Tag Archives: de-clutter

The main secret to junk-free house

In this article I will show-off that I still remember some operations management stuff – LOL :). But, you’ll get quite some value as well, because a lot of those complicated terms boil down to a very practical and down-to-earth principles, applicable equally good to a factory and to a simple household.

Operations management in its essence is about dealing with complexity. So… let’s simplify our everyday life, shall we?

Continue reading The main secret to junk-free house

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Family yearly book: Keeping memories without cluttering home

Even though my taste and preferences have evolved quite a lot throughout the years, one thing stayed permanent since something like puberty – I am an adept of minimalism. That implies amongst others that even though I have a lot memories I don’t have that much memorabilia. I don’t have fridge magnets (but I do bring them for my mother who collects them). I don’t have art works of my kids hanging in all possible places. Every (numerous) piece of art my kids produce is admired for a little while, then I take a photo of it and it soon continues its journey towards recycling. I don’t collect tickets from museums or maps, or mugs, or any other travel-related junk. However, if it has a sentimental value it will also end up in the camera roll of my iPhone. I didn’t keep the hospital wristband from when I was delivering my kids (but, yes, I do have a photo of it!). Same with echo’s. Same with some hand-written notes. Same with a lot of other stuff.

So… As you might have guessed I have a lot of photos. However, that is also a problem. In the digital era we tend to have tens of thousands of them that we seldom ever look at. Even if you structure them, it is still too much. I must admit that I don’t follow the “eliminate” route and don’t delete photos, maybe because the capacity of my external hard drive allows to keep everything. But what I do with our photos – I sort them, pick out the most important/beautiful/memorable and I make our non-traditional family yearly book. 

I am not into scrap-booking, yet this in a sense is a digital scrapbook that includes all the memories of us as a family that we would like to keep. This is not a classic photo album, it is more of a memory register, capturing what that particular year meant for us.

In just one book of about 50-60 A4 pages.

What is in there? First of all, it’s not really chronological, but rather thematic: I made one theme per spread. To illustrate, let’s take “art” again, as I am somehow in a bit artistic mode today – we have a spread dedicated to “art”:

  • there are photos of my kids in the process of drawing or sculpting, or cutting, you name it;
  • photos of art created by them;
  • photos related to us visiting art exhibitions, also those of my father-in-law (Riwart);
  • as well as some general notable events in the context of art that we would like to remember. For instance, last year the painting by Paul Gauguin “When Will You Marry?” was sold for a record $300 million and that triggered a lively and extensive discussion in between my husband and myself about appreciating art. It was fun and we wanted to remember it! That is how Gauguin ended up somewhere in between a drawing of a rainbow by my daughter and first attempts at using crayons by my son.

Another spread in our book of the last year is dedicated to the year’s favorite cartoons of our kids and the year’s favorite movies and TV-shows of my husband and myself. We could not have skipped a sad picture “R.I.P. Top Gear”, now could we?! Likewise some other notable events of the year like a discovery of water on Mars or a discovery of “super-hendge” were included, just to name a few. There are also themes “fashionistas”, “travel”, “parties”, “cars”, “studying”, and so on.

As to the practical side of the matter there are numerous websites where you can easily make and order a photo-book. I personally do it via Albelli because I find their software very user friendly and simple as ABC, but as I said – there is a big choice on the market. Time-wise compiling a yearly book of course requires some time and probably if you were not making mental of physical notes (I personally write down things in a Note on my iPhone) about certain events, it will be time-consuming at first to remember everything that happened. But, trust me, once you do it regularly you will have a neat, nice, clutter-free way of keeping memories worth keeping.

Exceptional every-day: why I don’t keep much items for special occasions only

This short post is about let’s call it – my life philosophy with respect to everyday items. Throughout my life, I have seen a lot of people having two sets of items: the ones for everyday use and the ones that they take out on special occasions only. That always left me puzzled as to why would anyone do this.

Personally, I like to surround myself with beautiful items. I like comfort. I like luxury. And I don’t understand why people drink from a broken cup if they have a good cup standing in a cupboard for those special occasions. Which special occasions? When somebody comes for a visit? When you have a party? When you win the lottery? What is so special about those special occasions? Why doesn’t your every day deserve to be exceptional? What if today is your last day? No, ok even without being fatalistic, I still believe in the beauty of today and I truly want to enjoy it to its fullest. I like when my dining table is nicely set. I like when a dinner I serve looks maybe not totally haute-cuisine yet at least has some presentation effort in it. I like to dress up. I like having nice decor items at home… I can go on further, but the bottom line is – I like to be surrounded by beauty. It energizes me! 

Old broken items clutter your home and drain energy and that is precisely why I never keep them. Yes, you might have that favorite high school coffee cup that you were drinking from when you were writing your thesis. It has a sentimental value to it. But look it at: it has a crack, the paint is off, and your taste changed from drinking brewed coffee with tons of milk and sugar to having a properly made Americano. It doesn’t fit who you are anymore, it doesn’t fit your taste anymore. Isn’t it time to let go?

Obviously, with clothes you will have items for special occasions, for instance, you are not going to wear an evening dress in your everyday life, or a strict suit or alike. However, as for me, I don’t have that much of those items. And also with clothes: for example, I never keep a new dress for that very special moment that maybe will come one day. I make that special moment today because my today is always exceptional.

Managing cleaning-up

Cleaning-up is one of the most annoying chores around the house. At least for me. First of all it seems to be never-ending, especially when you have kids. There always seems to be dust everywhere and spills of all sorts, not even talking about toys all over the place, books on the ground and piles and piles of all the different junk. Secondly, it is really frustrating that you seem to never have the time to finish anything – you’ve been cleaning for an hour, but it’s only the floor that is more or less clean. There is still a pile of dirty dishes and laundry, and dust on the TV, and… the list goes on. And it doesn’t even seem like you would have done anything! How to survive in all of this?

I am not going to talk about hiring help at this point in time. Now it is about doing everything yourself just without driving yourself totally mad.

Ok, let’s think like a manager – after all we have a mess to manage.

Step number one – de-clutter! This is a priority number one and one of the most difficult tasks. However, the less junk the less sorting. There is absolutely no way how to effectively sort junk. It clutters your home and your life and will keep on doing that forever until you get rid of it.

Practically speaking using the example of toys. Kids never play with all the toys they have, what they love to do is to throw these toys all over the place and go back to those couple of favorite ones. Elimination! I am not encouraging to throw away toys, but toys can be strategically put away. We have a set box of favorite toys and a couple of rotating boxes of other toys. This is a great way how to always have “new” toys. Other junk has to be analyzed on the regular basis and sold/given away/thrown away, you pick. But is has to go!

Step number two – How to get to it? Now, the approach I personally like towards the time management for the cleaning-up is the FlyLady (r). This is an approach by Marla  Cilley which in the nutshell can be summed up as follows:

  1. 15 minutes at a time. This point I sincerely consider to be genius! As Cilley says herself this is a way to stop procrastination and reduce opportunities to get sidetracked or bored. Indeed if you have a concrete task and a limited time allocated to it there is a big chance that this task gets done. Results! That is what is so much missing in the life of a stay-at-home mother. You seem never to have results – tangible, concrete, visible! If you say – now, I have 15 minutes, I am doing the dishes, tik-tak – there is a big chance that you will manage to do the dishes and you have your result. Now, next – laundry. Same 15 minutes. In half-an-hour you have two tasks realized, two results that you see.
  2. Clutter cannot be organized. That’s what I already said. Be as strict as you can on this one.
  3. Weekly routines and zones. This point I personally use with precaution, as I don’t like too much structure in my life. If I see that somebody messed up the drawers of my kitchen island I am not going to wait until it is a “closet cleaning-up day”. Although, Cilley has some point on this one, because routines allow for additional focus.

What Cilley also recommends is to keep a “Control Journal” which is some sort of a household management notebook or binder. The purpose of this would be to keep track of the routines, lists and other important household information. I personally don’t have a journal like this once again for the same reason that I don’t like to have too much structure and having a journal for me is a “too much”. However, also here I do see the point related to the psychology. If you have a journal of routines, tasks and consequently tasks scratched out, you visually see your results, your achievements and your goals. Just like a manager of any business unit or entity.

Finally, and this I also consider to be an extremely important one, is to always keep in mind that perfectionism is a b*tch! This is applicable not only to cleaning-up but to literally everything, because the only outcome of being too much obsessed with perfection is your procrastination and inefficiency.