Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Timely Tips

To cure yourself of impulse buying, the Editors of FC&A Publishing, in their book 1001 Timely Tips for Clutter Control, suggest to ask yourself these three questions before you buy anything: 1) Do I really need it? 2) Will I really use it in the next week or the next month? and 3) Do I have a place to put it right now? If you answer "no" to any of these questions, then walk away from the purchase. The authors say, "If you only buy items that meet these three criteria, your home will stay clean and uncluttered." That is of course once you get it uncluttered in the first place!

Organize your refrigerator? Yes, why not. Like with all clutter-control projects, group like items together and designate a place where they will be kept. This will save you from purchasing a duplicate of something you already have and will help, in your refrigerator at least, make sure that some unknown item doesn't go bad in the corner of a drawer.

When you dust (during TV commercials if you read yesterday's blog), carry a plastic trash bag with you for collecting trash or items that are "out of place." The authors of the book say, "With just one trip around the house, you can get everything dusted and put away." Sounds good, doesn't it? Let the group know if this works for you.

When traveling by car, the authors suggest to hang your clothes in garment bags (or even just an old plastic bag you got from the laundry) and lay them down on the back seat or trunk. Packing them in suitcases makes them wrinkled and in need of an iron. They also note that laid down takes up less space than bulky suitcases. I would say that this would depend on the number of stops you will make on the trip where you have to carry the clothes in and out and on the number of other items you have to stow in the car like coolers, backpack, gift and souvenirs. Garments in plastic bags are slippery and unless they are laid absolutely flat, they are apt to slip off the hanger into a heap and be more wrinkled than if packed properly in a suitcase. An alternative suggestion they make in another tip, to reduce wrinkles, is to put clothes on hangers together in a plastic bag from the laundry and then fold the whole bunch once or twice to fit the top of your suitcase. That seems more practical to me than having the clothes loose in a bag in the trunk.

There is a section of the book that gives some suggestions for creating an inexpensive closet organizing system using furniture and containers you may already own. A small dresser or set of bookshelves put into a closet work well for folded items and accessories; milk crates on their sides stack well and can be used to hold purses and scarves; woven baskets look good on shelves to hold belts, t-shirts and socks; and an extra shower ring on the clothes rod can hold handbags and belts.

The last tip sounds more like a Hint from Heloise. They say that tea makes a good remover for old polish, dirt and grime on your wooden furniture. Add two teabags per quart of water, boil and steep until you get a color you like because the tea will stain the wood! Cool before using and test on a part of the furniture that is not too visible in case you are unhappy with the results.

More from this book and others soon.

Some tips from 1001 Timely Tips

Below are some of the 1001 Tips from the back cover of 1001 Timely Tips for Clutter Control by the Editors of FC&A Publishing.

Keep your car clean for little cost. Keep a bag in your car to gather trash into and throw the trash out daily. Also keep a container of baby wipes (or other wipes that don’t contain oil) to keep the dashboard and steering wheel clean and to wipe up sticky hands.

Instead of sitting around watching television commercials, use the time to do short house cleaning tasks – dusting, vacuuming and picking up the mess.

If you do these five things before you go to bed each night, you will have a much calmer morning: 1) recycle the newspapers 2) go through the mail and recycle the junk 3) load the dishwasher and turn it on – electricity costs less in the wee hours of the night 4) put dirty clothes in the hamper and 5) lay out your clothes for the next day.

When you go through the mail, stand by a trash can or recycle bin. Throw away the junk mail as soon as you recognize it. File the rest of the mail in an accordion envelope or into a stand-up file of hanging folders under bills (which you can file by date), to-do items, pending items, items to send or pass along and items to file. Make sure you review these folders at least once a week. We have heard from Jamie Novak a good way to handle these files and she would say not to have a folder labeled to file because that means you have to handle the material twice. Evaluate the material you want to file and see if it really needs to be saved. Realize that most information you will need can be found quickly using the Internet.

Garage sale tips include: 1) organize and plan early including getting your manpower invited and trained before the day of the sale 2) advertise wisely to make sure there will be a steady stream of customers 3) price competitively by researching what items are selling for in your area and 4) sell sensibly by being willing to negotiate and “Don’t be greedy. You’re better off selling something cheap than being stuck with it at the end of the day.” Having a box or two where items are set aside for a future garage sale is a good de-cluttering tool.

Shop for gifts and cards throughout the year. Have a list of upcoming weddings, graduations, etc. and buy an appropriate gift and or card when it is on sale. After Christmas sales are particularly a good time to stock up on gifts. Check the item off your list and store them in a bin, drawer or closet where you are able to retrieve them when they are needed.

More tips coming soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We have a new clutter control book that came in June 2011! It is called "1001 Timely Tips for Clutter Control: Knowing What to Keep, When to Toss and How to Store Your Stuff." It is by the editors of FC&A Publishing, "a family-owned and family-friendly company that strives to provide information and products that improve your life." The company is based in Georgia and the book is copyrighted 2007 but it was just added to our collection. It looks to be a fairly comprehensive book but I think that much of the info is tips we have already discussed.

The information, like other books, is organized by location: Kitchen, Family Room, Dining Room, Home Office, Bedroom, etc. The final chapters go outside the house to the Attic or Basement, Garage and the Car and then to Shopping, Time Management, Relocating (which is differet than other books), Holidays and Entertaining and Traveling. Each chapter has a small introduction and then arranges the information into 4 steps that you can take to: 1) Cut the Clutter 2) Increase Storage, 3) Get Organized and 4) Keep it Clean. Each of these steps are followed by a section called Super Tips, which must be where they get the title claim of 1001 tips. There is also the obligatory first chapter called "Before you begin" that tells you how to get started. One of the nice features of this book is for each section they give you a "permission list" called "Toss Without a Thought." This comes as straight advice - no explanation or excuse necessary - just toss. These lists include things like: in the kitchen - old food which is a no brainer; but also chipped or damaged dishes, glasses or mugs; broken appliances; burnt, rusty or damaged pots, pans and bakeware amd broken utensils and gadgets and in the Home Office - articles or brochures you haven't needed in years; old grocery receipts; junk mail and advertisments; expired insurance policies or related papers; expired coupons; and warranties for items you no longer own.

Every chapter has graphics of sticky-notes to remind you of basic de-clutter rules. There is one that says, "Remember...make a wish list, be realistic, set priorities, identify your clutter problems, label your zones, and set a timeline. There is another "sticky" that says, "Keep in Mind...make a decision to keep, toss, donate, sell or pass on and to follow purging rules to decide quickly, handle items once, set limits, pass the "keep" test and recognize garbage. These are the activites that are described in the first chapter and are added to each chapter as a reminder...maybe making actual sticky notes to put up nearby would be a useful activity but make sure you throw them away and don't let them become clutter.

I will give you some of the tips in my next post which I hope to get up in the next week or so - the back cover gives a teaser for what sounds like a bunch of really useful tips. Stay tuned...