30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 30 - You Did It!

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Wow 30 days really went quickly! I hope over the month of April I have not only managed to give you a little insight into my organised home (and slightly crazy organised mind!!), but also a few tips along the way that you might take with you to implement at some point - maybe you already have!

Being organised is not the be all and end all - for me it has taken many years to actually put in place all of the ideas I have been sharing throughout this series of blogs. Some organisational ideas work for some and not for others and it just depends on your family, your work life, your schedules and what it is that you find helpful on an every day basis. 

I think my main reasons for getting so many organisational routines and ideas in place in my life are so that it makes my day to day run so much more smoothly, limiting daily stresses and creating extra time in various parts of my day and week that allow me to enjoy life more with my family. 

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As I've mentioned throughout the last 30 days, I'm always on the look out for new ideas, better and more simple ways to organise my life, so if you have any of your own tips or organisational hacks then please do share! 

My last little tip for you in this series of blogs is 'little and often'. There's a great book called 'Start with your sock drawer' by Vicky Silverthorn, which really helps you to think about clearing the clutter bit by bit, reducing what might seem like an overwhelming task into manageable chunks.

I will continue to share new ideas and little tips that I pick up, so pleased continue to follow me on social media if you're looking for even more inspiration!

 

 

Thank you to all that have shared, liked and commented over the last month, it's been great to know I've been sharing the organisational love with those that love it too and also those that never thought they would, but now might just be converted!

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Happy Organising Everyone!

 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 29 - Nooks & Crannies!

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Whether you have a small home and struggle for space or if you have a larger home, but still have lots of stuff to organise, one thing you might want to explore is whether you are using every space, no matter how small, as effectively as you can. Even the smallest nooks and crannies can be redesigned so that they provide you with some really useful storage.

One area that we have managed to use that most people perhaps wouldn't think to use is the space above a door. Our downstairs toilet is a really tiny room and with little space to have any storage to keep cleaning products and toilet rolls etc. 

So we created a wide shelf that sits above the door and stores everything we would like to keep in there. We don't really notice it's there unless we actually need to get something down and it's just such a handy way to make use of what would otherwise be dead space. It also means we don't need to put any cupboards on the wall or take up any floor space, which would make the room seem even smaller.

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Other places around the home that you might be able to make similar use could be in the large space above the stairs - I've seen some people line the edges with bookshelves as a book storage area. Also, under the stairs can be utilised better by putting built in drawers for shoe storage, hoovers and anything else that might not have an obvious home elsewhere!

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 28 - Hang, Roll or Fold?

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When it comes to saving space, I'm always on the look out for new ways to organise things so that it saves me time in the future and just makes my life easier in some way.

When it comes to organising clothing, I've always had to be quite creative because even though we have a lot of built in wardrobes, not much of it is hanging space. We have a lot of drawers and open cubed cubby hole areas. 

I've already shown you a little about how we use some of those spaces in my previous blogs with organising jewellery and accessories, shoes and memory boxes to name a few. But when it comes to our clothes, we employ a method that not only uses all of our drawer space efficiently, but also makes it quicker and easier to find what I'm looking for.

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All of my dresses and skirts get hung up in the hanging space we do have available and this is pretty much the same with our girls - dresses, skirts, cardigans and school uniform all hang up in the wardrobe. Everything else gets put in the drawers - organised by using the 'rolling method'. Some people may associate doing this with when you go on holiday in your suitcase to save space so you can fit more in, but the same applies at home! Each of our drawers has a specific type of clothing in, e.g. one drawer for trousers, one for t-shirts and other tops, one for underwear and pyjamas and one for spare bedding.

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As each item is put away into the drawers, we roll the item up and place in rows so that when you go to look for something, you can see each item clearly and quickly. I also organise the items by colour so you have a row of bIue trousers, pink trousers, grey trousers and a row of summer shorts for example.

I used to find that by folding clothes and placing them in a stack on top of one another, some items would be hidden under the others and you would get more creases. Whereas the rolling method means limited creases and you can see every single item. 

Once you have sorted out your drawers in this way it really is easy to keep it the same so that it doesn't end up in a jumbled mess, taking you more time to find what you're looking for when you're in a rush to get yourself or the children ready. 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 27 - Are Your Memories Taking Up Too Much Space?

Are you a bit sentimental when it comes to throwing certain things away? Items that were given to you by a special person, things you collected on a memorable holiday, your children's art work/toys/clothes - in fact anything to do with your children! 

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I am not a sentimental person when it comes to most belongings and sometimes take it too far on the de-cluttering side of things, occasionally having wished there were things I'd kept instead of throwing away.

I think there is a happy medium between being a hoarder because you just don't know how to decide what to keep and being a minimalist that likes to get rid of everything!

I think also with having children it can be really hard as you don't want to throw things away that they've made or given to you, but you can't possibly keep it all - my daughter could have filled a large box every week when she first started school with all of her art work and creative creations!!

So I decided that memory boxes were the way to go. Each of the children has one and my husband and I share one. We keep the boxes on the top shelf of our wardrobe and anytime there is something in particular that we think we'd like to keep then we pop it in our boxes. 

We try to think carefully about items every time they might go into the boxes and generally things from special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, Mother's/Father's Day, school awards/certificates and medals etc all get put in. All other art work from school or special things the children have made we display on a small board in the playroom for a while and once we have more to fill the board then we take it down and recycle anything made of paper/cardboard etc.

Once the boxes are full we take them down from the shelf, empty them out and organise them a bit better before putting the boxes up into the loft. I sort out the items in the boxes into large envelopes (special cards in one, art work in another etc) or plastic air tight containers if there is anything that could deteriorate over long periods of time. 

Once re-organised I sometimes find I have actually created a bit more space in the box and therefore continue to use it for a bit longer. But once actually full, they go up into the loft with a label on the box saying who it belongs to and the dates between which the box was filled.

I found that for my children's first year after being born I filled one box and after that it took nearly 2 years to fill a box as I was quite ruthless about not putting anything and everything in them. You just need to think about what your children will actually appreciate you keeping to look at as adults and although lots of their old art work is nice, they'd be just as happy seeing a few select really lovely pieces. 

 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 26 - Jewellery Storage Hacks!

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So in my blog yesterday I gave some ideas for girls hair accessories, so now it's your turn ladies! How do you store your jewellery and other accessories? Maybe you've got one of those jewellery organisers with various compartments to keep it all neatly stored away, or maybe you have an old school jewellery box where you just dump it all in and then never get anything out because it takes too long to untangle all of the jumbled up necklaces!

I used to have a mixture of the two! I had a jewellery box that had a lot of old necklaces tangled up together and with knots in that took an age to get out, as well as a mini set of drawers that had various items in but never got used as I forgot they were there!

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I more recently realised that if I wanted to be able to wear the jewellery I had and for it to be no effort to choose and use what was available, then I had to change the way it was stored. I decided that the only way to make sure nothing got tangled up and that I remembered everything that I had to wear, was to display it all individually. 

Now that might seem like a lot of effort and unrealistic considering how much space it could take up. However, by finding a small cubby hole (I have part of my wardrobe organised by cubed storage areas) and lining that area with tiny hooks then I could display everything I wanted and it was all kept hidden away in my wardrobe when not in use. 

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I found some tiny stick on hooks that I put all around my little cubby hole (you could use the back of the wardrobe door or other cupboard door or even the side of your bedside table if you don't mind things being more on display) and managed to hook all of my necklaces, bracelets and some other accessories onto them. I also had a wooden earring holder that sits in the corner of the area, fully displaying all of my earrings. 

I now am able to choose at a glace which jewellery to put on each day and there is no time wasted searching for what I'm looking for or untangling anything. You could also arrange your jewellery to be organised by colour or type, making it even quicker to find something to match your outfit. 

There's only one catch - you just need to do some untangling to start with to get organised! It will certainly test your patience, but think of the long term benefits of never having to do it again! Good luck!!

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 25 - Attention parents of girls! Hair styling management!!

If you are a parent to a girl (or two in my case!) then you'll know of the daily struggle to get hair done before the school run or more intricate styling for all of their social events at the weekends and in the holidays!

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One of the issues that I hear parents complaining about is not only finding the time to get it done, but the time wasted looking for hair bands and accessories that seem to disappear into thin air on a regular basis. Although I've always had a hair accessory box to keep all of the girls hair bands etc, I still found I was wasting time rooting around the box for not only a hairband, but one of the correct colour to match outfits or school uniform and clips or bows to match the hairband!

So I decided that the organisation needed to be stepped up a gear! I bought a container that was separated into lots of smaller boxes and I grouped all of the hairbands and accessories by colour and by type. The result is as you can see in the photo! It means when I'm in a rush and looking for something specific then it takes no time at all to find what I'm looking for.

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I keep the container in a drawer with the hairbrushes, and hair styling always occurs next to it so I've got everything to hand.

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Another tip is to put clips that are a pair together by clipping one over the other, then you don't have to waste more time searching for one that is not with its partner!

Although the odd hair band does still go MIA, most of the time as soon as it's taken out at home then it can get put straight back where it belongs because there is somewhere very specific for it to go and even the girls can work out which section to put the band/clip/bow back into saving me a job!

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 24 - I Can Cook WHAT In My Slow Cooker?!

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Easy Tasty Treats

If you've been following all of my blogs, you'll know I'm a big fan of the slow cooker to save me lots of time during the week. I have also mentioned before that not only can you cook some mouth-watering savoury meals, but also some delicious pudding options.

I came across some tasty sugar-free options on the I Quit Sugar website and although we try not to have lots of puddings, the sugar-free options are a regular winner!

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So if you haven't got much time, but fancy trying some recipes for brownies, rice pudding or lime, coconut and poppy seed cake all made with ease in your slow cooker then head on over to the IQS website.

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 23 - 5 Tips For Making The School Run Easier

5 Tips for Making the School Run Easier

Take a look at these useful tips that I saw on the MojoMums website on how to make the school run easier for all involved. They’ll get you through this next half term now that we're all back in the school routine.

 Be Prepared

This is one of the most important points that can’t be stressed enough, simple but oh so effective. If you have your lunches made, school bags packed and uniforms folded all ready for the morning, everything can run a little more like clock-work. Even with your children dragging their feet, if everything is in place and ready to go you can focus on getting them moving rather than getting on with tasks that could have been sorted the night before. This doesn’t just go for preparing your kids, prepare yourself. Be up and ready before them having had your coffee and breakfast ready to shepherd them out the door.

Have Breakfast on the Table

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This not only ties in with the prior point of being prepared, but works as an incentive for slow rising children. Having their favourite breakfast ready to wake up to will help convince them to get out of bed. The smell of breakfast and threat of it getting cold or cereal going soggy will help to entice them to get a move on and slide out of bed and down the stairs to get the ball rolling.

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Make a Routine and Stick to it

Having a routine that you and your children know and stick to will turn you into a well-oiled school run machine. Not only will you benefit from knowing what to do and when to do it in order to get there on time, but so will your kids. Children respond well to familiarity and routine, giving them a sense of security, as well as helping to develop self-discipline and hopefully it will always ensure they’re ready to go in plenty of time.

Keep Your Cool

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All parents know that at times this one will seem near impossible, between your drowsy impatience and the stubborn reluctance of your non-cooperative children – it’s hard to keep yourself from reaching boiling point. But in the long run keeping a level-head whilst still being firm with your child will keep things running more smoothly and help refrain from tantrums escalating. You’re much more likely to forget things if you’re not level-headed. So stay calm to keep things on track and avoid melt-downs.

Reward Good Behaviour and Encourage Responsibility

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Incentivising your children usually works much better than the threat of punishment. If you create a rewards system that will entice your little ones to be on their best behaviour, you will find that they will be more cooperative.  They will want to meet the goals of carrying out their tasks to get whatever privilege you’ve promised them. This may be a form of bribery but it gets results, making the school run into less of a challenge and more of a game they can win at encourages them to make things go smoothly.

Lastly, I would always try to leave the house at least 5 - 10 minutes before you need to. This can allow for any last minute disasters like forgetting the PE bag when you're already half way to school or unexpected traffic jams if you're driving. 

Good luck everybody! 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 22 - It's my birthday!

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Yes it really is my birthday today! So, because I have followed all of my own advice and kept consistently organised, I will be able to enjoy it fully and not have any housework or organisational tasks to get done before Monday!

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That's what I love about putting routines and organisational processes in place, it means I can really enjoy the weekends or special occasions without worrying about everything else that needs to be done as I'm already on top of it all.

 

 

So that's exactly what I'm going to do - put my feet up and relax (hopefully with a glass of Pimms in the sunshine!). If you're thinking that is what you could do with feeling like on these kinds of occasions, then why not have a quick skim through all of the previous '30 days to organise your life' blog posts so far and make a little list of what you'd like to put in place to get yourself on track to achieve your overall goal of organised bliss!

Remember, little and often, don't try to tackle it all at once as that often leads to failure. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was your organised home! Try to enjoy the sunshine too, hopefully some relaxing time will give you the energy you need to tackle the first goals on your list!

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 21 - Everything in its place, a place for everything!

Everything in its place, a place for everything!

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This literally is my motto when it comes to organising my home. I know it might sound very old-fashioned, but if you would like to keep your house in order and be able to find whatever you want, whenever you want then you must follow this rule!

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I cannot tell you how much time following this statement has saved me over the years and how efficient it makes me and my family so we have more time to enjoy life. It has taken a while to get to the point that literally everything has it's place and we have managed to create a place for everything, but having that level of organisation just makes life so simple!

No rooting around in that drawer that most people seem to have - the junk drawer and no searching the house from top to bottom to find an item which you know for a fact you have about 4 different kinds, but just can't seem to locate any of them!

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So how do you go about finding a place for everything? If you're starting from scratch it probably seems like a very daunting task. My first tip is to clear the clutter! Have a major tidy up and get rid of anything that you don't need to waste your time on re-organising. Secondly, start with something small like one drawer in your kitchen or bathroom. It's too much to try to do it all at once and much more manageable to start with a very small area. That way you're more likely to get it done if you break it down into manageable chunks. 

Look at each little drawer or cupboard and firstly see whether you could rearrange how the storage is used to see if you can fit more in. The storage dividers and various shaped boxes, shelving etc that you can find in IKEA are perfect to find something to divide up the space in any storage area.

Once you've organised the shelving/dividers then decide what will go back in there based on the location of the drawer/cupboard and how accessible it is. If it is very accessible then use it for something you might need to get out on a regular basis. If it's in quite an awkward place and more inaccessible then use it for things you don't need very often and won't need to be getting out in a rushed situation.

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Work on each area of your home one at a time, maybe choosing one each weekend and eventually you will have worked your way round the whole house and hopefully will be so happy with how much more efficient your life has become. As long as everyone else in the house knows about your new routine of putting everything back in its place, then you'll be a lot better off in the long run and there'll be no last minute panics about where the 5 rolls of Sellotape are that you know are somewhere in the house!

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 20 - BBQ Weather!

The sun is out, we've had some beautiful weather for the first time this year and being typically British, this means it must be time for the first BBQ of the year!!

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Every year I can't wait to get the BBQ out and every year I have to deal with spending more time than I imagined cleaning the grill after every use and all of the areas where grease has somehow seeped through little cracks and crevices around the edges, underneath, round the back and on the underside of the lid. Although I know I like things super clean compared to others, but I think when you're dealing with cooking food then it needs to be.

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Last year though we discovered a new way to BBQ that not only saves time on the cleaning up, but has revolutionised the way we BBQ! When on holiday in France last May, we discovered the outdoor BBQ called a 'Plancha'. Very popular in countries like Australia and South Africa now. The best way to describe it is a very large hot plate and griddle heated by gas flames underneath. You can cook literally anything on it that you would want for a BBQ and the best bit is that it only takes 5 mins to clean after every use! 

 

The reason being that it is one large hot plate that just needs to be wiped over once you've finished using it. The plate is slightly angled downwards so that all of the grease travels down into a hole through the hot plate as you're cooking and collects into a small drawer underneath. After cooking you just take out the drawer, empty out the grease and give it a quick clean or pop it in the dishwasher. Job done. 

With such a quick cleaning process, it means I feel it takes minimal effort to use and maintain,  therefore we tend to have BBQ's throughout the summer much more often. Before, we perhaps just used to have BBQ's at the weekend when I had more time (and patience!) for cleaning it all up after usage. Now when the weather is consistently good, we might have a BBQ most nights and enjoy eating out in the garden enjoying the best that British weather has to offer us.

If you're a fan of charcoal BBQ's over the gas ones because you prefer the charred flavour, then I agree that something like the plancha isn't going to give you that. However, one other advantage of the plancha is that we find it retains the moisture a lot better than charcoal BBQ's and both meat and veg can be a lot more succulent.

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If you're thinking about getting a new BBQ this year and want to BBQ more often and save time with the cleaning process afterwards, then I highly recommend looking at outdoor hot plates like the plancha. You can buy them easily over here now, some at very reasonable prices and no setting up or putting together like a normal BBQ. Just pop the hot plate on top of the main unit, attach the gas and away you go! 

Whatever you decide to do this year, there's one thing you must not do....don't forget the marshmallows!!

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 19 - Perfect Weather For Washing!

Do you find it hard to keep on top of the washing sometimes?

Is your washing basket overflowing and do you end up doing tons of it in one go, which seems to take forever and is quite a monumental effort?

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I've found one method in particular that really helps me to keep on top of it all and with what feels like minimal effort.

My best idea was to buy a small washing basket for every person in the house . Each a different colour, so that anyone can easily identify who it belongs to (I have two girls, so it can be tricky to work out sometimes when just looking at a basket of clothes!). Also, each basket is just the right size to hold the right amount for one full load of washing.

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Every night before I get into bed I quickly check each basket (kept in each person's room) to see if they're full or not. If there is one that is full then I pop it in the washing machine ready to go on as soon as I get up in the morning. If you are lucky enough to have a washing machine that you can set to start on a timer, then set it to a time that means the wash will be finished before you need to leave for work or the school run in the morning and leaving you enough time to put it out to dry or into the tumble dryer.

Once I get home at the end of the day, the dried washing gets put back in that persons basket and put on their bed so that they can put it away themselves. My husband and 6 year old do this no problem when they get back home from school/work and my 2 year old helps to unload the basket in her room and passes me the clothes to put in the correct drawers. However, it won't be too long before she can also do this herself saving me another job and giving me back yet more time!

Some days there may be more than one basket full, but by checking every day it means that I generally get away with just doing one load a day and nothing at the weekend.
 

Ironing

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If you're wondering about when I iron all of these loads of washing, I'll let you into a little secret....I don't do any ironing! 

No, that's right. Unless it is an outfit for a special occasion like a wedding and I have a dress that creases easily, then I just don't do it. I find most clothing materials these days crease very little anyway and if I use the tumble dryer over winter then the clothes tend to come out without creases and in summer if I hang clothes outside or in the airing cupboard then all I do is put them onto coat hangers to dry and the creases drop out naturally.

The only real items of clothing that do get ironed routinely (but not by me!!) are my husbands' work shirts. Every 6 weeks he tends to get all of his shirts out, which is enough to last him the next 6 weeks of work and irons them all in one go. Saves time in the long run and no panic on a Sunday night or Monday morning when you realise you haven't ironed shirts for that week.

 

 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 18 - Handy Additional Storage Area or Dumping Ground?

I don't know what it is about garages, but every year ours gets a massive tidy up and every year it ends up looking as messy as before, just with different stuff!

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It's one of those places that rarely gets used for what it was invented for - hands up who actually uses it to store their car?? Not us! It is generally used as an overflow storage area of everything linked to the garden and outdoor pursuits such as cycling, camping, kite flying and car related items (just not the car!!).

In all honesty, we have actually started to crack it when it comes to keeping the garage more tidy. Last year we discovered the delight of super strong wall hooks that can hold everything from spare children's car seats, the lawnmower and snow sledges to our bikes, scooters and all of our garden tools.

By getting everything up on hooks either on the wall or hanging down from the ceiling, we have created so much more floor space and we can actually go from front to back and side to side to find the things we need, rather than having to clamber over all sorts of stuff to try to wrestle out items that were stuck in the depths of a dark corner. 

Open storage shelves that go from floor to ceiling are also excellent for anything that can't be hung up or things that can't perhaps fit through a loft hatch if it's something you don't use very often like Christmas decorations.

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The warmer weather is coming so perhaps it's time for you to have a garage clear out and tidy up so you can be ready for all of those outdoor activities you'll be wanting to do. Perhaps as well as creating a garage that has everything to hand easily, you might like to use your new found space to create that mini gym you've always wanted or a place away from the house for your children to practise with their very noisy drum set!

 

 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 17 - What's Lurking Underneath Your Sink?

Kitchen sinks, bathrooms sinks, utility room sinks.

What lurks underneath yours in a cupboard or storage area?

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It's one of those places that even if you're a tidy person, it can sometimes end up in a big mess of cloths, cleaning products, bin bags, kettle de-scaler, ant powder, scrubbing brushes - anything linked to being used in the kitchen or bathroom, it's there taking up lots of space!

I think this often happens because we over-estimate how many different products we need on a regular basis. In actual fact you can get away with a very small selection that can be used for everything. 

It's also one of those places that gets clogged up with excess products because we forget that they can go out of date, just like items from your fridge. Most cleaning products have a shelf life and use by date.

 

Cleaning products challenge!
 

  • Take a look through your cupboards and first do a de-clutter of anything out of date.
     

  • Then put aside the products and other items you use on a weekly basis (be honest!!).
     

  • Lastly, take a look at what is left and think about the last time you used it. If it was in the last 3-6 months, is that because it is a specialist product like ant powder that perhaps only comes out once a year when the ants appear or is it something that you just thought would be great to use because it was new/on offer/recommended by someone else, but in fact you've never actually used it.
     

  • If there are still things you don't want to get rid of even though you've never used them then make a plan to actually do so! Decide where it will be used and how you can get it into your weekly cleaning routine. If not, find someone else who might use them or donate to a local group such as a homeless charity or those that help families in need. 

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You'll be amazed at how much you can actually get rid of and reduce what you use and need under those sinks.

Doing this also creates more space so that you can have a place for everything you need and then can easily locate it next time you want it, instead of rooting around trying to find items stuck at the back and knocking everything else over in the process!

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 16 - Ditch The Layers, Summer Is Here!

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Well, not quite! But this week the temperatures are set to rise significantly, so it's certainly going to feel a bit more like it!

As we leave the horrible winter weather behind for another year, it's a great time to have a giant sort out of all of your winter clothing.

 

Not only may some of your winter clothes have seen better days, but you need to be honest with yourself of what is still getting any use every time the cold weather comes around.

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*Scarves and wraps
*Hats of various types
*Coats
*Ski jackets
*Children's puddle suits
*Wellies
*Gloves
*Body warmers
*Thick winter jumpers
*Ear muffs

 


How to deal with it
 

After removing everything from cupboards and drawers that might not see the light of day until November, check through each item one at a time and make 3 piles of keep, donate, bin.

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Keep - if you've worn it this year and can see yourself wearing it again.

Donate - anything you haven't worn at all over the last year. You obviously either don't like it anymore or don't fit into it. Don't hold onto things in the hope that they may one day fit or fashions may come back around again!

Bin - I try to bin as little as possible, there's no need to bin anything unless it is damaged beyond repair or is ruined by stains. 

Anything you manage to put in the donate or bin pile is a win in terms of creating extra space or decluttering your bulging clothes storage areas!

 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 15 - Piles Of Paperwork?

Does paperwork seem to appear out of nowhere? Piling up with no where to go? The more it piles up the harder it is to attempt to tackle it all? 

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My advice on this one is so simple. Once you pick up a piece of paperwork for the first time, don't put it down until you've dealt with it!

When you think about it, most documents that either arrive in the post or come home in the school bag can be dealt with in a matter of minutes or possibly less! 
 

Examples

* Letter home from school about an event that requires wearing a special costume or bringing in some money to donate etc. Read the letter, write the key info on your calendar and put the letter in the recycling bin. 1 minute job.

* Letter home from school regarding a trip coming up. Fill in the slip, cut it off the letter, put in an envelope, label the envelope, add money if required and put it straight back in the school bag to go back the next day. 2 minute job.

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* You open a letter about your car insurance details/utilities/ broadband provider/bank statement/yearly mortgage update etc. If no course of action is needed, file it immediately in your expandable box file or filing cabinet. 30 second job.

* You receive a letter or email about your car/home/life insurance renewal etc. This requires you to do a price comparison before renewing with a cheaper/better provider. If you do not have 15 minutes to spare at the time you open the email/letter then immediately write this job down on your daily 'to do' list. I keep mine on the fridge so that I walk past it all the time and whenever I have a spare bit of time I can tackle one of the jobs before I forget about it.

Service provider renewals take no time at all these days and if you have done it online before, then next time you log in you should have minimal details to change, so you could be getting new quotes within a few minutes. I'm sure most people can find between 5 and 15 minutes at the end of the day to get this kind of paperwork dealt with and you can then tick it off your 'to do' list before you go to bed, leaving your mind clear of another job. 
 

Additional tips

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Another tip is to not have a specific place to put letters or other paperwork in your house. People who tend to have a letter holder or a place where they have a paperwork pile, take longer to deal with these things. They believe by putting it in their chosen location they're being organised as it is being put there so that they deal with it and don't lose it. 

In fact, what often happens is that it gets put in the pile and promptly forgotten about for much longer than intended. Sometimes this results in missing the deadlines for renewals or forgetting about impending school or social events until the last minute. 

If you feel you still need a pile where you can put important paperwork that you haven't had time to sort, then my biggest tip would be to set aside a specific time each week to whizz through it all and banish that pile to the recycling or to be filed as soon as you've dealt with it all.

Try to start each week with no paperwork looming over you, putting a dark cloud over your week before it's even started - heaven knows the weather's been grey enough as it is! 

 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 14 - Photo Overload!

Are you constantly running out of space on your phone or tablet after taking so many photos?

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In our digital world, we take more photos than are perhaps necessary. Children, holidays, our home, our friends, places we visit and things we do are all important moments to capture.

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However, it can become a bit excessive when we are constantly taking a selfie, pictures of our meals, photos of how pretty our coffee was presented in the café, funny signs we see, other people doing something unusual etc etc, the list is endless.

I don't take a huge amount of photos on my phone, but I was constantly running out of storage to keep them all. I also found that when I looked back through my photos there were so many duplicates, ones I'd just never look at again after uploading onto Facebook or sharing with friends on WhatsApp. I also found it a bit sad that being stuck on my phone, I wouldn't see them very often and so would no one else. 

 

Organising your snaps

So, I decided to overhaul how I take, store and use my photos. I decided that every 6 months I would go through my photos on my phone and delete any that were of no real significance. I then went through what was left and decided which really special memories I would get printed off. I do a big order on sites such as Photobox where it is quick and easy to upload and order the photos I want straight from my phone or tablet.

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When the photos arrive I place them all into time order and put them in an old school photo album (I ordered some really lovely albums from Amazon that hold lots and lots of photos!). I then take a small selection out and place them in the collage photo frames around our home. The old photos that come out of the frame go into the spaces I left for them in the photo albums from last time.

I then save all of the photos from the last 6 months from my phone onto a portable hard drive and they are also still stored within my Photobox album online. This means I can delete them from my phone and create a lot of extra storage.

This has been a really good tactic as not only has it freed up lots of storage space, but also means I have a physical album to look back on should the technology fail me at any time. We also have a 6 monthly change in the photos around our home.

Over time we may decide to go back to the start of our photo albums and put some much older photo memories back on the wall.

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You may also want to consider the idea of having regular photobooks made.

They are quite reasonable these days and can be created when you have special events that end up having a lot of photos just for one day/weekend or week. We not only had a special one done for our wedding photos, but have since made ones for special events such as London 2012 Olympics, special birthdays and ones for the first year after our children were born.

30 Days to Organise Your Life! Day 13 - Rubbish Car?

Do you find that your car can often be a bit of a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish?

Why is it that we accumulate so much unnecessary clutter in our cars?

Most of the time it's because there is no rubbish bin and we just pop the rubbish in handy cubby holes placed around the car. We then forget about it when we get to our location and jump out not giving a second thought to the rubbish we stuffed out of sight and out of mind!
 

How can you clear the car clutter?

*Keep a mini bin of some kind in the car. Every bit of rubbish goes into it and get in the habit of just taking it out with you when you get home. Empty it immediately and leave by your front door to put straight back in the car next time you go out.

*Don't use any of those handy cubby holes for your rubbish!!

*If you really don't have a space or don't want to keep a mini bin in the car then try to put the rubbish somewhere that will leave the car with you when you get out. For example in your handbag or in your pocket. 

*Don't forget to eliminate any unused or unwanted items that perhaps once had a use, but now just linger in the boot or under a seat not seeing the light of day!

 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 12 - Donate Those Books!

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Love reading?

Me too! Such a great way to relax, escape from the pressures of everyday life and switch off at home, on holiday, on the train on the way to or from work.

Although some may now turn to digital versions on reading apps that we can download onto our devices, many still believe in the fact you can't beat reading from an old fashioned paperback!

However, taking a preference for the paper versions means that some people will become book collectors too! Sometimes when you enjoy a book so much, you feel like it'd be wrong to just get rid of it straight away, just in case you might read it again. We then end up popping it on a shelf and then not looking at it for years to come, if ever!

 

 

How can you stop yourself from creating your own extensive unused library (which you also don't have space for!!)?
 

It's easy to see how as time goes on that some people can become serial book hoarders. Here are a few ideas on how you can ditch the book clutter and stop this from happening again in the future.
 

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1. Empty every bookshelf/cupboard/bedside table that contains any books.

2. Unless it is a really important book like one that someone has given as a birthday or christening present, and unless it is a set of classic books that you whole-heartedly intend on reading to your children as they get older (I have all books by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter that will never leave my household!), then put it in the box that says 'donate'!

3. Sort your books to donate into groups if you're able to. Books that you can give to charity, books you can pass onto friends and family that you know will read them and books for children that may like them or that can donate them to their school library.

4. Sell any books online that are relatively new or collections that are worth a bit of money.

5. Visit you local library for new books to read! I really feel that our libraries are a majorly under-used facility that most towns and cities have. There is so much choice, they are a lovely place to visit with other like-minded readers and they have many other things you can borrow as well as books, including magazines, DVDs, audio books and some even have facilities such as 3D printers and organise visits from local authors. The best thing is you can take the books back and prevent space being used up in your own home.

 

30 Days To Organise Your Life! Day 11 - Bag It Up!

          Bags, Bags, Bags!

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Now I'm really not a bag person, yet I've managed to collect quite a few!

I tend to have certain bags that I use for specific times - weekend handbag (mainly filled with stuff for the children!), gym bag, evening handbag (on the rare nights that I manage to socialise!) and work handbag.

There are also a few other bags in the back of the wardrobe for specific occasions - backpacks, rucksacks and holdalls for holidays or weekends away, swimming bag, shopping bags, plastic bags, clutch bags. All this and I haven't even touched on suitcases, purses and vacuum packed bags!

Even though all of these bags are quite specific to what I use them for, I still find myself collecting many other bags that are almost duplicates of bags I already have. Different colours, styles, sizes etc, but essentially doing the same job.

Much of the time I end up just using the same bags like the ones mentioned earlier, which is a shame when the others are just sitting in the back of the wardrobe or hanging up with no where to go!

 

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What is the solution for these poor, lonely bags?
 

My default answer to these things is normally to de-clutter and get rid of anything you're not using!

However, sometimes it's just a case of reminding yourself of what you've got and re-organising, so that they live somewhere very visible that you will see on a daily basis. Go on give it a try - give those poor old bags an exciting outing!

If after attempting to use bags that haven't seen the light of day for a while you find that it's not just for you anymore, don't forget to  give your bags a second chance in life and take them down to your charity shop or donate them to a friend with young children - I can't count how many times my unloved bags and purses have gone to a loving home with a child instead!!