RSS | Mail

Tidying Hack: Invite Guests Over

May 9th, 2010

Have you ever started cleaning your house only to find yourself exhausted hours later with little to show for your efforts? The biggest problem I had with cleaning is that to do a good cleaning job takes a really long time and it isn’t appreciated. When you have guests over do you think they’ll notice if you dusted underneath the plant on the shelf? Or if they’ll check to see if you vacuumed underneath the couch? Unless they’re slightly crazy they won’t care and my guess is that 99% of the time you won’t either. So the question that comes to mind is why bother?

Trim n' Tidy Cleaners Sign
Photo by Pixeljones’

Spending a full day a week cleaning is pointless when a couple hours tidying will do

Instead of cleaning like a maniac every so often, why not tidy a bit more frequently? The idea is good in theory but unless you like to clean its not fun! We spend way too much time in our attempt to clean when tidying would be much faster. Just so that we’re clear what I mean by spending too much time is devoting 4 hours to get your place say 90% clean when a single hour got you to 80%. That extra 10% of cleanliness for 3 times the effort is what drains us from wanting to clean (or tidy in the first place). A tidy house isn’t necessarily spotless and clean everywhere, it is clean and neat without clutter and crap all over the place. The reality is that most of us would be quite happy with a tidy house.

The ultimate Tidying Hack!

What is the one thing that you inevitably do when you have company over? You tidy the house a bit so they don’t have to kick your dirty socks off the couch to sit on it. You don’t spend countless hours cleaning but you make an effort so that the place isn’t a disaster area. It provides the necessary motivation for you to get the proverbial pig sty in order. The best part is you’ve got a time limit! Once you add in the inevitable procrastination you’re probably left with only a couple hours to get the place in order (if you’re lucky). If you hate cleaning but want to get your place somewhat tidy, have some guests over. It’ll get you into gear and force you to get a simple surface cleaning in and getting stuff out of the way.

While not a solution to getting organized it does make your place look better and at least tidy, the net result is that you feel better about it (at least for a bit). I actually found that by having guests over once in a while we managed to get the place tidy fast without going overboard trying to make everything perfect. Inviting guests over is a great way to get your place tidy fast without going overboard.

Posted in Decluttering, Organizing | No Comments

De-cluttering one room at a time

May 1st, 2010

One of the biggest problems I find to keeping our house neat and tidy is clutter. Small items that just seem to pile up. At first they are cute little trinkets but then they get forgotten and become evil clutter. We rarely use the all of the things we own yet we still hang onto the stuff that we bought even if its broken (just in case). I had a perfect example of this in a laptop that I bought years ago when they were still very expensive; I hung onto this computer for dear life even though I no longer used it and it was out-dated. I held onto this because I paid a lot of money for it and admitting defeat and throwing it out felt like a waste. What was really a waste is how much energy I put into this dusty old computer that I didn’t use. It felt good to finally be rid of it and de-cluttering can have that effect.

Photo by yorkshirepuddin

Getting rid of all of the stuff that we keep but don’t use can be both challenging and rewarding. What we don’t realize is how much mental baggage we have when it comes to our clutter. Getting rid of it not only makes your house cleaner and neater it can help improve your mental well being. The real challenge is acknowledging we don’t need something and getting rid of it.

De-clutter one room at a time!
If you are about to start de-cluttering I would suggest doing this one room or even one part of a room at a time. The reason for this is that simply seeing the sheer volume of stuff that we need to go through to de-clutter can be daunting and you don’t want to be stopped dead in your tracks by the scariness of the task. It breaks the task of getting rid of the things you don’t need into more manageable chunks.

The process of really de-cluttering can take a while especially if you’ve never done it before. If you don’t need something or don’t use it then its probably a good candidate to be gotten rid of. Some items will be easy to figure out where to keep them or to get rid of them, but I find that most items fall into that grey area where there is logic to keep the item as well as to get rid of it. For those items one of the best suggestions I’ve heard of (and used) is to put everything into a bag or a box and set it aside; if you haven’t looked for any of the items in that bag or box just throw the whole thing out!

Don’t allow clutter back in
After you’ve gone through the effort of de-cluttering the biggest difficulty will be to keep new clutter out. Question any new item you’re bringing in, if you don’t really need it then don’t keep it. Or if the item is a replacement for an old item then get rid of the old item. Keeping clutter out will make it infinitely easier to keep the house neat and tidy (however neat and tidy you like it).

Posted in Decluttering, Tips and Hacks | No Comments

Throwing out Presents

November 2nd, 2009

We’ve all seen it before the hideous gift that you received from a relative and kept for years on end because you wanted them to see that you kept it and cherished it when in reality you wanted to do nothing more than pitch the damned thing. It doesn’t matter if this was some ugly ornament or a toy or even a clothing item. Sometimes when it comes to gifts that you’ve received you have to show some tact in what you do with them, at times you need to keep the ugly vase to keep the family piece.

Unfortunately that only covers a small portion of the picture, how many times have we kept a gift when we thought it might hurt the other person’s feelings if we threw it out, even though the item has been in storage for years. The sad reality is that from what I’ve seen and experienced myself we all keep too many gifts that are simply pointless and of no value yet we clutter our lives with them. Do not be afraid to throw out a gift that is totally pointless and brings you no value.

Keeping a simple house means you have to be a bit ruthless with the unnecessary items that come into our lives. So if you’ve gotten DVDs for Christmas every year for the last decade you can probably part ways with a few, if not most, of them without anyone being upset. Remember the idea of the gift is what matters and people sometimes buy lousy gifts. Personally I’m hard to buy for, even I have trouble buying myself a treat sometimes, I would not hesitate in getting rid of something hideous that came as a gift (though for the sake of your relationships do keep in mind of there might not be some type of significance attached to a gift).

With the Christmas season coming up you might do yourself a favour, come up with a list of things that you want to recieve as gifts. Because I know I’m a hard person to buy gifts for I’ve already started thinking about this. I want to be able to give my family and loved ones a list of things I would like. This won’t be a list of just random things but things that I either need or would really like and I’ll be letting people know about the items. The whole idea isn’t to take away the idea behind the gift giving but to let people buy me something I want to keep rather than something I’m going to put in a box for a couple years till I throw it out. People want to buy you the gift, let them, but make sure its not wasted.

Posted in Decluttering | No Comments

Keeping Trash

October 2nd, 2008

One of the most absurd things that you can do is to keep trash yet this is exactly what most of us end up doing. The first thing most people will do is deny the fact they keep trash but they do, I know I do from time to time. Now before I go any further I should quantify what I mean by keeping trash, I’m not refering to actual garbage that ends up in the dump (though some of it should). What I’m referring to are items that are no longer useful; they’re broken and should be taken out with the trash.

What kind of trash people keep around?

When an appliance like a toaster stops working as well as we would like it too or worse still breaks we get a new one to replace it. A lot of the time that appliance or item gets put into the basement or tucked away somewhere just in case. This stuff is now junk that clutters up our lives and it doesn’t just include toasters but pretty much everything. For years I kept an old printer around that still worked but I never used it because it wasn’t very good. I had gotten a replacement and was using that.

Take a good look at your stuff and pick out the trash

Next time you’re in the process of cleaning out your garage or basement look at all the stuff you’ve kept just in case. When a new piece of furniture comes into the house the old one gets kept for emergencies that never come up. Granted some of the trash we keep has potential value but for the most part these items are nothing more than trash.

Trash forces us to buy bigger homes.

My wife and  I recently moved into a larger home and I’m starting to notice a lot of items are being kept around even though they have no real purpose anymore. These items are trash or they will be soon enough. Once our house becomes overly cluttered we’ll start thinking we need a bigger home when in reality we need to get rid of stuff.

Getting rid of the trash

We become attached to our possessions for some reason and we have difficulty throwing them out. How many people keep their old cell phones just because there’s a ring tone we used to have on it or a phone number we’ll never call? You have to be ruthless with your trash, if there is no reason to keep an item get rid of it; don’t let it clutter up your life.

Photo by Mugley

Posted in Decluttering, Misc/News, Organizing | 1 Comment

Destroying Magazines to Declutter

September 10th, 2008

photo by iamhannah

Magazines and newspapers can take up a great deal of space if you let them. There was a great post over at Productivity 501 where they suggested destroying your magazines. Personally I think this is a great idea – keep only the stories that you need and just get rid of everything else. I know this doesn’t work for everyone since people sometimes share magazines or want to keep them, but in general the practice can really help keep down the clutter of magazines.

When you get a new magazine go through it and tear out the stories that you want to read then get rid of the rest. Once you’ve read the stories you can decide if you want to keep them or get rid of them. Most of the time the information can be found online so you’re safe getting rid of the magazine. Keeping a few magazines isn’t a bad thing but when you have dozens of them littering your house you end up with clutter.

Posted in Decluttering, Organizing, Tips and Hacks | 1 Comment

Donate Your Old Clothes

September 4th, 2008

One of the big things that clutter up a house is clothing. Even if you keep your clothes organized and neat in your closets there is a good chance that you’ve got a bunch of clothes that you no longer use or no longer fit. A great way to declutter your house is to go through all those old clothes and get rid of the ones that you don’t use or don’t fit.

Be ruthless

I know I’ve made impulse purchases in the past where I bought clothes and never wore them. It was a good idea at the time but I ended up wasting money on something that now takes up space in my closet and my dressers. Get rid of this stuff, even if there’s a tag still attached to the item. If you’re particularly attached to your old clothes have a friend help you sort through the clothing. Reducing clutter can really simplify your house.


Rather than simply throwing out the clothing donate it, most cities have charities that accept clothing as donations. If the clothing you’re getting rid of is in pretty good shape give it to one of these charities. By doing this you can help while clearing out clutter.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Posted in Decluttering, Organizing | 1 Comment