The weather around Stuck On You HQ hasn’t been very spring-like lately, despite it being practically summer calendar-wise. I’ve decided to hang onto this as an excuse as to why I haven’t yet knuckled down for a proper spring clean.
However, we are expecting a sudden burst of summer over the coming days. After fantasising about lazy days on the beach and turning up to work in a bikini (sorry colleagues), my thoughts turn to more practical matters. Like getting rid of that mess that has been accumulating over winter.
The household clutter that has a certain comfort value in the colder months – hello insulation! – starts to feel oppressive in the rising heat as you struggle for the space you need to cool your body down.
Here is a collection of somewhat quirky home organisation tips that will give you easy decluttering wins.
Store stuffed animals in a beanbag
What a brilliant, brilliant, way to save on buying beanbag stuffing while at the same time neatly re-housing that mountain of stuffed toys that your child neglects yet refuses to give up.
Store sheet sets inside the matching pillowcase
This hack is particularly effective for those of us who like all bed linen to match.
Not so much for barbarians like me who will just take whatever is available such that one bed has a floral fitted sheet, Buzz Lightyear doona and naked pillowcase.
Keep only the recipes you want
Don’t keep entire books or magazines just because of a few recipes. For magazines, clip out the recipes you want and throw out the rest of the magazine. For books, take pictures of the recipes you want before donating the book to charity.
Sort your mail next to the recycling bin
When you collect your mail, stand next to the recycling bin and throw in envelopes (excluding postage paid ones), useless letters and junk mail. That way, you’re only taking the important stuff into the house.
Store your garbage bags at the bottom of your bin, under the garbage bag currently in use
I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier!
For this handy trick, it helps if you use decent quality bags that won’t break, and that you don’t stuff the bag beyond what it can handle. Otherwise, you risk losing the lot if there’s a leakage in the main bag.
One in, one out
Or one in, two out, if you want to be hardcore.
When considering bringing a new item into the house, be as discerning as a nightclub bouncer on a power trip. For something new to be permitted entry into your sacred space, one existing item (or three) has to stagger out.
Make use of your technology
Your phone or other electronic device is a useful medium in which to store your nostalgic memories without the cluttery physical reminder.
Do you have a ‘lucky’ shirt that no longer serves a purpose on your 20-years-older-body-that-doesn’t-leave-the -house-past-9pm? Say your goodbyes, take a photo, then move on! Chances are, you might not need to take a new picture of this shirt if you already have a pic of it in your archives – at that fun BBQ with your mates when you were 25, or you with your arm slung around your nightclub beau on a boozy night in 1999.
Another thing you can do is take pictures of all your children’s art works and store them electronically. If you’re feeling particularly inspired, you can turn it into a coffee table book.
Don’t hang on to paperwork that you can easily access online
We’re talking instruction manuals, takeaway menus and catalogues. There’s no need to hold on to these if you can find an online version.
If you’re worried that these documents might disappear online, you can always save the PDF or screenshots in an electronic folder.
Swap clutter for experiences
I’m not averse to the occasional (OK, more than occasional) bribe, so this is a strategy I use quite a lot.
Tell your kids that for every bag of clutter they get rid of, they get a night at the movies, trip to the beach, sleepover with a friend, or other intangible reward.
Apart from helping to reduce clutter, this method also promotes family bonding and happiness. Indeed, the science says that experiences are more valuable than material goods – not a bad lesson to impart to the kiddies.
If the ‘experiences’ bribe doesn’t work, try offering gifts that are less cluttery than the bag of stuff they’re throwing out – e.g. video games or books.
Bustle while you work
Take any opportunity to declutter. For example, you can clear out your fridge of old food while waiting for the pot to boil, or clean the side table while you’re watching TV.
Put it to the test
I cannot begin to tell you how much time and money I’ve wasted on buying items that already existed in the house, simply because I couldn’t be bothered looking for them.
Right now, we probably have about six glue sticks and 15 sticky tape dispensers in our household, all resting in about 25 different places – and no, that’s not just bad maths if you factor in that the lids and dispensers can be separated from the ‘hero’ item.
Why not make a game of it and construct a list of items that you know you have in the house, e.g. paper clips, remote control for the downstairs TV, iPad charger. Then see whether members of the family can find these items within a specified amount of time.
Not only is this fun (yes, I don’t get out much), it’s also a good way of identifying how you can better reorganise your home. For example, if it takes anyone more than 25 seconds to locate the cling wrap, it might be time to fix up the kitchen/teach your kid where cling wrap normally resides in a typical home.
You can keep playing this ‘game’ until you reach optimum results.