Time to Spring Clean

Currently we are all cooped up inside our homes, because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Having to spend so much time at home creates much frustration and unhappiness. One of your frustrations might be an untidy and cluttered household.

With spring in the air, now is the ideal time to clean your home thoroughly and get it ready for the summer season. Tidying up your home is considered therapeutic and will make you feel more positive and happy.

Get your summer wardrobe ready

  • Remove all your winter clothes and shoes.
  • Sort clothing into 3 piles. One for items you are keeping, another for items that you need to fix or clean and a third pile of clothing you want to discard.
  • Discard anything that you haven’t worn this past winter or any old items.
  • Wash or dry clean coats and suits.
  • Store your winter items on the top shelf or the back of your wardrobe. Dedicate a hanging space for winter items such as coats and jackets. You can also use plastic containers to store your clothes.
  • Go through all your summer clothing and discard all unwanted and old clothes.
  • Store clothes by category and colour.
  • Make a list of new clothing items you need to get for the summer season.
  • Check fashion articles in magazines or on social media to get a good idea of what is in fashion.
  • For those of you who have established your own unique style, look out for essential items to extend your existing wardrobe.
  • For more advice on wardrobe organising read my blog post on Wardrobe Detox.

Clean and store your winter bedding

  • Collect all your winter blankets and bed linen.
  • Discard anything that looks worn or old.
  • Wash everything and make sure it’s dry before you fold it.
  • Always fold items in rectangular shapes.
  • Store blankets on the top shelve and winter linen in the back of your linen cupboard.
  • It’s important that you store your linen in a cool, dry place.

Prepare your garden or balcony for summer

  • Prune shrubs, trees and roses.
  • Remove weed and clean up dead leaves and branches.
  • Fertilise existing plants.
  • You might want to rearrange the layout of your balcony or garden.
  • Make a list of any new plants or seeds you want to buy.
  • Check your hand tools and buy new ones if needed.
  • Maintain your outdoor furniture by cleaning them with soapy water. Varnish wood furniture if needed.

Clean your windows and curtains

  • Wash windows with a bucket of hot water and some liquid dish detergent or distilled vinegar.
  • Wipe the windows with a wet cloth and finish it off with a dry cloth.
  • If there are any stubborn stains, then spray some window cleaner on the stain and wipe it with a dry cloth.
  • Also clean your window frames, while you are washing the windows.
  • It is recommended to clean your curtains once a year.
  • Most curtains have to be dry-cleaned. Be aware that curtains can shrink, even if you wash them with cold water.
  • Dust off or vacuum fabric blinds.
  • If you have metal or wooden blinds then wipe them off with a moist cloth, which you can dip in soapy water. Dry each slat with a clean cloth.

Tidy up and redecorate your home

  • Remove, clean and store all seasonal winter items, such as decorative skins for chairs, knitted cushions or fake fur blankets.
  • Return items to their proper storage places.
  • Do a proper clean up of each room and discard any old and unwanted things.
  • Clean your carpets with a carpet cleaner.
  • Vacuum your mattresses.
  • Fix broken or damaged things inside the house, like used light bulbs, dripping taps or a broken furniture piece.
  • To inject new life into your home, change the colour scheme. This can easily be done with new scatter cushions, place mats or towels.
  • Add plants to create a fresh and clean appearance. Houseplants help to remove toxins from the air.
  • Make a list of all the new things you need.
  • For every new item you get, you have to let go of one or two items. This will help you to reduce clutter.
  • Visit Instagram or Pinterest for great ideas on how to decorate your home.

“When your environment is clean you feel happy, motivated and healthy.” – Lailah Gifty Akita

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme

Organising your Digital Photos

It’s always fun to take photos and to share them. When it comes to sorting and organising of photos, most of us tend to postpone it, because it is so time consuming. But hopefully I can motivate you this week to tackle this daunting task.

Click here for more information on Organising Printed Photos and Albums, which I posted last week.

How to sort and file your digital photos

  • Delete all unwanted and ugly photos on your cell phone and transfer all the images to your laptop or computer.
  • Create a “To Sort“ folder under Pictures and drop your photos in it.
  • Also go through all the existing photos on your computer. If need be, move all your photos to one location on your computer or laptop for you to sort.
  • Create folders for each event and sort by year. E.g. 2020 // New Years celebration / Maya’s Birthday / Holiday in Marrakech, etc.
  • Do the same for all the past years and categorise all photos by events or people. If needed create sub-folders. This will give you the best overview of all your past events.
  • Don’t be scared to delete bad quality photos or similar ones. Only keep the best photos.
  • Once you have sorted all your photos, then save them onto an external hard drive or in the cloud. This will ensure that you have a backup of all your precious memories.
  • Try to download and store new photos on a monthly basis.

“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.“ – Ralph Hattersley

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme

Organising your Printed Photos and Albums

Sorting and organising your printed photos and photo albums could take a few hours or a few days, depending on how many photos you have. Follow these organising suggestions that will keep your memories safe.

I will discuss Sorting your Digital Photos in my next blog.

  • Collect all your photos and photo albums, and place them on a table.
  • Remove all photos from your existing photo albums, unless an album makes you feel happy.
  • Only keep the photos, which create joy and where you and others look good.
  • If you have lots of photos of a specific event, then select the best ones.
  • Let go of bad quality photos or similar ones.
  • Categorise the photos by year or events.
  • Place a note with a description and date with each pile.
  • Tie up each pile with a thin ribbon or rope. Otherwise, use plastic sleeves and place each year in a separate sleeve.
  • Store the photos upright in a box. Create card dividers for each year or event to create a better overlook.
  • If you want to digitalise photos, scan them in and save them on an external hard drive with your other photos.
  • You can also create a photo book with the digital photos. Photo books have replaced photo albums and make great gifts for special occasions and birthdays.
  • Last but not least store your camera and lenses together. Ideally use a camera bag.

“Photography is the beauty of life captured.” – Tara Chisholm

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme

Tidying up your Hobby Items

Hobby items comprise everything, which you use to carry out a creative, musical or sports activity during your leisure time. I will only be focusing on the creative hobbies like painting, knitting, sewing and crafts.

Hobbies are an excellent way to relax and improve your wellbeing. You will feel great after creating something beautiful or functional. The most important advice is to group all the items for a specific hobby together in one place. If you have to start looking for things, you will waste valuable time and end up feeling frustrated.

  • Go through each hobby group you possess and assess if everything is still in a good condition. If you have a dedicated hobby room or area, you will probably have accumulated a lot of things. Go through everything.
  • Discard old, used and unwanted items.
  • If you no longer enjoy or have time for a particular hobby, then maybe sell your things on eBay. Use the money for a new hobby, which you would like to try out.
  • Make a list of any new things you need to purchase in order to grow your hobby.
  • Sort items by material, size and colour.
  • Arrange paints and thread rolls, from light, then bright to dark colours.
  • If you have lots of different smaller items, like buttons, beads and sequences, then store them in smaller jars or in a compartmental organiser with lid.
  • If you practise a variety of smaller, creative hobbies, then ideally store each group in a transparent container, so you can see what is inside.
  • Place everything neatly together in small, medium or large storage containers, ideally with lids, to protect the content from dust.
  • You can stack the containers on top of each other or next to each other on a shelf or cupboard.
  • Label them if needed.
  • Keep your workspace clean and tidy after a each hobby session.
  • Invest in a good lamp, especially if you carry out your hobby at night. If you are knitting in the lounge, then have a good reading lamp. It’s important not to put strain on your eyes.

Storage suggestions for creative hobbies

  • Store creative hobby items for scrapbooking, card making or art in transparent containers. 
  • If you have a lot of art supplies, then store the items in a mobile trolley or on a shelve. Paint brushes can be sorted into different sizes. Place them upright in old drinking glasses or cylinder shaped holders.
  • Store groups of smaller items such as buttons and beads in compartmental organisers or small jars and boxes.
  • Place all the baking craft items in a transparent container and store it with the rest of your baking items.
  • Keep knitting items in a small basket, which you can place by your sofa in the lounge, while you are busy knitting.
  • Sewing items can be stored in small or large wooden sewing boxes. You might even have a sewing desk with drawers where you can arrange items neatly in sub-categories – buttons, pins and thread.

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme

5 Useful Organising Suggestions

If you follow these easy and practical organising suggestions throughout the year, your place will look more tidy and organised. For those of you who feel motivated to follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme, your home will end up looking super neat and organised. You will also feel more rejuvenated and clear-headed.

1. Less is more

We have all heard that less is more and that simplicity is an essence of happiness. Instead of complaining about your cramped space or looking for a storage facility, start getting rid of some of your possessions.

  • Keep only what you need.
  • Discard all the obvious unwanted items, such as old magazines, promotional flyers, boxes from online shopping, worn out clothes and broken appliances.
  • Discard items that add no value unless they can be recycled.
  • Get rid of duplications unless these are items you use often.
  • Don’t create a junk drawer or cupboard.

Through regular decluttering efforts, you will be able to avoid a mess to accumulate.

2. Keep items that add value

Only keep items that make you happy or add value to your life. Stop wearing or using things, which you don’t really like. Instead, use the pretty dinner set, which you usually keep for special occasions. Wear some of your new clothes at home, rather than wearing those old and worn out items.

3. Everything has its place

Keeping your life organised means keeping everything in their proper place. This will help you to find your things quickly and easily.

  • What belongs in a specific room should always be returned to that room.
  • Use organising systems to store your things and to keep a neat appearance, for example a laundry bin for dirty clothing, a toy box in the lounge for the kids toys and a container for all your cables and plugs.
  • Keep like with like – place same shaped items together, same fabrics such as napkins and tablecloths together and put same sized bowls and plates together.
  • Create easy-to-access storage spaces for things you use all the time.
  • Don’t let your storage spaces become cluttered.

4. Discard 2 items for each new item that you buy

Most of us love buying new, beautiful things we see, especially clothing and decor. But more stuff means less space to house all your things. A way to avoid things to accumulate is to discard two items you no longer like or use that much. Having to remove 2 items will make you think twice before you purchase something new. In a world where the focus is on sustainable living, we all need to try to buy less and rather recycle the things which we can. For instance, create scatter cushions from old denim jeans.

5. Clean up regularly

Do a quick tidy up before you leave a room for the day.

  • Make up your bed every morning.
  • Hang up wet towels after use.
  • Place dirty clothes in the laundry basket and put clean clothes in the wardrobe.
  • Discard promotional leaflets and empty packaging immediately.
  • Take glasses and cups back to the kitchen.
  • Pack dirty dishes into the dishwasher and keep kitchen surfaces clean.
  • Empty all household bins when emptying the kitchen bin.

Every aspect of your life is anchored energetically in your living space, so clearing your clutter can completely transform your entire existence. – Karen Kingston

Source: Pinterest

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme

Declutter your Desk and Stationery Supplies

A minimalistic desk space provides the maximum usefulness and contributes to a more productive frame of mind. The home office is increasing in the business world, making it more important to create and maintain a tidy space at home. Your desk should only have the basic gear, such as a desk lamp, laptop and a pen organiser.

In the age of digital technology, people tend to have less stationery then before. But for those that use more stationery items, there are amazing storage ideas for keeping things neat and tidy. Visit Pinterest for clever and creative storage ideas.

How to organise your desk and stationery supplies

  • Clear out all your drawers and collect all your stationery related items such as pens, staplers, notebooks, plastic sleeves, etc.
  • Go through all the items and discard any unwanted and old items, as well as things you never use. Why keep a puncher if you don’t use A4 cardboard folders.
  • Test all the pens and koki pens to see if they still work. Discard any that don’t work.
  • Sharpen all your pencils.
  • If you have a lot of duplicate items such as notebooks, rulers and erasers, only keep the 2 nicest ones and discard the rest.
  • Store your pens, ruler and scissors in a round transparent vase or stationery pen organiser.
  • Keep smaller items such as paper clips and pins in smaller containers or in multi-compartment organisers with lids.
  • If you don’t have a desk with drawers, then store your stationery items in a mobile stationery trolley with trays, available from Ikea. You can roll it nicely under the table counter or next to your desk.
  • Store the stationery items you use often within easy reach. Place them either neatly on your desk or in the top drawer or tray.
  • The items you use seldom can be stored in the back of your drawers or on the bottom trays.
  • Keep paper, envelopes and plastic sleeves separately either in a compartment storage unit with drawers or in magazine holders. 

“Tidy desk. Tidy mind.”

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme

Tidying up your Financial Documents

This week I am focussing on tidying up all the financial documents such as statements, contracts and invoices. The aim is to file your paperwork in such a way that you can find the required documents easily and with the least amount of time.

How to organise your financial paperwork:

  • Sort all your financial papers into categories: bank and card statements, insurance papers, contracts, etc.
  • Check each paper carefully. Only keep papers, which have a clear purpose. Discard the rest.
  • The papers that you keep can be divided into 2 categories: Papers you need to action and papers you need to file.
  • Place papers you need to action in an in-tray or in a magazine holder, with a short note, stating what you need to do e.g. phone or pay a company. Complete your in-tray on a weekly basis.
  • File all the papers in the relevant folders and create new folders if needed.
  • Ideally switch over to electronic statements and save each company under a labelled folder within your email inbox. Make sure your emails are stored in the cloud.
  • Keep monthly statements for up to 24 months and thereafter discard them. This might be useful when you have to submit your annual tax.
  • Many of the big banks allow you to access electronic statements for up to 7 years.
  • Create a tax folder for each tax year and store all your tax-deductible receipts, invoices and tax related communication in this folder.
  • Keep your tax returns for up to 7 years.
  • Legal documents should be kept permanently.
  • Keep all records of your house and car purchase, registration, maintenance invoices, etc. You will need these when you plan to sell.
  • Discard all grocery and entertainment receipts for which you cannot be reimbursed.
  • Keep clothing receipts for a month and those for expensive clothing items for up to 24 months. E.g. should the zip of your coat become faulty, you can claim your money back if you kept your receipt. Store all clothing related receipts in an envelope and place it in your cupboard.

“Make space for what matters.”

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme

Tidying up all Paper Items

The best advice I can give you is to avoid too much paper piling up, which will make you more reluctant to deal with sorting and filing your paperwork.

This week I am focusing on all paper related items such as promotional flyers, letters, manuals, receipts, clippings, personal documents, etc. I will cover all Financial Documents such as bank statements, invoices and contracts, next week.

My step by step guideline for sorting and filing your papers and documents

  • Collect all your papers and existing files and place them on an empty table.
  • Sort items into categories such as unopened letters, clippings, manuals, personal documents, etc.
  • Open and empty all envelopes and discard any unimportant information. Try to do this immediately when receiving new mail.
  • Check each paper carefully.
  • Only keep papers, which have a clear purpose and add value. Discard the rest.
  • Also go through all your existing files and discard old and unimportant papers. You might be able to discard entire files, which you don’t need anymore.
  • Keep all your financial papers and files for part 2 – next week.
  • The papers that you keep can be divided into 2 categories: Papers you need to action and papers you need to file.
  • Place papers you need to action in an in-tray or in a magazine holder, with a short note, stating what you need to do e.g. phone company. Complete your in-tray on a weekly basis.
  • Use another tray for filing new documents, such as contracts, warranties and statements you need to keep long term. Try to do your filing on a monthly basis.
  • I prefer using plastic sleeves for filing, which I label with the name of the organisations and the type of service they offer. You can also use cardboard folders.
  • Place the A4 sleeves or folders in a filing system organiser or expandable case, which you can place inside a cupboard.
  • Keep all warranties with the purchase receipt in a folder labelled “Warranties“. Each time you need to go through it, you can discard old warranties.
  • Keep clippings for travel locations in a labelled sleeve folder. Do the same with other clippings.
  • Clippings of cooking recipes should be placed in a plastic folder with sleeve pages, so you can easily page through the recipes. Ideally keep it in the kitchen with your recipe books.
  • Keep all your personal documents like wedding certificates, birth certificates and qualifications in a personal folder with sleeve pages. Make copies of the most important papers and keep them behind the original version.
  • You can hang invitations and tickets on a notice board or on the side of your fridge. Discard these when an event is over.
  • If you have lots of paperwork for a specific company, then file the papers in an expandable folder or upright in a magazine holder.
  • I personally don’t like filing papers in A4 cardboard files, as they take up too much space and look dated. They also require more work, i.e. punching holes.
  • These days there is no need to keep manuals for equipment and appliances, because you can look them up online or contact the manufacturer. I keep the most essential manuals in a labelled storage box.
  • Recycle discarded paper and do your part to reduce the amount of paper wastage and ideally request your monthly statements in a digital format.

What paper you should discard:

  • All promotional leaflets
  • Old notes, invitations, information and manuals
  • Old course materials, which most people tend to never review again. If you cannot do this, then keep the most important information and file it in a folder labelled “Courses & Training”.
  • Clippings you haven’t referred to in the last year. You will most likely never do.

“When there is a will, there is a way.”

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme

Tidying up your Handbag Content

Besides your cell phone, your handbag and wallet are the most important items you carry around with you each day. What does your handbag say about you? From the design and shape, to the content inside. It can reveal a lot about your personality. Also, many of us know how annoying it can be, when it takes forever to find something in our handbag. Which is why it’s so important to keep your bag content organised and to avoid carrying unnecessary things with you. 

How to organise your handbag content, wallet and keys

  • Empty your whole handbag onto your bed and group all the items.
  • Discard all unwanted and old items.
  • If you change your handbag regularly, then invest in a bag-insert, available from Ikea. This allows you to keep the most important items together and it is easy to move your things from one bag to another.
  • Ideally use a smaller bag to avoid carrying too many things with you. It’s also better for your posture and back.
  • Then go through your wallet and discard old receipts, tickets and vouchers.
  • Keep clothing receipts for a month. Store them in a small box and place it in your closet.
  • Check if all your cards are still valid and re-apply for new identity cards or drivers license if needed.
  • It might also be time to get a new wallet or key hanger.
  • Collect all your keys in your home and check if each key has a purpose. Discard any loose keys for which there is no purpose.
  • It’s advisable to have one or two spare keys for the main entrance. You might need them for the house sitter or guests.
  • If you have lots of keys, invest in a key box or wall key hanger. Ideally, position this in your study or kitchen area. I find it doesn’t look nice in the entrance hall, which tends to look messy easily.
  • It’s also best to label your household keys so you know exactly what the function is of each key.
  • As a safety precaution ~ it is best to keep your main key chain in your bedroom. Place it in a dedicated bowl.
  • Organise your handbag, at least every 2 weeks, to keep it tidy.

„I am very organised these days, and I keep my life in my bag, like most women.“ – Britt Ekland

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme

Declutter your Entrance Hall

In the last 5 weeks, I focused mainly on personal topics such as medical check ups and finances. Now I am moving on to the home front and I will start off with the first thing guests will see when they enter your home – namely the entrance hall. Hallway sizes vary from country to country. I will focus on smaller entrances with limited space.

Many entrance halls are filled with shoes, bags, boxes, bottles and furniture that fill up the small space and give it a messy appearance. The nicest entrance halls are minimalistic with only the basic necessities like a coat hanger, chair, small cupboard for shoes and a surface for keys.

Helpful tips for organising your entrance hall

  • Try to remove all the small items such as shoes, bags, coats, etc. from the entrance hall.
  • Place same category items together and sort through it. Discard all damaged, old and undesired items.
  • Put crates with empty bottles in your car, to take to the shops. Discard those online boxes and take back the items that need to be stored in the cellar or garage.
  • Place shoes and coats that you only use seldom, back into your closet.
  • Only the essential items that you use nearly daily should go back into the entrance area.
  • Before you pack your essential items back, have a proper look at your space and see what furniture should be removed, replaced or added.
  • The basic furniture that an entrance hall needs is: a coat hanger, a narrow, low cupboard for shoes and bags, a shelf, a chair and a mirror.
  • Hallway shoe storage suggestions – have a cupboard where you can store shoes or use a box with compartments where shoes fit in.

  • A DIY idea is to use the front part of a wooden ladder and attach it to the wall. You can place shoes on the various steps. This will look funky and also take up less space.
  • If you don’t have space for a cupboard or thin table, maybe add a floating shelf where you can place your keys.
  • Instead of having a coat rack, you can use a beautiful wall coat hanger, which takes up less space.
  • I like to have a mirror in the hallway, because it’s good to take a last glance in the mirror before you leave your house and it also helps to make your space look bigger.
  • It’s fine to place things, which need to leave the house, in the entrance hall overnight, as long as you plan to take it away the next day.
  • Maybe your space needs a fresh coat of paint. Lighter colours are better for small spaces and will help to make the hallway appear bigger.
  • Once you have placed everything back in the entrance hall, see if you can add some decorative touches like adding a plant, painting or rug, to make it look more homely.
  • Get inspiration for your entrance hall from pictures on Pinterest and Instagram.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Sohn

Follow my 52 Week Organise your Life Programme