What is Your Clutter Personality?

I’m a reader. In fact, for years I hauled boxes upon boxes of books with me each time I moved. Three big bookshelves worth. Y’all, books are heavy. (Here is my sincere apology to all of the wonderful people who used their time and energy to help make that happen.)

I had books from college, seminary, an amazing internship, and just life. I also had notebooks from all said stages of life. I was convinced that I needed all of these books. That I was one day going to need to look something up from one of the books that I was required to read and that if I couldn’t look it up that I was going to let someone down in a way that would ultimately crush them. That might sound extreme to you but it ran through my mind each time I thought about going through my books. How many times did I go back to those books? I’ll give you three guesses.

 

(image of a client’s curated bookshelf of Newberry Award wining books)

 

About two years ago, after yet another move, I decided that I just wasn’t reading the majority of the books that adorned my book shelves. Although I am a reader, I am not much of a re-reader. If it’s a story of any kind I’m probably not going to read it again. And unless it’s a super amazing book of truth or insight, my eyes aren’t going to see those pages again. Armed with my new knowledge about myself, I set out to decide which books I would read again. I was ruthless. That is what it took. I was also ready. I had spent years of building my decluttering-muscle.

I am now down to one shelf of books that I will recommend in a heartbeat and will read again, a stack of books for my profession (books that may or may not make it to the prized shelf), three series of books that I treasure, and a rotating stack of books that I am reading and then giving away.

I have substantially lightened the book load around here but I am still a heavy reader. The library, passed along books from friends, and the internet all help me to keep the book load under control.

Recently I came across these little treasures that might help you to think through some of your own clutter and why you might be keeping it around.

Will I Wear This Tomorrow?

Are you ready for your closet to stop causing you stress in the mornings? Fabulous! One way to do that is to cut down on the number of decisions you have to make in the morning. And one way to cut down the number of decisions you have to make in the morning is to cut down on the amount of clothes you have to decide from.

Those of you who know how I work know that I’m not trying to get you down to just 30 pieces of clothing. Well, not today. Or ever… if you don’t want to do that. But I can all but guarantee you will find great relief and freedom in owning less than what you currently have.

More times than not, you can look at an item and know right away that it can leave your home. Sometimes you need some questions to think through. Having these questions in the back of your mind or literally in front of you can help you make the decision.

Below are 10 questions to ask to help you decide what clothes to keep or get out of the house altogether. These questions are asked in two ways: what to KEEP and what to LET GO OF. A different perspective can make all the difference.

Questions to help you think of what clothes to keep

  1. What would you wear tomorrow?
  2. What makes you feel good when you wear it?
  3. What clothes are appropriate for your current lifestyle?
  4. What clothes communicate the appropriate thing about you?
  5. What would you buy again?

Questions to help you think what clothes to get out of your home

  1. What do you often or always pass up to wear something that you like better?
  2. What haven’t you worn in a year?
  3. What clothes are too big? (and you don’t want to revisit that size)
  4. What clothes are too small? (and you aren’t actively working to get to that size)
  5. What clothes are just out of date?

Remember, these are your clothes so think about what you want to keep up with and what you enjoy and what serves you best.

What other questions do you ask yourself to decide what clothes to keep and what clothes to let go of?

How to Prepare Meals and Not Go Crazy Doing It

It’s Tuesday night and you’ve already run out of steam. A cry comes from the front door. “Whaaaaaat’s for dinnnnnner????” You have no idea. The pantry scramble comes and something that resembles dinner is on the table. Sure, you’ve filled the bellies and probably even satisfied the taste buds of each one in your home but your brain is probably stresssssed. Let’s talk about a few ways to make this scenario end with a little more sanity in your head and household.

Before we move into the tricks I want to let you know that the best first step is to have an organized pantry, fridge, and freezer. That way you can see what you have and use it.

If you need to declutter and organize your pantry, do that with these questions in mind.

  1. Is it expired? If it is, why do you still have it? (You might not care about expiration dates. In which case I would say, go ahead and use it up ASAP. See challenge below.)
  2. Do we like this food? Will we eat this food?

I love a good challenge! Do you? How many meals can you make without going to the grocery? Exception: fresh produce. If you use AllRecipes.com’s ingredient search it is amazing what you can find. (This post is in no way affiliated with or sponsored by allrecipes.com.)

The rule of thumb for this is:
Plan what you eat, buy what you plan, eat what you buy.

So here we go, let’s see what some of these tricks are for figuring out how to prepare meals and not go crazy doing it.

Make a written plan for each meal and snack.
You may choose a week or more. It’s totally up to you. If you are just starting out with meal planning, try a week.
If you have just cleaned out the pantry, fridge, and freezer for the first time in a while, you’ll want to use up all those expired or almost expired items. (For the record, I’m in the “throw it out” expired food camp.) So look at the items you want to use up and make meals around those items.

Make a written grocery list.
Since you’ve planned meals around the foods you want to use up it’s as if you have already done some of your shopping and you didn’t even have to leave your house or tip the grocery delivery person! Hooray!
Okay, now’s when you see what else you need to buy based on the meals and snacks you have planned. Put those things on your written grocery list. When you get to the store, buy only the things on your list. Be strong, you can do it!

Make your meals. Prep your snacks.
Now that you’ve bought what you’ve planned it’s time to eat what you bought by making your meals and prepping your snacks. You may choose to do all of this on one day and prep for the week. You may choose to make and prep as you eat. Different things work for different households at different seasons.

And just like that you have streamlined your eating for you and your household!

BONUS SIDE-EFFECTS:
You will save money.
Less food will go wasted.
You may actually lose weight. If you plan, buy, and eat food that is good for you in appropriate portions.
Once this is a habit for you, you will end up with more time and less stress.

Yes, these take time to do. Yes, it will take time to develop into a habit. Yes, you can help teach the other people in your family to help. Yes, it will pay off in the end.

Happy Meal Planning!

 

 

Just for fun, here are some other names I thought of for this article.

Food Tricks – makes me think of a circus with fruit and veggies doing acrobatics
Food Organizing – this screams “pantry” and that’s not what this article is about
Meal Planning – again, that totally gives it away, well, mostly
Meal Organizing – that gets the job done but how boring

Conquering Laundry Mountain

I can’t tell you how many people ask me about laundry. “What tricks do you have?” “What systems do you recommend to families for laundry?” “How can I get out from underneath Laundry Mountain?”

You might not like my answer but here it is… Do it!

Do your laundry from start to finish. There is not magic life-altering system.

Now, your family might have some different laundry needs that you can use a system for but the bottom line is, you have to do your laundry. With that said, there are a few tricks that can help you to accomplish that.

  • The less clothing you have, the less laundry you will have to do. I have a list of questions to ask yourself about what clothing to keep and what clothing to get rid of coming soon! Keep an eye out!
  • Set a timer for when the washer will be done. When the timer goes off, change the clothes over to the dryer.
  • Set a timer for when the dryer will be done. When the timer goes off, fold the clothes.
  • When you are done folding, put the clothes away. Right away.
  • If you have children, teach them how to do their laundry. It takes time and patience, but it is more than worth it to raise helpful contributors to your family.
  • Play some Beat the Clock games. Plan other things that will take the same amount of time to do as your washer or dryer. Perhaps spend that time picking up the little things around the house that never made it to their appropriate homes. Get a basket or bin, carry it with you to pick all of those little items up. When the basket is full, put everything in the basket where it goes. Repeat until everything is put away. By this time the laundry is ready to change over or fold and put away.

What ways have you found to make sure you get the laundry done from start to finish?

Laundry and Meals and Living

It happened again yesterday.

I got a text from a friend asking what I would recommend for laundry. And food, you know, while she was asking.

It doesn’t bother me to be asked. I’m honored to be thought of as an expert in the field. It is what I do for a living, after all. It’s just that no one ever likes my answers.

You see, we have created a world that no one lives in. Oh, we think people live there! We think everyone lives there and if we could just someone figure out the secret we could live there too. So we scroll through images of this world and think really hard of how we can get there.

We muster all the energy and time we can find to put our homes in order. And, voila, just like that the kitchen looks just like the one we saw while scrolling. Then, in the blink of an eye…

… the toddler comes in and explores.

… the teenager has a friend over.

… the spouse makes a snack to share.

… life happens.

Then, in the blink of an eye, life happens. You know, that thing that we are here doing. Living. The toddler learns and loves. The teenager shows hospitality. The spouse exercises spontaneity and generosity. And your “perfect” photo-worthy kitchen has hand prints, chatty teens, crumbs, and dirty dishes.

It’s that or a made-up life from your scrolling, in which no one lives. I hate to be the one to bust your bubble but it’s true. No one LIVES in those photos. My oh my are they beautiful photos, aren’t they? But more than that is the beauty in a family that lives life together. That’s why when you see my before and after photos you will still see life. Rarely will you see perfect little bins all in a row with nothing else in the space. That is because life is being lived in those spaces.

What is my advice for laundry and meals then?

I’ll start with laundry. Are you ready?

Do it.

Yep, that’s the best system there is! Wash, dry, fold, and put away. Do it all as close together as you can. Want a few tricks? Here’s that post.

Moving on to meals. Ready?

Meal plan.

Plan what you eat, buy what you plan, and eat what you buy. How do you do that? Click on over to this post.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what systems for laundry and meals work for you in the comments!