Spring Decluttering Challenge

The early March weather lately has definitely been affecting and reflecting my current mood.  

The sun is shining today, but tomorrow there will be rain and snow and yuck.

I warned everyone at the beginning of this school year that I would probably be a sappy mess by this spring with so many changes coming. Of course, there are so many extra frustrations and challenges and curve balls I never saw coming. It is actually worse than I exaggeratedly predicted.

I am ready for spring.

I have sort of fizzled out of my decluttering spree this year. My general ambition level has been pretty low, but honestly, I am in a funk. I guess it is my heart that actually needs to let go of some stuff... guilt, bitterness, anger, frustration, sadness.

I am ready to tackle this. I need to take some clear steps forward and I know that cleaning out the junk in our house will make our home more peaceful. One thing that I can do is to make a conscious effort every day to work on decluttering one small spot in my house.

Spring Decluttering Challenge

Last week I got out the Easter decorations. This morning I redecorated the website and took down those icky snowflakes. I don't care if it is the beginning of March- I am declaring it to be spring. I need the renewal of spring.

I think we all do better when we encourage one another, so I am going to try to check in with facebook more regularly, for those of you who follow me there. (They have changed the algorithm again, so I don't know if anyone will even see my posts, but I will try.) I will probably do some updates on my instagram story, too.

I am also starting a challenge for anyone who wants to join me. The goal is to declutter one area each day. Keep track of how many garbage bags worth of stuff you throw out/donate/rehome. Estimating is fine. On May 7 I will do another blog post with a giveaway. Each bag purged will count as one entry. I don't know exactly what I am giving away yet. I didn't think that far ahead. Any suggestions?

Oh, and I am going to use the hashtag #springdeclutteringchallenge to keep track of my progress if you want to use it, too. It is long, but it appeared to be unused so it doesn't get mixed up with something else. I am almost never short on words anyway.

Ready. Set. Go.

Free Printable Planner Stickers ~ Arrows

I kind of like being able to create planner stickers based on what I will actually use. These stickers will probably not be particularly useful to most people, but I am sharing them anyway.

Small boxes with arrows - free planner sticker printable

I have a few kids participating in our school's archery program. Now, it is not a particularly exciting sport for the spectators (it makes golf seem wild!!!) but they seem to enjoy it. I need to keep track of practices and tournaments, so I designed some planner stickers with little arrows on them. Of course, arrows are kind of trendy so they could be used for just about anything in a planner.

Archery Planner Stickers - free printable

Arrow stickers for tracking archery practice

I made mine in shades of our school colors that coordinate with my Happy Planner, but I also made some in black and white. Both are available for your personal use by clicking on the links below:

Blue and Gold Arrow Planner Stickers

Black and White Arrow Planner Stickers

I just print mine on adhesive label paper and cut them out to use as needed.

Arrow Free Printable Planner Stickers

I also have these stickers available:

If you want to learn more about how I use my Happy Planner...

How to use a Happy Planner

Free Printable Planner Stickers - Fitness and Motivation

I haven't made any New Year's Resolutions about getting in shape or losing weight. I probably should, but let's be real here... It is a record cold spell and I am not going outside to run. I could do some workouts inside, but I am just not that motivated at this point. Today, it is just not one of my priorities and I will freely admit to that. At some point, however, I plan on starting to train for another 5K. The girls and I want to try to run a few together. I am not sure how that is going to work out. They are all faster than me. I also don't really like the thought of them competing against each other and the aftermath that will follow. I suppose we will have to work on sportsmanship. :) It is ultimately just for fun, right?

However, some of you may actually be motivated to brave the cold to go for a run or perhaps you are hitting the freshly crowded gym. In honor of that, I sat here on my behind in the warm house and designed planner stickers. Now, I will definitely use these at some point. Maybe next week. Maybe in a few months when my snot doesn't freeze in my nostrils every time I go outside. Eventually.

Also, we don't have a gym membership. I just wanted "gym day" stickers for marking which days the girls have gym class and I have to make sure they are wearing sneakers. :) That is ultimately why I started designing these stickers.

The color scheme matches my new Happy Planner (LOVE IT!!!) and I got all of the clip art from Free Pik.

You can download the free printable by clicking HERE. I print mine on adhesive paper and cut them out.

P.S. If you are still sticking to those New Year's resolutions- GOOD JOB!!!

How I Use My Happy Planner

Last year I jumped on the planner bandwagon.My sister-in-law loves hers and it looked really cute! My mom always had one to keep track of all of our school stuff, sports, and activities. She called it her "brain" which made it funny when it got lost and she was looking for her "brain." :)

My wall calendar wasn't cutting it and I was having a hard time remembering everything. Something had to change so I picked up a Happy Planner at Michaels (mostly because it looked cute).

Regular Happy Planner
I started out having no idea what to do with all of those boxes! I consulted my sister-in-law, the planner expert, and she gave me some ideas. One of her best suggestions was finding free planner sticker printables on Pinterest. (Of course now I have a whole board of them HERE.)  I print them on adhesive paper and cut them out with scissors. I was worried it would use up all of my ink, but my ink cartridge lasted a really long time, so it wasn't as bad as I thought.

As the year went on I gradually started to try new things and find ways to make the planner more useful to me.

That also changed depending on what life looked like at the time. Sometimes I used boxes to write out to do lists and sometimes I listed my accomplishments for the day (when it felt and looked like nothing was getting done). Sometimes I used planner boxes to write down little things that I wanted to remember and sometimes I used them as a gratitude journal, recording things that I am thankful for. Sometimes they recorded milestones, and sometimes I just added decoration because I felt like it.

 

I got some adhesive pockets on clearance at Michaels and they are pretty nice for storing appointment cards, extra stickers, or little things I need to save.

I previously used a calendar to keep track of meal planning, but I incorporated that into my planner, too. It is handy to have everything in one place.

Meal planning with a Happy Planner
I also kept track  of my decluttering progress with a post it note in the cover.

So, after one full year of using my planner I think I am finally starting to get the hang of it.

How to use a Happy Planner
I like to use the top row to show what we have planned for the day- appointments, practices, birthdays, etc. In the middle row I write my to do lists or anything that I may want to remember. In the bottom row I write out our meal plan for the week.  In the side column I write out my major goals for the week. Besides the printable stickers, I like to keep some washi tape, coordinating pens, and a pair of scissors in a little jar on my desk. (The kids are always swiping the scissors, though!)

The washi tape is handing for dividing boxes, sectioning off certain days (like a weekend for wrestling tournaments), or making the boxes smaller in case my printable stickers are not the correct size. I like to alternate the pen color that I use because it helps things stand out a little better for me to visualize and remember. (I used that trick for taking notes in college.)

I also learned that it is a good idea to grab your new planner as soon as the store starts carrying the new line for the following year. They got really picked out and it took me 3 or 4 trips to Michaels to finally find mine. (It was like it magically appeared! It was NOT there before!) I really love the color scheme of this one, so I plan on trying to match my stickers as much as possible. (Although, I might get tired of it and change it up later- we'll see!)

I also decided to try putting my craft-related stuff in a Mini Happy Planner. I hope it isn't a pain having two planners, but I felt the need to compartmentalize. Does that make sense? The layout is a little different.

I am officially hooked on this whole planner thing!

Do you have a planner? Do you have any tips or preferences? I am always looking for new ideas!

How to REALLY Declutter Your Home

It is the beginning of January, so of course social media is flooded with diets, exercise plans, and tips to get organized. Everything promises fast results to make it more appealing. "How to Lose 25lbs in 6 Weeks!" "Get Toned Abs with This 5 Minute Workout!" "Declutter Your Entire House in 30 Days!"

No wonder people give up so easily on their New Year's resolutions. We can't expect instant results. We should, however, expect to put in a lot of time and effort to achieve goals.

I blogged about decluttering and organizing a few times early last year, but behind the scenes it was an ongoing process all year long. I keep a post-it note in my planner to tally up how many garbage bags of stuff I got rid of and by the end of the year I had purged 96 BAGS!

Stop and mentally picture that for a moment.

Honestly, my house is cluttered, but we don't live like extreme hoarders. I still don't feel like it made that much of a difference. Quite a bit of it came from our storage shed as I thinned out the amount of clothes and shoes that I save for hand me downs. I think I do see a lot of difference there (and a lot of empty totes!) I purged a lot of fabric and craft supplies, too. (GASP!)

Anyway, I did go through some really strong decluttering sprees, especially when it was time to switch out seasonal clothes, but mostly it was a slow, chipping away at one area or another. Sometimes I was intentional about working on one area per day, sometimes I followed a list, and sometimes it just depended on my mood and/or time constraints. I also participated in a Spring Fling where we worked on one room per day for 2 weeks. It was good to have motivation and accountability, but most of my friends fell behind schedule and didn't finish.

The popular 30 day decluttering lists are a nice way to start, but they don't leave much flexibility. Not everyone has the same problem areas in their home. Sometimes life happens and we need a little grace.

I have some different ideas...

 

How to Really Declutter Your Home
 

  1. Find something that works for you. If you can do it all in a month and be done- GREAT! In the past, I have tried to focus on one room per week, but as soon as I get to the kids' bedrooms I tend to fizzle out and quit. I need to give myself some grace, admit if something isn't working, and start again. This year, I plan to focus on one room per month. I am not sure how it will go, but I am trying it! I have also found that I need to pace myself a bit. I tend to get a bit carried away and rip everything apart. For example, today I am cleaning out the refrigerator. Just the inside. I am honestly procrastinating washing out the drawers by writing this blog post, but I did get all of the old food cleared out. :)
  2. It is a continual process. I can declutter one area and a few months later it is a wreck. I have to continually revisit challenging areas and maybe even find a new way to store or organize things. It is OK to admit that the awesome idea I saw on Pinterest doesn't work well in my home. I may find that I didn't actually need something because I haven't used it since the last time I decluttered. Also, things keep creeping into my home and taking up more space. Which leads me to...
  3. Limit the stuff. I am trying to be more intentional about the things I bring into my home. Do I really need this? Can I "make do" with something else? What is the quality like? Is it really going to last? Dropping off 2 bags and the thrift store and coming home with 3 more totally defeats the purpose! I think the biggest key to preventing clutter is to not let it into my house in the first place.
  4. Build in some extra motivation. Maybe you are self motivated when it comes to cleaning. If so, disregard this one. I am not always feeling very industrious, so I need a little push at times. I keep my tally sheet post it in the inside of my planner cover. Seeing how much I have accomplished so far helps me to keep striving to up that number. I guess marking that little tally line is similar to putting stickers on a potty training chart! I also have some friends and family who appreciate decluttering as much as I do and we will text each other when we accomplish something awesome. Having people come alongside me to cheer me on is a big help. (Thank you!) If you need me to be that person, just send me a message and I will be glad to send you congratulatory gifs and stickers! Some people might like joining a facebook group for accountability. Some might want to buy a nice, new shirt to replace the 5 they threw out. Some might just want to take a nice bubble bath when they finish one dreaded area. I think is OK to reward yourself!

I am going to keep plugging away at my decluttering this year and I will probably share more about it on facebook, if you would like to follow along there. I know that I am not alone, so I want to try to check in with the rest of my fellow declutterers from time to time so that we can cheer each other on and lift one another up. (YOU CAN DO IT!!! The cheerleader in me never quits!)

Happy New Year!

Puzzle Organization

Hey there! I am still here. You can always assume that if I am not blogging it is because I am super busy with real life stuff. I tend to take on too much and end up getting really burned out. That usually results in getting sick, too. It is like my body is forcing me to slow down and take care of myself. Unfortunately, moms don't get sick days. Even though my 4yo was struggling with a nasty cold herself, she still had way more energy than I could handle. I have written before about utilizing busy bags, quiet books, or stashes of special toys/activities to keep little ones occupied. The past few days we have gone through quite a few of them.

At the beginning of the year I was on a major decluttering and organizing spree. One of the things I tackled was the puzzles. I decided to throw away any puzzles that did not have all of their pieces. Most of them are from the Dollar Tree so it was not a great loss. It made it easier to clean the rest of the house because I tossed any pieces I found instead of saving them and trying to put them in the right box later. Here is the before picture...

Puzzle boxes take up a lot of space for the tiny pieces that they hold. They also come in all shapes and sizes, so the boxes do not stack neatly anywhere. I decided that it was easier to put them all in bags instead. All of the bags fit in one bin from the Dollar Tree. (Honestly, I don't shop there very often!) I cut the pictures off of the boxes so that they know what it is supposed to look like.

I can fit dozens of puzzles in that little bin!

It was a simple storage solution for us. Although, the puzzle my daughter chose to do was actually missing one piece. Figures!

Other posts that you may find helpful…

8 Tips that Help Me Declutter

Kitchen Decluttering and Organizing

Kitchen Organization for Lunchbox Stuff

Kitchen Drawer Organizing