How to Make Routines Work for You

How to Make Routines Work for You

I love me some Facebook Live…

As often as I can, I jump onto my Facebook page on Wednesday mornings and talk about Clutter, Overwhelm and how to get out from under both. But last week, I had a special guest at my house, my coauthor Cheri Gregory! She put me on the hot seat and asked me all sorts of questions that readers submitted about one of the most dreaded words I speak about: Routines.

On the video, Cheri and I answer questions like:

Were you this organized when you had littles at home? What practical tips do you have for moms in the “littles” stage?

How do you manage and remember your routines?

When the unexpected happens, emergencies arise, how do you stop the panic attacks that arise when you get put out of your routine???

How did we get over that all or nothing notion? I’m a perfectionist when it comes to routine, therefore I refuse to do one because I’m so afraid there will be a flux that changes everything and spins the rest of my plan out ofa control!! #perfectionistissues

It’s a great conversation. And, if you watch, you may see me lose my mind when a squirrel invades my garden and steals one of my prized tomatoes… (I, apparently, was not at my best…)

 

When Cheap Costs

When Cheap Costs

Cheap Costs

My friend Kevin’s mom was famous for explaining away any purchase she wanted to make by saying, “But, it on SALEEEEEE…”

For most of my life, I was just like Kevin’s mom. If there was a deal to be had, that was all the justification I needed to make the purchase.

Cheap goods are never without a cost.

As I’ve gone deeper into my Clutter Free life, I’ve come to understand a core truth: Cheap goods are never without a cost.

1. Cheap goods cost us space.

Cheap goods we don’t need but justify because they are on sale (or already cheap), take up room in our houses. We need a way to store these things on top of the other things we’re already keeping.

2. Cheap goods cost us time.

If clutter is a problem, then the minutes every day you spend looking for lost items, moving stacks, and dealing with clutter are slowly chipping away at your life.

3. Cheap goods cost us money.

A dollar here and there adds up. I’ve noticed a correlation between those who struggle with clutter and those who struggle with spending. We stockpile things we think we’ll need in the future, while not stockpiling what we will really need—money.

4. Cheap goods cost us our integrity.

Many of those cheap goods are produced on the backs of others—slave and child labor in foreign countries. Since I’ve stopped buying lots of clothes (I’ve bought five items in 2017,) I’ve been able to buy better quality items I know aren’t made with slave or child labor. As a practicing Christian, I need to be aware that I may have slaves working for me, even if they are half a world away. What is my moral obligation?

As I go deeper into my Clutter Free journey, these are the things I need to consider.

I’m not saying that bargain shopping is bad. Quite the opposite. The biggest bargain is not buying things you don’t need.

Break the Cheap Goods Habit

So if you’ve developed an addiction to cheap goods, how do you go about breaking it?

1. Shop with a list.

Always know what you’re going into the store for, and come out with just that. When Roger and I go shopping at Costco, we have a massive list. (We only go once a month and buy most of our food there.) At Costco, we do allow ourselves one indulgence, usually through the samples that are pushed like drug dealers.This month it was the prepared chicken salad. Oy. Vey.

The list rule applies for Target, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, or any other store we might be tempted. Bring a list. Stick to the list.

2.Stay Accountable.

If you know you struggle with sticking to your needs, ask a friend (or the Clutter Free group) to keep you accountable. It’s so much easier to resist temptation if you know someone is going to be checking up on you.

3. Budget.

If you’re saving up for something bigger and better, it’s easier to say no to the nonsense. We use the You Need A Budget (YNAB) app and love it. We remind ourselves that we can have anything we want, as long as we budget for it.

4. Realize it’s OK to have nice things.

We didn’t bring home any souvenirs from our recent vacation except books, a nice shirt for Roger, and one thing for me. In a little shop in Victoria, there was a woman selling handmade soaps. I found an orange and ginger soap that smelled like heaven. I fell in love.

Normally, I’m a basic soap girl. We have a large container of Soft Soap that we use to refill all the soap dispensers in the house. Cheap and easy. But I realized a few things:

*I loved this soap and would enjoy it while it lasted.
*I was supporting another woman’s livelihood.
*It isn’t clutter. When it’s used, it’s gone.

I bought the soap.

I love the soap. Guess what, I use the soap. And I don’t feel guilty about the price tag because that little piece of soap lines up with my Clutter Free values. And that? Is worth every penny.

Clutter Free: Seven Steps for Just Getting Started

Clutter Free: Seven Steps for Just Getting Started

Since starting Clutter Free Academy, we’ve had many people ask, “Where do I start?”

If you’re part of our Clutter Free Academy group or on your own, here is a beginners’ guide for those looking to jump in and get results quickly:

(This system is based on my book Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps for Simplifying Your Space. The entire program is in there, but this will get you started while you order the book on Amazon or wait for it at the library!)

1. Pick a major source of pain. Get mad every time you go into the garage? See red when you try to relax in the living room? Is your office where papers go to die? Whatever area of your home is causing you the most pain, that’s what needs to be addressed first.

2. Start with surfaces. Some people want to dive into grandma’s photo albums that have been sitting in the attic for decades. But I would encourage you to give yourself a goal (Twenty items a day? Thirty?) and deal with the layers. Start with surfaces that are confronting you every day: Your nightstand, kitchen counters, kitchen table, desk. As you get practice with the day to day clutter, you can start to deal with the deeper clutter. You are building your “flinging” muscles!Oh – and when you start – only pick a small area. One counter, one shelf, one drawer. (I know that’s not a surface, but if it’s a drawer you use all the time and it’s so stuffed you can’t open it, and bad words come to mind every time you try, feel free to tackle that drawer.) To stay focused, you can even use blue painter’s tape to put physical boundaries on the area you are working on. This is great for young kids or easily distracted adults.

3. Set up a donation space. I have a bin in my garage where all my donations go. When it’s filled up, I take it to the car and stop at the “donation station” on the way to church on Tuesdays for a meeting. For the first few weeks of flinging, you may have more garbage and recycling than normal. That’s OK! Understand that you may have to pay for past clutter indiscretions, but going forward, you will remember the cost of bringing clutter across the threshold and will resist the urge.

4. Get your tools together. You will need three bags or boxes to sort out your stuff. Label the containers: Other Rooms, Put Away (anything that belongs in that room, but is out of place), and Give Away. We have nifty color-coded bags with handles that are easy to use. You will also need a recycling bag and a garbage bag.

5. Declutter. Get all your containers and bags around you so it’s easy to sort out your area. Set a timer for 15 minutes and start sorting.

6. Deal with the fallout. At the end of the 15 minutes, it’s time to start dealing with the stuff you are not putting back onto/into that same space. Set your timer for 5 minutes and take care of any container or bag that is full (or close to full). If that is all the decluttering you are doing for now, deal with all the containers/bags. Don’t leave a bigger mess than when you started!

7. Stay encouraged with other flingers. You’ll need a cheering section, especially when you’re getting started or “leveling up” (dealing with harder clutter: sentimental things, family items, expensive clothes, etc.). Connect with people who have made the same hard decisions and know your pain. We have a whole Facebook group dedicated to learning the Clutter Free way.

Join us over there for encouragement and motivation. Miracles are happening in that group. Go be a part of it!

Practical Tips for Getting Organized Part 2

Practical Tips for Getting Organized Part 2

Part 2 of the Focus on the Family broadcast on Practical Tips for Getting Organized is up today! It’s as much fun as Day 1. The banter between Jim and Jean Daly just cracked me up and are so relatable. They share the common struggle many of us have when it comes to what to keep and what to get rid of. This can be especially tension inducing when one of the adults is emotionally attached to everything and the other is seemingly attached to nothing. In Part 2 we tackle some of the most frustrating types of clutter on the planet- paper and laundry!

Click here to listen in on part 2. And get your copy of  The Get Yourself Organized Project today!

Practical Tips for Getting Organized Part 1

Practical Tips for Getting Organized Part 1

I am thrilled to be on Focus on the Family today and tomorrow discussing tips on getting organized. Back in 2013, Focus on the Family invited me out to speak about the principles in my book, The Get Yourself Organized Project. Jean Daly and I discuss why having an organized home is important as well as share several ways to tackle clutter.

At the original air date of this broadcast, Clutter Free wasn’t yet born which may seem interesting if you’ve ever asked me which of these two book should be read first. I always recommend reading Clutter Free first. Clutter Free helps you identify the reasons why the clutter exists in your life and how to tackle it. The Get Yourself Organized Project was written because I had tried all of the Martha Stewart type strategies and nothing had been effective in organizing my house. I discovered new, and most importantly, doable and easy steps in organizing my stuff and wanted to share it with all of my non-Martha types.

Listen in to Part 1 today to this fun and helpful broadcast that has stood the test of time. And check out The Get Yourself Organized Project if you are ready to organize all the important things in your life.

How to Have a Happier Husband on Focus on the Family Today!

How to Have a Happier Husband on Focus on the Family Today!

Friends, I hope you are staying cool somehow in this crazy heat (at least in California we are having an epic heat wave).

I am excited to share with you that Focus on the Family is running an episode in which I share tips on “How to Have a Happier Husband”. I love helping marriages become everything you wished it would be before you were married. If you need a re-direct on focusing on you marriage or want some new ideas on how to make your husband feel loved, respected, care-for and important, this episode is fun and helpful. I hope you enjoy and share with your friends.

Check out the episode by clicking here.

 

Five-Week Fling Begins Today! Join Me!

Five-Week Fling Begins Today! Join Me!

Hello, my fellow FLINGERS!

I’m so excited to fling 1,000 things with you between now and July 14. Are you ready to suit up and show up over the next five weeks or are you still on the fence? If you haven’t committed to the Five-Week Fling, what’s holding you back? Fear of failure? Shame? Or are you too overwhelmed to know where to begin?

Well, let me tell you, friends. I have been there and back, and here’s what I have to say about all of that: Take my hand and let me lead you out of despair.

Ground rules for the five-week fling

I know. 1,000 things in five weeks sounds daunting, but we’re going to tackle it in bite-size chunks. More importantly, we’re going to do it together. But before we begin, let’s set some ground rules:

  1. Progress beats perfection. Whether you fling 10 things or 1,000 things, you’re one step closer to winning back your home – and your life – than you were before you began.
  2. No blame, no shame. We are all at different stages of our Clutter Free journey, and that’s OK. We’re going to jump in where we’re at with a focus on moving ourselves forward.
  3. Weekends off (if you want). The program is built around the idea of taking weekends for rest, but be flexible. You can use all or part of your weekends to catch up or, if you prefer, average out your flings so you’re tossing 30 a day every day instead of 40 a day five days a week.
  4. Pick your pain point. Every single one of us has a part of our home that makes us cringe. The place that allows Clutter to scold you. Start thinking of that place now so you confront it first when we begin.
  5. Join us on Facebook. The No. 1 perk of this program is the 24/7 support you receive from our private Facebook group designed for you by people just like you. This is where you see how Clutter Free changes lives, and where your life changes as well.

Now that you know the ground rules, you can jump into the Five-Week Fling with the confidence of knowing you’ll succeed. Make sure you subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out on program updates and other resources related to Clutter Free. Are you ready to fling 1,000 things? Join us today.

Eliminate 1,000 Things: Join the 5-Week Fling

Eliminate 1,000 Things: Join the 5-Week Fling

eliminate 1,000 things

We’ve been flinging clutter left and right this year. Between our Clutter Free Bible Study during Lent and the Spring Fling we just wrapped up in May, I’ve noticed a few things.

First, you are all a bunch of rock stars. Fling 200 things in 10 days? Piece of cake. Our Facebook group is overflowing with the most astonishing before-and-after photos of your successes. I’m thrilled to see not just what you’ve done in your homes, but also the freedom you gained from flinging the stuff that no longer brings you joy.

Here’s what else I’ve noticed. Life doesn’t stop just because you’ve decided to gain control over this area of your life. Stuff keeps coming in the house – sometimes faster than you can release it – and it doesn’t always belong to you. If other people live in your home, their stuff can pose an even bigger challenge than your own.

How to eliminate 1,000 things in 5-weeks!

So here’s the deal. We are Clutter Free because we love a good challenge, and we work best when we’re under the gun. Starting June 12 and ending July 14, we’re hosting a Five-Week Fling to help you eliminate 1,000 things from your home. Gone for good.

Here’s how it works:

1. Over five weeks (weekends off to rest or catch up), we’re going to work together to eliminate 40 things a day from various parts of your home.

2. In our private Facebook group, you’ll share your victories and progress photos, and get accountability, encouragement and support every step of the way.

3. To participate, just make sure you are signed up to receive our blog, and then join our Facebook group.

So let’s see, only five weeks and 1,000 things out of your house? What a great way to launch your summer.

Won’t you join our Five-Week Fling? Your house will thank you.

Join the Spring Fling Now!
Whispers of Rest: Giveaway and Book Club with Bonnie Gray

Whispers of Rest: Giveaway and Book Club with Bonnie Gray

whispers of rest

Do you need to find whispers of rest and love from God?

Life gets overwhelming fast, doesn’t it? Our hearts and bodies and mind and souls are designed by God to rest at times. We all need to take a break at times. But more than just a day off, we need time to restore our souls and to rest in the presence of our God who loves us more than we can ever know. That is why I am excited to share with you my friend Bonnie Gray’s new book and book club – Whispers of Rest.

If your heart needs to find a place of rest and wonder at God’s love, join a Whispers of Rest book club this summer. Check out Bonnie’s invitation to you here. And visit whispersofrest.com to learn more about joining the book club and to get free bonuses!

Win a free copy of Whispers of Rest

Would you like to own your own copy of Bonnie’s new book? Comment below with how you hope to find rest in God this summer for your chance to win one of three copies of Bonnie’s new book.

whispers of rest

How to Hold a Clutter-Free Garage Sale

How to Hold a Clutter-Free Garage Sale

clutter-free garage sale

Many of us who struggle with clutter are reluctant to part with certain items because of the money we spent on them. The problem is, we won’t recoup even a fraction of what we paid for those items.

And that’s OK.

There is no better deterrent from bringing new items into your home than seeing that candle you bought for $24.95 re-sell for only $2.50. This is the Clutter Tax we all pay for excess stuff.  If you’re ready to face the music and rid yourself of the surplus items in your home, a garage sale is a great de-cluttering option.

Hold a clutter-free garage sale

Here’s a no-fail, step-by-step strategy to make it work.

  1. Strategize. First, sit down with your family and talk about the possibility of a yard sale. Are they willing to participate? Do they have old clothes, toys, or books to donate to the sale? I’ve found it’s easier to get buy-in from the whole family if you have a common goal in mind. Perhaps you’re looking to save for a family vacation or a play set for the backyard. Get your kids excited about contributing to the family goal.
  1. Plan. Next, put a “Garage Sale” date on the calendar. Make sure it’s at least a month out. This gives you and your family time to go through closets, drawers, basements, and garages and come up with the items you’ll sell. (What a great goal in decluttering!)
  1. Organize. Start off with some empty boxes in an out-of-the-way place in your home (the garage, the laundry room.) Then as you come across items you no longer need, add them to the boxes.

Plan a day to work with your kids in their rooms. If they waffle about whether to sell an item, encourage them to put it in the garage sale box. If they want to retrieve it and play with it, great. If they never think about it again, then it’s probably safe to sell. I can’t guarantee there won’t be a change of heart on the day of the sale, but often the excitement of selling something makes letting it go much easier.

As you start to gather more and more items, sort them by type (kids’ clothes, kids’ shoes, toys, books, household gadgets, DVDs). Items will be easier to price and display if similar objects are grouped together.

I encourage you to start pricing items a few weeks before the sale. It’s easy to print price stickers on your computer’s printer. Younger kids will have a great time putting stickers on things.

If your kids part with some toys that have a lot of little parts, gather up everything in a resealable plastic bag to keep things together.

Start collecting paper bags for shoppers to use to take home their treasures.

  1. Advertise. There are several ways to get the word out for successful clutter-free garage sales.

On the web. The best way to know where to advertise is to google “garage sales” or “yard sales” (whichever is the common terminology in your area) and the name of your city. You’ll see where most people look for the information and then announce your sale there. But don’t spend a lot of money doing this. Most of your traffic will likely be of the drive-by variety. Be sure to highlight the kinds of things you’re selling (tools, kids’ clothes, furniture, etc.) so you attract the right buyers.

On the street. Signs most likely are your best means of getting people to your sale. While it’s tempting to let your kids create the signs, you should manage this project. Cute is not your objective—readability is.

My favorite kind of sign is made of neon poster board (think hot pink or neon green) cut in the shape of an arrow. Clearly label your cross streets. Kids can definitely be part of the sign-hanging process the night before. Make sure you bring copious amounts of clear packing tape, scissors, string, and even some balloons to attach to each sign.

Your friends. Tell your friends about your sale and even the goal you have in mind. Your kids will have a lot more fun if they know some of the people who stop by. Be sure to let your Facebook friends know as well.

Newspaper. Running a cheap ad in your local newspaper or an online classified service will bring you more shoppers.

  1. Merchandise. Before I was an author I worked as a sales rep in the gift industry, and now as a speaker, I have a book table wherever I go. One thing I’ve learned in both these roles is the power of merchandising—staging items for sale.

Clothes. You are going to sell a lot more clothes for much better prices if you have a garment rack to hang them on. Even a shower rod hung from your roof or garage door is a big help. The next best option is to fold clothes neatly on a table (this is a great option especially for kids’ clothes). Unless you have a stash of wire hangers you’re dying to get rid of, be sure to put up a sign that says “Hangers Not Included.”

Books, CDs, DVDs. Drag a bookshelf out of your house as a temporary display. If you have enough shelf space, place the front covers face out. To keep the shelves looking full, put one of your kids in charge of moving items from the bottom rows to the top as books begin to sell.

Put the wows up front. You want items up front that literally stop traffic. Furniture, tools, and electronics are your best bet for getting hubby to pull the car to the curb.

Group items. It’s helpful to have similarly priced items on one table. You can have a dollar table, a fifty-cent table, and so on.

  1. Capitalize. When the kids were little I would help them set up a lemonade stand to serve those thirsty shoppers in the summer heat (and for my kids to make a little extra cash). This was great for the kids when they were young. They could still be a part of the action, but they didn’t have to negotiate with hagglers. Who is going to dicker over a fifty-cent lemonade?

The only problem was that running a lemonade stand is as much work as the actual garage sale. Finally, I wised up. For our next garage sale, I went to Costco early in the week and bought sodas and bottled waters. All we had to do was ice the drinks and replenish the supply throughout the day, both of which my kids could do without my help.

The kids were thrilled to see their bank grow, and many of the adults were just as excited to get a cheap soda in the middle of a July day.

  1. Improvise. Garage sales aren’t rigid. You aren’t working for Sam Walton, so things don’t have to go a certain way. So if something isn’t working, improvise!
  • Tired of sorting through piles of trinkets that are really worth nothing? Give them away for free with a purchase. Or set out a free box for people to sort through. Better them than you, right?
  • Play music to encourage people to stay a while.
  • Put out a plate of cookies or some lemonade.
  1. Have a plan for the end of the day. The objective is to get rid of everything–do not, under any circumstances, let it back into the house.

At the end of the day, figure out what you are going to do with the leftovers.

Last Call: In the last hour or two, let people know that you will be selling everything for a dollar. Your objective is not to make money, it’s to get rid of stuff. Bringing it back in defeats the purpose of having a clutter free garage sale.

Make Arrangements: At the end of the day, have a plan to make everything go away. Load up the van and take everything to the donation center. Don’t let it come back into the home!

Don’t be fooled. Having a garage sale is a lot of work. But if you are looking for a way to recoup some of your Clutter Tax, this is a great way to spend a day. Pad your bank account and clean out your house at the same time.

Now it’s your turn–tell us your best tips for clutter-free garage sales!