Happy New Year friends! I can’t believe 2015 is here already. 2014 flew by SO fast! Having a baby has made time go by even faster now too, which is not okay; it means she’s growing up way too fast! But, I’m so excited to see what great things 2015 has in store for us!
When a new year approaches, I really start to think about how I can declutter and get organized. Oh, who am I kidding. I’m always thinking about how I can declutter and organize. I’m a Type-A-clean-freak like that. But, a new year definitely makes organizing seem that much more exciting and necessary.
When I say declutter and organize though, I don’t just mean around the house. I’m talking about also decluttering my mind. Let’s face it; life can get so busy and stressful sometimes that it can literally drive us crazy. For me, (and David, too!) I have a hard time concentrating and functioning when everything around me is in disarray. Messy house = messy mind. Don’t think we have all of the following perfected, either. Not even close. But, we do our best, and plan on trying even harder in this new year. So, it’s time to clean it all up and out, and get ready to have a much more relaxing 2015! Well, theoretically, anyway.
Today, I’m sharing with you 15 ways that we EASILY decluttered our life!
1. Less is More
You’ve heard this saying before, but have you thought about it in terms of your life? Less is more when it comes to so many things; stuff in your house, apps on your phone, thoughts in your brain. You will feel so much MORE relaxed and focused when you have LESS stuff in your life! So, this year, aim for less going on in your world. Stop trying to do and go to everything. It’s OK to relax at home on the couch. Trust me; we do it almost nightly. 😉
I promise you’ll not only feel better with less going on; you’ll function better, too!
2. Organize Your Mail/Set up a Filing System
This used to be what our counter often looked like. Every time I walked by I’d feel a tinge of stress, knowing I needed to organize and go through it all at some point. But then, I made our family a command center (See the full post HERE). We became SO much more organized, and I now had a place for those piles in my DIY mail sorters (did you know I made them out of a shoebox?). When we open the mail, it goes in the corresponding sorter to take care of when needed. Now when I walk by my (mostly) clean counters I can smile, instead of feeling stressed.
We (I…) are also a bit old-school, and like having a filing cabinet where we keep our important documents and bills. Have a place where you can file things away, instead of having piles everywhere of important documents you’ll need later on. Your mind will be at ease knowing it’s all in one place next time you need something! If you’re the digital type and prefer storing your documents online, read Abby from Just a Girl and her Blog’s fabulous post on how to go paperless! I’m sure I’ll head in that direction eventually. But for now, do something that works for you!
3. Clean Out Your Car
Because we tend to spend so much time in our cars these days, they sometimes look worse than our houses. Truth? Our car mostly gets littered with baby toys and clothes, along with some random stuff thrown in that we just didn’t want to bring inside with us. However; when my car is clean, I feel SO much better! I can’t tell you how many times I go to put Jade in her carseat and look around the car thinking, “uuugh, this is gross. One of these days, I’ve got to clean this out.” Anyone else think that about their cars from time to time? Make it a point once every weekend to declutter the inside of your car. Throw out old coffee cups and trash, bring inside any clothes, shoes, or toys. You can even give it a quick vacuum job if you’re really feeling like getting clean! You will start the week with a freshly clean car (at least on the inside!), making you feel less stressed when you get in to go somewhere.
4. Label Everything
It can be slightly daunting to open up a pantry or cupboard and see jars and tupperware with without any labels. It’s no fun trying to do the guessing game and figure out what’s inside. Talk about annoying! I like to label anything and everything I can, which helps me feel so much more organized. Using a dry-erase pen on plastic tupperware or glass jars in the fridge is a great way to label and date any food without having to print out special labels! For the pantry, there are a million pretty labels you can find on Pinterest to suit your needs (such as these pretty ones from The Graphic Fairy or these ones from Stylish Living!). For the garage, I label any storage bins and boxes as well. I don’t normally go fancy on those; I use a piece of duct tape and label with a sharpie. Not everything has to be pretty. Right?! And, if we decide to use a plastic storage bin for something else, I can easily just peel off the duct tape. All of Jade’s closet bins are labeled, whether they be clothing, toys, or shoes. You can also invest in a good labeling device which can really make organizing easier; and fun!
Labeling, though time consuming at first, makes your mind less cluttered because you’re not constantly trying to remember what is in this or that!
5. Purge Unused Items
Every couple of months (or at the start of each new season!), David and I will go through our house and garage, putting everything we don’t really use or want into boxes. We make a Goodwill run and purge. I gotta say, I feel lighter every single time! We just took a huge load to the Goodwill just last weekend, and our garage looks so much better. You don’t realize how much stuff you accumulate until you go through it all.
Purging doesn’t necessarily mean donating things to Goodwill or other charity. Sell things on Craigslist as well, and make a couple bucks! Making a point to purge in some way at the start of every new season will help keep your house (and mind!) free of unnecessary clutter.
6. Have a Smartphone? Use Your Reminder App!
Friends, this is new to me, as I recently (like as in two weeks ago…) got with the times and bought an iPhone. But let me tell you what a WORLD of difference using the reminder app makes! I now use it for everrrrryyyttthhhiiinggg! This has taken a huge load off my mind because normally I try to keep a mental list of my to-do’s each day. I think I can do it all, but in reality, I SO cannot. Now, I can put it in my phone and simply not think about it. My phone will remind me when it’s time to do something, and I can easily do it. Even though I love love LOVE writing lists and checking things off (wow, now I seriously sound like I live in the stone age!), even I have to admit how much easier this is. If you have an Android phone (these are also for iPhone users, too!), then two fabulous reminder apps are Any.do and Wunderlist.
7. Finish One Task at a Time
I have a confession. I think I can do it all and then some. But, guess what? I’m totally not all that. At ALL. Though I may try to do 15 things at once, I never finish things and my mind goes in a zillion different directions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually quite good at multi-tasking; but it often ends there. This is something I need to work on, too! Finishing something before moving on to another project or activity will help declutter your mind and make you feel like you really accomplished something. When I do actually take the time to finish something, I always feel SO good!
8. Store Instructions Manuals to All-The-Things in One Place
I recently tackled this insanely messy drawer. It may appear like a junk drawer, but it was mostly instruction manuals with some stuff thrown in on top. Anytime we bought a new appliance, electronic, or toy, we’d throw the instruction manual in there. It was full to the brim, and clearly, a complete disaster. Finally, I bought a 2 inch binder, and organized them all by categories. I put each manual (or a few that were similar in nature) in a plastic page protector, and put it into the binder. I labeled dividers for Electronics, Appliances, etc. It housed all our important manuals for kitchen appliances, washer and dryers, coffee maker, KitchenAid mixer, vacuum, and more. Some of them had warranties, and we wanted to know they were all in one place. If we end up deciding to sell or give away something, we can easily find the manual to put with the item.If you prefer to not have extra paper around, you can easily just download most instruction manuals online and keep them on your Cloud or other storage devices!
9. Organize Any “Junk Drawers”
We ALL have them. Some of us have several. The infamous junk drawer; filled with random odds and ends and stuff we don’t know where to put. These are totally acceptable to have. It’s just a matter of somewhat “organizing” that junk to not make it look like a bomb went off inside the drawer every time it’s opened. If the job of cleaning it out sounds horrifying and intimidating to you, don’t stress! Just take half an hour to an hour every weekend and slowly organize all your junk drawers. Use little cups, boxes, jars, whatever you have to help put the “junk” in a somewhat orderly fashion so you don’t go crazy. I recycled a few single-serving yogurt containers to help coordinate our random junk, as well as some small gift boxes that I wasn’t using. Another great idea is to make your own wooden drawer organizers to fit your needs. The Organized mom has a fabulous tutorial on how to do this!
10. Remove Unused Phone Apps/Save and Delete Pictures
I try to do this often. Before I had my iPhone, my Android would get so full SO fast. I would go through about once a month and delete old photos I didn’t want to save, then I’d upload the rest to my computer and delete them off my phone. It made my phone a little faster and freed up a ton of room. Apparently, I take a lot of pictures! I also had way too many phone apps, and several I had downloaded for fun and never even used. I would go through and delete the ones I haven’t used in a month or two. It really decluttered my phone, and made it run so much better. With as much as we are all on our devices nowadays, they can get cluttered and unknowingly even stress us out, too!
11. Clean Out Your Pantry and Refrigerator
I try to do this once a month. I search through both our fridge and pantry, checking for food that is stale or has gone bad. If something is pretty far out-of-date or looking nasty, out it goes. This is a great opportunity to re-label things you forgot, as well as make room for new items, too. Devote an hour or two one weekend a month to doing this; you’ll be glad you did!
12. Menu Plan Every Week
You guys, this one changed my life. Ok, not literally, but you catch my drift. It is SO. SIMPLE. I have no idea why I didn’t do it before, but I will tell you that I will always do it from here on out! Every afternoon around 3pm I’d think to myself, “ahh shoot, WHAT am I going to make for dinner tonight?!” I’d then drop everything and scramble to figure something out, even if that meant running to the store to get something specifically for that meal. Not only was that completely inefficient, but it also was costing us more! I’d be going to the grocery store 3 or 4 times a week. Once I got my command center up and running, I had a space for a menu board. Now, every Sunday, I ask David if there’s anything specific he’d like, and I look through a few tried and true recipes and cookbooks to plan out our dinners. I make a grocery list of everything we’ll need for those meals, and on Monday I do my grocery shopping. I know, you’re probably thinking, “Uh, Amanda, who DOESN’T do that already??” Well, the answer is no longer ME! No more afternoon stress for this momma. I know ahead of time what I’m going to make, AND have all the ingredients ready to go! Seriously, if you don’t menu plan already, DO IT!
If you need a great little weekly menu to print out, The Casual Craftlete has a simple and cute one!
13. Tidy up The House Before Bed
This is something I just HAVE to do or I can’t sleep. Remember that Friends episode where Monica is laying in bed debating about wanting to go out and clean up her living room? Yeah, that’s me if I don’t do it before bed. It doesn’t take long, but I go around the living room and kitchen, picking up toys and putting them away, and tidying up the counters. I also do any dishes, because I can’t leave any overnight. Otherwise, I can’t sleep! Sometimes I do this right after Jade goes to bed, so I can relax so much easier the rest of evening and not have to worry about it. It’s so nice to wake up to a tidy house, too, knowing I can start my day with one less thing to worry about. Pick a room you spend the most time in, and just quickly do a once-over to make sure you feel relaxed in the morning. You don’t want to wake up stressed thinking about your messy living room! (or is that just me?!)
14. Have a Laundry/Cleaning Schedule
I do my laundry on the same day every week. I know it may be different for everyone, depending on if you have kids and how many. For us, I do clothes and towels twice a week and our sheets once a each week. I like having this routine and knowing when I wake up which load of laundry I need to throw in, if necessary. I also keep a set schedule of what to clean each day. Sundays I vacuum, Monday I mop the floors, Tuesday I clean the bathrooms, etc. A great free printable to help you remember is this Home Management Cleaning Schedule by DIY Home Sweet Home. The best part is you can fill in your own schedule that works for you. One less thing to worry about each day!
15. Sign up Your Bills for Auto-Pay
David does most of the bill paying, but I most definitely agree with his decision on this one. When you sign up for Auto Bill pay, not only do you NOT have to remember to pay your bills, but most companies will let you set it up to deduct the amount owed on a certain day each month that works for you. It’s a win-win! Not all companies offer this luxury however, as we have a couple that we still have to manually pay online or write checks for and send in. To help us remember when things need to be paid, we use our handy dandy phone reminder app to remind us of the date we need to pay them! Works like a charm, and we’re not stressing out about if we paid a certain bill or not and if they’re going to shut off our power.
There you have it friends. 15 super easy ways that helped us declutter our life; and I think they will really help you, too! They may all collectively sound intimidating, but implementing them really isn’t hard. It might take some time, but chisel away at each one a little bit every weekend, and you’ll be stress-free in no time! If you have older kids, you can even make this a family affair, by enlisting the help of your kiddos. They can easily help clean out the fridge or pantry, help tidy up the car each week, and even pick up their own toys and “tidy up” their rooms before bed. Everyone in your family will feel refreshed and relaxed having such a clean and clutter-free life!
Do you have any tips or ways that you use to declutter you life? I’d love to hear about them!
I hope 2015 has started off great for you! Happy weekend!