Category: cleaning and organization

Decluttering without the Angst

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decluttering

Some people are naturally organized. Their motto is “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Their dishes are always done. They have effective routines in place. When the house is cluttered, it drives them crazy and they feel as if they can’t function.

Drowning in Clutter? (Don’t Grab a Floatie…Drain the Ocean!) by Dana K. White is for the rest of us.

I write a blog about homemaking. Please don’t think this means that I’m a perfect homemaker. I’m a work in progress. When I got married, I knew most of the basics of how to clean, but I struggled with when to clean. A lot of homemaking is doing the same things over and over again. The key here is consistency, and that’s something that has taken me about a year and a half to achieve.

As I worked towards keeping my house under control, I found Dana’s podcast. Ladies, Dana speaks to my soul. I think it might be the fact that we’re both former theatre people. For some reason, creativity and clutter issues seem to go together.

I never had to declutter the amount of stuff that she describes, largely because I discovered her tips early on in my adult life. Even so, her ideas are still helpful when decluttering a small or medium amount of stuff.

My favorite concept from Drowning in Clutter was ditching the Keep Box. Dana frequently says “Keep Boxes are Procrastination Boxes!” I was skeptical of that at first, but trying it revolutionized the way that I declutter. In a perfect world, I would be able to sit down and complete an entire decluttering project without any interruptions or distractions. I don’t live in a perfect world.

Even before I had a baby, I would get distracted by some other project. When I got distracted, I would leave my keep box in the middle of the floor. There it would sit, mocking me and making me trip when I returned to the room later. Sometimes it would sit for days before I quit procrastinating and put the contents away properly.

Using Dana’s method means that each item goes where it needs to go RIGHT NOW. You don’t dump everything on the floor. Instead, you take one item at a time and deal with only that item. Once that item has been handled, you move to the next item.

a slob comes clean

Drowning in Clutter contains numerous other decluttering strategies to help you conquer your clutter. This ebook is unique because it’s written by someone who actually struggles with home management. It’s not a book for people who adore and enjoy cleaning and organizing. If you’re in that camp and just want to take your decluttering to the next level, I would suggest The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo instead.

Drowning in Clutter is only $5.00, and can be purchased by clicking here.

What strategies do you use for decluttering?

Homemaking in Survival Mode

homemaking in survival mode

This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here.

We all will have seasons of life where we go into survival mode. Most people are in survival mode to at least some extent right after a new baby is born. A surgery, a busy time at work, or a move can also throw us into a sense of being overwhelmed. (And sometimes, all three of those things happen around the same time…ahhhh!)

My goal is to think of homemaking as something that I do to bring glory to God. As an outworking of that, I really do try to stay on top of things, but sometimes life happens. I have routines, but they fly out the window during a crisis.

For example, April – July 2016 was a time of survival mode. Tigger had colic, I was struggling with health issues of my own, and we moved to another state. If I put the baby in the crib so I could use the restroom, he would scream and be inconsolable for about a half hour. As I’m sure you can imagine, my house did not look that great. We did not starve and we wore clean clothes, but that was about it for a while.

For my type A self, it was hard to accept that I didn’t have it together. “I only have one kid!” I thought. “Some people have seven or eight kids and they manage to cook dinner for real and clean their toilets!” I had to remind myself that this was a season, and that it would pass eventually. After my son outgrew colic, we were able to settle into a better routine.

Here’s how I managed when I was in survival mode:

  • Set priorities. For our family, this was avoiding having to eat out too often. To achieve that, every Saturday my husband would take care of the baby and I would prep freezer meals. Each meal would go in a gallon ziploc bag. Every morning during the week, I would dump a thawed freezer meal into the crockpot and let it cook. We survived off of crockpot dinners for months. I missed “cooking for real,” but it got the job done for that season. It was definitely healthier and cheaper than takeout.
  • Simplify. We used a lot of paper plates for the first month or so after the baby was born. Normally that feels wasteful to me. It’s okay. After a few weeks, we didn’t need them any more.
  • Delegate. I usually do the bulk of the housework in my household, but my husband did a good bit of laundry for a while there when we were in survival mode. I had to accept that I needed help and it was okay. If all else fails, my husband WILL make sure the laundry is done. He’s awesome like that. 😉
  • Let. It. Go. As women, sometimes we look at others and wonder how they do it all. Here’s the secret: they DON’T do it all. We all have to decide what is most important for our families right now.

How do you manage when life gets crazy?

How I’m (Finally) Keeping Laundry Under Control

Ah, laundry. The endless, endless cycle. I used the once a week method during college. It still worked when I was a newlywed…then my son was born. If you’re a mom, you know babies create, shall we say, urgent laundry.

Urgent laundry does not need to sit for five or six days. Upon this discovery, I moved to washing clothes whenever I had a chance. “Whenever I had a chance” was not often enough. In my year and a half of homemaking, I’ve found that I really need some structure. If I plan to get to a task “some time,” then it never actually happens. Alternatively, it does happen, but it doesn’t happen consistently. Consistency is the key to success.

I’ve experimented with a few different laundry routines, and I’ve finally settled on one that works well for our family of three. I do one load of laundry every day, except for Sunday. Realistically, doing any household project other than cooking and the dishes on Sunday just isn’t going to happen. We’re busy with multiple church services.

Even with skipping Sundays, doing a load each of the other days keeps the laundry pile to a manageable size. I’m more likely to start on a project if I can see myself making significant progress.

I alternate between doing dark loads and light loads. I used to do a separate load for towels, but I don’t any more. Our towels are medium colors and can go in either type of load when needed.

Steps to Conquering Laundry:

  1. Start the washing machine with a load of light clothes.
  2. Move the light clothes to the dryer.
  3. Place the dark clothes in the washing machine. DO NOT START IT YET.
  4. Fold the light clothes as soon as they are done in the dryer.
  5. In the evening, place dark clothes in the washing machine as soon as you change out of them.
  6. The next day, put the detergent in the washing machine and start it. Your dark clothes should already be there.
  7. Repeat the entire process.

Using this method, nothing sits in the hamper for more than 48 hours. Some items never make it to the hamper at all, and instead go directly to the laundry area. The increased efficiency has transformed laundry from an overwhelming task to a simple daily habit.

How do you handle laundry in your home?

Bullet Journaling for the Christian Homemaker

bullet journal

I love planners. I love the sense of accomplishment from marking off tasks, I love having structure to my day, and I love productivity.

As a student, the standard planner format worked well. However, as a homemaker and the mother of a baby, I need more flexibility. Homemaking often consists of doing the same tasks every day. Being the mother of a baby means that plans often change, and tasks don’t always happen at a consistent time. I also need a section for blogging and writing tasks.

Enter the bullet journal.

 

The concept of the bullet journal was developed by Ryder Carroll. It’s an extremely flexible system that can be as artistic or as minimalistic as you want.

Bullet journaling doesn’t require any expensive equipment. Some people get fancy with calligraphy pens and washi tape, but it’s definitely not required. I started with a blank, lined notebook that I already had.

Bullet journaling is flexible. Sometimes life happens with a baby. If he has a bad day and needs more help, there is a designated symbol for moving a task to the next day. It looks a lot cleaner than having to circle the task and draw an arrow to the next day.

Recommended Sections:

An index.

A key. After you’ve been bullet journaling for a while, you probably won’t need this, but at first it’s helpful for remembering what the various symbols mean.

Weekly spreads. Some people do daily spreads, but I’ve found that a weekly spread works well for my needs. I have a columns for appointments and events, housework, and writing. I also keep a sidebar with a list of my meal plan for dinners, a sidebar with tasks to complete and notes about my goals, and a daily gratitude log.

Collections. Collections are the most fun part of bullet journaling. I have my 101 in 1001 list, the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, my workout plan, Jami Balmet’s Christian Reading Challenge, a place to fill in the titles of my 50 books, a list of business resources, my blogging goals, and a page of my top priorities during this season in my life.

Trackers. I track my daily habits and monthly blog statistics. My habits tracker includes spiritual disciplines (Bible reading and prayer), parenting (reading to my son every day), intellectual disciplines (working on my reading challenge every day), health (exercise, no sugar), and daily homemaking tasks. Do I actually accomplish all of these things every day? NO. Having a habit tracker does show me what I need to improve. For example, this month reading the Bible has gone well, but I’ve only exercised twice. Embarrassing.

I also keep a running list of blog post ideas. If I don’t write my ideas down, then I don’t remember them during my writing time.

If you’d like to see more examples of how I use my bullet journal, follow me on Instagram.

How do you use your bullet journal?

101 Things in 1001 Days

I first found a reference to the 101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge on Pinterest. Essentially, you make a list of 101 things that you want to accomplish, large or small, and give yourself a deadline for completing them. I’ve never been a big fan of “bucket lists” because of their open-ended nature. I like more specific and short-term goals. The 101 in 1001 challenge takes the best of both perspectives by allowing for some large goals as well as for some smaller projects.

My list is divided into categories: Faith, Family and Friends, Homemaking and Organization, Health, Writing, Cooking, Reading, and Just for Fun. The categories pretty much sum up my interests. 🙂

Without further adieu, here are my 101 things…

101 in 1001

Faith

  1. Read the entire Bible in 2017
  2. Read the entire Bible in 2018
  3. Pray for someone I don’t like every day for a month
  4. Find a place to volunteer at church – completed January 7, 2017
  5. Blog about a blessing in my life once a week
  6. Pray for my church every day for one month
  7. Pray for a different missionary every month
  8. Read Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst
  9. Memorize ten Bible verses

Family and Friends

  1. Knit a baby gift for my cousin – completed January 18, 2017
  2. Knit a baby gift for my college friend – completed January 18, 2017
  3. Visit my college best friend
  4. Celebrate our 2nd anniversary
  5. Celebrate our 3rd anniversary
  6. Celebrate our 4th anniversary
  7. Have people over for a meal ten times – (1. January 14th, 2. January 15th, 3. February 2nd, 4. February 25th, 5. February 26th, 6. February 27th, 7. March 5th)
  8. Teach Tigger how to sing Jesus Loves Me
  9. Hand letter some cards for friends and family
  10. Write an encouraging note to someone
  11. Make a birthday cake for Jesus with Tigger – completed December 24, 2016
  12. Leave a note in my husband’s lunch five times
  13. Go to five weddings
  14. Go to my brother’s college graduation
  15. Go to my other brother’s high school graduation
  16. Be a bridesmaid
  17. Throw a birthday party for Tigger
  18. Go to a play with my husband
  19. Take my husband and Tigger to Moses Cone
  20. Write a will
  21. Send letters to each of my squad friends
  22. Join a MOPS group
  23. Take a meal to someone who is hurting
  24. Knit a toddler-sized hat for Tigger
  25. Have another baby

Homemaking and Organization

  1. Come up with 101 things for this list – completed December 15, 2016
  2. Declutter my clothes – completed March 3, 2017
  3. Organize the pantry – completed January 27, 2017
  4. Implement the Daily Tasks from A Slob Comes Clean – completed March 1, 2017
  5. Implement the Weekly Tasks from  A Slob Comes Clean
  6. Send Dana a fan email (bonus points if she writes back)
  7. Hang the pictures! – completed January 8, 2017
  8. Fill out my blog planner – completed March 20, 2017
  9. Update my resume
  10. Figure out what a bullet journal is and how to use one – completed January 1, 2017

Health

  1. Do a kettle bell workout three times a week for three months
  2. Cut all sugar for the month of January 2017 – completed January 31, 2017
  3. Cut all dairy for the month of January 2017 – completed January 31, 2017
  4. Cut all gluten for the month of January 2017 – completed January 31, 2017
  5. Run one mile
  6. Run a 5k
  7. Quit soda – completed February 1, 2017

Writing

  1. Write more than one brief for COG
  2. Write two blog posts a week – so far so good! – February 10, 2017
  3. Write a blog post about each number as it is completed
  4. Buy a domain name – completed December 23, 2016
  5. Make a content calendar for 2017 blog posts
  6. Write a guest blog post – completed January 25, 2017
  7. Create a printable – completed March 13, 2017
  8. Write reviews of some of my cookbooks
  9. Choose a word of the year – completed December 30, 2016
  10. Watch the videos in that blogging Facebook group – completed March 16, 2017
  11. Participate in a link party – completed March 20, 2017
  12. Write an ebook
  13. Hit 100 posts on the blog
  14. Delete that Twitter account I never use – changed my mind on this one. 🙂
  15. Write comments on 101 blog posts – lost track, but I’ve commented on a lot of things
  16. Set up a newsletter – completed January 27, 2017
  17. Write a letter to myself to be read at the completion of this challenge

Cooking

  1. Try one new recipe a month
  2. Have one vegetable with every supper for a month
  3. Cut sugar
  4. Keep the food budget at $75 per week
  5. Make a 30 day meal plan and corresponding grocery lists – completed March 13, 2017
  6. Figure out how to make an avocado taste good
  7. Make homemade Larabars
  8. Drink black coffee
  9. Write about my love of Aldi
  10. Make refried beans from scratch – completed March 15, 2017
  11. Make salsa from scratch
  12. Either make or delete every recipe I have pinned on Pinterest
  13. Feed my family for one week using only ingredients that are available at Aldi

Reading

  1. Make a list of my ten favorite quotes
  2. Read twenty books from the Rory Gilmore Challenge
  3. Get a library card at the library in our new city
  4. Read fifty books
  5. Join GoodReads to keep track of all of these books – completed December 15, 2016

Just For Fun

  1. Document the stories of all of our Christmas ornaments
  2. Learn how to do eye shadow
  3. Judge at five debate tournaments – (1. March 11, 2017)
  4. Be on the launch team for a book
  5. Judge the final round at a debate tournament
  6. Learn how to do some hand lettering
  7. Take a halfway decent picture with the fancy camera
  8. Buy something with my monogram on it
  9. Visit a new state
  10. Take a break from Facebook for a week
  11. Watch 10 documentaries
  12. Vote in a primary
  13. Vote in a general election
  14. Go to a museum here in our new city
  15. Make some sort of decoration for my home

I’m looking forward to doing these! My 1001 days began on December 15, 2016, and will end on September 12, 2019. 

When to Declutter

It’s starting to feel like spring here, which means time for spring cleaning. I’m also 38 weeks pregnant, and I’ve been nesting as much as possible. The combination of these two circumstances means I have been in major decluttering mode for the last few weeks.

When should I declutter?

My answer to this is simple: If I feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in my home, then I have too much stuff. A home is supposed to be a place of peace, not a place of stress. Having less stuff makes me less stressed. Less stuff means less cleaning and less maintenance.

Due to a variety of circumstances, my husband and I had to choose an apartment in a brand new city in about two hours. We didn’t originally plan to get a 2 bedroom apartment, but that was what was available. We decided that the second bedroom would be our “stuff room.”

For an embarrassingly long amount of time, the so-called “stuff room” was the dumping ground for everything that we didn’t want to declutter. We both had boxes that we’d packed up before we left for college and hadn’t touched since.We started college in 2011 and 2012!

The impending arrival of our little boy got us motivated to clean through our boxes. After a 3 day weekend and multiple trips to Goodwill, the stuff room is now the baby’s room.

IMG_1653
I knitted the blue alphabet blanket. We can’t paint in our apartment, but hanging the blanket adds a splash of color.

We also have pictures hanging on the walls now! I always think a home looks more finished once there are pictures on the walls.

When to Declutter

Decluttering has had so many benefits. This morning my grandmother called and asked if it would work for her to visit this evening and tomorrow morning. Since I’ve been decluttering for the last couple of weeks, I was able to have my house in a state where I could have visitors in less than an hour. I love having that freedom!

I also feel ready for my little boy to arrive. I know that even if the house falls apart for a while after he is born, the major projects are done. Even if all we can do is keep up with the kitchen and laundry, we should be in pretty good shape.

Do you find freedom in having less stuff?