Tag Archives: simplify

I’m Decluttering 365 things in 2014!

Declutter 365 Things in 2014 with Ready. Set. Simplify.

Hey There! I want to do a post giving you all kinds of updates on what’s been going on around here, but I just need to tell you about this first.

This is one of those ideas that has been hanging out in my mind, and then in my drafts folder for too long – It’s time for action! Here we go….

There’s this problem I have as I go around my house trying to declutter, organize, and just clean up. I often want to put things away and there’s just no room to put it away.

Examples:

  • I want to put away a medicine bottle, and the medicine cabinet is already full.
  • I’m working on this paper decluttering project, so I go to file something, but my file cabinet is full.
  • I want to put away my pitcher, but that cabinet is already so full, it can’t close all the way.
  • My daughter has some new hand-me-down clothes that are sitting on the floor because there is no room to put them away.

It’s frustrating in that moment when I’m trying to do the right thing and put something away, but it won’t fit.

It’s not because all of these spaces are too small. It’s because there is too much stuff in this house!

I know. Shocker.

Money Saving Mom did a Clutter-Busting Challenge in May where she challenged everyone to get rid of 7 things a day for the whole month of May. I really wanted to do it, but I knew at that time there was just no way. (By the way, I’m super excited about her new book coming out in January: Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.)

I read Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, and she also got rid of 7 things a day for a month. I was really thinking about trying it and posting here on the blog, but I just didn’t think I could keep up with that pace.

Then I remembered Megan’s blog, Declutter Daily. Her plan was to get rid of 1 thing a day for 365 days. I’m pretty sure she got rid of more than that. I miss that blog, and I always thought that was such a fabulous and simple plan.

So that’s what I’m planning to do:

365 things out the door in 2014!

That’s 1 thing a day. 7 things in a week.

I can do this.

My plan is to post about the things I’m purging once a week. You know I need something like that to keep me accountable!

You can’t trust me to declutter on my own.

Rules:

I might need to make up some rules as I go along, but the overall goal here is to get rid of lots of stuff, not get bogged down with rules. Here are a few thoughts I have going into the project:

Paper clutter: I’ll count a good-sized stack as 1 thing.
Regular household trash/recycling doesn’t count.
A set of 50 marbles counts as 1 thing, not 50.

Want to join me?

Boy would I love it if some of you wanted to do this with me. Let me know in the comments! If you want to join me, you can simply share your updates in the comments of my weekly blog posts.

Or, if you have a blog and you want to blog your updates along with me, let me know, and I’ll figure out a way to do one of those link-ups. (That would be so fun!)

I’m wondering if I need a special name for this project, like “The 2014 Purge” or “Declutter 365” or something. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Happy New Year and Happy Decluttering in 2014!

Check out the other posts in this series:

Week 1: Easy Bake Oven!
Week 2: The clothes didn’t fit in the drawer
Week 3: Lots of kids’ clothes!
Week 4: Kids’ books
Week 5: The Purple Coat

This post contains affiliate links.

37 Comments

Filed under Declutter, Goals

Another Reason to Simplify: Unemployment

Way back at the start of this blog, I listed 5 Reasons why I want to simplify. Well, here’s another one: Unemployment. I debated for quite a while about whether I should mention it here on the blog or not, but I have been realizing lately just how relevant it is to the topics here. Plus, I feel like you guys are my friends, and I just feel like letting you know.

Mr. RSS has been unemployed for several months now, and this has certainly caused us to make more moves towards simplifying.

-We aren’t buying a lot of unnecessary things.

-We aren’t going to extra events that cost money, unless it is free or someone else is treating us

-We cancelled cable TV

-We cancelled our home phone (This was actually one of the hardest things for me.)

-We are getting rid of things by selling them. In some ways, this actually slows down the process of getting rid of things, because this is more complicated than just bringing them to Goodwill. Some things will still be donated, though. I’m trying to post at least one thing for sale each week. Last week I posted 2 things on Craigslist. They haven’t sold. I think I’m going to try eBay and see what happens there.

-I am trying to simplify meals and make more frugal meals.

There are some things related to unemployment that are not really simplifying, too.

-We are both trying to bring in some income in various ways, so that can be a little crazy with schedules and such.

-Stress/anxiety/discouragement – It’s there all right. The good thing about this is that it gives us opportunities to grow in faith. Here are a few Bible verses I remind myself of often (maybe not often enough!)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:6-9

I also just want to say that we have been so blessed on this journey. God has provided for us and encouraged us in so many different ways and through so many different people. Perhaps I will write more about that another time. And I will keep you posted on the job situation, too.

Have you ever dealt with unemployment?

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Filed under Life

Hot Spot Check Up 5: Kitchen Island

Here’s the picture for today:

Not great, but of course it has been much worse.

I generally like to keep things light around here, but I have to tell you that I’ve had a tough day today. I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed.

I’m doing  a little better now. I’ve been praying about it all – that is so good for me. My sweet husband is a great encouragement to me, too. And I had some chocolate cake and tea (see pictured above).  Now I need some much needed rest. And I do have hope for tomorrow. Starting with right priorities, then one bite at a time, one step at a time. And not in my own strength.

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Filed under Cleaning, Clutter, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up, Life

Hot Spot Check Up 4: Kitchen Island – and a picture question

Here I am at the 4th week of my kitchen island hot spot check up, and as much as I didn’t want to start it, I actually don’t want to stop! If you want to catch up a bit, here are links to the first 3 weeks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3 (scroll down for the picture)

The whole accountability/public humiliation thing seems to work for me, so I’m going to go another month and then maybe move to a different spot. We’ll see.

Sometimes I have really quirky blog ideas. Like maybe giving my kitchen island a blog of its own. Sort of like a 365 blog, except that I post a picture of my kitchen island every. single. day.

Quirky? Yes.

Crazy? Maybe.

A little obsessive about my kitchen island? Probably. Just a little.

Today I’m going to show you 2 pictures, both taken at approximately 10:09 AM yesterday. I often seem to have this debate with pictures that I take for the blog. When the light is low (indoors plus rainy day in this case), should I use the flash or not? Which picture do you prefer here:

Without flash:

With flash:

Sometimes I don’t have much of a choice because I can’t get the camera (a digital point and shoot) to focus in low light, but here I at least caught one shot that was decently focused. And then there’s the “flashy” one.

Either way, the kitchen island is not bad, eh? I’m happy with it.

And by the way, I’m feeling really motivated to do some fabulous before and after pictures sometime soon. I’m craving some big impact somewhere around here. There are lots of places to choose from!

I’m linking up with Works for Me Wednesday, over at We are THAT Family.

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Filed under Blogging, Cleaning, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up

Hot Spot Check Up 2: Kitchen Island, and Thanks! (I’m talking to you!)

Time to check on the island! I decided that I would give myself a deadline and take a picture at 10:00AM today.

Just for fun, I took a picture last night at 10:00PM. Here it is:

Let's just say we really know how to fill up space around here.

And here’s today’s “official” picture:

Better than last night, not better than last week.

 On a happier note, I’m celebrating 6 months of blogging, and what I really want to say, is…

Thank You!

Thank you for reading!

Thank you for stopping by.

Thank you for commenting!

Thank you for your encouragement, your advice, your comradery.

Thank you for putting up with me!

I am blessed by you!

I have learned so much in these last 6 months of blogging, and you, dear readers, are a big part of what keeps me going! 

Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with me.  It means a lot.

What would you like to see in the next 6 months? Is there an area/topic you would love to see me tackle? I would be happy to hear if you have ideas or requests for future blog posts.

And if you want me to just keep trucking along doing my thing, that’s good too!

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Filed under Blogging, Cleaning, Clutter, Declutter

Hot Spot Check Up: Kitchen Island

I do love my kitchen island.

And I love to put stuff there.

Lots of it.

Everyone does. If you came over, I bet you would put something there.

It’s a big clutter hot spot for me. It’s a nice big flat space and it’s just out of the reach of our 1-year-old. It’s a  great work space. It’s just begging you to put something there.

The problem is that too many somethings are put there and not cleaned up and put in their proper place, and then other somethings get put on top of those, and so on and so forth…

The status of my island makes a big difference in how my home looks and feels. My post Island Watch 2011 gives a pretty good summary of how bad the island gets – with pictures of piles of clutter.

I am going to post a picture of my island every week for the next four weeks (I think every Wednesday) to help me keep it under control. It looks like it might work, because I stayed up last night and cleared it off.

So here’s a picture of the kitchen island today:

Other Updates:

  • The kids and I picked up the kitchen and living room, we swept the living room, and the kids picked up the basement/play room/family room themselves. Yay!
  • I still need to clean out the fridge and finish the kids’ clothes project.
  • I still need to go through those “hiding” baskets and boxes of clutter. My goal is to get through one basket by Monday.

What is your worst clutter hot spot right now?

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Filed under Cleaning, Clutter, Declutter

Man on a Mission, Woman on a Journey

On Saturday, Mr. RSS was on a decluttering mission. Watch out. Don’t get in the way. The man gets focused and stuff is going out of the house!

He was moving so fast that I couldn’t get all the before and after pictures, but here are a couple of pictures of clutter loaded in the car, ready to go!!

BIG artificial Christmas tree, baby gear

Printer, TV, TV stand

It’s so interesting how different we are in how we declutter. We have the same goals, but the process is different.

 
Mr. RSS’s typical decluttering process:
 
  • Pick an area, or just pick stuff up that is sitting around the house (usually larger items)
  • Make quick decisions, move quickly, sort quickly(if required),
  • Get the stuff out of the house ASAP

He’s really about action, focus, impact. The end result is always great, but it can be a little crazy when he’s in his focused mode of decluttering! He doesn’t declutter as often as I do (of course he’s at work most days), but he does get a lot done in a short period of time. Sometimes he is tossing with such abandon that important things can get accidentally tossed, and I need to watch him closely to be sure he doesn’t toss one of the kids!

My typical decluttering process: 

  • Pick an area
  • Sort things
  • Decide what needs to go, pausing to think about each item
  • Organize and clean up
  • Put the clutter leaving the house in a bag/box/pile and place it somewhere waiting to leave the house
  • Take the clutter to the car and deliver

It’s not usually a fast process. I’m thoughtful about it. Too thoughtful, I think. I debate with myself. I get distracted. Sometimes I can complete a project in a day, but this process often takes days or months because I stop working on one project to start another one, or I just need to deal with daily tasks and responsibilities. But when the project is finally done, it looks great!

Since Mr. RSS moved the extra TV and stand out, I was inspired to get the basement family room/playroom back together. So check this out:

We started on the project about 5 min before this picture was taken. I brought the toy organizer down from the kitchen and dumped all of the (unorganized) toys/junk from the bins into the white laundry basket. We used baby wipes to clean the bins.

I got them started, then left them to work on the sorting/putting away and told them to get me when they were ready for me to inspect.

When I came down to inspect, they had made great progress. I helped them with finishing up.

There were a few things we just weren’t going to get done that day, and that was OK with me, because we were making progress. We did not get under the furniture. We did not get to this pile that was originally a decluttering pile of black trash bags, but that has changed over time and it now needs a project of its own.

Some things were added to that declutter pile, and here’s the trash:

And now the finished project!:

I know Mr. RSS and I are both learning a lot in this process, and I think we can really learn from each other. We balance each other in many ways, and I think we are on our way to being a great decluttering team!

What does your decluttering process look like? Is it different than others in your home?

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of organizing. Check it out for simplifying inspiration!

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Filed under Before and After, Cleaning, Clutter, Declutter, Kids, Toys

Where to start decluttering? 7 questions to help you (and me) figure it out

Let’s just be super clear that I am not currently a decluttering expert. I am a person on a decluttering journey. I have a long way to go, but I have been making progress.  Today I have some advice to share as someone who has struggled with clutter for as long as I can remember. It can be very overwhelming. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

Here are some questions that can help you figure out the best place for you to start decluttering, or figure out what to work on next. I have used all of these questions at one time or another. Often more than one at a time. See which ones motivate you to get started. Or just pick one and go for it!

1. What bugs you the most? Is there an area that is just driving you crazy?

For me:

2. What will make the most impact? Pick a room/area where you spend a lot of time, or the first room when you walk in the front door, or areas that guests will see.

For me:

    • Living room – the first room you see when you walk into our home
    • Coat closet
    • Bathroom
    • Kitchen

3. What will save you time in the long run? Get ahead of the things that make you fall behind. Would you be more efficient in the kitchen if you had a clear counter with  no dishes in the sink, and a refrigerator where you can actually find what you need in 5 seconds or less? Oh yes!

For me:

    • Paper clutter 1, 2 – Too much time spent digging through piles of papers just to find that one very important paper that I need!
    • Laundry/clothes – You gotta love digging through laundry baskets or piles for that one shirt.
    • Kitchen island – Having a workspace ready saves me time!
    • Refrigerator/pantry

4. Is there an area to declutter that would bless someone else in your home?

For me:

    • Car – Mr. RSS cleaned it out the last time, but I know it would bless him if I can keep it clean!
    • Living room
    • Bedroom

5. Is there an area to declutter that would bless someone outside of your home? Declutter and give things away to people who actually need or want them!

For me:

    • Clothes
    • Baby stuff
    • Toys
    • Kitchen
    • Basement – Oh wait until you see more of my basement!

6. Is there an area that will save you money, or potentially help you earn money?

For me:

    • Coupons – sitting around in piles isn’t helping so much
    • Toys and other clutter that could be sold
    • Refrigerator/pantry (wasting food = wasting money)
    • Paper clutter  – This can keep me from paying late fees (Grrr!) or missing a check!

7. What can you accomplish in a short time to get a taste of success? Pick an area you can finish in 15 min. or less. Start small.

For me:

    • Cookbook shelf
    • Bathroom vanity
    • Kitchen counter
    • Pick one drawer or shelf in the kitchen or bedroom

After writing this out I think my next new project will be the kids’ rooms/clothes. That is driving me crazy, it will save me time, and it can bless others!

How do you decide where to start decluttering? Do any of these questions help you? What will you declutter next?

23 Comments

Filed under Declutter, How To, Motivation

We took a little vacation

Going on vacation is such a treat, but the getting ready to go part can be really stressful. It’s taken me a long time to realize how much time I really need to get ready to go. I know that the more I work on this whole simplifying thing, the easier it will get, and ultimately it will not take quite as much time. Here are some snippets of how things went this year.

I knew that I was behind on laundry, so I planned to catch up with laundry 2 days before we were leaving, then the day before was scheduled for packing. That kind of planning is progress for me!

I didn’t get to all the laundry the first day, so some of it got bumped to the packing day. I usually sort all of the laundry on the bed and then pick out which items to pack. It sort of works.

I think organized people must pack directly from their closets and drawers. Maybe I should try that sometime. Like when I’m all caught up on laundry and it’s all organized and put away. That could happen.

I had to get my suitcase from the bottom of the stairs, where it has been living for the last several months leading a double life as a baby gate.

Look at that! We found another area to declutter!

Guess what the fabulous Mr. RSS did to get us ready for our trip? He cleaned out the minivan! We were getting ready to spend about 9 hours in the car, so this was very helpful!

Before:

After:

I actually forgot to take the “after” picture until after the trip, so I’ll allow you to be impressed that this is the after clean-out and after road trip picture. 🙂

I tried an idea I read about in this post over at isavvymom about hanging a bag on the back of the headrest to use for trash. Great idea!

We left for the trip only 4 hours later than planned. That’s progress for us for sure! All of those last-minute things to grab or take care of take so much longer than it seems like they should! Next time I’ll plan more time for all of that.

And of course we had a great time on our trip!

How does packing for a trip go for you? Do you have any favorite tips for packing or road trips?

26 Comments

Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Organization, Time Management

Simplifying Bedtime for Kids

I’ve been realizing that bedtime for the kids has been taking for-ev-er lately.  Bedtime around here is 8:00. That is supposed to mean they are in bed at 8:00, but too often it means we are starting the process at around 8:00, which means they aren’t in bed until 9:00!  I don’t think this process should take an hour! And that is not counting baths, which we don’t do every day.

I want my bedtime to be 10:00 (Rarely actually happens), so if the kids aren’t in bed until 9:00, that gives me less than an hour to: get things done/relax/read/spend time with Mr. RSS.

Here’s the kids’ typical bedtime routine:

  • Big kids (ages 7 and 5) get themselves ready for bed and brush teeth. I get Anna ready for bed.
  • Each big kid picks a book for me to read to them, then I read a Bible story or 2 (short – from a children’s Bible)
  • Prayer time: we each usually pray each night
  • hugs/kisses/tuck in

The things that are making it take loooonger:

  • Big kids taking too long to get ready for bed – distracted with playing, etc instead of staying focused on the task
  • As the kids get older, they are requesting longer books
  • Another thing about getting older – their prayers are getting longer 🙂
  • Chit-chat about the day, or the next day, or totally random things like how many days until their next birthday
  • Requests for water, wanting a certain stuffed animal, etc

I used to think of bedtime with the kids as a sweet time together, but I have started to dread it most nights, and that doesn’t make for a sweet time at all.

Time to simplify! Here are some things I am starting:

Starting the bedtime routine earlier

7:30 on a typical night, or 7:00 if it is a bath night. This means that I need to get dinner on the table on time! I am doing better with this.

Using a Timer

The big kids have 10-15 minutes(I’m working on figuring out the right number) to get ready for bed including PJs, brushing teeth, bathroom, getting water for themselves if they need it, and getting any animals they want with them.

If they are not ready in time, then no time for reading that night. This is working really well so far!

Simplifying Reading

One child picks a book each night, or I read a chapter book. Another thing I tried for the first time last night, is “Read on your own night.” This idea came from my friend Vicki. Love it! I actually stayed in the room and put laundry away while Ella read a book to Gabe. I’m keeping the Bible story time the same.

Simplifying Prayer Time

You guessed it, one person prays each night instead of all of us. Or maybe we’ll have one kid and one adult pray. We’ll see what works. Of course they can always pray more on their own! I have to say that I love hearing the kids pray, for lots of reasons. One time Ella’s prayer was, “Dear God, please help everyone who has boogies that won’t come out.” So sweet.

By the way, Mr. RSS often helps with the kids’ bedtime, too. The kids especially love when he reads to them, except that I’m the better pirate singer. 🙂

I think simplifying the kids’ bedtime routine is going to make it more enjoyable for all of us! I’ll be sure to give you an update sometime.

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Filed under Kids, Time Management