Communal Clutter Cutting

Hey All!

I need your help.  This is an interactive post.  Please share your tips for cutting clutter at home.

1) How do you deal with the 8096 tons of mail/paper?

2) What do you do when your (packrat) child takes after his (packrat) parents?

3) Any thoughts on menu organization/food prep/school lunches?

4) What about boots/shoes?

Seriously – anything would be useful, to me and everyone else.

xoxo – Anne

Musical Moment

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11 Responses to Communal Clutter Cutting

  1. Pingback: the life-changing magic of cluttering up - Anne LippinAnne Lippin

  2. Kate says:

    I think these are great questions. I am also a total work in progress on this stuff. One thing that has always helped me – moving to a new house every 5 years or so. Now that we are in our forever home, I’m trying to be extra mindful of accumulating stuff.
    1. This is the worst for me and I am always anxious to hear other people’s solutions. We have a large file cabinet in our office for important documents – but that is just too far away from the front door where the mail comes in. Therefore, I bought a small file box that is stored in the kitchen with folders labeled (among others): Jackson save, FSM, utilities, taxes this year, garden, health receipts, Dobby, shred, and one big folder labeled to be filed. I recycle whatever mail I can, and try to file everything else in these folders. I shred stuff every so often and I file stuff in the “to be filed” folder every so often. I also have magazine holders on our bookshelf for the only magazine I save – it’s cooking so I like to go back and look for recipes. I have another file box downstairs that gets one folder per grade for the “Jackson save” stuff.
    2. No one in our house is a pack rat. We’ve actually become less so. Sorry. I’ll tell you that it gives me great joy to get things out of the house that we no longer need. I have a plastic bin at the bottom of Jackson’s closet for clothes that are too small for him. Those and all toys he has grown out of are given to my younger nephew. At least twice a year, we clean out our own closets and I bring everything to Turn Style for consignment (I don’t have an allegiance to it, it’s just the closest, which is key). Whatever they don’t take, I put in a garbage bag and schedule either the Vets or Epilepsy Foundation to pick it up at our curb. I do the same thing with household items. Right now I’m selling a bunch of art on Craigslist that we will never hang in this house. There’s also the new app Let Go that I want to check out. I love having a constant line of credit at Turn Style. If Jackson were a packrat, I could see him getting credit at a consignment store as motivation for getting rid of his stuff. I also bring all books to Half-Price Books – all but very, very few. Beloved children’s books are the one item Jackson, understandably, has a hard time letting go of so they are in a bin in the basement.
    3. My favorite tool for food organizing is the Grocery IQ app. I keep an ongoing grocery list there which includes having a list of favorites and ability to use coupons. I also printed a one page list of standby meals with ingredients that is posted in the kitchen. I add ingredients of meals to my electronic list and I also make a list of meals I’m buying for on a post-it note that I keep on the kitchen counter. For school lunches, I have given up the idea that there needs to be a ton of variety. Most lunches are balanced with healthy and so-so healthy. I rely on Costco for some stuff that doesn’t spoil. I have a separate Grocery IQ list for Costco as well as a deep freezer in the basement. I love Costco.
    4. You’ve seen the baskets in our mud room. In a perfect world, we would each have one basket that is ours but it doesn’t work out that way. I store winter/summer shoes in bins in the basement along with winter/summer clothes.
    My other favorite tool for organization is Toodle Do. It’s a website and app. I keep all of my lists there.

  3. kristin says:

    I think this has a lot to do with how you set up your space inside your front door. If you have a mudroom, it is easy to build recycling/boot space under a bench. We don’t have room for a mud room, but have put shaker type coat pegs and a small rug for muddy boots immediately inside the entry from the front door. everyone has their own spot under their peg. Recycling is there as well, a small container that I can lift easily into the trunk of my car to take to recycling center. All other paper is starter for the wood stove or fireplace. I have a basket next to the wood for storage.

    My children, even though they are now teenagers, like routine. Put your boots here, put your winter gear here, monday we eat this, ect. I am not making lists or menu plans for a month, but there is a lot to be said for taco Tuesday and the like.

    I had my children take charge of lunch responsibility once they were able to handle it. This includes making lunch the night before, learning to bake snacks, and putting items they need for lunch on the grocery list. We are now transitioning into being responsible for one dinner for the family each week (hence the taco tuesdays). I do not want them to be the poor souls at Oberlin who had no idea how to make food, build a fire, and put their dark and light clothing in together and turned all of it pink and purple the first week of college…..

    And the real tough love one is- anything that is found on the floor more than once gets hucked. Brutal yet effective.

    The biggest one is- all rules apply to all family members.

  4. Abby Morris says:

    Hi Anne,
    I am on a current, very simple, no pain track. I throw away at least one thing every day, somedays I do more than one (such as all the old catalogues, magazines), some days it is just one thing. If I set the bar too high, well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so the bar is very low and easily achievable.

  5. Michelle Haroldson says:

    Hi anne,
    I don’t claim to have it locked up, but you know how I feel about clutter (chaotic household upbringing as well)! Some quick thoughts:
    - touch things once, & try to deal with it then & there (sometimes I’ll gather bills that can’t be on auto pay to do weekly by check)
    - recycle all that school stuff immediately, after admiring it with your offspring. If it’s above and beyond, tape it up, & take down the last thing you taped up. Again, act on their sign ups, permission slips, requests immediately
    - I have a pile of catalogues I will set by my bed to browse, but the next little stack that comes must displace the first into the recycling bin. For your seed/garden catalogues I suspect you’ll need a basket that you let grow for the season, then dump
    - coupons I have a hard time wrangling- I currently put them all together in the mudroom & try to chuck outdated ones. But then I forget to have them along. I tried having a zippered coupon carrier I’d keep in the car, but I’d forget to refresh it. A work in progress.
    - ‘To Dos’ that can’t be immediately acted upon are allowed to be together in one pile on my kitchen counter corner, and I rifle thru it periodically. Tax stuff gets its own Manila folder
    - shoes: nobody can have more than 2 pairs by the back door at a given time. Lots of tough love on that point. I do have baskets for cleats, gloves, snow pants as well in the vicinity. Shoes are like rabbits as far as I can tell.
    - children taking after their parents: it’s no problem as long as it’s both parents! If only one, then you have trouble. Lots of talk at our house about ‘setting a good example’… Sigh. You have to decide if it’s worth an uphill battle…
    Good luck!!! Michelle

    • anne says:

      the touch it once thing….holy cow… what a concept. there are papers on my desk that I’m sure I’ve touched 10 times.

  6. Betsy says:

    One more thing, I am fanatical about getting off reducing mail and getting off all mailing lists that I can. 6 months before our RV trip I started scrutinizing each piece of mail that came in – could I get off the list, could I opt out and get an email statement, etc.

    I found these guys helpful: https://www.catalogchoice.org but mostly I had to call or email and be persistent.

    And I try the touch it once and process it rule on papers. With some success, but not perfect.

    Betsy

  7. Betsy says:

    Anne, My friends refer to me as the anti-hoarder, but I come from a family of them and I rebelled. However, I do HATE meal planning and pretty much am not that fond of cooking. So that I have ideas on…
    So, when I visited my uber-organized friend Cookie and saw her “theme nights” for dinner planning and her month long plan – it struck a chord with me.
    These are her themes:
    Meatless Monday
    Fish Tuesday
    Chicken/Turkey Wednesday
    Fish Thursday
    Leftovers/Empanadas/Quick Dinner Friday (It’s hula night.)
    Seafood Saturday (Can you tell we’re trying to eat more seafood?)
    Daddy’s Dinner Sunday (Mama needs a break, y’all.)

    She pretty much has the same menu month to month. We can’t do that. Too many meetings, sports events in spring, whatever.

    Mine are, Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday (often veggie), Wednesday is David cook, Thursday is either a favorite standby or new recipe or leftovers, Friday is Bennett help cook day so it usually involves a slow cooker, Saturday has no theme, and Sunday is always Brinner – breakfast for dinner.

    I then plan out a month of meals. Having to only do it monthly helps me with the pain of doing it. Sure stuff shifts in the month, but that’s ok, there is a framework. On the side of my spreadsheet are certain meals that happen every month and some that happen in odd months, some in even months. Then I can copy and paste a lot.

    Here is her blog post about it: http://titacookie.blogspot.com/2014/01/dinner-bell.html

    This is her post on lunch, but although it SEEMS like a good idea, I’ve never been able to implement the A + B + D idea. http://titacookie.blogspot.com/2015/01/how-to-plan-pack-lunches-for-your-kids.html I do like the idea of making a list of what they will eat for lunch, but yeah, I’ve never made it past that.

    Good luck. I’ll be following along to see what people suggest. Especially the paper from school issue.

    Betsy

    • anne says:

      can you move in with us? xoxoxo
      Love your ideas. Hoping to implement them.
      As soon as I surface from under the pile of paper.

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