Monday, 31 January 2011

A Thing A Day

I am a regular visitor at, a great website with loads of tips and really supportive, friendly and informative forums.

I was having a quick browse this evening and came across this - A Thing A Day: 2011 Challenge

The basic idea is to get rid of a thing a day and post about it on the forum - everyone is motivating everyone else.  I think the best thing about this idea is that no matter how demotivated you are feeling, no matter how rushed, no matter what else is going on - there is always time to get rid of A Thing A Day.

I am inspired! I have just shredded a pile of receipts that I have been staring at for the longest time! To keep track of my A Thing A Day, I am going to set up a Twitter account and link it to the blog.  That way there will be a rolling record of what I am getting rid of and I can 'tweet' quickly and from anywhere!

Phew! A sudden burst of inspiration is just what I needed!

Declutter Diarist

One Month In...

It is a month since I started my Declutter Diary and I cannot believe that tomorrow will be February!  When I started this blog, I set myself the task of not just decluttering my house, but my life - read my first post here.

It sounded pretty big, and it is a challenge.  Sorting through a few drawers and straightening your wardrobes is all well and good, but it only makes a real difference in your life if you change your habits as well.  Its a bit like going on a diet, if you think about it as a diet, it is only a temporary state and often the pressure you can put on yourself makes it unsustainable.

I have definitely hit a wall at certain points, or intended to do something and then not got round to it for whatever reason.  In the past, I would have berated myself for failure, piled on the pressure or done a rush job and then been left feeling dissatisfied.

The big difference I have made this time is just to be a but more forgiving of myself.  I have a busy life, sometimes I just want to watch telly or go to the pub.  The clutter isn't going anywhere, it can wait.  The trick for me has been to keep a vision in mind of what I want to achieve.

When I have made big leaps, I have enjoyed it and allowed myself to be a tad smug about what I have achieved.  And more importantly, where I have made progress, I have maintained that area.  So, I am pleased to report that I have kept the sitting room immaculate and I have kept my desk clear and my inbox empty.

So, I think tonight I will recline with a small gin and tonic and think about what I want to achieve in February.  I may blog about this in a bit, that way you can all keep check on me!  I am also going to think about how great it will feel to blog on New Year's Eve when I have got where I want to be.  When even the Room of Doom is a sanctuary of calm and organisation....

Onwards and Upwards Friends!

The Declutter Diarist

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Staying in Hotels

When I was glancing around other decluttering websites, I noticed that someone had written about how much they like staying in hotels.  And I agree with that, there is nothing like a night in a posh hotel.

The crisp bedding, fancy soaps, spacious rooms, fluffy towels and clean lines.

I also act differently in a hotel room.  I neatly put my clothes away, after getting ready I gather up my make up and put it away, and despite room service, straighten my bedsheets.

Then it hit me, I could actually live this lifestyle all the time.

At home.

But moving house is not an option, although that would be great.  Put everything in a skip and start over again.  But this is me all over - when things get on top of me my tendency is to be dissatisfied with my current life and dream about another one.

So, that is my new goal - crack on with the decluttering and live the hotel life style at home.  Well, except for the room service, Husband is good...but not that good!

Declutter Diarist.

Monday, 17 January 2011

All Work and No Declutter Makes a Messy House

Yep, I knew that this was a potential risk.  After good plans, good intentions over the Christmas period, going back to work was always going to hit me like a tonne of bricks.

I have quite a busy job with weird hours and lots of weekend and evenings to do.  On the upside, my diary is my own, and if I want I can clear a day to do what I like, (this wouldn't make me very popular if I did it often though!)

So consequently I have not achieved a great deal over the past two weeks.  But saying that the sitting room has stayed exactly how it was after the declutter day and I am still on top of my emails after following the Bit Literacy technique.  I feel a lot more in control about my work, which is a huge relief and Husband says makes me a nicer person to live with!

Tonight I got home at 8:30pm and I had organised a home delivery of the groceries.  So my declutter job was to go through the fridge.  Doesn't sound like much, but after 20 minutes there was only food in there that was fresh and would be eaten and it was clean.  It was hardly grotty, but it is better now!

Sometimes, just taking some action, any action helps keep you on track.  No matter how little, it is something.

Let's keep at it people!

Declutter Diarist

Friday, 14 January 2011

Set Back

Just got back from a few days away - completely shattered and didn't declutter my hall like I wanted to before I went away.

I have decided not to beat myself up about this - it is too easy to make yourself feel bad.  After all, I set the rules, so I can either be my own worst enemy or take a deep breath, make a plan and get on with it.

More details tomorrow after a good nights sleep!


Monday, 10 January 2011

Declutter Calender

Just found this online and it is so cute! Grab yours now by clicking here!

Declutter Diarist

Progress to Date

Realise that I have been a bit quiet the past couple of days.  My friend was married over the weekend and I was working on Sunday.  I was a bit worried about whether or not I would still be able to keep the momentum going when I went back to work properly after Christmas, but it has been OK!

In my post about organising my desk, (remember the photo?), I said that I would have everything sorted by Friday and I did! Also, I am on Day 7 of finishing work and having an empty inbox! I literally glide out of work knowing that I haven't missed anything and that I am ready to get stuck in when I get back in the next day.  The empty inbox is a technique recommending in Bit Literacy which I talked about here.

I have also maintained the sitting room, it really is a sanctuary when we are both home after a long day.  Husband also make a conscious effort to straighten it all out before we go to bed at night as well.

In new decluttering news, I have mainly been concentrating on my brain.  Sounds weird?  Well, I have basically been getting in some new habits to avoid me carrying round lots of info and 'to-dos' in my head.  This 'Brain Clutter' was making me anxious and stressed and I didn't even realise!

Now what I am about to tell you is neither revolutionary or outstanding.  It is common sense. Amongst sensible people, it is common.

I put all my addresses in one place. An address book.

Now, I know that seems bizarre, but I actually send a lot of mail.  I am good at remembering addresses, but not postcodes.  I am forever on the Royal Mail postcode finder website trying to piece together addresses.  And I say I am good at addresses but Mother rang the other day to say that she actually lives at 11 not 13....

When it came to cards for Husband's Canadian cousins this Christmas, I searched through old emails for an hour until I found a message my sister-in-law sent me three years ago.  This is not organised.  My brain clutter consisted of bits of addresses and numerous places where I keep other addresses and who I need to send cards to and who has sent me a card or a letter and .....

Anyway, you get the point.

This also led me to applying my empty inbox to Facebook messages and my private email.  Between the two, 2675 messages.  Not any more! Majority deleted, some kept, tasks lined up for completion.  The brain is decluttered, but I didn't find any money!

So, next project is sorting out my hallway.  Coats from the dark ages, impractical shoes I've worn once, random man junk from Husband.  Look out I am coming to get you.

Oh, and various items removed from the sitting room when I decluttered...ahem....

This mission will be completed by 10pm GMT tomorrow, or my name's not

The Declutter Diarist

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A great sense of satisfaction and smugness....

Yes, yes that's right.  I do have a great sense of satisfaction and smugness.  But with good reason I think!

I have finished decluttering.... wait for it.... One Room!!!

Now, it may not sound like much, but it has shown me exactly what I can achieve when I put my mind to it and roll up my sleeves.  The room in question was the sitting room and I can categorically say that it looks fabulous.

It took me about three and half hours to do and despite having done a Look and Chuck a few days earlier, I still managed to fill a bin bag! I also gave the room a thorough cleaning, including the skirting boards, windows and moved all of the furniture out to vacuum underneath.

One of the big problems in the sitting room were the nooks and crannies that could get filled with junk and be relatively unseen.  Out of sight, out of mind.  One of these places was down the side of the sofa.  Here I found my wedding album, Trivial Pursuits, a basket containing knitting, assorted batteries and a Wii remote, numerous out of date papers and a selection of pens.

As they were all piled up, none of these items were at all accessible and the pile had just been added to, so really I had no clue what was there.  Having cleared this space out completely now, both Husband and I have agreed that it will be a dumping ground no longer! The knitting now has a home courtesy of a basket I received a Christmas Hamper in, the wedding album, Trivial Pursuits and Wii gear has similarly found a new place to live.

Having made a significant amount of extra space in the sitting room, I decided to have a scout around the house to see if there was anything to fill a newly created void in an alcove.  About two years ago, we had bought a second hand display cabinet.  It have been shoved into a corner in the dining room and I had never got round to doing anything with it.

In fact I had grown to be annoyed by its very presence.

It didn't look right, it covered a double plug socket but wouldn't fit anywhere else, it needed relining. I hadn't so much as unwrapped the glass shelves.

I measured the alcove. 31''.  I measured the display cabinet.  31''.  I decided to just get on with it.

I knew I had some wallpaper that I had bought on impulse in the loft.  I knew I had some glue sticks left over from some project or other.  I had been putting off relining the cabinet thinking that I needed wallpaper paste, sharper scissors, at least a full day etc etc.  See, I told you I am the Queen of Procrastination!

Anyway, a full glue stick and 25 minutes (yes, 25 minutes) later.  This was the result.

So not only do I have a thoroughly declutted and beautifully clean sitting room, I also have a fab new piece of furniture that I can use to put in objects that I love.  No doubt these are still buried somewhere else in the house, but I will get to them eventually!

So, I really have made a start, and yes I am a bit smug about it.  But I have to be careful not to rest on my laurels and think that a Mary Poppins effect will take over the rest of the house.  But seriously, I feel so motivated about every room at home looking this good, I can't wait to get going.

Oh, and I found another £1.83.

The Declutter Diarist

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

My Declutter Playlist

To help me stay motivated I decided to put together a playlist that I can listen to on my iPod Nanp when I am decluttering.  It is 30 minutes of music that is upbeat and feel good.  When I am putting off getting started and need to feel motivated, I  think this will get me into the swing of things.

My Declutter Disco playlist consists of:

Do Your Thing - Basement Jaxx
Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash
Don't Stop - Fleetwood Mac
Love Today - Mika
Feeling Good - Nina Simone
Use It Up, Wear It Out - Odyssey
Don't Stop Me Now - Queen
I'm Every Woman - Chaka Khan

What would be on your playlist?  The Declutter Diarist

Decluttering Home and Away

Today was my first day back at work, and I have to say that there was a certain amount of dread as I parked the car up this morning.

Was this because I don't like my job?  Or maybe I have to work with awful people?  Nope.  I love my job and my colleagues are great.  It was because I was going back to a disorganised mess.

Now this is bad times.  Home is a mess, office is a mess.  This equals, head is a mess.  But I knew that today I could start to make a positive change.  I didn't have many meetings so had about 5 hours where I could just knuckle down and start getting organised.

So what did I go back to I hear you ask?  Well, 314 emails - about half of which I had before my two week break and hadn't dealt with, a pigeon hole full of post and this pile of paperwork....

Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!  And I haven't even looked in the two sets of drawers I have yet...

Anyway, there is absolutely no point sorting out home when work is still in chaos so I made a good in road into the backlog today.  With my email I decided to employ a technique that I read about in 'Bit Literacy' by Mark Hurst.  This is available as an e-Book from Amazon available here and if you don't have a Kindle you can download it for your PC here.

The technique basically is about achieving an empty inbox every day.  Sounds impossible? That's what I thought.  But I have to tell you, I did it - no emails in my inbox!! I either actioned, deleted or filed all 314.  Some have been converted to tasks as they did not need doing today, but I did make sure I set deadlines and reminders.  The feeling of that achievement is amazing and I will definitely keep it up.

With the in-tray disaster zone, I am still going through it.  Basically, I have done the Look and Chuck to get rid of junk quickly.  I then pulled out any papers I need to read or for meetings in the next seven days and made a new pile (!?) that needs me to take action.  My next step with the action pile is to turn them into tasks, like I did with my email and file in priority order.  I will have done this by Friday.

I also made the decision to get rid of everything in my 'To Read' tray.  Some documents have been there for months, and quite frankly I have coped without their enlightenment so far.  Most of it is available online, so it all went in the recycling.  If I need it in the future, I can find it again.  To stop this accumulation in the future I have booked three, one hour slots in my diary every week to read what is in the tray.  If I haven't read it, I will bin it sooner.

So hopefully by Friday, the top of my desk will be sorted, next stop will be the drawers and the 'Pile of Stuff' in the corner.

Onwards and upwards! The Declutter Diarist

Declutter Blitz Update - Look and Chuck

Didn't get chance yesterday to update you all on how my quick blitz went, so here goes!

With the help of Husband we spent two hours basically throwing stuff out.  We didn't particularly sort anything or make long term decisions on items - we just Looked and Chucked!

So armed with a big bag each we...
  • Went into a room and shut the door (no distractions!)
  • Gathered up any obvious rubbish; recycling in one bag, general waste in the other
  • Any small items that were out of place went in the Repatriation Box - read more about this here
  • Any big items out of place went into the laundry basket to be replaced
  • VERY quickly opened any drawers or cupboards for any obvious rubbish
When we had completed this process in a room the big items out of place went to back to where they should be.  If was any item that didn't have a place yet, well, for now its in the Room of Doom......

After we had done this throughout the house, Husband vaccumed and dusted and I cleaned the bathroom.  The house was pretty orderly and ready for us to go back to work in a fairly relaxed state of mind.

Now don't get me wrong, the house is far from decluttered.  I obstinately ignored the pile of 'must take to the charity shop' items under the stairs.  I paid no attention to the pile of paperwork that isn't for binning on top of the piano.  At the moment, that's where they live.  But very soon it will all be emigrating to pastures new.

A good surface clean has made me feel that I have a spring board for a really good sort out.  Decluttering can create mess, and if there is mess already there it can be really easy to feel overwhelmed.  I also think that surface cleaning means there is less distractions.  I don't want to be halfway through sorting out the sideboard and then think, I know, I will just take out the rubbish/put books back/gather up knitting wool.  I have done that already.

My quest continues! The Declutter Diarist

Monday, 3 January 2011

Packing Away Christmas

Today was the day that I packed away Christmas for another year.  It is always a little bit melancholy to let go of the festive period, after seeing friends and family and having a lot of fun everything can seem a bit grey and depressing.

To combat this I decided to make packing Christmas away part of the declutter mission.  Rather than just shoving everything in bags and boxes and then hiding it it the loft until next December, I decided to - stop press - be organised.

So I took my time.  As I took the decorations off the tree I checked each one to make sure it wasn't broken in anyway, gave it a quick wipe to remove any dirt or dust and packed it away.  Throughout this process I collected decorations I no longer wanted, especially those that I didn't use this year, for the charity shop.

I also took a note of all the decorations that I have so if I want to but anything, I can check to see what I already have.  During this process I found Christmas cards that I had bought in January 2010 and forgotten to use this Christmas.  70 in all! If I had remembered this, I would not have had to buy any this year, a saving of about £15.

The little notebook I have started will prove invaluable.  I have so far recorded any Christmas cards or wrapping material that I have left over as well as the decorations.  Hopefully I can avoid making the same mistake this year and not buy any Christmas cards! And knowing that everything has been packed clean, safely and are items I like will make decorating next year a one step process. Pure pleasure without any messing about.

What could have been just a dispirited process actually turned out OK.  Not just packing away, but preparing for next Christmas.  Makes it a little less down hearted.

The Declutter Diairist

Declutter Blitz

Day Three of the Decluttering commences...

The past couple of days have seen me only attempting small decluttering tasks, one of the reasons for this was we had a friend to stay and I don't think it would have been really fair to have roped him in!

So today is my first full day (well, half day, I am still on holiday!) of decluttering.  And I am going to blitz the place!

Basically, my plan is to move from room to room and do a really quick surface clean. I hope this will mean that each room will look presentable and give me a good basis to sort out 'what lies beneath'...

The only room I won't be touching is the Room of Doom.  More stuff may be shoved in there, but more about my dirty little secret when I get round to tackling it!

So, I will check back later to let you know how I got on.

On my marks, get set, GO!

The Declutter Diarist

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Christmas Card Carnage

Decluttering today is focussing on addressing some of the clutter that is created by the festive season.  At first I thought I should start with the clutter that has been around so long that it has its own postcode.  But on reflection I think it is wiser to keep the decks clear rather than adding more clutter to the problem.

This morning I started by tackling my Christmas Cards.  It is really easy to hang onto them all for sentimental value or chuck them, losing vital information.  So, I decided on a practical approach to these this year.  I gathered them all up in a pile and then went through them taking a note of any addresses and who had sent us a card.  So I now have my list for next year.  I have a new address book on order, so when it arrives I will put any addresses into it.  I set aside any particularly nice cards or those that had special messages in them.

I then got busy with the scissors and have created gift tags from cutting out attractive sections of the cards - this created 29 gift tags, plenty for next year.  With some of the cards I have kept the front complete and plan to use these as Festive Recipe Cards.  I think these will make great gifts, I plan on giving the recipe, the ingredients and a sample of the finished product.  I have ended up with 11 recipe cads which is great haul.

The scraps and any leftover cards are all in a carrier bag in the car ready to be dropped off at the Christmas Card recycling point at the local supermarket.

Just a small task but has made me feel great and already ahead for next Christmas! Can't be bad.

The Decluttter Diarist

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Cleaning Silver

In the last post I mentioned that I had cleaned some of my newly re-discovered silver jewellery and I thought you might be interested in how I did this.

I didn't use any fancy products, or even go out and buy anything.  I already had everything I needed in my kitchen!

I lined a pyrex dish (any dish will do) with some foil and filled it up with quite warm water.  I then added some salt and bicarbonate of soda and swirled it round to make sure it had dissolved.  Then I put in the pieces that I wanted to clean and left them for a bit.

The solution did its job and the items were as good as new.

What pieces do you have that could be rejuvenated by this really simple process?

The Declutter Diarist

PS - didn't take any photos for a before and after but my husband has just found a St Christopher chain of his, so when I work my magic I will post the results - DD

Hidden Treasure

So, today is Day One of my decluttering task.  I have started off with a fairly small task - sorting out my jewellery boxes.

I have a large wooden box with a drawer and two smaller mirrored boxes, and basically everything was just slung in.  I don't wear jewellery very often and no wonder really, finding matching earrings or an untangled necklace was just too much like hard work.

Here is a photo of the before, pretty crazy eh?!

There was all sorts in the boxes that didn't fall under the category of jewellery.  Things I found included spare buttons that had come with clothes, general rubbish, curler pins and 78p in loose change.  If I keep finding that amount of change every time I do a bit of decluttering I could make a small fortune!

It took a couple of hours to go through the boxes, but it was worth it in the end.  Earrings have been reunited with their other half, necklaces have been untangled, silver has been cleaned and I have rediscovered items I had completely forgotten that I owned.

I also took the opportunity to get rid of pieces that I know I won't wear in the future.  Some will go to the charity shop, other bits were just broken and needed to be thrown away.  There is one silver bracelet that I got from a friend that is lovely but just not my taste which I will sell.

One of the downsides of this decluttering is that I have found stuff that I don't have a place for yet, like the spare buttons.  Now, I plan to have a sewing box in the future but until then I need to keep these bits together.  So I have designated a shoe box as a 'repatriation box'.  When I create a place for things, I will check the box to see if there is anything ready to go home.

It felt good to have started the decluttering project, and I am really please with the results.  I think that I may not have the right box to keep all of my jewellery in, and if I buy any more I will have to think very carefully about how I will keep it - but that may not be a bad thing, I might stop spending money on bits and bats now I can actually see what I have!

So here are the results, much better I am sure you will agree!

Happy New Year Everyone!

The Declutter Diarist