February Mission: Declutter your living areas

Filed under: Living Areas — Colleen at 3:18 pm on Wednesday, February 1, 2017

couch.jpgIt is time to move on to our new mission: decluttering our living areas. These areas could include your living room, family room, play areas, finished basements, great rooms, sun rooms—basically any room where you and your family hang out.  Try to complete each weeks task in EVERY applicable living space of your home.

Here are your 4 tasks this month:
Mission 1: Straighten up the clutter!

Mission 2. Organize your media areas.

Mission 3. Sort your games/toys.

Mission 4. Go through your books.

Happy Organizing!

Colleen

August Mission: Organize your living areas!

Filed under: Living Areas,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 7:08 am on Monday, August 1, 2016

It is time to move on to our new mission: decluttering our living areas. These areas could include your living room, family room, play areas, finished basements, great rooms, sun rooms basically any room where you and your family hang out. Try to complete each week’s task in EVERY living space of your home that the task applies to.

Here are your 4 tasks this month:
Mission 1: Straighten up the clutter!

Mission 2. Organize your media areas.

Mission 3. Sort your games/toys.

Mission 4. Go through your books.

Happy Organizing!

Colleen

Day 5: The 12 Days of Thanksgiving

Filed under: Holidays,Living Areas — Colleen at 7:27 am on Thursday, November 15, 2012

Today we are purging our clothes. As you go through your clothes, take inventory of what you may need for the holidays. Does everyone in your family have something they can wear to your holiday events? Are you noticing other clothes that are needed that perhaps you could put on your Christmas list?

Read this for tips and inspiration on how to purge your clothes!

Try to get at least one bag of clothing to donate and to freeze a meal today!

Colleen

Living Zone Mission #4: Book Review!

Filed under: Living Areas,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 12:52 pm on Monday, February 23, 2009

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It’s time to assess your library. Are your bookcases overflowing? Or worse, do you have piles of books in the corners of your home? What about those unpacked boxes of books from your move 5 years ago?

Have you been wanting to free up some shelf space for your collectibles or photo albums? Thinning out your book collection may help.

Take a look at your home’s library. How many of these books do you actually read or refer to? How many of your books do you expect to read again? Are you still holding on to your dusty overpriced college textbooks?

Step 1: Sort your books into 3 categories. “Books I frequently read or refer to” , “Books I plan to read” and “Books I don’t plan to read again or ever and outdated text books”

Now take a look at your pile of books you plan to read. If it is overambitious, thin it out again.

Step 2: Donate or sell your third category of books. Libraries usually accept donated books and will issue a receipt for tax purposes. Or you can sell books online on sites such as Half.com or Ebay. I sold some of my books online and made a few hundred dollars in just a few months!

Step 3: Rearrange and reorganize your remaining books. Try to keep “like” books together into categories. Keep books you plan to read accessible so you don’t forget about them!

Step 4: Take a field trip! Check out just how much your local library has to offer. I introduced my husband to our library and he’s now addicted. He does book searches and makes book requests online then simply goes to the front library desk to pick them up! This is better service than bookstores and FREE! We save a ton of money this way and he reads so much more.

Overwhelmed by this project? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help. Are you motivated by this mission or have a great organizing idea that works for you? Leave a comment to inspire others!

Living Zone Mission #3: Taken over by toys!

Filed under: Living Areas,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 10:24 pm on Tuesday, February 17, 2009

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If you have little ones in your home, then you know how quickly toys can take over the house. If your living room is a carpet of toys, this is the week you’ll be reintroducing yourself to your living room floor.

If you don’t have children’s toys, spend this week organizing your board games, getting rid of the dusty duds and putting all your fun games together. Or you spend this week finishing up a previous project, like putting the finishing touches on your media collection.

Before you get started, be sure to pick a good time. If you think your children will work against you, wait until your kids are in bed or napping. Or if your children are old enough, use this time to teach them a valuable lesson about charity. When I’m overwhelmed by the number of toys in my home, I sit down with my 4 year old and 6 year old and say “You have so many great toys. Did you know that some kids don’t have any toys? What toys should we give them?”. I’ve been surprised with how much they’ve been willing to part with. This will also help you learn just which toys are the “favorites” and which toys you’re holding on to because of sentimental value.

Step 1: Clear an area. In order to sort the toys, you much first create a sorting area. This could be a separate room, or you can collect the toys in boxes or laundry baskets until you have created enough room to sort.

Step 2: Do a quick purge. Set a buzzer for 5 minutes and see how many items you can identify to trash or donate. Do you really need to keep every Happy Meal toy? Do you have games that can no longer be used because of missing or broken pieces?

Step 3: Sort. Separate the toys into categories: playsets, dress ups, action figures, cars, baby toys, books, games, etc.

Step 4: Minimize. Reevaluate each toy. Keep the favorites. If your child has outgrown a toy but you want to keep it for your next child, pack up the toys and put them in long-term storage. Don’t keep too many, just the favorites. Your next child will likely have new toys each birthday and holiday. Also consider packing up some of the toys for a rainy day. Rotating toys can keep your children interested in them.

Step 5: Assess your toy storage. What are you currently using for toy storage? Toy boxes are not ideal because toys become buried and can’t be found. Consider bookshelves or cabinets–be sure to properly secure them to the wall first. Use decorative baskets or bins to house each category of toys and then label each (Label with pictures for smaller children). Keep toys that require supervision on higher shelves or an unaccessible area.
When it comes to storing toys, be creative!

  • The dollar store has dish pans which make great storage bins for shelves. You can also buy their small sewing containers to house game pieces to boardgames. Label each container and simply stack the game boards. You can use empty egg cartons or empty margarine tubs to store game pieces or get this blue game saver or orange game saver to house your games and abandon your broken boxes.
  • Ice cube trays make great organizers for small toys–like Barbie’s shoes or accessories.
  • Use an over-the-door clear shoe organizer to sort Barbie dolls.
  • Use clear shoe boxes to house legos, cars, or other collections.
  • I love organizing toys in shoe organizers.

My kids love to dress up. When the dress-ups were in a toy box, they would pull everything out just to get the one item they wanted. I solved this by creating a dressing room for them using 2 shoe organizers from Costco. When my kids play, this little “dressing room” becomes a home, fort, or cave. They love it, can find what they want to play with, and actually clean up! In the pictures below, you can see I used one cubby for dress-ups and one for toys. ( If you can’t get to Costco, consider this stackable shoe cubby)

toys-3.jpg toys-1.jpgtoys-2.jpg

Step 6: Maintain. Designate clean up times. Make it a routine and your children won’t be surprised by needing to straighten-up. Try cleaning up before each meal. Or make cleaning up more fun by setting a buzzer and play “Beat the Buzzer”, cleaning up before the buzzer goes off. Follow the 1 in 1 out rule: Whenever you child asks for a toy, be sure that they put a toy away first. TIP: When it comes to cleaning up, kids usually don’t know where to start. I keep a decorative laundry basket in my family room. I do a quick clean up and place their out-of-place toys in the basket. My five-year old is very successful when instructed to clean up everything in the basket. He calls it the “Basket game”. He doesn’t get overwhelmed because he can see his progress and knows when he’s done!

Click here to views some of my suggested organized products for kids.

Overwhelmed by this project? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help. Are you motivated by this mission or have a great organizing idea that works for you? Leave a comment to inspire others!

Living Zone Mission #2: Organize your Media

Filed under: Living Areas,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 2:35 pm on Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You are finally taking some time to relax and to curl up with your favorite movie. But when you open up your TV cabinet, all your movies fall on top of you! You frantically go through your movies and are relieved when you eventually find what you’ve been looking for. You quickly throw the other movies back into the cabinet, carefully closing the door. (You’ll get to organizing those movies some other day). You prepare your popcorn and flip open the DVD case only to discover that your beloved movie is not it the proper case! Sound familiar?

This week we are addressing this problem. DVDs, video tapes, video games and CDs have a way of piling up. If you don’t have a proper home for them, then you can’t enjoy them when you want them. Here’s what you need to to do to get control of them so that they are ready when you need them:

1. COLLECT. Gather your DVDs, video tapes, video games and CDs from all over your home and from your cars!

2. SORT. Make separate piles for each type of media (DVDs, video tapes, CDs). Open each case and make sure that the right item is in each. Decide how to categorize them. Pick a method of organizing that is easy to maintain. Consider categorized first by type. For example, I like keeping children’s movies and exercise videos separate from my regular movie collection. If your collection is large, you may need to alphabetize each category so that you can find what you are looking for when you need it. However, if your collection is relatively small, alphabetizing may be an unnecessary time-consuming step.

3. MINIMIZE. Now that you’ve sorted through your collection, take a moment to identify items that you can get rid of through donating, selling, or returning them to their owner.

4. CONTAIN. Consider how your collection should be contained. I like using large CD wallets to house my CD collections. I simply place the CD and the booklet in each pouch. Look for CD wallets with a 3 ring binder so that you can easily add you new additions alphabetically. You can use the same system for your DVDs. This method helps with storage issues as you will no longer need to house the cases. (If you wish, you can keep the empty cases in your long term storage, so that you will have the original cases if you were to ever sell part of your collection.)

KID TIP:  I put all of my children’s DVD’s into a DVD wallet.   The kids just flip through the wallet, “reading” each title by the images on the DVD.  After a DVD is viewed, it goes into the first empty sleeve I find.   Try to keep the collection small so that they can easily find their favorites.  And if you have a DVD player for the car or are just headed to grandma’s, all you have to do is grab the small DVD wallet, no need to repack!

Consider where you house your collection. Try to keep everything in a central location. Keep each category where you use them most. For example, if you only use your exercise tapes in your bedroom, store them there.

Need to contain your media?  Check out these organizing products:

A great space-saver for CDs and DVDs-  This small box holds 200 CDs/DVDs.  My husband got this for his movie collection.  He files them alphabetically.  It’s been working great for about 2 years now!
A CD Wallet

A wall organizer for CDs and DVDs

or this cool filing rack for CD’s and DVD’s
Overwhelmed by this project? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help. Are you motivated by this mission or have a great organizing idea that works for you? Leave a comment to inspire others!

Living Zone Mission #1: Straighten Up Your Living Areas!

Filed under: Living Areas,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 3:10 pm on Monday, February 2, 2009

living room.jpg

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For your first project, spend this week straightening up your living zones:

  1. Put away EVERYTHING that already has a designated home.
  2. Grab a laundry basket and pile in any items that belong in another room. When the basket is full put the items away!
  3. Grab another laundry basket (or 2 or 3) and fill it with items that are “homeless” and you just don’t know what to do with them. Put them aside, we’ll get back to them!
  4. Find a box and fill it with items to donate or to sell.
  5. Have plenty of trash bags handy for items that need to be disposed.
  6. After your basic straightening is completed, go through any drawers of furniture that have become clutter magnets. Skip over drawers of toys, games, or media items–we’ll get to them in the next few weeks. Concentrate on “junk drawers” and papers.
  7. Empty your “homeless” basket, finding appropriate homes for each item.
  8. Repeat the above in as many of your living spaces as possible.

Overwhelmed by this project? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help. Are you motivated by this mission or have a great organizing idea that works for you? Leave a comment to inspire others!

August Mission #5: Organize your crafts & hobbies

Filed under: Living Areas,Monthly Missions — Colleen at 9:07 am on Friday, August 29, 2008

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Hobbies are a great outlet. They can be such stress relievers. But it’s hard to relax and enjoy your project when you find yourself hunting for supplies, or worse purchasing items you already own!

This week, we’ll tackle our craft clutter. Whether you choose to organize your scrapbooking or stamping supplies, untangle your yarn, organize your sewing area or finally sort through your photos, try to spend at least 15 minutes a day on this task.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Consider using over-the-door clear shoe organizers to store yarn, scissors, or bottles of paint.
  • Use a binder to house your needle point projects. Place patterns and floss inside in individual 3-ring pouches or sleeves.
  • Use rolling storage bins with drawers to house supplies. Just roll the drawers into your closet when they are not in use.
  • Place each project in a separate bin, box, or basket.
  • Organizing products from arts & crafts stores can get pricey! Check out organizers at your hardware store. Screw & nail organizers are great for beads, floss, and stamps. Tool boxes can make great sewing boxes. Empty paint cans can house brushes or scissors. Be creative! Also consider plastic shoe boxes and dish pans from the dollar store.
  • When it comes to photos, unless you actually use your double prints, don’t purchase them. Even if they are free, they carry a price tag—they clutter your home. If your backed up with your photos, start by organizing your most recent photos.

Don’t forget to set your buzzer for 15 minutes each day!

Looking for more ideas?

Overwhelmed by this project? Set Me Free! offers hands-on help. Are you motivated by this mission or have a great organizing idea that works for you? Leave a comment to inspire others!

Before/After: Basement Play Area

Filed under: Before/After,Living Areas,Storage Areas — Colleen at 9:27 am on Sunday, December 3, 2006

Here are some recent pictures from a home that is getting ready for sale. Since the toys can’t be packed up until the children move, we sorted through toys and created a play area. Now that the toys have been scaled back, you can notice some of the great features of this walk out basement. Repositioning a couch to the corner draws prospective home buyers into the room and imagine the room’s full potential. The room can now be shown to potential buyers and still be functional space for the home owners.

Before After Set Me Free!

Before Basement12-1B.jpg Basement12-1A.jpg After

Before Basement12-1B1.jpg Basement12-1A21.jpg After