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12.02.2015

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Over 100,000 books sold, and featured in CNN, BBC, NBC TODAY, Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, Financial Times, Forbes, Huffington Post, Spiegel, and The Irish Times. If you’re tackling your clutter in fits and starts, it can sometimes feel like you’re making little progress.
Five years ago after becoming a single parent, I downsized into a small beach house here in California and the one bookcase I kept was still crammed full and became a catchall for odds and ends. The second step was shed more volumes and in the process make my bookshelf a bit more appealing and minimalist in nature. When the closet floor and back shelves  were empty (amazingly large and clean!), I vacuumed it out and stood back, proud of my progress.
I tackled each category from the living room, keeping only what I loved and needed, and gave away the rest. I’m thrilled that Lea Ann was kind enough to share her makeover with us, and provide us with such wonderful inspiration. Notice the clear floor, the nice amount of breathing room between clothes, and the color coding of the bottom rack. I really enjoyed this, and would love to make “Minimalist Makeovers” a regular feature on the blog.
Good news: the price of gold is near its all-time high, and jewelers everywhere are buying it from people like you and me. Here’s how it works: clean out your jewelry box of all the bits and bobs you no longer want.
And if you don’t need the cash, consider gifting sentimental pieces to someone in the family; Uncle Ed’s pocket watch may not be your cup of tea, but it might be a treasure for a nephew or grandson! I can relate, as I inherited my grandmother’s twelve place settings of china right after I graduated from college.
The idea of corralling hundreds of loose bits and bobs into sleek, perfectly-matched containers had great appeal.  I truly thought that by putting all my stuff into various bins, I could maintain a sense of order in my life. In reality, all those lovely boxes, bins, and drawers served no higher purpose than to hide my junk. That’s when I changed strategies: I went from world-class organizer to world-class declutterer.
Then think long and hard before you put something into a container (especially if it’s not something you use regularly). I stopped printing digital photos many years ago, and I recently paid a service to scan my shoeboxes of old pictures. Furthermore, in this day and age, digital photos are a lot easier to share than paper ones. So kick the print habit, and if you have albums or shoeboxes stuffed with old photos, consider scanning them (or paying a service to do so). Going digital not only frees up space, and eliminates the need to store, move, and worry about physical photographs; it also enables you (and your loved ones) to derive much more enjoyment from them! Chances are, most of your clutter is not fetching a fortune—and in my opinion, any item unlikely to sell for more than $10 is hardly worth the time and effort to photograph it, list it, and ship it. Jenine and Michael’s home office needed some love… It became the dumping room for clutter from around the house, making it hard to get work done.
To declutter and create two separate work stations, so they could both work in the office at the same time. Step 4: Begin the physical declutter and reorganise… removing items that are no longer and use. Paige and Harry’s spare room had been taken over; not by aliens but by clutter and lots of it!
Step 1: Remove all items and reorganise into categories… shoes together, hats together, etc.
Step 2: Go through each category and decide what you would like to keep here… then put the rest away in your bedroom wardrobe etc. With a third baby on the way, Sarah and Jack needed to move the home office out (and into their bedroom) and the nursery in! Step 1: Jack and Sarah wanted to use their current desk and chair, so first step was to measure the existing furniture and the room area. Step 4: Set up and arrange furniture, declutter and reorganise paperwork and finally label filing and magazine holders.
Idea: You could also buy a few containers or baskets to help keep items together and organised. Just love those before and after photos Liz, the magazine shelves are so cool, you have a great office (scrap space).
We have way too much books too and its taking so much space so I had our books that is not read a lot shipped to Manila.


After you reclaim your territory from the invading clutter, you’ll have a new empire of space – and a sense of peace and serenity will reign in your household. About a year ago I began reading Leo Babauta’s works on simplicity and minimalism and have made significant progress in shedding nonessentials including some of my books. I bought an Amazon Kindle and, except as gifts for others, I haven’t been able to buy a print book since. I love how Barry realized that arranging his books wasn’t the solution, and instead narrowed down his collection dramatically. I’m using the same strategy, and dream of the day when every book ever published is available electronically! So it’ll be a challenge to maintain the closet and not let it get back to how it was.
I also asked her which advice from my book she found to be most valuable, or inspirational, in her decluttering process.
She also removed the jumble of boxes from her top shelf, leaving just one box and her bike helmet (what a difference!). Keeping all surfaces clear is an important step in my STREAMLINE method (my strategy for achieving, and maintaining, a decluttered home).
If you’d like to learn more about her minimalist journey (and see more of her decluttering pics), please visit her blog, Staying True.
Finer pieces, or those with quality diamonds and gemstones, will command a higher price than this “scrap” value, and should be taken to an estate jeweler for evaluation. I dragged them around with me for years, carefully packing and unpacking them during moves across three states. Donate them to a charitable organization, and let them do some good rather than gathering dust in your basement. If you have to, declutter for a year before you start buying fancy boxes and squirreling things away.
For every drip into the bucket, there must be one drip out; this ensures that your household won’t flood, and threaten the progress you’re making.
It puts a lid on your number of possessions, and ensures you don’t accumulate more than you purge. Most of us don’t get to see our friends and relatives as often as we’d like—so when we finally visit, we may end up browsing through prints from months (or years!) ago. Since digital photos can be “stored” in multiple ways (on a hard drive, online, and on DVDs in different locations), you’re much less likely to suffer a loss of your irreplaceable images. You can share your snaps with friends and family by creating online albums through services like Flickr and Shutterfly. Chances are, if you want to sell an item, that’s where you’ll end up; and no matter what valuation an appraiser gives it, you can only sell it for what someone is willing to pay. If you’re drowning in disorganisation and don’t know where to start, you’ll love the news and views of Professional Organiser, Tanya Lea. All you need are some inexpensive tubs (Bunnings Warehouse are cheap!) and to put away half of the remaining toys. I picked up the rug in red to link the colour through and to create a central area for the table.
They needed a good filing system, desk lamp, magazine holders (to house the magazine subscriptions) and a book shelf for books and to store the stationery supplies.
Join me for the 31 Days of Decluttering challenge! Maybe you’re willing to take on one project a day (remember: small ones count!).
Magazine piles (1-5) were taking over shelves and spilling onto the floor, things (6-10) were being shoved between the crevices, other things (11-12) that needed to be put away were taking up precious real estate, and still even more things (13-14) that didn’t have homes were strategically (I is so smart) placed above eye level, at the top of the bookshelf.
In fact, once I was able to identify the problem areas (mainly our magazine addiction), the whole process became surprisingly easy and everything just kind of fell in place. Arrange books by height (they used to be arranged by subject matter, in alpha order) and readjust shelving heights to correspond with book height. Clutter is an expert in camouflage, and does a bang-up job blending in with your more useful possessions. Give every possession you encounter the third degree: ask where it came from, what it does, and what value it adds to your household. Set up blockades to prevent future invasions: get off mailing lists, don’t bring home freebies, opt out of gift exchanges, set limits on your possessions, and question every purchase. Constantly be on the lookout for new intruders: scan your surfaces on a daily basis, and expel them before they become entrenched.
I also used the Outbox to store all the pretty, empty containers and empty banker boxes that I have available in which to store items.
I smile when I see the closet AND am encouraged that I can do anything – it just takes babysteps.


I did as you suggested though and you know what, many of those items never made it back into the closet! I would always get stuck right at the beginning obsessing over items or paperwork and just quitting. I’m sure this serene and streamlined space makes it a pleasure to get dressed each morning!
Unlike most clutter, gold and gemstones have intrinsic value—tossing them in the trash is like throwing money away. With the weight of my stuff lifted from my shoulders, I felt more spontaneous, energetic, and carefree. Even so, when we completed our ultimate decluttering to move to the UK (see My Minimalist Story, Part 2: The Great Unraveling), I’m embarrassed about how many containers we left on the curb. Your decluttering efforts are a hole in the bottom…drip…drip…drip…as you slowly rid your household of unwanted things. If you need to rebalance, you can mix it up; for example, if you have too many pants and not enough shirts, feel free to decrease the former, while increasing the latter. Perhaps you’d rather pick four problem areas, and give yourself a week to work on each one. New magazines will go on the display shelf and older magazines that I can’t part with just yet will move to the storage shelf below. I let all of our magazine subscriptions lapse about two years ago because they were always piling up and I was always a few months behind.
Our books are in one shelf in the hubs' office, while I have two small metal shelves with my favorite books and my magazines in my work area.
Outline the battleground – be it your living room, desk drawer, or linen closet – and decide the date and time to launch your offensive.
Family and friends make terrific soldiers: they provide extra hands and moral support, and help strengthen your resolve when you feel weak or sentimental. You’ll find it holed up in your sock drawer, your medicine cabinet, your coat closet and elsewhere. Don’t be tempted to leave them in place and deal with them later; they’ll surely escape to other parts of the house as soon as your back is turned. Have a garage sale, ship them out, schedule pickups, or pile them in your trunk and drive them to Goodwill. Be a good gatekeeper, and clutter will find it much more difficult to slip past your defenses. To leave San Francisco, I’d given away all but a car load of items and road tripped to Wisconsin. Was never happy with this, of course, but it kept the clutter out of my apartment and in that closet. When I’m done around the apartment, I will gather up the extra containers and give them away to my highly organized sister-in-law Maya or donate them to the thrift store. Now I have jewelry supply, knitting supply and even technology supply modules instead of having these things all over the table surface or on the closet floor! The back half has my small Ikea kitchen table on one side and this storage area on the other.
I am ALWAYS organizing my house, every inch of it and throwing stuff out or giving to donation.
The jeweler will then weigh your pieces on a scale, and use a multiplier to calculate the gold (“scrap”) value in dollars. I purchased some new storage boxes and a magnetic board from Ikea to help keep things in order. I’m going to try going magazine-less for a month or two before deciding which magazines, if any, I want to subscribe to. Instead I have a list of favorite ones and check out their websites to see if I'll like the current issue before I buy. I did it and the bedroom (which I am going to use as a yoga room too–don’t have a mattress and box spring–just a futon) is next! More difficult, I know, but after working in magazines for 10 years and amassing a crazy amount of clutter that I had to purge, I'd rather get my paper products under control, lol!



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