Reducing Clutter: Switching to Higher Quality Products

     Reducing Clutter: Switching to Higher Quality Products

     Who doesn't like to save some cash on budget products? I do.

     Many times price tag was the final factor I give preference to one product and not the other. For budgeting purposes I set notional price limits for a piece which I usually didn't exceed.
     Buying clothing? Oh, I cannot afford to spend too much. Instead of one expensive pieces, I'll take three of a lower price! Just to have more choices and alter them.
     Buying accessories? The same concept – more and cheaper is better. More choices!
    Want to try something new but not sure if I need it? I will buy budget option and see!

     Finally I realized I kept buying things which didn't make me satisfied. I may be not satisfied with quality, performance or design. And kept buying the same things thinking I will find better piece.

     Once I started decluttering, many things were replaced with higher quality equivalents. And I noticed I stopped craving to buy something new (hoping it's something better) than already have.

     I started with the easiest (and my favorite!) category to experiment: clothing. For a long time I wanted to improve my weekend wardrobe, so I use it as a start.

     I had very voluminous range of budget weekend clothing – and yes, was not satisfied with that wardrobe.
      I think it’s fine for women to wish looking pretty. Clothing we wear does have a big impact to that, and it’s hard to feel pretty wearing unsightly clothing. On weekend I usually didn’t look presentable and was not happy with that.

For sure switching to quality products is costy. But for me – from clutter aspect - it will be an advantage as I cannot keep buying expensive things often, so it restrains me from unnecessary spendings. Unlike cheaper options which are attractive by their price tag in the first place.

     That’s ok I will have less options available, as long as they are the best.

     Also I noticed that after trying better quality standards, I’m no longer tempted to buy less quality things, even with attractive prices. It had happened to me a lot before! Buying cheap, I thought I’m saving money, but ended up I was wasting money, decluttering now things I do not love.

     Also, quality pricey things eliminate chances of impulsive buys. I have to think thoroughly, plan and sometimes make some savings to purchase one or other quality thing.

     So far wardrobe is the field of my experiment. I will try to apply this concept to the other stuff I use at home over time.

 

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     I always thought wardrobe is my messiest area in the house... Oh, dear, how much you pleased yourself!

     ...After I have done basic cleaning of the toilet area, I noticed sink ledge is full of moisture. Is it mold?

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Oh, that’s fine! It happens to bathrooms sometimes, isn’t it? Ok, I will spend a few more minutes to wipe it.

     After I removed storage boxes from the ledge, I stunned. Water accumulated under the boxes and mold was everywhere. Do I still think my wardrobe is the most untidy place?

     That’s the time I realized I need to re-focus all the attention and actions to declutter and clean bathroom area. Right now.

     I read a good advice from different sources: no point to start cleaning until you finish tiding.

     Cleaning deals with dust and dirt, tiding (in other words decluttering) – with unnecessary stuff. It’s just time-wasteful to try cleaning clutter.

     Well, I liked the advice...because got excuse not to clean. And there are some areas in the house (like bathroom!) which I was intentionally avoided to tidy up. They are so cluttered, I even couldn’t think what to do with all the stuff there!

     But one thing I underestimated.
     Well, clutter in the wardrobe is about inconvenience and bad closet look.
      Clutter in the bathroom is about hygiene. It causes water accumulation and mold growing.

     That day my intention to do a little cleaning ended up with major decluttering.
      I realized I MUST keep bathroom dry. All the stuff from the ledges have to be relocated to the cupboard.
But cupboard is already full with other stuff! 

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

What to do? Exactly!

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Most of the stuff goes into trash bag.
     Don’t know what habit is that, but I used to keep all not needed things in the cupboards out of sight. And those which I need and use – within a reach, near the sink in this case. Isn’t it convenient? I can see everything at a glance, can pick what I need quick!

    Oh no, my moldy sink ledge says for bathroom it does not work. I had to place all the necessary stuff into the cupboard and keep it away from water.

     Ledge will not be used for permanent storage anymore. And after each use I must wipe it thoroughly with the towel – the only thing I’m going to keep near the sink.

    In the end I was able to see the difference:

Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Decluttering (And Cleaning): Bathroom

     Ok ok, not Pinterest perfect. I see I'm yet to clean the sink and tiles. I didn’t really organize much, just put everything into shelves. But it’s progressing! And I still can see where is one or another thing.

     Guys, if you have any tips, please let me know in the comments below! I will be interested to know how you handle your bathrooms, keep it dry or organize its stuff.

Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

     Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

     I never though so small things like plastic bags can have so big input to clutter.

     We always have plastic bags kept in the house.
     We always remain grocery plastics to use them - mainly for throwing the trash, and even buy purposely a set of plastics for bigger size trash bin. I find it's a mundane necessity and do not mind keeping them (though, I do plan to reduce the number of plastics kept).
     But I never thought they also can be organized!

    Just a little peek to the stock of plastics:

Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

    Guess what’s inside the laundry basket below? Even there I used to keep plastics!

    The only way I kept them organized was that I kept them inside basket. Bring groceries home, open the basket cover, shove bags inside…oh, I'm gonna miss doing that.  A big trouble I realized that plastics take a lot of space when they are filled with air or knotted.

    Seriously, there are not so many of them on the picture, doesn't it look so? Well, I know it does not.  This pile used to occupy the entire big box!

Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

     The woven basket on the first photo I used for keeping plastics was actually meant for keeping laundry, while laundry was kept in another basket cluttering our room entrance. Finally I decided to save the space, fold all plastics and keep them in available storage boxes, while laundry basket can be used as per its direct intention.

     I had to take all the bags out and start folding them. Well, it did take time. Only after 3 attempts of couple of hours each I managed to fold them all and store in the available boxes neatly. I think it will not be an issue to fold just several plastics after bringing them from grocery, but when a big pile accumulated – this is when I have to spend time improving my home organization. It's ok, I still was able to enjoy folding and at the same time watching something, let it count as part of my time spent useful. And now they take much less space, only 2 small boxes which I can put to available shelf. And basket is released!

     After folding is done, here is the result:

Home organization: Folding Plastic Bags

    Ok, not Pinterest result but I'm progressing! I was able to relocate all the laundry into released basket, throw another one and noticeably increase available space in the unit entrance where it’s all located. That’s great that simple folding availed additional space in the room which we can enjoy now. This is one more time when I realized that small items (just plastics bags, how much space can they take?) can have an input to the clutter and affect bigger picture.

Decluttering in Process: How to Stay Motivated (when cannot see the end)

Decluttering in Process: How to Stay Motivated (when cannot see the end)

     I’m doing decluttering of the house for around a month for now. I see there still months of work ahead, but what keeps me moving is that I can see tiny improvements in the house. Shelves became neater…well, not all but only those I have reached with tidying so far:-)

     I think the most difficult in decluttering is to keep staying motivated. In my case, I was accumulating clutter for years, so it will also take a while to tackle it all. Even though I try to do at least something every day to help my declutter move, I see the progress is still little. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed in the beginning, so I’d like to share what helps me to stay motivated.

  • Creating a mental picture of the final result (or you can even sketch it if you like!)

     Keeping final picture in mind helps me to understand what’s exactly I'm trying to achieve and what needs to be done. I imagine how shelves are neatly arranged with storage boxes containing only necessary things, kitchen is clean, kitchenware is nicely stored inside cupboards, wardrobe is times less filled than now and containing only my favorite clothing I enjoy to wear. Everything is not only convenient for use and cleaning, but also looks attractive. IKEA is a good inspiration when I need some ideas.

     The more space I release, the easier storage becomes. I noticed after I discard numerous things, I have space not only to put necessary things there but also add a beautiful touch like colorful flower (my favorite home accessory).

     Moving by little steps, I see that house becomes a bit closer to the picture in my mind, and of course it keeps me motivated.

  • Keep track of what’s been done

     Depends of the original situation with clutter, in the beginning it may really seem that whatever I do clutter does not reduce. But it does. That’s why making pictures “before” and “after” is really a great way to stay motivated. Picture shows how much I progress from original state, and it’s very inspiring to see. Keeping track of the progress is one of the major reasons I started DeclutterBlog and it works as a great motivation for me too.

     And what I would not recommend to do, just from my personal observation, is not to interrupt work in the middle. If decided to declutter, let’s say, a shelf or cupboard, start and do until the end. Problem is decluttering cannot avoid creating a big mess in the process when you remove all the things from the storage, sort them out what to leave and to discard, folding remaining or packing back. If you stop at the point after you removed all the things, even temporary, mess around will be a big demotivation. If time is limited but I’m still keen to do at least a bit of declutter at certain day, I usually break down the scope into smaller pieces, for example, tidy up only one shelf and not entire rack, but do it at one attempt from start to end. Well, not always I manage to do this, that’s why I know how demotivating it is to see a big mess around.

     But every time I finish, I have a feeling I became lighter…seriously, like I personally carried all the stuff kept on the shelves. And after that I usually gaze to the place I just tidied for several minutes with enjoy and cannot believe it might look so much better than it was! And this is the biggest motivation and reward I get after each declutter session.

How to Start Loving Housework?

     How to Start Loving Housework?

     It's not a universal guideline, but I just want to share what made me stop hating and start loving house work.

     I seriously used to hate it because I felt taking care of the house was too time consuming and exhausting. I'm working full time on weekdays and I hardly was able to do some housework only on Saturday morning when I had time. I tried to force myself to try doing something during weekdays as I felt our house is too messy, I tried to do some schedules and posted them for myself on display but was not able to stick to them and always have preference to other things instead of cleaning. I was explaining my lack of house care simply: I have no time as I have to work, after work I'm tired, and on weekends I need to have a rest before next working week.

     But once I realized two major things and it changed my mind. Now I rather enjoy taking care of the house. I just asked myself several questions and tried to find an answer:

  • What makes my housework so time consuming and exhausting?

     After some reading and reflecting I realized I cannot properly clean the house because it's very cluttered. Both me and my husband have tendency to store unnecessary things instead of discarding them. Got something unnecessary but in a good condition – put it to the shelf or storage box, but not throw. Over years we both accumulated so many belongings which we did not use but only kept, that there was no living space left. Everywhere where possible we had additional storage boxes, shelves and drawers were fully packed, and if we buy something, it was hard to find it good place to keep. If I decide to do a thorough cleaning, I would need to move lots of things around to reach all corners, what would be very hard so I never did. Every time I did just light cleaning around, but it was not enough. There was not much visual difference in the way house looked before and after the cleaning so I was not satisfied with results.

     Once I realized this, I launched big decluttering in the house. Step by step I check and discard surplus stash (pile of things at each session!), rearrange things that remain and enjoy seeing how much available space suddenly appear in our tiny unit. Unlike it was earlier, now I can't wait when I reach home and can proceed to that, purely because I'm able to see and enjoy results of house work.

  • Do I like our house’s surroundings? Do I enjoy being at home, am I able to relax and feel joy there?

     I started asking this question after I read a book “Spark Joy” by Marie Kondo (KonMari). This book became my decluttering guideline and inspiration, and I recommend it for everyone interested in decluttering and home organization. I see many references to her method regarding folding clothing, but actually her method is way more deeper. Doing decluttering, we are not looking what to discard, but what to remain, only the things we need and love, which we enjoy to use and see around. Filling the house with things what you love will give you feel of comfort, enjoy and confidence. First this idea seemed weird for me until I tried and felt the result. Enjoying your dinner from the plate you love, cooking at the kitchen with cooking utensils making you enjoy, resting in the bed with your favorite beddings. Once house is filled only with things we love, we will start enjoying it and enjoy taking care or it.

     Once I tried this, I really started loving to be at home, and taking care of it does not seem to be so hard anymore. I wish everyone who does not enjoy housework to find their enjoy in it, and instead of coping start loving.

Decluttering: Office Workplace

     Decluttering: Office Workplace

     Yes, my tendency to store unnecessary messy things spreads to the office workplace too. I’m working for a few years in the same office and the same desk, so I have accumulated a few years storage!

     I’m very inspired by decluttering at home and want to do the same at work. I noticed that decluttering raises my standards. Earlier cluttered place was fine for me or maybe creating just little inconvenience. But now after I experienced how much better place can be when there is no clutter around and everything is arranged comfortably, how spacious place can suddenly become, how neat, tidy and easy to clean, I became less and less tolerant to the messy surroundings. My major decluttering battle is still going on at home where I have so much area for work. And enjoying how tidier my home becomes, I want to have the same enjoy at the workplace.

     My another incentive to declutter the workplace is tidy place really improves work efficiency. I do not have to spend time search for things and papers when I know where they are assigned to be. And I just believe tidy workplace looks professional and might have impact to the career growth (sure it’s not the only aspect but still). Being able to handle workplace indirectly shows that person is able to cope with their duties and workload, able to work efficiently. I really see a close connection between work efficiency and tidy workplace.

     At my working desk mainly I used to accumulate unnecessary and outdated papers, books and stationery. Papers and drawings are scattered around, books taking the space, sticky notes everywhere around, it looks like disaster!

Decluttering: Office Workplace

     I’m sure at work I don’t have to store any of those items at the desk as they are available at the company resources at any time I need.

     So it's time to tidy the place!

     As usual I check every single item and sort them all into categories. Mainly all the items at my workplace belong to any of the 3 categories: papers, stationery, books.

     Papers is the dominant category. I had to discard so many different outdated hardcopies and drawings!

     After discarding is done, shelve look quite empty, so much space was occupied unnecessarily! For remaining papers I allocated storage boxes dedicated for every project (all unnecessary papers are discarded and going for recycling), books will be donated to the library, and all the surplus stationary I returned back to the office stationary cabinet.

     This is the final result:

Decluttering: Office Workplace

     Now I have times much more space on the desk! Drawers also underwent decluttering and managed to fit all the necessary things I want them to keep. Now I can enjoy incredible feeling of space and tidiness around, exactly what I wanted!

Decluttering: Feeling Guilty Discarding Things

    Decluttering: Feeling Guilty Discarding Things

     I wonder am I only one feeling guilty and pity when trying to declutter the house? I noticed very often I feel so pity when I'm picking things to discard. Even though I do not have any special feelings about the thing and know I do not really have to use it, I may have a feeling of guilt for deciding to get rid of it.

     Maybe this is because of my natural tendency to store things. Over years I put aside things which I do not intend to use, put them deep into boxes, drawers, storages thinking I might use it one day. Finally I accumulated so many unnecessary things that I have no place to store anything else. Also clutter seriously affects my ability to take care and clean the house. It become extremely hard and time taking to move all the things and storages around just to clean.

     So recently my patience get exceeded and I decided to throw everything I don’t need and haven’t used for years. But when I see a pile of stuff prepared for discarding - yes, I have guilty feeling.

     Why is it so?

     One of the reasons is I have to discard lots of things in a good condition, just because they take space and I don’t use them anyway. How I managed to overcome this is to give a second life to those things: donate them to charity, sell, sometimes I bring some things to the office and pass to colleague willing to take them. Idea is to let someone else use it since I do not. Doing so calms my worries that I’m not making use of a good thing.

     Another reason making me feel pity during decluttering is that I realize how much I could have saved if I don’t buy that things. This was really awakening and make me reconsider my approach to shopping. If earlier I could buy some things I like in the store just to try or because I liked it (yes, impulsive buy), totally not thinking whether I really need it or not, then now I realize I really have absolutely EVERYTHING I need and my trips to the shops almost gone. I still may drop by a store but now I noticed every time I see something and a thought to buy it crawls to my head, I immediately think where and how I will store it, whether I already have any equivalent or substitute at home (sure I have!) and “Do I really need it?”. The last question usually resolves all my doubts and I leave the store without any purchase.

     Even though sometimes I have guilty feeling during decluttering, so far it never happened I really regret about anything discarded. To me it happened once I had thrown some small thing to which I couldn’t find a way to use and remembered soon when I might use it for storage, but I easily found an equal substitute and stopped regretting.

     So my observation is if thing was not used for a long time, if there is no actual intention to use the thing and it does not have any sentimental value making you feel good, it can be discarded. Ideas like “I might use it one day” at least for me do not work but only encourage clutter growing, so I consider those things unnecessary and part with them.

     Please let me know what are your feelings about decluttering! Is it easy for you or gives you pity feeling as well? Does decluttering make caring of the house easier? Feel free to comment below!

 

Decluttering: Living Room Shelves

Decluttering: Living Room Shelves

          Step-by-step I’m moving from the bedroom and starting decluttering in the living room! The first things I’m going to put hands on is this shelving cupboard:

Decluttering: Living Room Shelves

     This cupboard is at the most prominent area of the living room. This is what we see the first thing we enter the house. So I want to check all it’s content, discard unnecessary and properly arrange those things which we will remain and use.

     As usual I take out all the things and place them to the floor, and then check every single item whether we still need it. We used to keep different papers and documents here, so the cupboard was overloaded with papers. After me and my husband checked them all, we found a lot are outdated and pointless to keep any further. They are the perfect candidates for discarding, what actually we have done gladly.

     After throwing unnecessary papers I see cupboard is not so full anymore! It has a lot of room for storing remaining items.

    Next step is all the things are being sorted out into categories. I check whether they already have assigned storages for their category in other places in the house. If yes, then just relocate relevant items to their assigned storage. If storage place isn’t assigned yet, I will continue keep them in this cupboard. To make cupboard look neater, each category gets an individual storage box. I try avoiding mixing different category items in one storage box just for convenience.

     Once I sorted out all the things into the boxes, put them back into the shelf and see the result:

Decluttering: Living Room Shelves

     Cupboard looks much neater, and after a several days after I have decluttered this cupboard I can say it’s very convenient when you know where each item is kept. I don’t have to look for things because I know in which exactly storage box and which area it’s located.

     I added an artificial flower to the top of the cupboard to add some color to the interior and make cupboard area look more cosy. That’s it! And now it’s time of my favorite part of decluttering works – enjoy the result:-)

 

Decluttering & House Organizing: Increasing Life Success Chances?

Decluttering & House Organizing: Increasing Life Success Chances?

     For me it’s looks that ability to organize your own house is a sign that person is probably successful in life or has high potential to it. There are a few reasons what make me think like this, and I will be very happy to know your ideas about it.

     Thing is to have your house organized on a regular basis requires a number of qualities. Qualities I’m talking about are typically also required for building successful career, profitable business and even are very helpful in home and family life.

     None of the skills we have – especially professional skills - are given, we have to learn and practice them to achieve the result. That’s why I believe that whatever helps us to practice relevant skills will help us to get success in other areas where those skills are required as well.

     House organizing is a skill which being practiced by housewives for years. And I noticed there are a few qualities necessary for successful running the house, not different from running successful career.

  • Organizing house requires self-discipline

     One of the major things I realized needed for the house to be organized is to keep everything in its proper place. And firstly, everything must have it’s assigned place. I used not to care about this previously and ended up having a really messy house with things scattered in various storages. After realizing this housekeeping mistake, I started to group all things into categories and assigning dedicated places for storing each category and sticking to returning things to their dedicated places after use. This arrangement was one of the hardest in my house works as required proper planning to find the most appropriate location for each item. I’m still in progress with making this arrangement and can say it does require a lot of self-discipline for the novice to stick to that until it becomes a habit.

  • Ability to take decisions

     Particularly talking about house decluttering (since this is the subject of my blog and this blog post), I have to take a lot of decisions what things I need and intend to use, and what I do not have to keep any longer. Sometimes it takes for me a few rounds to confirm if I’m going to discard one or another thing being kept with no use sometimes for years.

     Running the house in general requires many-many more decision taking which I do not discuss in this blog post just to stick to the subject. But I’m sure each housewife can come up with her own long list how many decisions she has to take every day starting from planning meals to planning big purchases and family events.

  • Readiness for learning and experimenting

     Organizing the house requires lots of learning and experimenting. There are lots of hacks and tricks which each housewife has in her arsenal (learnt and tested on her own experience or from other sources) to run the house successfully.

  • Ability to find decisions that work

     Purpose of all the learning and experimenting is actually to find solutions which give the best results, allow to save time or budget and etc., in other words to find a way to organize the house the most effectively.

     In fact all these qualities are necessary for career, business and family life. If organizing the house allows to develop these qualities, I believe it will help in other aspects too.

     So this is the relation which I see between seemingly unrelated items. And in your turn please let me know your opinion. Does ability to run a house help you in other life aspects? Please feel free to comment below!

Decluttering: Unexpected Benefit

Decluttering: Unexpected Benefit

     I just recently started decluttering of the house, and noticed one unexpected benefit (tidier house does not count as it was the purpose of the decluttering). Unexpected was that my money spendings significantly reduced with no effort.

     How is it related?

     I started decluttering by second half of last month, and that month I discovered I managed to save around twice than I usually did in earlier months. My shopping trips almost gone except for groceries. I’m not keen anymore to buy some new clothing, accessories or make up. Previously I would buy some every week!

     And reason is quite simple: I realized how much stuff I have at home and how much I used to overspend. I spent a lot on items I don’t need or have substitutes at home.

    During undercutting I take out all the things from the place I’m going to tidy up, sort them out by categories and locate in dedicated storage places. When all the items of a category are stored together, I have a clear overview what exactly I have and how many items. What I noticed I have many repetitive items in my skincare, accessories, clothing category which I might not buy at all. Looking at my skincare storage boxes, I see many of them are actually redundant. I haven’t reached my makeup storage yet, but I can imagine home many repetitive lipsticks and eyeshadows I have there. And when I think that I have paid money for all the stuff I’m going to discard, I really become terrified. Many things were obviously bought impulsively, how much I could have saved!

     So no wonder after having a few decluttering session in the house for now (and still many-many more upcoming) and realizing how much money were spent unnecessarily, I absolutely do not feel shopping.

     Maybe I’m a little shocked with my discoveries but it’s definitely good for my budget to realize that and restrain from unnecessary shopping. First few weeks had brought so noticeable budget-saving results so I’m looking forward to see even better results this month.

     Am I going to stop shopping at all? Sure not. But I believe it will be of different quality now. I’m looking forward to continue my unexpected decluttering vs. savings experiment and see what good results it will be able to bring. And surely I continue getting rid of the things I do not need in the house!