organization

15 Things You’re Hoarding that You Can Get Rid of Right Now

We’ve all seen those extreme cases on Hoarders, or at least have the vaguest concept of hoarding– houses packed to the rafters, barely a footpath through. But we aren’t really like that, right? Just because there’s a bit of unwashed laundry, or a few extra sentimental items lying around, we’re not actually hoarding, are we?

Well, according to my mother, who we all joke doesn’t have a sentimental bone in her body because she’s ruthless when it comes to clearing out clutter, we are. Definite, complete, total hoarders. Semi-neat hoarders, but hoarders nonetheless. So, I’m taking a page from my mother’s book (hopefully) and I’m giving you permission to part with those things you swore you couldn’t let go of, but maybe, with some careful guidance, you could actually say goodbye to today. And yes, this post is talking to me as much as it is to my readers; after all, I couldn’t have come up with 15 items for you to purge if I didn’t do a little cleaning up myself.

So grab 3 boxes and label them Trash, Sell, and Donate, and let’s get purging. Ready?

  1. Your Prom Corsage. Seriously. It’s been a decade since you went to Prom. I know you carefully preserved it and put it in your memory box, but why are you still holding onto this? It’s literally just dead flowers. This one is fit for the trash.
  2. That Pair of Jeans You SWEAR you’re going to fit into in 6 months. Yeah, the one that you’ll be back in after this diet. Or that diet after that one. Or the diet four diets from now. Unless they fit you right this minute, donate them. Someone else can use them. In the meantime, buy a pair that fits and makes you feel awesome and when you’re that size again, buy a new pair. Styles change anyway, so you’ll want something fresh.
  3. The brick phone you’re holding onto in case you break this one. Trust me. Just part with it. There are plenty of places that recycle old cell phones, and you really don’t need the last 5 cell phones you have. Unless you plan on making bulletproof armor out of your old Nokias, just recycle them and call it good.
  4. Those love notes from your ex. But really, I get that you’re holding onto these, but if you know it’s over and there’s no major attachment there anymore, save your absolute favorite one and toss the rest. You don’t need them.
  5. The knitting needles/rainbow loom/quilting supplies for that craft you were gung-ho about, then dropped. Sure, you were super into it for a few weeks, and then you realized that hey, you don’t have time for this! If you’re not keen on donating what you have left, then try selling your crafting gear and remnants online, or swap it with a friend who is over her most recent hobby, too– she can try yours, you can try hers, and you both have something new and fun to try out.
  6. Movie ticket stubs from that feature ages ago. Unless you have a super-strong memory attached (like the first movie you saw with your hubby, or a movie you went into labor in the middle of), toss the ticket. You won’t miss it. If there is a super-strong memory of it, put it in your album and be done.
  7. That shirt you bought at that concert for that band you loved in college. I get it, we all have shirts that have seen better days (and bands we liked before they sucked, you hipster, you!), but seriously… if you’re not still into the band and if the shirt doesn’t have a super special memory attached (again, something crazy like a first date with the hubs or labor), donate it. Or, if it’s in concert-condition, just trash it.
  8. The charger cord to your old laptop. You’re not using it anymore. I promise you won’t need it. Most likely, the newest version of that same laptop uses a different charger, and chargers are like $5 on Amazon anyway. Just recycle it or dispose of it properly.
  9. The almost-dried up bottle of last year’s nail polish color you had to have. You know the one, that bright pop that you needed before vacation or that moody hue that was perfect for fall, but you’re completely over it now (or you used it so much that there’s not even enough for a full manicure left)… just toss it already!
  10. The book you already read but weren’t ready to part with, or worse, the book you were going to read and never got around to. If you’ve read it awhile ago and are pretty sure you’re not actually going to read it again, donate it or take it up to half price books. If you didn’t read it, even though you swore you would because the reviews or Target or Oprah or someone said it was oh-so-amazing, either read it and sell/donate it, or just go ahead and get it off of your shelf without reading it. We’ve all bought those impulse books that we haven’t read. Just gift it to a friend, donate it, and move on.
  11. The Emergency Chocolate Bar that’s expired. If you’re a mom, I know you’ve got an emergency chocolate bar hidden somewhere. But you know you’ve had one that you’ve hidden long enough that it’s just not quite good anymore, and you have yet to replace it? Toss the old one, then treat yourself to a really delicious cup of cocoa or a new chocolate bar, and keep it where you’ll eat it before it’s yuck this time!
  12. The extra buttons from that cute jacket….that you donated two seasons ago. I can’t be the only one who still has extra buttons in the back of my jewelry box. Those buttons to that dress you loved intensely and eventually got rid of for one reason or another? Go ahead and get rid of the buttons, too. Or make sock puppets with your kids with them, but somehow, get them out of your jewelry box, already!
  13. CDs. All CDs. Unless you have a good excuse (like my car only plays CDs because I drive a 2002), get rid of CDs! If you have a must-have song or album, rip it into your digital format of choice (mp3, duh) and give it to a friend or sell/donate it to a used store.
  14. Shoes. How many shoes have you bought because you “just had to have them” and wore once or twice and got bored with? Just ditch the old shoes you’re done with– donate them, or sell them online for money for… uh… more shoes, of course!
  15. That gift that you just weren’t quite into. We’ve all been there– gotten a gift that was well-intentioned but not that great. Regift it (but not to the original giver… yikes!) or donate it for a good cause. Use caution when selling– if your friend is local and you’re trying a local swap site, you may hurt some feelings.

 

Your turn… let me know in the comments below what else you found while purging, or what else you’d add to this list, and if I have it on hand, I’ll be tossing it, too! Also, were there any items on this list that you were surprised to still be holding onto?

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Organizing Homeschool Curriculum

One of the biggest questions I get when I tell people about the curriculum I use is, “Yeah, but how do you keep track of it all?” Sometimes, curriculum can get overwhelming, and I’ve heard more than one family lament the “Ugh, I’d love homeschooling a lot more if stuff wasn’t EVERYWHERE!”

While some families are lucky enough to have a school room that is dedicated for collecting all of the pencils, maps, charts, books, and supplies that homeschooling needs, many of us are homeschooling at the kitchen table, and it means it’s a lot harder to stay organized without having books on every surface of your house.

I am by no means an expert, and what works for me may drive you crazy, but since I’ve gotten so many requests, I decided to share with you my particular form of organization.

I’ve found some items have packaging that falls apart after repeated use, but at the same time, it’s important to keep all of those items together. I like to grab a gallon-sized back, put all of the parts to that particular item together, and then include any instructions or parts of the box that include extension activities. This ensures all parts stay together without letting things go missing. In the above picture, I took the suggested activities, and all of the items except the pegs, and put them in the same Ziploc bags. This means when we go to do an activity using this, I can grab this bag and the peg bag and have everything I need handy.

Alternatively, you can also lump like items together in bags. Several separate Lauri Toys that I have come with pegs, and the pegs they come with are all the same– multicolor in the same basic shape. I personally put all of the pegs in the same bag, and just grab the peg bag when we have an activity using pegs.

I’ve found that, for our Preschool-aged curriculum, a rolling cart works very well for storage. I’m able to put our CDs and music-related activities in one drawer, our workbooks in another drawer, our flash cards and activity cards in another, and then have our other activities and craft supplies in other drawers, neatly. Magazine racks on the top store other, larger items that won’t fit in the drawers as easily, like large sheets of tissue paper.

As Zach gets older, we may adapt our system and go away from a rolling cart, but for now, it makes it easiest to sort the individual activties. The rolling cart can be pushed into my pantry and easily rolled out for school time, or I can just grab the items we’re using for that time of day.

We don’t have a designated school space, so we work hard to intentionally add necessary school items into our decor without drawing too much attention to them. Zach’s calendar, for example, is tucked next to his indoor playset, making it look like a part of that area, but still allowing easy everyday access. Another alternative storage solution for the calendar would be to use Zip-Ties to secure it to our rolling cart.

Zach has a reading nook set up in his play area. Because having a reading nook is a necessity for us, we make sure to seamlessly integrate it into our playspace, even if we can’t integrate it into the kitchen where we do school.

I try to make sure that, in letting our school seep into other areas of our home, we aren’t letting it completely take over our lives, either. When school isn’t in session, either for the evening or weekend, school items that aren’t housed in our main decor can be put away easily in the rolling cart.

To give you a peek at another option, my mother uses a different storage system for schooling Jeffrey, in 8th grade. All of his school books that he uses for the current courses are stored spine-up in a filing cabinet. Resources that are larger and don’t fit in the drawer are kept on a separate bookshelf, along with supplies and past books they still refer to. Each night, my mother goes through the next day’s course schedule, grabs the books she needs quickly and easily, and then pulls any larger supplies or curriculum pieces they need from the bookshelf.

At the end of it all, there are a few tips that I have for you:

1. Do what makes sense for your family. What works for me might not work for you. What works for your homeschooling coop might not work for you. What works for that lady you met at that homeschooling convention that one time might not work for you. Find what works for you, and use that method.

2. If homeschooling curriculum is taking over your house, it’s time to purge. If you have a lot of supplies from past years, see if there is a family you can bless with those items, or find a swap site to sell it on or trade for items you need.

3. Homeschooling doesn’t have to involve one set classroom. One of the reasons I love homeschooling is that EVERYWHERE is your classroom. Want to study outside on the porch swing? Do it. Want to study at a coffee shop? Do it. Want to study at the kitchen table? Do it. Want to lay in bed and study? Do it. Don’t feel like you have to have a “classroom” in order to make homeschooling work. You can stay organized and keep your homeschooling unchained, too.

4. Group like items together! One of the easiest ways to lose curriculum pieces is to forget to group it together. By keeping things together that go together, you won’t lose it. You have to choose what grouping makes sense, though. Maybe for you it makes the most sense to store your flash cards with other flash cards to keep them together. Or, maybe you’d prefer grouping all of the history together, and all of the English together. Find a logical grouping, and keep things put together that way.

5. Ziplocs, Rubberbands, and Drawers are your friend! These things help keep items together, help hide the homeschool house takeover, and, while seemingly obvious, are overlooked way too often.

What are your tips for organizing homeschooling curriculum? Share them in the comments below!

Organizing Your Desktop Background– Easily!

My desktop background looked insane just days ago. It infuriated my IT-guy, who kept begging to clean it up for me. I totally understood why– every time I’d go to find a file, I’d spend more time digging through my desktop than using the file I was looking for!

I started looking through my files on my desktop and found out they came in several simple formats– photos I had saved to the desktop instead of filing away in my photo folder, documents I had saved to the desktop instead of in the desktop file they belonged in, some disorganized files for work and various volunteer jobs, some scrapbook pages in progress, notepad documents for when I’d open a document, save it under a random name, and use it to keep notes for the time being. Afraid I’d lose something important, I’d keep saving it– sometimes for up to two years. Scattered among the other files were programs that I used on a regular basis, and anytime I wanted to use the program, I’d have to search through other icons.

I’d say “Man, I’m disorganized!” but, after talking to some friends and family, it seems that many people have a desktop background just like mine. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it’s the norm, not the anomaly.

So how do we clean up our desktop? Well, we start with finding out what can just go straight to the recycling bin.

I realized I had two or three duplicate copies of photos with different filenames. Anything that is an exact duplicate gets trashed. Anything that is unusable gets trashed. Then, I started opening notepad documents. I realized some of the files were over a year old, with information and to-do lists I no longer needed. Some were partially important, but half the information was outdated. I erased the outdated information and re-saved the file with a more relevant name. If something had addresses in it and a grocery list from six months ago, and the file name “Stuff,” I erased the groceries, and resaved it under “Addresses.”

Anything that had a folder it could go into already, went into that folder. For example, a work draft I wrote when our internet was down went into a work file. My watermark for my blog photographs went into my work file, as well. Self portraits I took as part of a “selfie project” at a scrapbooking forum I belong to were placed together in a newly created folder just for them. It’s something I’ll be adding to all year long, so having it readily available is good.

I finished by putting all of the program files together. But, all clustered up along one side of the desktop, as clean as I had gotten it, and as great as it was to trim it from covering the full desktop to covering a quarter of it, it still didn’t look clean.

I searched for desktop backgrounds, but nothing fit my needs, so I decided it was time to make one.

Check this out! It’s so crisp and clean– and it’s lumping all of my stuff into organized categories. Plus, it features my favorite things– a color scheme I love, that always cheers me up and makes me think of sunshine, chevrons, and washi tape! It’s just so… pretty! Like a corkboard full of inspiration possibilities.

I realized it was just what I needed to re-organize and clean up my desktop. This winter chill has me in the mood for a little spring cleaning, and this got it dusted off and pretty.

And, just in case you want to clean up your desktop, too, I decided to share this background with you! I also thought that, even though the sunny blue and yellow makes me feel happy, you may have a different color that makes you happy. So, I’ve made it available in several colors.

You can download the sunny background, or purple, orange, grey, and green. You can also download all of them here, in case you can’t decide. I asked some friends, and they said these are the titles they’d most use when sorting their backgrounds, also.

To set a desktop background on Windows, find your control panel, then under Appearance and Personalization, you’ll find “Change the Desktop Background.” You can then browse for this file after you’ve downloaded it (check your downloads folder!) and install it. Then, just drag and drop your icons into place!

Don’t forget to tell your friends to come download a free desktop background for getting their files organized, too, by sharing on Facebook or Pinterest!