Tuesday, 10 March 2015

De-Cluttering Workshop

My shameful secret is that i am a hoarder of paper.  Bills, statements, receipts, policies, assessments, you name it, they are all in about 3 large plastic tubs and all over the house in little piles.  I'm not even sure how far back some of it goes back and it scares me to think about it. Several years, at least.

Well,  i am whiter than white and large (but don't forget adorable).
I'm accountant and at work when a piece of paper hits my desk, its dealt with and filed immediately.  Since i work on several companies, any inter-company transactions are processed in their respective systems first before being filed, probably in both. I never do one side without the other (saves reconciliation).  Folders are colour coded. I'm surrounded by book cases full of blue, red and lime folders.  Previous years are archived and boxed.  If you asked me to find the hard copy of an invoice 5 years ago, i could within moments.  Its not hard, its habit and I've worked this way for (Oh Lordy) 34 years.  I de-clutter my mobile phone, deleting messages and recent calls everyday.  Before i started this post, i cleaned my email inbox.  Sorting all the emails into their respective folders or deleting them.  I defrag my computer regularly to reshuffle the files on my hard drive and open up space.  Someone hand me the halo polish, quick!

So WHAT THE ! happens when it comes to this paper pile?  It grows every week.  We (and by that i mean me, in our household) have never filed anything by the looks of it.  Oh, Ive tried. I have little filing cabinets with hanging files and labels.   I've sorted through my mountain of paper several times and then run out of time to complete and so had to store it and, well you know the story.  I'm a busy girl.

Do you think my Bestie is trying to send me a message by inviting me to a de-cluttering workshop?  I think she must because she has the tidiest house and very little to de-clutter at all.  I'm thinking that my accompanying her was a ruse to get me to address my issues.  Clever girl and I'm sure one day when my clutter is gone i may forgive her and be just be a little bit grateful.

So, did i learn anything?

Yes, i guess i did but first a bit of info on the workshop.  It was run, for free, by our wonderful Wyndham City Council as part of their Green Living Series.  They are going to have to start paying me soon.

You'll remember that i recently did a post on a visit to an Off Grid House in Little River.  If not, check it out here. It was only one of many workshops on offer.  They are very popular and book out quickly. Its great that so many local residents are interested in living more sustainably and supporting the councils green initiatives.

Tanya Lewis, the creator of EcoOrganiser was our presenter.

Do you know that you can hire Tanya or one of her team to come and help with the de-clutter?   Tempting.  
I highly recommend visiting her website and looking under her resources tab for her blog which includes Home Organising Tips & Tricks.  I like her style.  She calls a spade a spade.   No one is going to do anything about a problem if they are patted on the head and given a "there there dear".

The presentation was based around the 10R's.

The 10R’s© Eco Organising Solution

“Because life is too short to be looking for STUFF”

1. Rethink
    Do I need it, do I want it?
    How will it make me feel if its not here?
    Is there an equivalent with less packaging?
    How can I reuse the packaging?
    Do I have similar already?  Once you have de-cluttered you will know what you have.

So simple - bull dog clips on side of desk.  Dont forget to use bread labels (you know those little plastic doobies) for labelling the cords.  

2. Responsible
    Is it in good condition, is it saleable?
   Where will it go if no one buys it?

3. Refuse
    Say no thank you to free things.  Use a "No Junk Mail" sign on your mail box. Say no to samples.  

Say NO NO NO to a bathroom cupboard full of products and packaging that you will not use.  Don't be a victim of marketing!
4. Re purpose
    Rethink clutter, re-purpose before buying new

These shoe organisers are great for all sorts of things and take up no space on the inside of a door.
  Children's toys,  underwear sets, that dreaded "i don't know where to put it" stuff.   Also great on inside of pantry for packets of spices, soups, gravies etc.  

5. Re organise
    Fit within our current footprint.  Can an old set of drawers be used inside cupboard or turned into shelves.

Tanya brought in a fitted sheet and showed us how to fold it flat and pop the set into the matching pillowcase.  This keeps the linen cupboard organised and neat.
6. Repair
    Can it be repaired?  Buy quality that can be repaired rather than cheap throw away items.

7. Reduce
    Clutter and waste.  Buy less packaging and refillable items so nothing extra comes in.  

Cut up plumbing pipe - genius!
8. Reuse
    Before landfill.  Glass jars are fab storage solutions both in the home and the garage.
    Share magazines with friends or drop off at medical centre or aged care facility.

Reused packaging

9. Recycle
    At home.  Tanya provided us with some great links to find how and where to recycle.  See Below

10. Reward
     Yourself, your home and your planet

Its important to note that Tanya's business is based around Eco Organising.  This means creating more time and space within the home in an environmentally friendly way.  Landfill should be your last option. We could all spend a fortune, and have, on plastic tubs and cute storage containers in matching patterns and colours. Tanya teaches us to focus on storing items inside things we already have. Eg. pots within pots.  We shouldn't have to spend more or bring more stuff into our homes when what we are trying to so is de-clutter.

There was a sample of an Ewaste collection box on the table and guess who got to take it home.  OH, i just broke a rule.  I brought home a sample!!!  Lets just hope that a lot more things leave in side this box.  Its sitting here in the office beside me, empty - so i guess its become more clutter!
What is Clutter?
Anything that is no longer relevant or useful TO YOU!
Anything that brings you down - like my paper piles.
The term "clutter" means different things to different people.  
If something is important to you and your life would be less without it then it is NOT clutter to you. Sentimental things that enrich our lives are NOT clutter.   If you want to keep them then don't hide them away in boxes, bring them out so you can see them.  Perhaps rotate items, keeping them all in the one box marked as such.

Emotional factor - questions to ask yourself when deciding what is clutter.
What practical value does it provide?
If I got rid of it what would I miss about it?
If it was taken away from me, would I try to recreate it?
Does it invigorate my life now or deplete me?
What’s worth more-this object or the opportunity to achieve my vision?

How to maintain the harmony

How to get past “I’d love to but I don’t have the time”

• Focus on three priorities a day
• Put a cap on the favours you do each week
• Put a limit on the time you spend on everyday things
• Get the important tasks done
• Remove something from your to do list
• Know when good is good enough
• Focus on the important stuff
These are Tanya's suggestions for successful de-cluttering:

Ask yourself
  1. What area/space do I want to transform?
  2. What will my space or life look like without clutter?
  3. What will I use this new space for?
  4. What will I do in my de cluttered life?
  5. What was my OMG!!!! moment that made the decision to change easy?
  6. How will I spend a de-cluttered day?
  7. How will I maintain this beautiful new space?
  8. When will I start?
  9. When will I finish?
  10. How will I reward myself?
Top Tips
  • Only organise one space at a time!!!
  • Take before and after photos
  • Acknowledge and reward your efforts
  • Learn how to say "no thank you"
  • Use the D word- Delegate.
  • Believe in yourself.
So where do I start?  Obviously for me the thing that bothers me the most is this paperwork.  Its a big job and before i start I'll need to set myself some rules.  Am i keeping hard copies of bank statements?  Can i scan anything and create electronic copies?  I have a shredder so at the very least the paper can become garden mulch.  Which pile am i going to tackle first as i cant do it all in one go?  

Do you have more suggestions.  

Tanya's Resources

There was a recycling station in the foyer of the community centre in Point Cook where the workshop was located.
Clothes         Wear for Success
Furniture       Habitat for Humanity
Fridges and Whitegoods for Refurbishment  Phoenix  (best of all, free pickup)
Gumtree  I had a glut of cliveas in my fernery so i gave them away by putting a FREE ad on Gumtree  - they got free plants and i had them removed with no effort on my part within a week.  
Clothes Swap  SwapStyle
Old Computers  Computerbank   Must tell Rob about this one.

If you have a favourite charity you donate too then pop a link in the comments section.

Thanks For Visiting Living In The Land Of Oz.


  1. Oh dear ! well I have read through it all and know it makes sense and I'm sure if I ever did it I would feel great, but, I might lose that weight one day and I will be able to get into all those too small cloths, I might have time to plant those seeds I bought last year but didn't because I had run out of time, I know I should get rid of at least half of my books, but wait, I might read them again one rainy day. I think that maybe I would be a lost cause, I can't even chuck out surplus strawberry plants even though I know I have run out of space. There is one thing I can get rid of though, the cardboard sleeves that the low energy bulbs came in and had the guarantee on the side, the time is well past, at least that would be a start

    1. OK, i agree, you are a hopeless case but i think quite normal. LOL

  2. I think everyone is a hoarder of something, they just don't want to admit it!!

    1. Isnt that the truth. I just dont get why i have such a problem with paper at home. At work im so fastidious.

  3. Hmmm, now if only I could get my hubby to read this post, Lynda. No chance though :-)

    1. Im waiting to see if my hubby does, in relation to that ewaste box.

  4. Hi Lynda Great post. Check out this link from the Slow You Home blog. It has a section on dealing with paper clutter.

  5. Hi Lynda, I love this post ,some great ideas. Now I need some spare time to do some de cluttering

    1. I was thinking that the plastic shoe organiser and the magnetic thingy in the cupboard would help out in your girly house. You must be have plenty of pins and manicure stuff.


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