Six Most Valuable Lessons from my Six Items Challenge

Restricting my wardrobe to only six items for six weeks taught me valuable lessons about my habits!

When preparing for APDOs Spring Clearing Week, I came across the Six Item Challenge. Though it seemed a daunting task to stick to only six core items of clothing for six weeks, I love a good challenge so signed myself up! Now it's all over (yes I do feel a little relieved), I learned a whole lot about my wardrobe habits so I'm here to share my six most valuable lessons from my Six Items Challenge.

1) It's good to have less choice!

It's widely understood that the more decisions you have to make, the harder it becomes and the poorer choices you may make.

This 'decision fatigue' is the reason supermarkets offer a smaller range of products than they used to. They've realised that offering consumers too many brands and types of pasta sauce, for example, makes it more difficult to choose. Consumers may even walk away without making a purchase.

I believe the same is true of our wardrobes. Agonising over outfit choices each morning makes it more difficult to manage all those other important decisions. Why start the day like this?

To reduce the number of decisions they had to make each day, Einstein and Steve Jobs famously reduced their wardrobes so that they only had to choose from a small range of suites and shirts.

I found that only having 6 items to choose from really took the hard work out of deciding what to wear each day. It was so much easier, quicker and less stressful to get ready.

2) I was forced to get creative

At first I was worried. Would people notice that I was wearing the same thing every day? Would I get fed up of wearing the same things over and over again?

if I was going to survive 6 weeks, I had to get creative! I started to wear lipstick most days and explored a range of colours. My jewellery collection became more important, as I rediscovered my jewellery and wore a wider variety of statement earrings and necklaces. I also tried out scarves, coloured tights and even tried a few different hair styles.

I also revisited my perfumes. I know this doesn't change how you look but it did make a difference to how I felt. Even if I was working at home on my own, I made the effort to wear lipstick and perfume and it made me feel great!

I've read that you should dress for yourself, even if you're not going to see anyone, because it has a significant impact on your mindset, well-being and confidence. Until now, I never fully understood the impact but this is definitely a habit I intend to continue!

3) Less is more

I really found the reduced options quite liberating and having a reduced selection made me appreciate what I had.

At the start, I gave a lot of thought to the 6 items because I needed them to compliment each other to give the maximum number of outfit options. It was a real eye opener because I learned that I didn't need too many items to create lots of different looks. The Wardrobe Fairy created a great video on this and you can watch her here.

One of my biggest learnings however is that my wardrobe is not 'designed' but rather thrown together! I haven't shopped with any intention but bought individual items when I saw something I liked- not the best strategy!

Going forward, I intend to choose fewer items that compliment each other better so that I can create a versatile capsule-style wardrobe.

4) Rediscover treasures

Before the challenge, I'd gotten into a jewellery rut, wearing the same things or no jewellery at all.

This was a great opportunity to take a good look at my accessories and happily I rediscovered lots of jewellery that I'd forgotten. I kept the pieces I love or wanted to try out again and donated a large selection of things that I won't be revisiting!

Being early Spring, it has been rather cold so I was also pleased to dig out scarves that had been long forgotten.

5) Intentional purchasing

As I've mentioned, this challenge made me take a good look at my wardrobe and I realise that I need to have a more intentional approach to purchases.

I have no idea where my clothes come from, what conditions the workers who make them work in or their impact on the environment.

This challenge has made me think about these aspects of my shopping behaviour and shift my mindset. I've proven that I can dress for a range of occasions and feel great with less. Which means I can buy pieces that are better made, produced sustainable, produced ethically even though they may cost a little more.

6) Really look at what you have

Having lived with less, I will definitely be revisiting my wardrobe to see what I can release. There is nothing worse that opening your wardrobe to find a sea of items that make you feel guilty because you spent good money but haven't worn them. If I pass on the things I no longer love or wear, I'll benefit someone else and give myself the gift of a happy wardrobe.

You don't have to do the Six Item Challenge to really see what you have (though it's not as scary as it sounds!). Instead, look through your wardrobe and ask yourself Do I love it? Do I wear it? Does it go with anything else I own?

If the answer is No, you know what to do...

Sell, donate or recycle!

Easy January Organising Challenge

Here's the secret to easy January organising!

Are you feeling ready to get organised after the busyness of Christmas?

All you want to do is create some calm, space after the busy energy generated by decorations, visitors, present opening and everything that comes with Christmas celebrations.

I know the idea of having a good sort out doesn't necessarily fill you with excitement. And it's true that often you end up making a bit of a mess before it all comes together.

But the easy thing about my January challenge is you don't need to do it all at once, you don't even need to do it all. You don't need to feel under pressure to work through a big list of tasks even though you are busy.

With my January challenge all you have to do do is pick one thing (it can even be part of a task I've listed, or something else that you feel inspired to tackle).

Pick something that appeals and just have a go!

I promise you, you will feel amazing and be so pleased with the result, you might even want to have a go at another task, maybe!

Kitchen storage

Kitchen Challenge

Simplicity is the key!

Our kitchen is the heart of the home and we spend alot of time here preparing drinks and meals to nourish ourselves and our household and clearing up afterwards.

A cluttered kitchen can make it difficult to do this and the chaos can impact our mood. You know what it's like when you try to prepare something and there is no free counter space to put things down. Its frustrating and makes you want to avoid it. Not only that, but scientists have found that we make healthier food choices in a clutter-free environment.

When you have a clear counter and a good looking space, your kitchen will look inviting (and be much easier to clean) and make you feel that things are in order!

So, how can you achieve this?

  • Aim to keep counters clear. If you want to keep a few items out on show, make sure that these are items that you use regularly and/or LOVE
  • Arrange your kitchen for lazy people! Put the things your household uses regularly in easy to reach places and other less used items in harder to reach cupboards and shelves
  • Sort through your food stuffs, dispose of any out of date items, donate anything you are unlikely to use before their BBF date. Store packets in containers by category and stack cans by category and labels older items near the front. This will make it easy to find what you need for a meal and avoid food waste
  • Sell or donate those gadgets and utensils that you don't use, or where functions are duplicated. You don't need a blender if your food processor can also do this function and don't need a coffee grinder if you rarely drink fresh coffee
Corner Chair and plant

Lounge Challenge

And relax!

The lounge is the place we go to relax, to read, watch TV, hang out with family members and maybe pets. We want it to be a haven of calm and relaxation not a dumping ground for chaos and stuff that doesn't have a home.

Think about what you'd like this relaxing space to look and feel like and imagine what it should look like.

  • Now zip around the room removing everything that doesn't live in your ideal lounge
  • Donate/sell/recycle anything that you don't need (including old DVDs, music and computer consoles you no longer play)
  • Display the things that you love
  • Create spaces for those things that you do love or use, on shelves, in cupboards or elsewhere in the house depending on where you will use them
  • store similar things together close to where you'll use them - books by your favourite reading chair, DVDs near your DVD player
  • Have a box, basket or drawer in your lounge for remote controls and other bits and bobs that you want to be able to access but don't want to clutter the room

 

Bathroom storage

Bathroom Challenge

This is arguably the easiest room to tackle because there is unlikely to be any memorabilia in here. And you either use the products or you don't! ⁠

Gather everything from surfaces and cupboards and have a good look through. ⁠

1) Before you do anything else it's worth checking expiration dates. Items left open too long won't be as effective and some could harbour germs - check the labels for advice. You'll want to use these up ASAP or dispose of them as appropriate. ⁠

2) Then let's have a look at categorising them. Group them into those you use daily, weekly, monthly and those extras you've bought in bulk for later.⁠

If there are a few of you in your home, you may also want group them by person.⁠

3) Keep only the daily and weekly products out on a nearby surface or cupboard so that you can tidy them up easily. Use containers like the one in the pic (I used a fridge container) for all or for each person to keep them together and looking neat.⁠

Those monthly products and bulk purchases are needed less often so they can go away in cupboards out of sight. ⁠

Towels and bathroom storage
Laura Wardrobe organising

Wardrobe Challenge

Give yourself the gift of a great start

Do you have a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear? ⁠

That's what it can feel like when you're under pressure to get ready for the day and are faced with a wardrobe of chaos.⁠

Give yourself the gift of an easy start each morning by organising your wardrobe to make it easy to find what makes you feel fabulous.⁠

What to try:
1) If you have time for a good sort out:⁠
- empty your wardrobe onto your bed and sort clothes into categories⁠
- review each category of clothing, filtering out items that are worn out, ill-fitting and you just don't love to wear⁠
- put aside items that you wear rarely but expect to wear again in future, considering size and style (e.g. ball gown, wet suit etc)⁠
- if you are unsure whether you will wear an item, return it to the wardrobe and make a note in your diary to review it again in x months⁠
- return items, organising into categories⁠
- turn hangers away from you and as you wear items turn the hanger towards you - you'll easily be able to see what you have not worn next time you review your wardrobe⁠

Some people organise by colour so that they can coordinate outfits quickly, others organise by occasion (work, casual, going out) and others prefer to hang items by fabric (thinnest to thickest). All work perfectly well, you just need to find what works for you.⁠

2) If you don't have lots of time:⁠
- have a cursory look through your wardrobe and pull out anything you know doesn't fit, you don't like to wear or is worn out⁠
- sort your clothing into categories as above⁠
- turn hangers away from you and as you wear items turn the hanger towards you - you'll easily be able to see what you have not worn next time you review your wardrobe⁠
- diarise another review⁠

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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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Storage Ideas for Children’s Things

School holidays are the perfect time to organise children’s things. You can engage your children in sharing the toys, books and clothes that they’ve out grown and learning important organising skills for themselves.

You can read more about decluttering with children in my previous blog. Here I share ideas for organising clothes and common toys:

Children’s Clothes

Store clothes that you want your child to access easily to get themselves ready, in drawers at their height. It’s a faff the first time, but if you fold everything into small chunks (Marie Kondo style so that they stand up in the drawer) and use small boxes or dividers to separate the vests, tops, leggings etc. It’s really easy to see everything and choose outfits quickly. It’s also easy to maintain.

Hang coats, dresses, things that crease easily in a wardrobe, putting items you rather they didn’t get hold off to the edge, out of the way.

Given that children grow so quickly, I find it’s unusual to have more than a few seasons worth of clothes out at one time, so I tend to hang things in sections – q) starting to grow out of, 2) fits, 3) need to grow into. Use high shelves to stash a clear plastic box of hand-me-downs and clothes you’ve bought in sales ready for them to grow into.

Lego

Lego and other construction toys can be tough to store because there’s so much of it and it gets everywhere. If you’ve looked at storage ideas before you’ll have seen there are lots of ideas from Lego tables, walls, drawers and so on. I think your approach to storage works best when tailored to the way your child likes to play with it. Your main aim is to make it as easy as possible to put away for everyone.

If your child likes to build the individual kits then store in individual bags or boxes of a suitable size and include the instructions too.

If your child likes to create new things from their kits, and you don’t see value in having different coloured sections, a large crate works very well. Everything can be swept into it at the end of a session and new things created next time. We keep the instructions in a magazine file but a clear pocket book is a good alternative.

Here is a great example of a Toy Storage Bag and Kids Play Mat which can make tidying easier. A large blanket is a great alternative.

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Books

Create a cosy book corner or library area where all books live. Store books on little shelves, in book cases or boxes depending on the volume, size and age of your child. Add cushions, a comfy chair or bean bag and maybe a canopy to make it feel like a safe and special nook for quiet time. It’ll give them the freedom to choose their own stories, read independently and be a great place for your child to sit quietly and relax. Also, it’ll be easy to keep the house tidy – all books are returned to this place.

Crafts things

I love to use clear plastic crates with lids for craft items so that the contents can be easily identified. Large ones work for papers and coloured card. Smaller containers are good for beads, feathers, goggly eyes and the like.

If you have a cupboard to pop these boxes away that close to the table or messy area that works well.

If you have a cupboard to pop these boxes away that close to the table or messy area that works well.

Whatever you choose…

Whatever storage methods you choose, containers, whether clear plastic crates with lids or colourful boxes make sure to choose the shapes and sizes to suit your space. Aim to keep similar items together, creating zones for different toys close to suitable space to play and label as much as you can. Perhaps have a baby nursery in the bedroom and leave craft materials for a downstairs space, where you can supervise their use.

If you can engage your child in creating the labels and use colourful images this will be more meaningful for them and will help them remember where to tidy things back to.

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.

The Perfect Time to Organise Children’s Things

The school holidays are the perfect time to review your children’s toys and clothes.

As you all take a breath after the chaos of the term-time routine, you will start to spot the things that your children no longer need, have grown out of and fallen out of love with.

The holidays provide a great opportunity to remove those old toys, unloved items, out-grown books and clothes. Whilst you could whisk some things away while your children are at nursery or school (and I have done this myself occasionally), it’s good to involve them, engaging them in the task, methods and reasons why it’s good to pass things and important to help them create healthy habits that will stay with them into adulthood.

You will help your growing child to make room for new hobbies, new toys (as birthdays come along) and  new interests and it’s a great activity to keep everyone entertained on a rainy day.

A good organising session will also mean you’ll all go into the new term feeling lighter, clearer and better prepared.

Organising our possessions is a valuable life skill we can teach our children - Laura Williams

It can feel daunting but involving your children in the activity gives them:

  • A joint activity to do with you
  • The ability to find what they want to play with easily
  • A sense of responsibility for their own things
  • Skills that will stay with them as they grow
  • Some appreciation of the toys they have
  • Ability to share their things with other less fortunate children

Baby dolls

In the same way you want to be engaged, enjoy activities and understand why you need to do them, so do your children.

How you engage them twill depend on their age and their personality, so here are 10 ideas to try:

  1. Explain what you are going to do together and why
  2. Make it fun with a game, playing music or having a race
  3. Create a competition with a prize for the most well organised room
  4. Talk about children less for fortunate than themselves and get them to imagine what it might be like
  5. Get them to make a list of their most favourite toys so that you can ‘protect’ these
  6. Show them that they will be able to find the things they want to play with more easily
  7. Explain that you’ll be able to store toys close to where they want to play with them so it’ll be easier to play
  8. Ask them to look around a messy room and ask them how it feels, get them to imagine what it would be like if there was clear space to play on the floor, do crafts or dance about 
  9. Show them videos, pictures from websites or leaflets from charities that support children, explain that these children don’t have any toys and will love to receive one of theirs that they no longer need
  10. Explain that there is not lots of room in the house so it’s important than when we no longer need something we give it to someone else to enjoy. Give examples of things you’ve managed in this way

Before you embark on your organising session make sure that you are ready for a declutter first:

  • Get boxes ready for charity donations, recycling and rubbish
  • Choose a room or area (such as area of room, a cupboard) depending on the time available
  • Think about how you are going to remove the items you’ve sorted out from your home before someone find them and changes their mind

Once you’ve decluttered and know what you want to keep, organise items by category, storing them where they’wll be used.

See part 2, coming soon, for storage ideas for children’s clothes and toys.

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.