Three Top Organising Principles

I was asked to share my top tips recently and jumped at the chance to share these top three organising principles.

These principles are so effective for helping you to get organised and keep on top of your clutter because they make you intentional about how you manage your things!

 

1) Have a place for everything.

One of the key reasons we get into a muddle is because we don’t have a home for our things so they are left lying around or put down in a spot to deal with later, and later never comes. As we know clutter attracts more clutter, and before you know it, your counters or floors are a mass of things that don’t have a home.

Make sure you decide on a home for the items you want to keep so that you and others in your household know where to return them when finished with. If you know where it goes, you’re more likely to return it to its place – whether that’s straight away or when having a daily tidy-up. You also know the first place to look when you need it again!

 

2) Store the things you use most often in easy to access spots.

Ofcourse this makes complete sense when we think about being able to find things as you need them, but the real reason we want easy access is to make it easier to put them back!

If you need an item, you are quite likely to get a stool out and climb up to a high shelf to get it, but you are also more likely to leave it out because you can’t face the effort needed to return it. You may think to yourself, I’ll need it again in a few days anyway so what’s the point in making the effort? That’s a recipe for clutter just there!

Make it easy to put away, and you will save yourself the clutter and a big tidy-up job later.

3) Review your things regularly.

Often we don’t even remember what we do have. Possessions get hidden behind other things, those items we use infrequently get forgotten and if we can’t find something, we may even purchase another when we need it. A regular review of your possessions (not necessarily all in one go!) is an invaluable way of understanding what you have and ensuring that it’s accessible. If it’s no longer needed, this also gives you a great opportunity to remove it from your home – selling, donating or recycling as you go.

The One in, One out rule is a helpful prompt for this review. Each time you buy something new, move an item on. It could be a similar item such as a when you replace a jumper or bathroom towel set, or it could just be another unrelated item of a similar size. The key is to maintain (or even reduce if you wish) the number of possessions in your home so that you don’t become overwhelmed with a build-up of things over time.

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Six steps to your post-summer declutter

It’s the end of the first week after the summer holidays, the weather is changing and thoughts turn to the last quarter of the year. It’s a good time to clear away the summer clutter and make room for your final goals of 2019. But it can be hard to know where to start so let’s think about how you can create more space in your home and your life with these 6 steps to your post-summer declutter.

You could sweep around your home, reviewing each room and removing the things that you no longer need but this can feel too overwhelming so try these 6 steps to work your way through your summer clutter systematically. Focusing on the items that you typically use during the summer means that you’ve recently used them (or not) so it will be easy to make decisions and you won’t miss them during the autumn and winter months. Work through these steps, tackling the bulkiest and easiest categories first to create lots more space for you and your household.

Why is now a good time to declutter?

Now is the perfect time to declutter! You've had a busy summer, spent lots of time outdoors, spent time with the family and less time in your home. You may have been away and accumulated lots of new things along the way. It's a great opportunity to review your things when you've recently used them. The weather is still fine (most of the time) so you have outside space if you need it. The light is still quite good and you still have some energy in the evenings. Make the most of it!

Where should I start?

Good question! I'd start with the bulkiest items or the room you use the most. Dealing with the things that take up the most space, or that are taking up space where you want to live, relax or sleep, that are well worth the effort and will make you feel motivated to keep going!

How can I make decisions/what should I ask myself?

Some things are really easy to make decisions on, some not so easy.

I'd suggest you look at the item and ask yourself....

  • Have I used it this summer? Or do I know I will next summer (e.g. you have a Scuba holiday planned for next year)
  • Am I likely to need it in the foreseeable future?
  • Does the ease/cost of replacing it when I next need it, out-way the inconvenience of storing it in my home?
  • Could I borrow it from a friend of relative next time I want one, rather than storing this?

Try these six steps...

Now we've tackled those questions, lets get started. These steps are easy to crack on with and will help you clear out the summer clutter. Who know's you may even catch the decluttering bug and tackle some of those other projects too!

  1. Start with seasonal items that you are no longer going to use. Clean, review and pack away your camping gear, sports equipment (such as scuba). Pack away suitcases, pop plug converters, wash bags, smaller travel bags inside the suitcase ready for your next trip
  2. Now move onto items that you’ve used over the summer and think about what you’ve not found useful. We tend to have more picnics over the summer so you’ve got a feeling for the containers that you’ve used and those that have not been used very much at all. Sort through lunch boxes, food containers, drinks flasks, and travel mugs, pass on any that you didn’t use this summer and don’t foresee using in future
  3. Review towels and bedlinen, donate any that are worn out or haven’t been used. Keep only enough for your household, allowing for wash cycles, and the maximum number of guests you are likely to have at one time
  4. Look through your summer wardrobe; shorts, t-shirts and swimwear, donate anything that you didn’t wear this summer. You may still wear some summer clothing over the coming weeks, but have a think about how you wish to store these clothes when you are finished with them. You might move them areas that are more awkward to access (high shelves or lower drawers) until next summer
  5. Review your summer shoes, sandals, trainers and donate any that you’ve not worn, dispose of any that are damaged
  6. Pass on or donate those summer reads and any books that your children have grown out of. Take the opportunity to review the shelves in your living space to simplify the visual landscape too.

These first steps are a great way to clear your space and freshen up your home for the autumn months. Good luck!

Would you like help getting organised?

OrganisedWell is Laura Williams. Read more About Me or How I can help you to manage your possessions and get better organised.

Discover how the Apps I love could make you better organised

All the Apps you need to be better organised are in the palm of your hand!

If you have a smart phone, you have a small computer in the palm of your hands and a fantastic opportunity to use Apps to help you be better organised.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love to use my phone to stay organised wherever possible rather than collect bits of paper to lose and clutter up the place!

I hope that I can save you a little time, effort or stress each day by sharing the Apps that I love (ofcourse there are others available).

Audible - Audio book app

I'm not good at making time to read and have to regularly sort out the books I've bought but not read. Then I discovered Audible; what a game-changer! I can sneak a chapter in whilst walking to town, driving, hanging the washing out, tidying round the house... you name it!

Wishlists are great for queuing up the books I want to read and it's so easy to take a number of books on holiday without taking up space. I love that I can re-read chapters or books that I've enjoyed. And the best bit - storing my books is so much easier. No more overflowing book shelves and no piles of un-read books cluttering up the house!


Just so you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Be Focused - focus timer & goal tracker

You may have heard of the Pomodoro Technique - which provides a simple tool for improving productivity. The technique involves planning and prioritising your activities, breaking them down into 25 min chunks with a 5 min break.

This app is a great for planning, timing and reviewing your activities.

Podcasts

Ok, this isn't quite an app but wow what a world you can open up using your phone's podcast application.

Whenever I'm doing a physical task that doesn't need concentration, and if I'm not listening to an audio book, I'll often listen to a podcast or two. There are some great dramas, quiz shows, knowledge shows, specialist and inspirational podcasts available to start your day or keep you motivated.

Flora - Focus app

My hubby uses this lovely app to help him avoid being distracted by his phone at times when he wants to focus.

Plant a seed and it will gradually grow while you focus on what's important. Resist using your phone and see your tree grow and thrive!

Bonus print

I take a million photos on my phone and although I upload them to a drive regularly, I've wanted to find an easy way to print photo books for ages.

I dread the idea of sitting down at a computer and putting together elaborate books, but then I discovered this app and used it to pull together a quick book of our holiday snaps. It was really easy to do and within a week of returning we had a lovely book of memories.

All I need to do is go back over previous trips and do the same!

SimpleMind app

If you love a good mindmap, you'll love this app. Mindmaps are great for creating and remembering all sorts of plans, notes and ideas in a visual format.

I love that I can now create mindmaps on my phone. They are crisp, easy to manage and flexible so I can make amendments as I need to.

Stocard

This app really enabled me to significantly reduce the amount of stuff that I carry around with me - I even do away with my handbag on many occasions.

I store my store cards and most membership cards including National Trust and the library on the app. Now I have all the cards I need, even if I'm visiting a shop I rarely go to. If it has a barcode or a QR code it can be saved - you can even add a photo to easily identify it in your app.

I have found that some stores scanners don't always like the phone screen but you can always key in your card code manually.

Between this and Apple pay it's now really easy to travel light and still have all the cards I need whenever I need to!

What do you think?

Do any of these sound helpful for you? Are there any other Apps you've tried and love? Share your experience with our community in the comments below!

Would you like help getting organised?

OrganisedWell is Laura Williams. Read more About Me or How I can help you to manage your possessions and get better organised.

An Organiser’s guide to surviving the school holidays

Does the thought of the school holidays fill you with dread?

Do you remember when you couldn't wait to finish school and have the summer ahead of you?
Hanging out with friends, long summer days and doing whatever you fancied. No teachers telling you what to do and only a little homework to do, which you left until the week before you went back. Oh the freedom!
Then we grew up and had children. Now we have all these responsibilities!
Summer holidays means juggling all the usual, plus extra childcare, trips and family activities! It can feel impossible to get it right and satisfy everyone.
So let's just keep it simple! Here are a few ideas for a calmer summer.

1) Don't stress too much about your home

I think I'm supposed to suggest that the school holidays are the best time to have a really good sort out, but frankly, who wants to be doing that when you'd rather be spending time with family, friends, or outside (hopefully enjoying nice weather), when you're not at work!

If you have time and can get your children involved, the holidays are a good opportunity to engage your children in some decluttering and organising because you all have the time and may be open to using some of it exploring old possessions and having a fun tidy. The good weather, fresh air and outside play may motivate them to free their inside space of old toys, books, games and stuff cluttering up their room.

Older children may also appreciate the opportunity to prepare a calm, orderly environment to support them when back to their studies.

My previous blogs give you ideas on how to approach Organising with your children and on Organising children's things.

If this isn't for you, that's ok. Don't worry about it. The family are likely to be outside quite a lot during the summer so you will all be less encumbered by your stuff.

Maintain as best you can during this time.

Recycle unnecessary paperwork as it comes in and donate any unused items as you spot them. Tidy out kitchen drawers and cupboards or sort wardrobes in preparation for new school uniform and autumn clothes.
You can recover after the holidays are over and you get back to normal routines. Perhaps you can get someone to take family out so that you can have a good sort out then. September is often a good time to reclaim control of your home and use the inspiration have gained from outings or hotel stays, to motivate you to make changes at home, in preparation for the autumn and Christmas.

2) Plan where you can

Getting organised in advance will take a little of time before hand but will be well worth the investment.
I've talked before about planning your week and creating meal plans before. It can really help you feel better prepared, have everything you need and have a smoother week. A shared wall planner (or electronic calendar) also helps everyone understand what's happening.
I'd advocate doing the same for the holidays - you don't have to stick to the plan but if you list the places you'd all like to visit, or things to do, this enables you to make time for these (don't forget chill out time too!). Make the most of any discounts and to prepare outfits (hello washing mountains!) and meal plans so that you don't need to think about meals and food shopping on the fly.

3) Get away

If you are planning on going away, whether abroad or in the UK, you can make life easy for yourself by using checklists to help manage your packing.

There is nothing worse than getting to your destination to find you only brought 17 sets of left contact lense (yes we've done that!).

Checklists may seem a bit over-kill but are a must have to save so much time and stress. It makes shopping and packing easy and you have the time and head space to get prepared!

I have friends who have honed their checklists, making packing a quick and easy task. They keep their lists packed away with the suitcases ready for future trips.

We do the same for camping gear making it so much easier to just throw everything in the car and escape for the weekend without worrying we've left things behind.

If self-catering or camping in the UK, meal planning before you go is so helpful. You can arrange a grocery delivery or visit a local supermarket and have everything for the week. Not only does it help you budget, ensure that you have meals that everyone will eat, but it's is a great way to make the most of picnics opportunities. It also takes the hassle out of dinner preparation and you can pack any extra bits you need to prepare a meal (such as special pan, ingredient or recipe).

Top 5 packing tips:

  1. Pack bags by person or categories so it's easy to find things when you arrive (e.g. chargers, medication, games, clothes beach items)
  2. Use smaller bags inside your suitcase or bag to manage groups of items (e.g. chargers, shoes, toiletries & bottles)
  3. Fold items that go together to make up outfits together so that you can easily bottoms and matching tops
  4. Pack smaller items into hollow items (e.g. socks into bras, pants into shoes)
  5. Nominate a responsible person who carries the bag with all essentials for the trip - tickets, money, keys, cards, important documents, chewing gum/sweets, hand gel, tissues, etc

My Packing Essentials checklists are perfect for making packing easy-peasy whilst ensuring that you don't forget those essentials.

I've created three tailored for different trips; camping, travel abroad and in the UK.

Seven ideas to create that holiday feeling at home

As I ponder our recent holiday, I wonder whether you can have this feeling all the time.

Is it possible to take the pressure off and rid yourself of distractions all the time? I think it may be. Here are my 7 ideas to help you create that holiday feeling at home.

I’m very lucky, last week I
took the opportunity to write this blog post in a little cafe with a fabulous seaside view! I reflected on our week and the fun we’d had but also felt a tiny pang of dread as a I realised that we’d soon have to return home. Here’s what I had to say…

Holidays are a fabulous opportunity to put aside valuable time with the family and make space to relax.

Clutter free

It’s been wonderful to have a little break away, to be able to kick back and relax together, but you know that feeling when you have to go home to normality. They’ll be no food in, a mountain of washing and plenty of jobs to do around the house and garden. And that’s before even thinking about the busy week ahead at work and at home.

It sounds strange but I’ll miss our holiday accommodation. We stayed in a gorgeous house, decorated simply and we only took the clothes and toilettries that we needed. It was cosy but calm. I love holiday accommodation because there is no clutter, no paperwork, no jobs that needed doing, and no toys and stuff to clutter up the space or make you feel disorganised or distracted.

Space to be…

Time away creates the time and space to relax. To play games as a family, spend leisurely mealtimes, read and enjoy ourselves without pressure. I’d planned all of our meals so apart from cooking and cleaning up afterwards, there was no pressure to tidy and no clutter to distract us. I had time to do the things that I valued with my favourite people.

As I sit drinking my lemonade, I wonder: what can you do to create this ‘holiday’ feeling at home? To remove the clutter, the excess and the pressure to free up time and head space?

Here are some of my seven ideas to create that holiday feeling at home!

  1. Designate weekends as holiday time – do as much of the washing and cleaning activities as possible before Saturday morning. Schedule washing loads (Tuesday is dark load, Wednesday towel load, etc) and cleaning tasks for evenings during the week
  2. Do food shopping during the week or arrange for a delivery on a Friday night (the cheapest time of the week for many delivery services)
  3. Have staples delivered regularly so you don’t need to think about buying them (here are a few companies that I love – other suppliers are available!)
    1. Milk and More – a milk delivery is better for the environment and takes the headache out of ensuring a regular supply of milk (includes non-dairy too)
    2. SMOL will deliver washing and dishwasher tablets according to your usage levels
    3. Amazon deliver eco-friendly toilet rolls, liquid soap refills, fabric conditioner and other household products
    4. Abel and Cole – get fresh fruit and veg delivered weekly so you don’t have to think about it. You know what you’re going to receive so can meal plan each week
  4. Focus on making your living areas (kitchen, lounge, dinning room) into your holiday home. Think like you were on holiday what would be the minimum furniture, equipment and possessions you’d need? Anything you identify as not needed for your holiday home can be sold, donated or recycled
  5. Make it a rule that the dining room table is left clear after meals so that you always have space to play games, draw, bake or do crafts
  6. Create storage for items that are needed for work or school in the hallway. This is the ideal spot to store bags, coats and shoes that you will need the following day
  7. Switch off phones, tablets and TV for an agreed period of time. Technology is a huge distraction, emails, social media, news app, etc, they are all designed to keep you interested. Physically removing your tech gives you the opportunity to unplug and focus on your family or just sit and be.

Try this a at home

If you like what you’ve read and try some of these out at home, do let me know how you get on! If you want to revamp your hall storage, I’ve collated my favourite storage products to save you time. Click here…

And don’t forget, I’m here for you if you want help with reviewing or organising your things, your diary or your routine.

About OrganisedWell

Would you like help getting organised?

Laura Williams, Founder and Professional Organiser

If you need guidance, ideas and practical support to make more of your home, organise your possessions in a way that supports your best life or to get started with your decluttering project, then give me a call.

I provide tailored advice and practical support to clients looking to make changes, to create calm, ordered space and free up time and money to focus on the important things in life.

I specialise in organising rooms, garages, wardrobes, paperwork and much more; see my services or get in touch.