Tag Archives: clutter

Define Your Space

As I mentioned in a previous article, and using the Queen of England as an example, everyone has limited space,.  The term “space” is simply a relative term.  Her Majesty has more space available to her than I because she has different needs than I, therefore, I won’t attempt to keep the same number of things as she.  This is just common sense.

Comparing the needs of the Queen of England with mine, well there really aren’t any.  However, it creates a great visual of what I am talking about.

When Her Majesty throws a dinner party, it is for hundreds of people.  Me…max of eight. Do you think I would need the same size dining table as Her Majesty? No.  Her Majesty is in the public eye daily…I am at home everyday.  Do you think I would need the same number of suits or dresses as she?  Of course not.

I think you get my point.

What needs to be done before defining space for your stuff is to learn about yourself and what stuff you actually need.  Take an honest assessment of what you, in the manner in which you live, really must have at your disposal when working in that particular (defined) space.  This will help you discern how much, or little, space you will need.

Beware, however, when making comparisons with other commoners!  It is easy to fall into a trap when you begin comparing your life to The Jones (your neighbors, relatives, friends or colleagues).  Read the following example for the thought process to prevent falling into this trap.

One of my neighbors is a professional chef, another one is a mechanic; I live in the Information Technology world.  What needs do you think each of us has based upon that limited information?  Ask yourself…of the three mentioned, who spends more time in a kitchen.?  The chef, of course. Would I or the mechanic need to have the same number of high caliber kitchen tools as the chef?  I seriously doubt it.  WHY?  Because the majority of my time is spent on a computer, not in a kitchen, nor would my mechanic neighbor who spends most of his time in a garage.

BUT you say, “everyone needs a kitchen”.  True, so read on.

Here is another trap that is very easy to fall into when defining your space.  STS (SELF-TALK SABATOGE)…by adding the word “COULD I” to your thinking.

Did you notice I used the terms “would” and “need” earlier?  It is VERY important that you use the terms “WOULD I” instead of “COULD  I” when thinking about stuff  that you need.  Could I choose to have the same number of high caliber of kitchen tools as my chef neighbor…sure!  However, would I need them given the fact that I am not a chef and I spend the majority of my time on a computer?

It really comes down to being conscience of what YOUR needs are for a particular space and making appropriate decisions based upon healthy self-talk.

Define your priorities and then STICK to them.  You will have less clutter in your life, more time to spare, and you’ll save yourself some money too!

Please stay tuned, there is more to come about defining spaces.

All content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011


Take Stock of Your Space

June 28, 2011

As I mentioned in my “Measure First, Then Shop for the Tool” post, defined space is an important issue that needs addressing when you want to get, and stay, organized.

If you truly want to get decluttered and organized you need to think realistically.  Unfortunately many people have the mind-set of, “I need a bigger place” because they have so much stuff.  In today’s economy, it might not be feasible to buy a larger house.  And let’s face it…if you don’t have enough room in your current house (because you didn’t identify the importance of the stuff you currently have, and get rid of what you don’t really need) what is to say that if you purchased a larger house that you wouldn’t just fill it up, too?  Without establishing parameters about what is necessary to keep, people tend to keep far too much stuff.

Now, I’m not trying to tell you what you should keep.  I’m simply discussing the issues that need addressing if you truly want to get organized.

Getting organized means taking stock of your current situation and making it work for you and your life.

Stay tuned, there will be more about Defining Spaces soon.  In the meantime, have yourself one great day.

All content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011

Measure First, Then Shop for the Tool

June 27, 2011

Everyone has a defined amount of space, even the Queen of England.  To use your space, time, and money wisely, put a tape measure to good use before you shop.

Before heading out to the store to purchase a tool to help you organize your things, (which I HIGHLY recommend) such as dividers for a silverware drawer, storage tote for children’s toys, a computer desk, storage drawers for nuts and bolts, a work bench for the garage etc., measure the space that will occupy the tool.

Here’s why.  Incorrect guessing the size you need when at the store could easily waste your time because you might need to return the tool if you guessed incorrectly. If you purchase too small a tool, you could be wasting usable space and if you purchase too large a tool, obviously it won’t fit into your defined space (more about defined spaces later).  AND, if you choose to NOT return the incorrectly sized tool, you’ve just added clutter to your existence and you paid good money to do it. WOW!

Don’t fall into a clutter trap…measure first, THEN shop.

All content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011

Do I Keep Too Much Stuff?

June 27, 2011

Some self-discovery is necesssary to determine if you keep too much stuff. Be honest with yourself and answer this question:

Do I keep too much “stuff”?

Only you can answer this question.  If you said, ‘yes” or you aren’t sure if you keep too much stuff, read on.

I want to stop here and say that none of the content on this blog addresses hoarding.  Hoarding is a much different ball game, if you will, and should be discussed with professionals who specifically deal with hoarding.   If you suspect you are a hoarder, you might want to consider visiting the site below:


Now then, how will you know if you keep too much stuff ?  Give some sincere thought to the following questions. If you can answer yes to two or more, you might have too much stuff.

Do you:

  • put items  in the corner of a closet, the attic, or some other place (because you plan to deal with it later) and then 6-12 months later you run upon it and think to yourself, “I should use this” or you think to yourself, “I should get rid of this”, but you keep it anyway, or you lay it aside for a decision about its fate at a later date?
  • routinely move lots of items to get to the one you want, and you need to do this throughout each space you occupy; garage, tool box, house, closets, etc.?  (This could be due to lack of organization, or the fact that you have too much stuff.)
  • know you have difficulty letting go of things?
  • believe you can’t let go of it because you equate throwing it away with throwing money away (even though you never use it).  I’ll talk about how to prevent this money waster in a future article?
  • tell other people you should get rid of some things, but_________ (fill in your favorite justification or excuse)?
  • KNOW that you keep too much stuff but don’t know what or how to eliminate stuff?
  • run upon an item and say to yourself or even out loud,  “I forgot I had this.” or  “I can’t get rid of this; I paid good money for this.”?
  • believe the more stuff you have the more worth you have?
  • fear losing the memory of an item so you keep it even though you don’t use it and it is taking up valuable space?

Below are some additional thoughts that might indicate you keep too much stuff.

  • You learned how to keep stuff from your parents who grew up during the great depression and, out of necessity, kept everything?
  • You notice people routinely move items off of the couch or chair so they can sit down.
  • People casually mentioned how much stuff you have?  (Yes, there are some people who do this, sometimes family members who do not live with you.)
  • You notice your frustration level escalates quickly when looking for an item because you need to dig through so many things to find it.

Stay tuned, there’s more good things to come.  Have a terrific day!

All content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011

Lose Technical Manual Clutter in 10 Minutes or Less

I frequently get asked if it is important to keep those “space eating” technical manuals and documentation that come with new electronics.  You know the ones, various types of documentation that comes with a new computer, printer, digital camera, power saw or sander, food processor, cell or cordless phone, floor fan, new water heater, new lighting fixtures…pick an electronic of your choice.

My first response is a resounding, “YES”!   and I then follow up with, “tell me where you keep them”.  People often just toss them in a corner of their desk, a box, or the bottom of a filing cabinet.  Most people have no clue how many they have, not to mention they can’t find them when they are needed.   All in all, technical documentation take up LOTS of space and has the potential to create LOTS of clutter.

For those who do know the location of each of your manuals…I applaud you!

As a family of one you might think I would only have a few manuals…think again!  I have 34 in my filing cabinet under the name “ELECTRONICS”.   I’ve had that same folder for years and although I removed manuals along the way when I no longer had the electronic item, the folder grew to an unmanageable size.  I knew I needed to find a solution because I was running out of space in my filing cabinet.  Don’t fall for the TRAP…of buying a BIGGER filing cabinet. I started taking a long hard look at these necessary but rarely used manuals.  I quickly found my solution.

Take a few minutes to flip through your manuals (if necessary, gather them up if they are scattered about cluttering up your home) and you’ll notice that many of them contain more than one language. Here’s the deal…unless you speak multiple languages there is NO GOOD REASON to keep any documentation written in a foreign language.  Here’s the solution….tear or cut out the foreign language portion and pitch it, then staple together the parts you can read, therefore are keeping.  You will be amazed at the amount of space you will be saving.

Now to get organized; if you don’t already have one, consider getting a filing cabinet of some sort (office stores have lots to choose from at reasonable prices), then create an expandable hanging file to house your manuals.

Want to de-clutter and don’t know how to get started?  Just ask me via the comment section below.  I’ll be glad to help!

Have a physical limitation preventing you from getting things done to stay organized?  Stay tuned, some tips to help you forth-coming.  In the meantime, have a terrific day!

All content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011


Under construction.

Kitchen Tip

Save Time-Keep tools in the location where they are most frequently used. 

Kitchen Tip:  I cook from scratch and I eat oatmeal every morning. I purchased a second, cheap, set of measuring cups and I keep the ½ cup-measuring cup (1 serving) right inside my cylinder of raw oatmeal. And because I live in a high humidity part of the country, I keep my brown sugar (what’s oatmeal without brown sugar?) not only in its plastic bag, but also in a plastic container with a lid that is just large enough to hold a small measuring utensil right inside.  Wash and replace measuring utensils as needed.

All content Copyright Barbara Nichols 2011