Friday, August 12, 2011

Clutter Free Livin'


One of the most disorganized areas in a house.....from stepping on them, to having them fall on you out of the closet when you open it, to finding small presumably important pieces.  Toys are a headache, a hazard and risky business!  Here is a Picture of my toy closet:

A place for Everything and Everything in its place!  Well getting to this level of organization takes a little time, and determination but once it is in place, and the routine of keeping it there is mastered, it can make having toys a stress free beautiful thing.  Expensive NO, especially when you consider how many times you have seen a rather expensive toy sitting at the bottom of a disorganized stack getting ruined or most importantly not used because it can't be accessed. Out of Pocket the costs were pretty minimal; Wire cube racks run $12-$19 (the one on the left was free when a friend didn't want it!), White storage cubes are $7.99 at Target, Green Fabric bins (come in many colors) are $5.99, Large Blue bin $4.88 at Walmart, and small clear bin was free because it was in my house not being used!

So now you have seen the money spent lets talk about the money saved.  Items purged = no value, guess again....items that are not useful because of damage or being trash, like the box the toy came in that your child just had to keep, are costly on many levels, let me explain.  The average cost per square foot of a private detached home in America is between $74 and $112 so if you plan to keep everything you ever possess think about the square footage your next house will have to be to accommodate all that.  You don't need more space you NEED less stuff!  It is costing you almost $100 per square foot to store junk!  On another measure of cost of junk or garbage you are holding on to is your health, junk and clutter = STRESS and Stress = health issues.  Look it up on your own, the scientific link between stress and many disorders and diseases is alarming.  Don't believe me?  Open another internet browsing window and search for "Diseases caused or linked to stress", go ahead, I'll wait!!!!!   See, not so great huh!  So let me help cut your stress and hopefully cut some future doctor bills.  (DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor or dispensing any medical advice or suggesting my organizing will prevent any disease! hehehe)  SO throw out that garbage and NO not everything is garbage.

So how does purging happen. First set up a few stations/boxes and label them TRASH, DONATE, SELL, and RETURN TO OWNER.  Now return to the pile of stuff and look at each of the  items and answer these questions:

1. Do we use it regularly and is it still age appropriate?
      a. yes and yes, Keep Pile
      b. yes and no, go to #2
      c. no and no, Sell or donate pile
2. Is it torn, ripped broken or damaged in any way?
      a. Yes, toss pile
      b. No, Sell or donate pile
3. Do we have more than one?
     If yes how many do you logically need?  Any extras go to #2
4. Does it belong to someone else?  Yes, Return to owner box
    Toys are notoriously left behind by visitors.  Contact those people and let them know you will be dropping it by.  If they no longer want the item offer to donate it for them!

This process can take some time and for the most part the area will look worse during this process than before you started, this is normal and trust me the Toss, Donate and Return to owner boxes will be filled and out of the house that day!  Right into the car is where those boxes should go as they are filled!!!!!!!!!    

Lets take a look at things that will make you money!!!!

To Sell or to Donate, that is the question and the answer is IT DEPENDS!  Don't plan on becoming rich off selling items you have decided are no longer needed or useful to your family.  Similarly don't plan on being honored Saint status because of your quantity of donations but here are the ways both of these options can be weighed out:

1. Does the item have TRUE value.  Look the item up on ebay or craigslist to see what that item or similar items are selling for?  Is it significant?  If so and you feel you can get a buyer quickly list the item.  Take a picture of it and then place the item in the garage or storage area out of your living space.  One rule if it does not sell in a few days you may want to on to find out the benefits of donation!

2. What is the fair market value of the item?  This information can be obtained by the IRS guidelines and was offered to me when I used Turbo Tax.  This tells you the amount that you can write off of your itemized taxes for a particular item.  You will need to keep a log (a simple spiral notebook will work) of the items donated and the receipt that the organization will give you that a donation was made!  I will dedicate an entire entry to this topic soon!  Sometimes the value donated is actually higher that you will realistically be able to sell an item for at a garage sale etc.  So take advantage of this deduction, it is free money from the government and your reward for being charitable.

You have purged the garbage, sold or donated the items not needed, now what?  Take a close look at what is left and make another quick sweep to make sure all of the items are truly KEEP items.  If so it is now time to evaluate the space available and the "keep items" to devise a plan of action.  The first step in your plan is to sort like items, fun for the kids to help too!!!!  Plus they can tell at a glance if it is a Littlest Pet shop accessory or Barbie one faster than you!  NOW see those piles for what they are, possibly HUGE and make note of the volume because once you have the containers and they are in place we need a tiny bit of room for more stuff that will come in; this is by far the most challenging part!  Some of you will find out quickly that what your given space can hold will be different +/- what you have.  If the load is too much for your closet to handle time to reevaluate the need in the items.  My closet is comprised of only my children's joint toys, meaning, they each have an organizer in their room with toys that are theirs specifically and the toys in the common area of the house, this closet, are the toys they all play with.  This eliminated quite a bit of volume and gave the kids ownership and the responsibility to take care of their personal possessions.  If your child is a toddler the toys kept in their rooms need only be the ones they play with in there.

OK so now you have the revised items and we are ready to shop!!!!!  I like containers that match or coordinate and are NOT clear.  I use a label maker to make nice neat labels and not see the millions of tiny pieces staring at me through the clear bins when I open the doors!!!!  The label machine only cost $15 and is WELL worth it for the look around my house!  I used a modular removable system but you can go from this simple to built in shelves and custom cabinetry.  I however am cheap and once my kids don't have these toys I would like to make this closet something else, like a craft center, so no expensive shelving for me!!!!  So lets fill up those bins and remember to leave one spot empty, Shhhhhh it's a secret....

Place the bins in a logical order after all organizing isn't just making something clean and pretty it has to be functional and the art of function is the logical placement of like items so they can easily be found!  I find that heavy items on the bottom are best for safety sake and items that are not preferably played will without your approval like coloring or in my case the dang Legos that take over the room, are best out of reach.  Probably seems obvious but want to make sure I said it!  Now for the secret mystery space left, this bin is my favorite and will help you tremendously to keep everything in order.  Label this bin LOST and FOUND.  This bin will be used for rouge items found in the wrong place while playing or perhaps in the couch, under the couch, in the dogs bed, or behind the tv.  Place items in this bin that you find and once a week sort the items into the appropriate containers.  It is also useful when my kids say MOMMY we are missing one of the pieces to the Sorry game....they can go right in there and look for it because that is where it was put when I found it on the stairs and had no clue what game it went to!!!!

So there you have it, the above was the explanation of a toy closet but really all the same principles apply to all areas of the house so whatever you choose to tackle will be just as simple!  The only things that will vary is the amount of items to keep based on need.  I will cover other areas of the house to show you that don't worry!

Are you scared?  Overwhelmed?  Need a cheerleader to help you sort?  Call me I can help you!!!!

Up Next The dreaded Linen Closet!

Peace and Love


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