Sunday, January 31, 2010

31 January Mission - Day 30

Hopefully, you've been putting items in the 'keep for now' and 'giveaway' boxes. Today's the day to do something about them!

The first one to deal with is the 'keep for now' box. This contains all those little orphan items that you want to keep but don't have a home for. Now there's less clutter about, it should be easier for you to find homes for these things - so put them away! Or you may have realised you don't really need the item after all - so bin it or put it in the giveaway box.

The giveaway box should also see some action - take the items in them to the appropriate place or person, be it in person or via mail or any other method ... list the items on Freegle or Craig's List for example.

Ideally, your boxes should be empty for the start of the new month!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

30 January Mission - Day 29

A very simple mission today:

Clear off all the magnets, post its, postcards and artwork stuck to the front of the fridge and freezer. It will actually make your kitchen look neater and tidier in one fell swoop!

Friday, January 29, 2010

29 January Mission - Day 28

Today's challenge is to clear and tidy your computer desk. Corral those pens, shred that paper, take that mug back to the kitchen.

Wipe your desk, keyboard and monitor too, and give your printer and stuff a quick dust.

Let us know how you get on with this challenge - with pictures if you dare!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

28 January Mission - Day 27

Just like food, make up has a shelf life. And it's not a marketing ploy by the cosmetics companies either, otherwise they wouldn't bother putting any preservatives at all in their stuff ;o) Most makeup contains some form of oil, and in time, all oils go rancid - yuck! And that's without all the bacteria transferred to makeup from your skin and applicators - some of them ae the good bacteria that protect your skin, of course, but in excess they can do some harm to your makeup. And some bacteria are the ones that cause spots and break outs - do you really want to be putting them back on your skin?

A few rules of thumb to help you decide what to keep and what to bin:
  • if it smells funny - or worse, tastes funny (lipsticks and lip balms) it's  gone off and should be trashed
  • if it has changed texture - foundations, creams, nail polishes etc -  it's past it's best and should be thrown away. I don't care if you can't get that colour anymore! There's probably a reason for that - it's no longer the fashion, and you'll look dated if you wear it :o)
  • if you can't remember when you bought it - it's probably longer than the recommended shelf life
  • if you remember wearing this item five years ago - throw it out!
  • if you haven't used the item in the last year, it should probably go, too.
Here are some basic guidelines for the shelf life of cosmetics:
  • Cream or Compact Foundation: 18 months
  • Liquid foundation: 1 year
  • Concealer: 12-18 months
  • Powder: 2 years
  • Blush and Bronzer: 2 years
  • Cream Blush: 12-18 months
  • Powder Eyeshadow: 2 years
  • Cream  Eyeshadow: 12-18 months
  • Pencil Eyeliner: 2 years
  • Liquid eyeliner: 3-6 months
  • Mascara: 3 months (eyes are a breeding ground for bacteria, and also eyes are quite susceptible to infections. Always throw your mascara out if you've had an attack of conjunctivitis, for example)
  • Lipstick: 2 years
  • Lip liner: 2 years
  • Lip gloss: 18-24 months
  • Nail polish: 1 year
Some toiletries and makeup have little icons of an open jar or bottle on them, and a number afterwards - this is the expected shelf life after opening. Pay attention to them!

Toiletries and cosmetics from "natural" suppliers such as Lush have a much shorter shelf life, as they don't have so many preservatives in them (if any). I know Lush have Best Before dates on their stuff, and I haven't yet had any problems with exceeding them, but ...

Other things you might like to do:
  • buy a new toothbrush, or change the head on your electric one
  • wash your make up bag, or replace it
  • wash your make up brushes and sponges
  • replace your bath sponges/scrubs

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

27 January Mission - Day 26

Declutter your handbag/man bag/backpack/lunch bag!

Stop carrying around so much stuff you're lop sided, and cut it back to what you really need - and not just what you think ymight come in handy :o)

You can also sort through your wallet/purse and give that a tidy, too!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

26 January Mission - Day 25

Today's challenge is a free choice - do whatever is calling you loudest, or causing the most friction with those you live with, or what you are feeling most guilty about, or what you are most worried about - be that clutter, a task to do, a situation you are in, or whatever.

Good luck - and share your achievements with us!

Monday, January 25, 2010

25 January Mission - Day 24

The other day, we went after our socks - today, it's knickers and bras!

How many pairs do you really need? What's the longest holiday you take? Count the number of days, then add a couple of pairs either side for the days before and after and see if that reduces the pile :o)

Do try and get rid of the holey ones, the grubby ones, the uncomfortable "every other pair is in the laundry" ones, the ones with sagging elastic, the ones your mother would have hated you to be wearing if you were knocked down by a bus... LOL

Ladies, you can do the same with your bras :o)

The bonus challenge after completing this is (for the ladies, again) to get yourself fitted properly for a bra, with a reliable fitter. I'm lucky in that I have an independent lingerie shop 2 minutes away, and the fitters are excellent. Wearing the right size bra took off 7 pounds from my appearance, and boosted my confidence no end (as well as boosting my assets!). When you know your proper size, come back and finishing decluttering your drawer of all the wrong size bras!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

24 January Mission - Day 23

Today, we're delving into the laundry and ironing! I've come up with a series of (mostly) small tasks for you to 'pick and mix' from - let us know how you get on!

  • declog the lint filter on your tumble drier (if you have one) and also clean off any residue from those tumble drier sheets (if you use them)
  • declog the powder dispenser on your washing machine
  • descale your iron if you need to
  • get rid of any empty detergent and conditioner containers. Combine those dregs, if necessary. (Why do I have two half used Febreze sprays?)
  • if you've got a washing line and pegs, go through the pegs and throw away the ones with broken springs, dodgy teeth etc.
  • gather all the stain removers and detergents etc and put them in a basket together. It might also be useful to put a small sewing kit in there too, to fix loose buttons on etc.
  • set to and fix any clothes you identified as needing work from your wardrobe declutter
  • go through your ironing pile and if there's anything there that's been hanging around for weeks - well, do you really need it?
  • if you're feeling really brave, tackle the ironing and *put it away*.
Have fun!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

23 January Mission - Day 22

If you've done one of the previous challenges, your computer should be looking pretty tidy, and backed up.

But, what about externally? I'm not just talking about your desk (I'm saving that for another day...) but do you have a box (or several) with various computer bits in? I'm talking cables for printers you no longer have (or even printers you no longer use!), modems, speakers, dead mice (of the electronic kind...), boxes and packaging for bits of kit you got rid of, mouse mats advertising products you don't use ... etc etc etc! Games consoles also fall into this category, and inefficient storage systems (like floppy discs).

Go to it, and get it sorted.

Now, most charity shops won't accept electrical equipment, and you don't want to cause a pile of waste like in the picture, so try to recycle these bits where you can. If you haven't joined already, Freegle is a good place to get rid of stuff you don't need, and there are numerous projects which refurb old computers to pass onto a good cause - Mr Google is your friend :o)

Friday, January 22, 2010

22 January Mission - Day 21

Today's declutter task is a bit of a mental declutter, really.

If you're anything like me, you have a to-do list, which never really ends. And, like me, you've probably got stuff on it from 2009! So, today's task is to do as least one item still on your list from 2009 - it can be as small or as large as you like!

If you don't have a list, then pick one area in your home which needs a little extra help on the decluttering front and spend half an hour or so with it!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

21 January Mission - Day 20

I hope you're not driving around with as much stuff as this guy :o)

Today's challenge is to declutter your car! Get rid of all the trash you have in there - on the floor, in the glove box, in the boot (trunk for our transatlantic friends!). Look at any mascots or doodads you have - do you really need them? Do you even see them these days? Do you have a "baby on board" sticker when your kid is old enough to order a drink in a bar? What about tapes and CDs - are they laying around unorganised? Are any maps you carry reasonably up to date (ie published this century?). Is your side window covered in car park tickets?

As a bonus, you might also want to:
  • check the oil and water levels, and the screen wash
  • add antifreeze
  • check the tyre pressure (properly inflated tyres reduce fuel consumption)
  • fill up on fuel while you're not in a rush to go anywhere
  • check the safety/seasonal equipment - first aid kit, red triangle, shovel, blanket etc

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

20 January Mission - Day 19

Anyway, today's challenge is deal with your socks!

Match up the ones you have, chuck the ones that have holes, dodgy elastic or no mates - also the ones that are grubby, uncomfortable, tacky  or don't go with your stuff.

 This I think is a "throw away" challenge - the tips I could find on recycling socks seemed to focus on using them as dusters, or pet toys, and future challenges will be to deal with clutter of both those kinds! LOL

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

19 January Mission - Day 18

This work of art was made using 2386 plastic carrier bags.

I wonder how many carrier bags each of us has stuffed in corners in our homes?

I'm pretty good at carrying a strong cotton bag when I go shopping, so I rarely take a carrier bag if it's offered. I've noticed supermarkets and the like are fine if you refuse a bag, but clothes shops and department store till workers still give you very strange looks, and ask "are you sure?" in a bewildered tone. My partner is now consistently using 'bags for life' - he likes the ones from Pets at Home - and as he does most of the shopping, our carrier bag stash is much smaller than previously!

As there's a limit to how many bags one can use as bin liners - I'm going to cull the bags down to four, so we can replace each bin bag once - lets get rid of carrier bags.

How to recycle bags

  • One of the local charity shops (for the city's hospice) is happy to take used carrier bags, so that's where my stash will go.
  • I'm really tempted to make shopping bags like this one or  this one. Aren't they great? I would say, if you do that, then as part of the task, make the "yarn" as part of this task today, that way the bags won't be hanging about...
  • If you are into knitting rather than crochet, how about this bag or this one or even this one?
  • Some supermarkets have put up recycling banks specifically for plastic bags.
Perhaps you can share your suggestions with the rest of us?

PS You might be tempted to keep a few bags back for the stuff you are going to be decluttering, but I don't do that. One of the charity shops gives out "life laundry" bags, clearly branded with their name and I use those, and make my partner aware, after one day, he put my carefully sorted donations in the bin, thinking they were trash...

Monday, January 18, 2010

18 January Mission - Day 17

Today's challenge might be quite tough, especially in a small place. This is where your 'keep for now but no home' box comes in...

Today's mission is to move anything in a room that doesn't belong to the room in which it does! This can be major items, or small stuff - your partner's shoes (my biggest bugbear), your kid's toys,  or even a piece of furniture. And if stuff doesn't fit where you think it "belongs" - think about what you can get rid of to make it fit! :o)

Good luck and have fun!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

17 January Mission - Day 16

We all probably have enough clutter of our own without having stuff that belongs to other people, or stuff that belongs in a different place. So today's declutter mission is to gather all "borrowed" items together, and make plans to return them. This includes library books, DVDs from Amazon (or whoever!), items borrowed from family members you live with (and those you don't). This is where having a box to keep allt hese items together comes in useful - I always keep a bag by the front door for stuff to go to my parents or to return to them.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

16 January Mission - Day 15

It might be a biggie today, for some people (including me...)

It's wardrobe time! Now, I'm just talking about clothes here - underwear, handbags, shoes and the like are all for going to be done separately.

I try to go through my wardrobe a couple of times a year, especially when my weight has been changing. I don't feel guilty about getting rid of clothes, as most of mine are charity shop purchases in the first place! Even if you've spent a lot of money on an item, it's really not worth it taking up physical and mental space if you don't love it and wear it regularly, so get rid of it - either to someone you know who will love it, to a charity shop, or to a dress agency or list on eBay if you want to recoup some of the money. Swap parties are great - especially if there is a charity shop nearby for the leftovers.

There seems to be a general set of rules for deciding whether to keep an item or not, here is my take on them:

  • is it your size? If it's too big, it needs to go! If it's too small - if you are losing weight, and if the style is still up to date, you can keep it (but put it in a storage place) - you want to be able to grab anything from your wardrobe and be happy with it!
  • does it fit? Whatever the size, if it's a poor fit, you're not going to feel happy wearing it. See if it can be altered, or get rid of it!
  • is it dated? Okay, the Eighties revival is ongoing, but the colours and fabrics are different ... so get rid of anything old! (And shoulder pads in suits never suited anyone anyway...)
  • does the colour suit me? If when you wear it, someone asks if you feel okay, they in probably isn't your colour... I have trouble with certain shades of beige, white, and navy - you'll never see me wearing them, I look incredibly peely wally when I do!
  • do you like it? Perhaps your mum bought it for you, or perhaps it was a bargain in a sale - but now, you don't like it, and you're keeping it out of guilt. Get rid of it!
  • do you need all of these? When my best friend and I decluttered my wardrobe prior to moving here, I had half a dozen pairs of black trousers, most with matching tops. And black doesn't do a lot for someone of my colouring. Did I need so many similar items? No!
  • does the item need repairing? Loose buttons, drooping hems - either fix or pass on. Make a date in your diary to do the fixing, otherwise you won't do it. Yes, been there, done that - and I'm someone who loves sewing! LOL

I only keep current seasons stuff on my clothes rail, everything else is in a drawer under the bed, and my too small stuff is there as well. You might want to try that - it does save time. Also, I keep all similar items together, arranged by colour. At least, that's how it starts out... and why I need to do the challenge!

Friday, January 15, 2010

15 January Mission - Day 14

Hopefully, you've now sorted through your cookbooks after last week's challenge.If you're happy with your cookbook clutter, here are some other challenges:
  • Put those recipes you've written out on scraps of paper in some sort of order - a nice notebook or typed into your computer (there are recipe database programs out there as freeware).
  • If you want to keep some recipes but not the books, scan the pages or do a google search to find the recipe.
  • Make a menu plan and shopping list for the next fortnight - and stick to it. You might be surprised :o)
  • If you have a cookbook for a particular appliance (eg ice cream maker, bread machine) why not get it out and make something with it - you might decide there's another piece of clutter to go!
Let us know how you get on!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

14 January Mission - Day 13

I always seem to be carrying a lot of mental clutter - all those thoughts about ' I should be' or 'I need to' - and then they get shoved to one side because something urgent comes in.

One of the things that adds to my mental clutter is thinking about my basic health. The routine maintenance stuff. I wanted to tick some of these off, and thought the list might help others too:

Other things you might want to do:
  • If you haven't got one, put together a First Aid Kit for the car and/or kitchen
  • Check over any regular prescriptions - do you still need the medications? If get more than 15 items a year, and live in the UK, don't forget the Prescription PrePayment Certificate - it's not well publicised, but it saves loads of money.
  • When did you last have a tetanus or polio booster? They need repeating every ten years. Book one if needed.
  • When did you last have a smear test? They should be repeated every three years. Book one if needed.
  • Check to see if your GP practice is offering flu jabs - mine is now offering them to anyone who asks, as they've done their priority patients.
  • Book an appointment with your dentist. You should have a check up annually.
  • Book an appointment to have your eyes tested, especially if you drive, or use computers frequently. You should have a check up every two years, more often if you have diabetes or there's a history of glaucoma in the family. If you wear contact lenses, you should also have an annual checkup.
Let us know how you get on with the challenge!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

13 January Mission - Day 12

Today's challenge is to declutter your cutlery drawer. I was reminded to do this when for the umpteenth time I had to move a lemon reamer. Which I've never used. Anyone want one?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

12 January Mission - Day 11

Today it's time to sort those shoes!  The criteria for flinging and keeping are similar to those for clothes:
  • do they fit? Whatever the size, if it's a poor fit, you're not going to feel happy wearing it. If they rub, or pinch, you're not going to feel comfortable or confident wearing them.
  • does the colour go with my wardrobe? They may be a fabulous fit, a gorgeous style, but if you've nothing to wear with them, they are just dust catchers...
  • do you like them? They may be comfortable, they may fit in with your favourite clothes, but if they are a just a little blah... you don't wear them, so again - dust catchers!
  • do you need all of these? I have three pairs of trainers. And one pair of feet...
  • does the item need repairing? Resoling? Reheeling? New laces? Make a note to take anything to the cobblers - before it gets too late to repair them. Prevention is cheaper than cure :o)
Don't forget those summer sandals and stuff that may be stashed elsewhere.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on!

Monday, January 11, 2010

11 January Mission - Day 10

For today's task, you don't even have to move from the computer! Clutter can be mental as well as physical, and just seeing disorganised stuff can have a negative effect, so you'll feel better if you do this :o)

Let's start clearing the clutter on our computers!

  • back up all your files - you can store important things on services such as Google documents, if you haven't got any discs or a stick drive
  • delete files you no longer use, now that they are safely backed up.
  • organise things into folders so that "My Documents" isn't just a dumping ground - and rename files if you have to open them to check the contents ... I'm particularly bad with photos!
  • files and applications on your desktop - do you use these regularly? And do you still ike your desktop photo? Ditch and change, were necessary.
  • organise "My Favourites" or your bookmarks into subject - and ditch those you no longer look at regularly
  • Yahoo or MSN groups - which ones do you still read and enjoy? Consider leaving those you've been "no mail" on for a while, or go "no mail" on those you are no longer enjoying
  • friends on LJ and Facebook etc - do you need to know everything absolutely everybody gets up to? Do you participate in all those groups and communities you've signed up to? What about those odd applications on Facebook - how often will you throw a penguin at someone? :o)
  • email. Go on, work your way through your inbox - if necessary, make little subfolders in your inbox to file emails you are not replying to immediately. Delete old group emails - will they still be relevant now that a week/fortnight/month has passed?
  • when you've done all this, don't forget to check that your anti-virus protection is up to date! If you haven't already got a firewall or pop up blocker , you might like to consider installing one.
  • and finally - give your computer a defrag, especially if you've freed up a lot of memory.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

10 January Misson - Day 9

Now the fridge is nice and clean and tidy, today's task is to do something similar with the freezer. Let's round up all those loose peas, and get rid of those unidentified lumps of stuff. And make more space by chipping off all the ice that's built up!

Frozen stuff doesn't last forever, and will deteriorate in quality slightly over time, or suffer 'freezer burn', especially if it hasn't been wrapped properly. There's some good guidelines here as to how long to keep stuff.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

9 January Mission - Day 8

Another kitchen challenge today - the fridge!

The festivities are long over, so now is the time to re-claim the fridge! Leftovers are probably a tad past their best...

I like going through foods when the year changes, as it makes working out the best before date so much easier :o) -  before my partner came along, I was worse than I am now, and even today, I confidently expect to find half finished jars that should have been thrown out in the summer...

I'm going to also (gasp horror) throw things out that are in date, but that we just don't fancy any more - the tomato relish, and the salad dressing that was okay but not great... If it doesn't appeal, out it goes! And this is hard, as we're taught not to waste food, but at least we know not to buy whatever it was again...

This site shows some facts about how often we clean our fridges (so I am not alone...) and some useful tips for food hygiene, although I will say other sites say use warm soapy water to clean the fridge, so that items don't pick up a "taint".

Let us know how you get on!

Friday, January 8, 2010

8 January Mission - Day 7

My mum has four cookbooks, plus a notebook she writes recipes in. The ones she has are stained, creased - used! Most of mine are pristine.

Questions to ask yourself when considering your cookbooks:
  • Have I ever cooked anything out of this? Are you likely to? Be realistic!
  • Have I cooked more than four or five recipes from this book?
  • Did I actually like what I cooked from this?
  • Have my tastes changed? There's fashions in foods as well as everything else.
  • Does this book represent what I want to be, rather than what I am? (I'm thinking of all those diet and detox books...)
  • Does the book represent someone you were, rather than who you are now? (Meaty cookbooks when you're vegi, for example).
There are many ways to pass on your no longer needed books:
- and don't forget your local charity shops

Thursday, January 7, 2010

7 January Mission - Day 6

Now is the season for colds, flu, norovirus and such - at least here in the northern hemisphere.

If you are feeling ill, the last thing you're going to want to do is go to the pharmacy to get something to help you. So having a small supply of medicines - and of course a First Aid kit - is essential. Hopefully, these items aren't going to get used all that often, so they may very well expire before you get to use them.

Today's challenge is to clear out your medicine cabinet and first aid box, getting rid of anything that's expired, or looks dodgy (damaged packaging etc.)

Don't forget to check in your kitchen, bedside cabinet or handbag for anything you might have stashed there, too. Don't forget any vitamin tablets or supplements you take. Vitamin C can go off, and Evening Primrose Oil or Cod Liver Oil can go rancid...

This article explains the importance of checking your medicine cabinet regularly, and NHS 24 have a list of the things you should keep in stock.

Don't put any medications in the bin, however - check with your pharmacy in case there are special rules for disposal, or drop in the bag if you are passing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

6 January Mission (Day 5)

Today's the traditional day for removing all Christmas decorations. So that's today's mission!

However, before they are all put away, don't forget to bin all those that are broken or too tatty to give away. And try to give away at least one or two ornaments, lengths of tinsel, etc etc. Freegle is great for that!

If you've bought cards and wrap in the sales, make a note of where you've put them with the Christmas card list you did yesterday ;o) If you have oddments of paper left that really won't wrap another present but you've kept them 'just in case' - put them out for recycling!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

5 January Mission (Day 4)

Christmas decorations need to be down by Twelfth Night - that's tomorrow!

The mission today is to start with the cards - as you take them down, make a list of who you've received them from, and if anyone has put in a change of address, note that down too... I keep my list on an Excel spreadsheet, it's a job I do with a cup of tea. While I'm at it, I write thank you notes too, if I haven't already done so - saves me feeling guilty later!

Several supermarkets are offering to recycle cards and will make a donation to charity for them, or you can add them to the general recycling. Unless you are very disciplined and *will* use them, don't be tempted to save them for craft projects, shopping lists and the like - it's just clutter!

Monday, January 4, 2010

4 January Mission (Day 3)

Today's probably the first day back at work after the holiday for many people - I'm a freelancer and work from home, so I've actually been working - can you hear those violins? ;o)

Anyway, I'm going to keep the task simple today. The mission - should you choose to accept it ;o) - is to go round any houseplants, flowers, pots of herbs, 'real' Christmas trees etc and decide what to do with them. Dead ones obviously go out into the green bin/compost heap. Half alive ones - provided you like them and they are still attractive - deserve some TLC, perhaps re-potting - and a good watering. Half dead herbs can be picked over and any salvaged leaves popped into the freezer until you're ready to use them. If you've had a real Christmas tree this year, find out about local recycling schemes.

(for once, I don't recommend using your giveaway box - stick a post it note on the pot of any plant you want to giveaway with the giftee's name on it and leave the plant in the light in the meantime! LOL)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

3 January Mission (Day 2)

Today's mission is another preparatory one.

Every item that you touch needs to have a decision made about it:
  • to keep (for now)
  • to giveaway
  • to throw away

That last one is why the bins were emptied yesterday...

Today's mission is to find two containers - one for the items you want to keep that you find but don't have space to put away in a proper home, and another for items you want to giveaway - whether that is to family, friends, on Freegle or to a charity. The containers can be anything - a  cardboard box, a bag, a plastic tub - just make sure they are clearly labelled. We will be re-visiting these boxes at the end of each month!

If you need to empty stuff out of the items you choose - that will be your first exercise in decision making ;o)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year, New Start, New Blog! - Day 1's Mission

I've been somewhat lax in maintaining this community over on LJ, and somewhat lax in my own decluttering. This is going to have to change, because I'm beginning to feel a bit suffocated in stuff at the moment. So, I'm starting again here primarily because I can schedule posts (which I will copy over to LJ).

So, every day, I'm going to post a mission here to undertake, and I'm going to report back on it. If you'd like to join me, I'd love it!

Yesterday was an official day off for decluttering, because I find so much goes on on New Year's Day that the temptation is not to keep a resolution, and then it's so easy to write the week/month/year off - it's the 'diet starts on Monday' syndrome ...

Today's challenge is going to be quite simple:

- empty all the rubbish bins, and dispose of any recycling. We don't have doorstep collection, so it will be a trip to the recycling point for us - hope it doesn't snow!