get it cleared, but I never did. So here’s a progression of clutter over several months in pictures! Fun with clutter!

Clutter Island in January:

January 2013 Kitchen Island

Clutter Island in March:

March 2013 Kitchen Island

Clutter Island in June. Layers of Clutter, People, layers!

Kitchen Island 6-20-13

Clutter Island in July. In case you are wondering about those red and white legs sticking up. That’s a decorated Santa container. Yes, Santa. Yes, July. That’s a Christmas DVD there, too.

Kitchen Island 7-20-13

Now this is when I decided to do the old 15 minute timer thing and work on it in chunks until it was done. Here’s a progress picture from a different angle. Well, there is some white space, right? And a cute boy!

Kitchen Island 7-31-13

I wasn’t getting very far with the 15 minute strategy, even over several days.

And then… I found some new inspiration that I can’t wait to tell you about but this post has gotten so long I’m going to leave it for the next post. Can you believe I’m leaving you in suspense like this?!

OK. I will tell you that I did clear my island!!! Not only that, I’ve learned a lot about my clutter. Does that sound weird? Anyway, I’ll be back soon to tell you how I did it and with some process pictures and after pictures. Yippee!

Are you having a great summer? How are your cluttery spots doing?

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Hot Spot Check Up: The Entryway – Week 2 | Shoe bins

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week, we’re continuing to work on the entryway. 

Well, hello there! Wow, it’s been quite a week around here. We had a stomach bug hit us and now I am just trying to catch up on everything. Thankfully, we are all better now, and back to our regular activities. So let’s take a quick look at the entryway, shall we?

This before picture was actually taken on Tuesday or Wednesday:

I admit it! I’m the one with too many shoes here.

I wanted to try the container idea that at few people have suggested, so I went on a little hunt around the house and found these:

I really should have put prettier shoes on the top there. Oh well. It's the real deal here.

Now we are going to skip along to Sunday for a new before picture:

Those shoe bins have been working well so far. I have one for grown up shoes and one for kid shoes.

I only needed to work on things for about 5 minutes to get it looking like this:


I’m happy with that! I do have more ideas for that closet, though. And my lovely readers shared some great ideas in the comments last week. We’ll check back in on this clutter hot spot next week.

Other Updates:

  • I’m still planning to show you some fun before and after pictures from the kids’ room. Hopefully this week!
  • I hope to get the menu plan for the week up tonight. I need to decide what to make with one cooked chicken breast…
I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing.

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Hot Spot Check Up: The Entryway | Week 1

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week I’m looking at the entryway. Actually, I needed to do more than just look at it. 

Isn’t it so nice to come home, take of your coat, and kick off your shoes? That’s what we like to do.

See?

It’s just so nice to have your coat and shoes right by the door so that you can just put them on as you walk out the door.

What’s not nice is that there are 5 of us doing this in a rather small space, and with more than one pair of shoes each. They do start to accumulate, don’t they?

I picked the entryway this week because it was just driving me crazy and causing us to waste time as people tried to dig through a pile of shoes and coats before leaving the house. It was driving us all crazy I suppose, so I knew it would bless my family if I could work on fixing it up.

I started out setting the timer for 15 min, just to see how far I could get. I was able to pretty much get everything sorted in 15 min.

These are all of the shoes that were in and around that closet.

Here’s the laundry pile, kitchen, and trash/recycling.

And these were the things heading upstairs.

This is a large pile of give away/sell/return-type stuff. Some of it is leftovers from the yard sale. It’s all still there right now, but maybe we can deal with it this weekend.

The next step was removing items that didn’t belong there or that we don’t need/want at all, and organizing what was left. Gee, seems so simple sometimes. Our current rule is that each person can keep 1 or 2 pairs of shoes in that closet. So, we’re back to that maintenance problem again, because we obviously haven’t been following that rule very well.  The kids helped deliver all of the extra shoes and things to their proper places.

And here’s the after picture!

And here’s a peek into the closet.

Much better! I’m thinking I’ll stick with this hot spot for at least a couple more weeks to see how things are going. Plus I have some ideas that might help that coat closet.

Is your entryway a clutter hot spot, too? If you have any tips or ideas to share, I’m all ears!

I’m linking up at OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing!

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Hot Spot Check Up: Revisiting Kitchen Island

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week I’m returning to the kitchen island, which is the hot spot that started this whole thing to begin with. 

Oh, Kitchen Island, how I’ve missed decluttering you! 

Here’s a before picture:

I actually took a second before picture from a different angle just to show you that I did at least have a small area that was clear… (Am I just trying to make myself feel better here? Whatever works!)

Here’s the after picture:

The story with the island seems to be the same as with most areas I work on. After it gets cleaned up and decluttered, I’m able to keep it looking nice for a while, and then just a few things are sitting there out of place or “just for now.” and it still looks pretty good…

But then those items start to invite all of their friends. And those friends invite even more clutter friends until it’s a wild and crazy clutter party.

I’m thinking maintenance is key. Need to work on that.

I’m so happy to have my island looking clean and clear. I’m a much happier cook with more space. And there’s a more peaceful feel to the kitchen this way as well. And I do have some cooking to do…

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Hot Spot Check Up: Desk – Week 7 | Success!

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. I’m currently working on my desk, including a box of paper clutter I filled up from the desk several weeks ago. 

Do you know that I was so excited to get to the bottom of that paper clutter box, that I didn’t even stop to take a before picture? It looked pretty much the same as the after picture from last week.

I went to work, but I didn’t set a timer, because I was determined to get to the bottom of that box and I wasn’t going to stop until I was there. I knew I could do it. And it sure helps that I told you to expect it!

Now, are you ready to see a thing of beauty?

I really debated about whether I should do something creative or special at the bottom of the box, but then I decided…

No.

I’m going to let the elegance of this empty cardboard box stand on its own.

 

 

Maybe I should frame that picture for inspiration. There are many more boxes to go through!

Here are my sorted piles and the very full recycle box:

I filed the To File pile. Yes indeed.

Mr. RSS’s pile is ready for him. Marvelous.

The Take Action pile moved to the desk. AND you’ll be happy to know that I took some action on several items. Maybe those of you with a keen eye can even see the difference.

Of course I did some other decluttering and organizing on the desk, too.

Here’s the desk before:

Here’s the desk after:

What I’ve learned in the last 7 weeks:

  • Even though my progress was slow, I worked on the desk and the paper clutter every week in small chunks (usually with a timer). Slow and steady wins the race, right? I’m creating good habits. It doesn’t happen overnight. Here’s where I started 7 weeks ago.
  • Mail – open it right away (or at least the same day!), recycle the junk, file right away, and of course have a place for things that need action (for me, on the desk next to the computer).
  • Accountability works. Thanks for checking in on me. You motivate me. I hope I can motivate you, too.

I think I’m ready for a new clutter hot spot. Next week, I’m going to revisit the kitchen island, since some of you (OK, 2 of you) have requested to see how it’s looking these days. And I do want to revisit this desk in the not-too-distant future. There’s more work to do here for sure, but for now it is under control.

So after I revisit the kitchen island, what should I work on next? Some places I’m considering:

  • The “entryway” (coat closet and hooks by the front door)
  • The top of the stereo cabinet
  • The kitchen counter by the dishwasher/phone
  • Another idea from my lovely readers?

 

And by the way, how is your desk looking today?

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Hot Spot Check Up: Desk | Week 6

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. I’m currently working on my desk, including a box of paper clutter I filled up from the desk several weeks ago. 

OK! I’m feeling some good progress this week. Doing the hot spot check up with the desk has helped me to be more aware of all of the paper around the house. And we have been doing a good job of not letting the mail pile up. Most of it goes right to the recycle bin. Yay!

I worked on my paper clutter box for 15 minutes, timed.

Here’s the before:

And I had the papers all nicely sorted, too. Then I ran out of time to deal with all the papers and unfortunately left them right where they were for a while.

When I got back to them, they looked like this:

Hmpf. I had to redo some of it to get it back to this (the box with the clown paper is the recycle box):

Do you see how close we are to the bottom of that paper clutter box?? Next week, baby. Empty paper clutter box. Come expecting to see it.

Then I filed the file pile. Yes!

I put Mr. RSS’s things on his desk. Yes!

And I put the take action pile on the desk with the other take action stuff. Ye….mmm….Okay.

But I did go through the take action pile a little and got rid of a few things. OK, I picked some easy ones!

Then I worked on the desk. Here’s how it looked before:

And after:

I even did some dusting on the desk! Woohoo!

Other Updates:

  • The yard sale prep is going really slowly. I hope to get more done tomorrow!
  • I started working on a cleaning and decluttering schedule for myself! I’ll be sure to post it when it’s finished!

 

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Hot Spot Check Up: Desk | Week 5

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. I’m currently working on my desk, including a box of paper clutter I filled up from the desk several weeks ago. 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to move on to a new clutter hot spot. But I’m not going to let myself move on until I get this paper clutter box emptied and the “Take Action” pile caught up. So I’m using that desire to move on as part of my motivation to get the job done.

And yes, I know that even when I move on to a new hot spot, I still need to keep working on this one. Grrrr.

I mean…..grrreat!

Another thing I need to revisit is how paper flows in, around, and out of the house.

I’m pretty sure there’s a better system than this:

Paper enters the house > Paper sits in pile > Pile moves > Pile sits > Pile moves > Paper falls on floor > Paper moves to new pile > Pile sits > Paper is processed (usually recycled because it is now old and unnecessary)

Paper clutter box before (Yes, I added some things last week when I was getting ready for some friends to come over.):

I set the timer for 15 minutes and got to work. After 6 minutes had passed, I stopped the timer because I was having a little panic moment with a bill that I found. It became a really urgent action item.

The good news is that when I checked it out, it had been paid in full. Whew….because I think it’s pretty important to have car insurance. Of course if I had a system working, I wouldn’t have had to waste that time.

Later in the day, I set the timer for 9 minutes so that I could finish my time.

Paper clutter box after:

The bag is for recycling. The Mr. RSS pile (my favorite) is to be handed off.  I filed the file pile! I added the take action pile to the desk……but I also worked a little on that pile, so it wasn’t getting bigger.

Desk before:

Desk after:

How are your clutter hot spots doing today? 

Other Updates:

  • Good: I finished 6 things on my To Do list today! Not so good: Didn’t do dishes.
  • I really need to figure out a way to get more sleep!

 

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Hot Spot Check Up: Desk | Week 4 | Old Datebook

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. I’m currently working on my desk, including a box of paper clutter I filled up from the desk a few weeks ago. 

Here’s my desk picture for today:

And….. I don’t have an after picture today for the desk. But I did do some work on my paper clutter box.

Here’s how it looked last week.

I worked on it for 15 minutes (timed) and here’s how I did (That recycle bag was almost empty when I started):

 

See that pink date book in the box? I had it in my hand, and then I put it back in there because I couldn’t decide what to do with it. It’s hard for me to get rid of old datebooks. It sort of tells about my life for that year.

But maybe it’s not telling about the really important things.

On rare occasion the old ones have helped me with tax information or birthdays.

Now I’m thinking maybe I could let myself keep them for just one extra year. What do you think?

I did take time to deal with most of the sorted piles. But my Take Action pile on the desk is growing faster than I would like. I did take some action on dealing with some health insurance stuff today though!

Even slow progress is still progress, right?

Maybe I wasn’t super inspirational today, but I can direct you to someone who inspired me with her attack on paper clutter. Check out what Megan did over at Declutter Daily.

I have some friends coming over tomorrow after dinner, so you know what I’ll be doing with any spare time I can find! I have a feeling the desk will look a little better by tomorrow night.

 

 

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