Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Countdown to a Clutter-Free Life - Updates to come

I didn't give up on professional organizer Julie Morgenstern's Spring Fling Countdown, I promise.

I just paused a bit to take a much-needed vacation last week.

We're back, and I'm back in the purging mood.

Stayed tuned for my progress as I shed my stuff and reclaim my life. (You'll be amazed at all I've gotten rid of, including 2,700 emails and 1,300 emails and texts on my BlackBerry. Can you say information overload?)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Countdown to a Clutter-Free Life - 7 unwanted DVDs, CDs or VHS tapes

I have to admit that number 7 on Julie Morgenstern's Spring Fling Countdown to get rid of stuff and get organized has caused me quite a bit of consternation.

We're challenged to toss:

  • 7 unloved DVD’s, CDs, or VHS tapes that you haven’t listened to or watched in years

Normally, I would have no problem with that. But just recently, I converted all but a few CD box sets to digital, meaning I didn't have any CDs left to trash. I know I could have tackled my DVDs, but they're oh-so-neatly organized and alphabetized in bins. And I'd culled them recently, as well.

As for VHS, just a few weeks ago, we ditched our VCR that wasn't working any more and along with it all of our old videotapes. We're really doing well on this spring cleaning thing!

What to do? Skip #7. Naw, I couldn't do that.

Luckily, I remembered that I had some CDs in my car. So I gathered then up, transferred them to my computer and my iPod and put the CDs in the pile to go to our favorite used book and CD store.

Here's the music I transferred to digital:

  • Pulp Fiction soundtrack
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood soundtrack
  • Swingers too! soundtrack
  • The Very Best of Sheryl Crow
  • John Mellencamp: The Best That I Could Do
  • Jennifer Daniels: An Invitation
  • Eric Clapton: Timepieces
  • Pink: Missundaztood
  • Shrek soundtrack
  • Kathleen Edwards: Failer
  • Jimmy Buffett: Songs You Know by Heart (perfect for this weekend's drive to the beach)
  • Pump Up the Volume soundtrack
  • Swingers soundtrack

A few things went directly to the garbage:

  • 2 unknown CDs I'd burned
  • a cassette head cleaner
  • a casette of the Sunday Philosophy Club. Who knows where the rest are?
  • A CD from another audiobook, "Labyrinth"

That's 17 items today alone.

By my count, I've gotten rid of 70 unwanted, unused and useless items since starting this challenge.

In addition to those tangible items, I've also cleaned out my home email inbox -- deleting some 2,700 messages that had been languishing there. I also deleted 1,300 emails from my BlackBerry, and it's running much more efficiently now.

Keep checking back to follow my Spring Clean Countdown progress, and feel free to join the fun and post your own challenges and successes in getting clutter-free.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Countdown to a Clutter-Free Life - 8 items from the bathroom

I'm a beauty products junkie. When it comes to my favorite brands -- Smashbox and Philosophy, for instance -- I have more stock that Sephora and Ulta. I've got enough brushes to make a MAC makeup artist blush and more lotions and potions than Bath & Body Works.

And that's after purging, cleaning and organizing my vanity just a few weeks ago.

So, I had my doubts about the latest Spring Fling Countdown task from organizing guru Julie Morgenstern. In my quest to achieve freedom from the prison that is clutter (or at least make a bid for parole), I've pledged to clear 55 pieces of clutter from my life this week. Today's chore:

Get rid of 8 excess items from your bathroom – anything from outdated makeup to old cleaning supplies and near empty bottles of lotion.
I left the makeup alone, for the most part, and tackled the other items cluttering up my bathroom. Namely:
  • 1 air freshener spray that we never use
  • 1 package of dried-out wet face towelettes
  • 1 quarter-full bottle of leave-in spray conditioner
  • 1 old paddle brush
  • 1 quarter-full tube of pumice foot scrub
  • 1 almost empty can of hairspray (a brand that leaves my hair sticky, not soft)
  • 1 razor caddy (my husband's)
  • 2 almost empty beauty sample packets (courtesy of Sephora)
  • 1 razor that I hated because the blade always popped off
  • 1 razor blade
  • 1 shower head (replaced a year or more ago by a much nicer massaging shower head)
  • 1 tube of lipgloss
  • 1 contact lens case that was missing a top
If my finger-and-toe counting is right, that's 14 items, 6 more than were required.

Added to my past purges, I've banished 53 unwanted and unnecessary items from my house -- just 2 shy of the requirements. By the end of this week, I'm going to be so clutter-free that you won't recognize me or my spotless house.

How's the Spring Fling Countdown going for you? What have you tossed? And what have you held onto out of need (real and perceived) and sentimentality?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Coundown to a Clutter-Free Life: 10 items of clothing, 9 books or magazines

As I blogged earlier today, I've embarked on organizational guru Julie Morgenstern's Spring Fling Countdown to reduce the clutter in my life.

For today's challenge, I started at the top of the list and rid myself of:

10 articles of clothing that don’t fit, don’t flatter and will never be worn.

9 books or magazines you’ve already read or know you aren’t going to get to.

I thought the closet clean out would be quite a challenge because in the last couple of weeks, I've been straightening and sorting in my closet to prepare for a garage sale. So, I'd gotten rid of most everything that's not a keeper.

Actually, that's not completely true. I still have trouble saying goodbye to my beloved designer shoes, many of which have gotten just a tad snug after motherhood. I just can't bear to get rid of my cute kicks, killer stilettos and comely kitten heels -- even if they make walking a pain.

I kind of think of my shoes (and my handbag collection) like jewelry. And while I can't wear them (for very long, at least) anymore, I want to pass them on to someone else who will love them, cherish and adore them as much as I do. Alas, my best girlfriends don't share my shoe size (then or now), so they can't raid my shoe closet. And I'm just not ready to let my ill-fitting shoes go to Goodwill or to eBay. Maybe I'm saving them for the daughter or the granddaughter that I don't yet have or a future daughter-in-law who shares my sense of style and my shoe size.

Despite that obstacle, I was able to cull 10 items from my wardrobe. Here's what I tossed and added to the yard sale pile:

  • - a pair of black dress pants that faded in the wash
  • - a lime green blouse that didn't flatter my complexion
  • - a pair of navy knit workout capris
  • - 4 tank tops (including 2 maternity tanks)
  • - a nursing bra that I haven't worn in over a year and wouldn't wear again if I had another baby
  • - a too-small jog bra
  • - a pair of pink pajama pants

I was really hoping to get rid of more than 10 items, but couldn't bring myself to say goodbye to more just yet. I'll blame that on the previous purge and my shoe sentimentality. However, I did much better with the 9 books or magazines.

I focused on magazines, which really tend to collect at our house, thanks to all the free magazine subscriptions I've scored lately. Also, we've recently gathered up our unwanted books and posted them on Paperback Swap and traded them for credit at our local used book shop. So, what's on the shelf is also on my reading list.

My magazine rack isn't quite so stacked any more, as I recycled:

  • 2 copies of Pink
  • 1 botched copy of the supposedly customized Mine
  • 2 copies of Redbook
  • 4 copies of New York
  • 1 copy of Family Circle
  • 3 copies of Country Living
  • 1 copy of Country Home (which folded in XXX)
  • 1 copy of Real Simple
  • 2 copies of More (I'm under 40, but really enjoy this mag)
  • 1 copy of Ladies' Home Journal
  • 1 copy of N.C. Signature (no articles by me in this issue)
  • 1 copy of Costco Connection
  • 1 copy of Harper's Bazaar
  • 1 copy of QVC Insider
  • 1 copy of ReadyMade
  • Catalogs from Uline, Private Quarters and Pottery Barn
  • 1 copy of Health
  • 2 copies of All You (coupons clipped, of course)

That's 29 magazines, and I really do feel a burden has been lifted. When I have magazines around, I feel obligated to read them but I find that I don't often have the time. Not to mention that the stacks of them drives me clutter crazy.

Since I get most of my magazines for free, I didn't feel that I was wasting money by getting rid of them. And in most instances, even if I hadn't read a magazine cover to cover, I had skimmed it when it arrived in my mailbox.

Going forward, I'm going to be more diligent about reading what I want to read, then tossing the magazines or passing them along to friends or family members who might enjoy them. I'm making a promise now that if I'll never have more magazines than will fit in my magazine basket. If the stack grows higher than that, it will be time to toss another 9 -- or 29.

Day 1, and I'm feeling pretty good about this clutter countdown. I've already gotten rid of 39 unwanted items.

Check back tomorrow to see what else I CAN live without. And let me know how your own Spring Fling Countdown to a clutter-free life is going.

Spring Cleaning Challenge - Countdown to a Clutter-Free Life

I've decided to take professional organizer Julie Morgenstern's Spring Fling Countdown challenge and ditch 55 pieces of clutter from my life this week.

You can read more about the challenge on Morgenstern's blog at Franklin Covey, or you can follow along here as I detail my own progress.

This week, I'll be ditching:

10 articles of clothing that don’t fit, don’t flatter and will never be worn.

9 books or magazines you’ve already read or know you aren’t going to get to.

8 excess items from your bathroom – anything from outdated makeup to old cleaning supplies and near empty bottles of lotion.

7 unloved DVD’s, CDs, or VHS tapes that you haven’t listened to or watched in years.

6 items from your fridge or pantry that will never be eaten or have passed their ideal freshness.

5 useless pieces of kitchenware – anything from old pots and pans, outdated appliances- or that weird wiry thing you’ve never been able to identify.

4 items on your to-do list that you keep avoiding. Dive in headfirst and either do it, or delete it (if it’s really not worth your time after all).

3 regular chores (at home or work) that are no longer necessary, or that someone else can and should do instead of you. Yes, this means delegate, even if you live alone—look for low-cost services, hire a teen, barter with friend.

2 obligations in your schedule that make you cringe when you see them. I.e.- committee work which is no longer rewarding, meetings you regret having booked, or a social engagement you are genuinely dreading.

1 time-hogging habit that is no longer serving you. I.e.- procrastination, chronic lateness, or constantly checking email. You may not slay your habit monster in one day, but make the commitment today and comment on this post publicly proclaim your resolve.

At first, the prospect of getting rid of 55 bits of clutter seems a bit daunting. Throw away 55 things? No way! But broken up into small tasks, taken room by room, this list is really manageable. Of course, I'm sure I'll have trouble with items 1, 2, 3 and 4 -- as they're less about stuff and more about time. That's where I really have trouble -- in managing my time, letting things go and getting help and/or delegating certain tasks.

Check back daily, as I'll be posting my progress and detailed lists of what I've gotten rid of this week.

Please join me on this challenge and post your progress here. I'm interested to see how much clutter and time we're able to clear in a week. (My husband has signed on for the challenge, as well, and he'll be posting about his experiences, as well.)