Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Trash Day Tuesday: Umbrellas

Welcome to a new series that I like to call, Trash Day Tuesday. Every Tuesday, we will embark on a mission to de-clutter your home one space at a time by tossing away items that you don't use or need. We often forget to assess our items and their uses, so Trash Day Tuesday will help us do just that and tackle our clutter.

Drowning in umbrellas- at least they aren't broken.
Today's topic is related to rainy days. No matter where you live, you probably own an umbrella, a poncho, or some other item that helps you stay dry on wet days. When the skies are leaking, umbrellas are a saver. I load up on umbrellas but I only reach for a select few when I actually need them. When umbrellas break on me, I never throw them away, thinking that they might come in useful one day. Sure, the day when all my umbrellas are broken and I'll have to pick the less broken one. When it rains, I shuffle anxiously through hoards of broken umbrellas to find one that stays open. It's frustrating, time consuming, and ridiculous. Tell me I'm not the only one in this boat.

This Tuesday's task is therefore rather simple- going through your umbrella collection. Let's do it!!!

First order of business is to pull out every umbrella in your house, no matter its condition.

Separate umbrellas into 3 categories: broken, flimsy/bad quality, and good quality. Broken umbrellas will obviously be tossed out. Flimsy/bad quality umbrellas you should keep as emergency or guest umbrellas. The good quality umbrellas you will obviously keep and store for your own personal or familial use.

Tada, you are done! And it probably took you 15 minutes and you easily organized one group of items in your house!

Useful Umbrella Tips
1. Every household should have personal sized umbrellas and one large diameter umbrella. There should also be good quality and working umbrellas for every member of the household.

Large cane umbrella, like a porter's umbrella.

2. Everyone should have a small box of guest umbrellas. These are umbrellas that you don't mind giving away to guests in case it starts raining when they are leaving your house. Dollar stores have cheap umbrellas but you should try to use the umbrellas that you have and don't like- sounds bad but hey, at least you are thoughtful enough to give your guests an umbrella regardless of its condition. :)

3. If you don't fancy being surprised by and unprepared  for rainy weather, then consider having a spare umbrella in your office and in your car for emergencies. The quality of umbrella depends on you.

4. Folding umbrellas are great for travel. I personally love Tote umbrellas. They fit in purses and briefcases and are extremely sturdy, wind resistant, and durable. Most folding or mini umbrellas can not withstand a bit of wind, but these are tough! Plus, they open and close automatically! I recommend Tote umbrellas!

5. After you have used an umbrella make sure you let it fully dry.

6. Umbrella sleeves should not be mislaid. They serve a purpose- to protect your umbrella. Always close your umbrella and place it in its sleeve.

Don't toss or lose your umbrella sleeves. You need them! Use them!

Storage Tips

1. Store guest umbrellas in a box near your front entrance.

2. Store personal umbrellas in an umbrella basket. These baskets can be decorative and, in my opinion, can add an old world charm to your house.

I love these types of umbrella baskets.
These would look beautiful near the front
entrance- aesthetic and functional.

Show me your umbrella basket.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Clean Up Your Smartphone


I've been bedridden for almost a week now. I've caught the flu and have been enjoying all the wonderful trimmings that come along with it, like incessant coughing and fatigue. During this time, I have hardly touched my phone but when I finally did, I had a billion missed called and messages. This made me think- how unorganized are our phones exactly?                                                                                      

Smartphones are, of course, equipped with smart organizational capabilities. Apple, for example, has folders in which you can group like applications. There are slots for most used applications on the dock. You can rearrange the spatial organization of your applications and folders. I am sure most smartphones have similar capabilities, which allow its user to organize their device to their organizational needs and preferences. I am also sure there are some annoying limitations, but at least there is a way to make sense of all the electronic mess that you see everyday on your device. This is how I would suggest you tackle organizing your device:

1. Uninstalled/delete all applications that you do not use. Really evaluate your applications. If you have three web browsers, is there a reason why you keep three? Do they all provide something the others don't have? Is one the clear winner? The fewer apps I have, especially fun ones, the less time I spend wasting on my phone because I have no discipline and can't possibly control how much time I spend on the apps I enjoy. 

2. Group like applications together in folders. You might have categories such as: games, productivity, reference, navigation, news, photo/video, social networking, utilities, lifestyle, finance, entertainment, books, education, etc. Toss similar apps in one folder and actually label it. Some phones are so smart that they label the folder for you depending on the contents of the folder. Neat, right?!

3. Save your device's contents on your computer. Back up, ladies and gents!

4. Organize your folders/apps in an order that makes sense with the frequency of their use. I use my iPlan calendar everyday, this is why it is the lone app on the home screen. Applications that you use frequently should be on the first page while all other apps and folders that are not used often should be stored in a secondary spot, perhaps another page so they are out of your immediate view but still accessible. 

Home screen on my phone.
Simple- just how I like it.
I have one folder, entitled iPhone Apps,
which houses the majority of my applications.
The shot you see above is the first "page" of the
folder, which are applications I use frequently.
The remainder of the "pages" in this folder
are filled with iPhone factory applications
that cannot be deleted. 

Other tips:

1. Regularly backup your photos/other documents and delete them from your phone. 
2. Merge your contacts and delete duplicates. (I might do a post on how I organize all my contacts, regardless of where their information is stored.)
3. If your device comes with a removable SD Card, only try to keep photos and documents on the SD card. 

What does your home screen look like? Let's do a "what's on my phone" tag- show me your home screens. :) 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Makeup Minimalism


Ah, makeup! Most of us use it, some of us collect it, and others don't know what to do with it. No matter the relationship you have with makeup, we all have experienced the battle with trying to organize it. When I was a teen I was obsessed with my sister's fancy shmancy makeup collection, until I discovered YouTube where I learned that my sister was frying tiny fish. There are people out there who could fill a whale's stomach with the makeup that they have! Some might be hoarders, or collectors, but I suspect most are (aspiring) makeup artists. This post, is obviously not geared towards those professionals/collectors, as those people have systems of their own, but it is for us "common folk" struggling with containing our makeup. Read on!

This makeup collection takes up a good portion
 of this bed, but aren't the colors just lovely?!

Most makeup comes with a suggested
 expiration period. If you can't find that
information, this might be useful.

The first step in makeup recovery is probably realizing that your makeup expires. Bet'cha didn't know that! That foundation you bought, is good for about a year. Can you continue using expired makeup? Sure, but its quality won't be the same. Say, you bought milk and it expired, it's still milk but probably sour now. Same goes with makeup. If your concealer expired 2 years ago, it's probably dried out, extremely oxidized, and even infested with bacteria! These changes alter how makeup functions and how it reacts with our skin. I know I wouldn't want to use expired makeup on my delicate skin! Now that you know that your makeup expires, it would be a good idea to toss out all your expired makeup. Take a look at the below pictures to see how to determine if your makeup has expired or how to find an "expiration date" for makeup. Don't worry, it seems like you are tossing out a lot of makeup but trust me this will do wonders for you!

Most makeup containers or their boxes
 have suggested expiration periods. Notice
 the 24M, that means after this particular
bottle is opened, it is good to keep for 24 months.
From what you have left, you have to get rid of items that you do not use or items that are misfits. You have to seriously assess your needs. Do you wear nail polish? Do you wear green lipstick? If you have a light beige skin color why do you have mocha colored foundation? Does that facial cream cause breakouts? Purge these misfits and unusables. What's the point of keeping makeup that doesn't function well for you?! 

With your expired makeup and the misfits gone, you probably have a significantly smaller batch of makeup left. Try to separate makeup by categories-grouping like items with like items. You might have categories such as eyes, lips, face, and nails or you might have categories such as foundations, blush, powders, eye shadows, eye liners, lipsticks, cheek palettes, etc. You can even take it a step further and color code your lipsticks or eye shadows. It all depends on what you prefer. Once you have your categories, it will be easier to pick a storage system. 

Before we move on to the actual storage of your makeup, it's time to purge again. I know you were reluctant to purge your expired makeup or the misfits because you paid so much for it and you might think it's a waste, now that you see your makeup in categories, and you see just how much you have, you might be more willing to part with more items. Let's take eyeliners for example. Do you wear green eyeliner often? If no, is there a need to have 6 different shades? Why do you have 10 different black pencils? Pick your favorite 3- and don't lie, I know you have favorites and use the others only when you run out of your favorites. Take a risk, don't be afraid to get rid of your makeup. Don't let your possessions control you. 

Yaye! So proud of you for being honest with yourself and allowing yourself to grow by tossing away all that expired and unused makeup! This is truly a triumph and you should be proud of yourself! Now that you have selected to leave the BEST, it's time to clean those babies up. Makeup is dirty business- no wonder we have to wash our faces before we go to bed. Well, that's not the only place we have to wash makeup off. Clean your brushes, wipe down you bottles, polish your tiny containers, disinfect your sponges, wipe your mirrors, etc. This is a vital step to helping you maintain order- when the contents are clean, you want to use them and store them properly. 

Look at your collection, doesn't it look like you bought new makeup?! Oh, yeah! Time to store these shiny babies. Storage depends solely on what you have and your habits. I personally HATE seeing makeup on counters. I don't even like seeing makeup in clear plastic containers. I like all my makeup zipped up in a makeup case in a drawer- I have very little makeup so I can get away with this. This might not work for everyone, but I would like to point out that most makeup should be kept away from sunlight and extreme temperatures, so keep your makeup in a dust-free, dry, cool, shaded area. Store makeup by types- all blushes in one spot and all lipsticks in another. To save time, separate your most used items from your "extras" and less frequently used items. I typically gravitate toward a few eye shadows, but I do have some others that I use for special looks. Those eye shadows, used for special looks, are kept in a separate compartment. Below are a few clever ideas and tips for storing makeup collections of any size. 
Disguise your brushes with a brush roll. These rolls protect
 brushes from dust and are a breeze when it comes to travel.
Plus, this specific roll is made of cloth, so you can wash it too!
Use vertical storage for makeup brushes.
Make sure not to store your brushes head-up when
they are wet because that will ruin the glue inside
your brush tip and your brush head will eventually
disintegrate. Also, keep in mind that storing your
brushes head-up in an open space will cause dust to
accumulate  on the brush hairs, so be mindful of where
you place your brushes to avoid dusty brushes.
Don't throw all your lip and eye pencils in a cup- you won't
find anything that way. Instead separate by use and color
in compartments that can be easily tucked into a drawer.
Ever notice how stores always showcase their lipsticks vertically?
Ever wonder why? Because they are more accessible and visible.
Buy or make (something similar to) a lipstick holder. If you have
a designated amount of slots, you limit yourself to the number of spots.
Say what?! As you already know, I don't like makeup to be
visible. This is perfect. This case zips up and can be tucked away in
a drawer. I love it!!!!
As with lipsticks, lip glosses should be stored vertically.
I prefer storing lip glosses upside-down because then I can use more
of the product when the contents of the bottle are close to finishing.
Any makeup that comes in single containers, for example blush,
face powder, bronzer, eye shadows, etc, try to store them horizontally
on their sides. If you have lose powders, store them vertically.
Don't ever stack makeup on top of other makeup. You'll forget about it
and probably won't ever use it. We are trying to create accessibility and
visibility. Give it a go and see if this works for you.
Creams and liquids should be stored upright, especially
during the warmer months otherwise you'll ruin your makeup.

Anything in tubes should be stored vertically.
Let gravity work for you!
If you use nail polish, you can go all out and store your varnishes
on a display. This is a bit much for me, but it might work for you.
I prefer this method. Store your nail polish in
shallow containers and color code.
Many people like to store their palettes vertically and I understand
the reasoning behind that. However, this is probably the only time that I
might say either way-horizontal or vertical- is fine. I personally prefer palettes,
no matter their content, to be stored horizontally. I feel that way
gravity won't work against my makeup and it's content will be safer.
Once you open an item, label its expiration
date so you know when to throw it out.
Phew! Storage is done with, time to relax! NO! Think again! Owning makeup means that you are stuck in a revolving door. Makeup comes in and also goes out. You must always be cognizant of when your makeup expires. Try placing a label with an expiration date on all your makeup. Periodically purge through your makeup and clean it. It's all about maintenance.

Now this whole process will be a waste of time and effort if we don't talk about discipline and control when it comes to purchasing makeup. You can't keep buying 
makeup on a whim- that is almost always going to result in bad choices. Instead, test makeup several times, ASK FOR SAMPLES, do your research, and only purchase a little bit at a time so you can use up everything you have before it expires. Honestly, asking for samples and constantly testing makeup is glorious. Makeup companies WANT you to buy their products and are more than happy to provide samples of items that can be sampled. If not, they are more than happy to let you test them in stores or have consultations. I cannot stress the importance of doing this. Instead of buying a whole bottle of foundation for $60, get a free (almost always free) sample and then make up your mind. I once bought a foundation that looked beautiful at the store on my hand and face, to only come home and realize, it was 3 shades too dark and severely dried up my skin. I now EXCLUSIVELY test and sample before I purchase. If one store doesn't offer samples, another will. If you test makeup at a store, give it a day or two before you go and purchase it. Analyze the way the makeup sits on your skin and reacts with it. Be aware that consultants have a job- to sell you the makeup- so don't feel pressured to buy. Make it perfectly clear that you are just testing and want to see if this makeup is a good fit for you. This does not make you cheap or too fussy- it makes you efficient and sensible! Trust me, with your smaller collection and more controlled purchasing habits, your wallet, your face, and your mind will be thanking you. 

Please share before and after pictures! I am curious about the transformations you all make. Do you like me stressing the main points in the blog by bolding and underlining key ideas? Is it helpful?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Keychain Bigger Than Your Head?

Keychains are great! The little charms and trinkets that we attach to our keys help demonstrate our interests and personalities, as well as help us easily locate our keys. That's if you moderate the amount of charms you have! If your keys look like a ball of charms, you might have an issue. How are you supposed to use your keys if you can't find them in that mess! Keep yourself to one or two charms.
These charms are pretty awesome but if they were all on
your keychain, you'd have a hard time finding your keys!

Also, only keep keys that you use. No need to keep keys that you don't use. If you moved houses and still have those house keys, get rid of them. Why clutter your keychain with keys to a house that you don't even have access to?! Same thing with other keys. If you broke up with a partner whose keys you had, give them back or get rid of them. If your bike was stolen or you longer ride a bike but still have the key to the bike lock, get rid of it or give the lock and key to someone else. Keep only what you use.
Very few people can justify
having this many keys and unfortunately,
or maybe fortunately,
you are probably not one of them.

The last point I am going to make is about those key ring reward cards. Most stores that offer these cards have your information saved on their system, all you need to do is provide your email address/phone number to use your card. So basically, no need to keep the card on your keys. Don't hang them on your keychain unless your account can't be accessed through the company's system.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Just in case you were wondering, this is what my keys look like:
Simple but still descriptive of me. 
These are my keys- building key, apartment key, mail key, and a matryoshka key charm. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with nesting dolls, thus the little matryoskha. :) I am considering getting key sleeves. Key covers protect your keys and help distinguish them if they are similar.

Aren't these the cutest key covers?! CUPPIECAKES!!!!

Now I want a cupcake. *Rummages through the fridge.* Ok bye, good luck with downsizing your keychain.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bulging Wallet?

Bulging Wallet Cure

Who doesn't love a bit of Seinfeld?!

If your wallet is anything like George Costanza's wallet, then this post is for you. And don't lie, you know your wallet looks like that, if not worse! Funny thing about wallets is, they symbolically represent our finances yet they are often the most disorganized items that we own. Is this is hint at a bigger problem? Maybe, or maybe not. One thing I know for sure is, that you want to be organized when it comes to your wallet. I have a friend (sorry for using you as an example, buddy) who has the funniest habits when it comes to wallets. She simply stuffs everything in and often has a hard time finding what she is looking for, or worse, loses or misplaces cards and important financial information. She is my inspiration for this post and I hope others who suffer from the same messy wallet syndrome are able to find this post useful. 

Let us take a look at what a conventional wallet might contain. People keep bank cards, credit cards, rewards cards, library card,  gift cards, IDs, (car and health) insurance information, cheques, receipts, money (bills and coins), coupons, stamps, movie tickets, passport, pictures, city transportation cards, business cards (personal and ones they have received), and other miscellaneous items that might fit into a wallet (I used to carry toothpicks and bandaids at one point). Now, this seems a bit much to me. I was always under the impression that wallets were for money and plastic cards, not for your medical, cosmetic, etc emergencies. If you are ever bored, do an Internet search of "what's in my wallet" and you'd be surprised at the stuff people carry around with them. Wallets have a simple purpose and we are overburdening them with our inability to control and organize ourselves. Let's change this!

I find it useful to keep only a few items in my wallet- my state ID, bank card, credit card (if you have one), money (bills and coins), health insurance card, and library card. That's it. That is all I carry in my wallet. If I receive a receipt I will keep it there until I can get home and then put it into my receipt file (I confirm that my bank statements are correct online). It wasn't always like this...oh no... I used to carry EVERYTHING in my wallet. It was pretty ridiculous but I am glad I took control. Now some of you are probably confused and think this is a joke but it isn't and here's why.

Things you don't need in your wallet and why:
1. Too many credit cards: too many credit cards mean you are more likely to be irresponsible with money. I personally believe 2 credit cards is the maximum someone should have. If you don't have the money for it, then don't buy it. :)
2. Rewards cards: almost all rewards cards can be looked up through the company's cash register system. All large or national stores/pharmacies/etc. have this information stored in their system. All you need to provide is a phone number or an email address. This means, you don't need to carry your rewards cards with you. There are some exceptions to this rule (e.g. some supermarkets or stores require to see your card) but in general this rule applies. 
3. Gift cards: they are like money, but in electronic form. I believe you should carry gift cards in a separate pouch with coupons on specific days that you dedicate to shopping. This way you don't lose them or don't unnecessarily spend money. If you must carry them, then leave them in your purse or your car. Don't clutter your wallet. 
4. Car insurance information: I don't own a car, but I think it would be a good idea to leave this is your car. 
5. Cheques: I don't know anyone who pays with cheques anymore, but in the case you do, you should have a separate checkbook to house your cheques. Most people do not use them, but if you want to have your bank/account information on hand I suggest getting the business card of the personal banker who helped you open your account and writing your bank's routing number and account number on the back of the card for reference and keeping that in your wallet instead of keeping cheques. Just make sure not to lose that because it's very sensitive information. 
6. Receipts: Don't hoard all your receipts in your wallet. Dedicate a compartment to receipts and empty every now and again. This will help eliminate bulk.
7. All the coins you have: Coins are SO bulky. Only keep a few at hand. I have a coin jar and every now and again pick up a few to have in my wallet. 
8. Coupons: again, these add bulk to your wallet. You don't even use them on a regular basis. I suggest a different pouch for these and to use them on dedicated shopping days. If you shop a lot, leave it in your car or in your purse.  
9. Stamps: I can see why people keep stamps in their wallet, but unless you send off letters often, there is no need. Plus, they get damaged in wallets. 
10. Movie tickets: If you are going to a movie today then by all means toss your ticket in your wallet, but don't keep pre-bought tickets for any event in your wallet all the time. You will lose them. 
11. Passport: Unless you are an foreigner who needs a passport on hand at all times to establish your identity, there is no need to have this in your wallet or purse. You will lose it or damage it. 
12. Numerous pictures: A picture here or there is fine, but if you have your whole family tree in there, it's time to downsize. 
13. City transportation cards: You know, it would make sense to keep these in your wallet, but I have a better suggestion. I don't like the idea of having to reach into my wallet to grab my transpiration card. What if something else falls out and I don't notice? What if someone runs up to me and steals my wallet while I am trying to pass through the turn stall? There are a ton of what ifs! I suggest using a clear case to keep and preserve your card. Place this somewhere accessible so when you reach into your pocket or purse you can quickly access it. 
14. Business cards: If you carry personal business cards, keep them in a business card holder. Nothing is more unprofessional than someone fumbling through their over stuffed wallet to hand you a bent business card. If you received someone else's card, it's ok to temporarily house it in your wallet but make sure to take it out when you get home and place it somewhere safe where you can access it if you need it. 
15. Miscellaneous items: don't carry pens, bandaids, etc in your wallet. Those have to have a home outside of the wallet. 

Additional tip: Your wallet choice significantly impacts the organization of your wallet. Try to choose something with card slots and at least 3 compartments- one for case, one for receipts, and one zippered compartment for coins.

Sort through your wallet! It'll do wonders for you. Next time you are at Target you won't be fumbling through hoards of receipts, credit cards, bandaids, tickets, and other unnecessary wallet parasites to complete your purchase. :) Good luck!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bonus Day: 7 Day Simplicity Challenge

Writing Utensils driving you nuts? Every time you reach for a pen is it out of ink? Are all your pencils unsharpened? You can't find a highlighter or permeant marker with enough juice in it? Well, then this post is for you!

When my sister and I used to be in school (by school I mean high school and below) we used to have a mountain of writing utensils. I'm not kidding. Our desk drawers, closets, bookshelves, bags were full of writing utensils! It was pretty insane. Every time there was a back-to-school sale we would stock up on pens, pencils, erasers, markers, crayons, etc. The sad part was, we had so much at home and we didn't even know it! We wasted a lot of time and money because pens and pencils were stuffed into every open crevice. All the writing tools that we had accumulated over the years eventually had to go because, when we went off to college, we no longer needed as many writing utensils- just some pens and pencils with erasers for math (to be honest, I never used pencils for math...I always picked pens). Most of what we had, and what was working we gave away to our cousins (they were and still are of school age). We now live a more simpler life, in terms of writing tools, and I can tell you, IT'S AWESOME! Let's see what you can do to declutter:

You need to go thought your entire house- attic, basement, every drawer and cupboard- and take out all your writing tools. I mean everything! I would even include rules, protractors, compasses, erasers, scissors, etc. Bring them all out and lay them on the floor.

Ok, this is where it gets dirty. Grab your kids, your partner, whoever you can find, scraps of papers, and 3 bags. The scraps will be for testing if your writing tools work, the extra person(s) will be your help, and the three bags will help you sift through your stuff. Each bag will be a category, all very self-explanatory: Keep, Throw, Give Away.

I want you to first test each pen, pencils, marker, etc. If it DOESN'T work or has a dangerous flaw( e.g. chipped plastic that might cut your hand) put it in the Throw bag. Whatever you are left with probably still works. If you have markers, crayons, or other writing utensils that still work but no longer suit your needs consider giving them away to someone that you know will use them. If you don't know anyone, there are tons of places that take these kinds of items. Your local community center might have an arts and crafts class and would appreciate the donated supplies. Think where the supplies might be needed and call and ask if you can bring over your things. You should also take this time to get rid of duplicates in your pile, specifically non-writing utensils. There is no need to have 7 rulers and 4 compasses. What's the point. Give them away, they just create more clutter. Now this specific rule might not apply to my viewers who have children. I understand that multiples of things are needed, then by all means keep them but be sensible about it. If you have 3 kids, you probably shouldn't have 14 scissors, 4 or 5 is enough.

Now you've throw away a lot of broken items and donated a host of things that no longer fit your needs. The next step is all about organizing what you have left. There is no one way to organize because everyone has different things. People with kids or people that many writing utensils, such as artists, will need more complicated systems. I personally LOVE the idea of using shower caddies for writing supplies. Just group like items together. This is a great idea for kids because it involves them in the cleaning up process since it's so simple for them to reorganize. Even adults can use this!

If you are someone with a few writing tools left after your purge, then consider purchasing a basket or drawer insert that will house your items, such as the one below:
My family has a basket where we keep all of our writing related supplies. Staples, staplers, scissors, rulers, calculators, etc all go into the basket. Similar writing utensils are tied with rubber bands and placed inside a plastic snap pen case, which is then nestled into the basket. We only keep a few pens and pencils out in the open, the extras stay in the pen case. The items that were missing caps or were close to finishing are the ones that are out so that we use them up and then start with a fresh batch. We have pens at necessary stations- mail station, on notepad near the phone, and in a cloth pen case in our desk drawer (I use those for when I read, write thoughts down, make lists, etc). That's it. We don't have any pens floating around anywhere else.

Try purging your writing utensils collection. You'd be surprised at how much you had and how little you actually need. Send in your success stories!!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 7: Simplicity Challenge

Declutter your night table.

I absolutely hate cluttered night stands. Imagine going to bed with clutter next to you and waking up with clutter in your face! I couldn't think of anything more stressful than that. Let's declutter together.

If you have the luxury of space, keep your night stand items to a minimal. Keep an alarm (if you use one), a lamp, a book/whatever you use before bed, personal items, and water. In your drawers, place personal items like lotions, socks, eye masks, etc in drawer organizers. Keep your alarm and small decorative items on the top. It's seriously that simple. Everything else should be thrown out or relocated to a new space. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 6: Simplicity Challenge

Clear out your linen closet!

We all have one, or a variety of it, and rarely think to declutter it. Linen closets usually become catch it all closets with towels, beach towels, medicine, sheets, blankets, gift wrapping, etc cluttering up the space. Let's fix that today. Here's how:

1. Separate all items by categories. Go through all your items and toss/donate damaged or unused blankets, towels, sheets, table cloths, etc. If you don't have twin beds, then toss those twin sets. Keep only what is necessary. If you have a family of 2 there is no need to have 20 towels! (I know people like the three sizes of towels and different towels for seasons but really evaluate whether you need that).
If you have medicine in your linen closet make sure you responsibly trash expired and non used medicine. If you have packing supplies and gift wrapping supplies, I suggest you store them on the door. The Chronicles of Home has an awesome article on this! Check it out!!!

2. Those things that you will keep must now have a home. Your closet might have non-linen items in it, that's fine. My family doesn't have the luxury to have a separate linen closet, so we have to consolidate space. Consolidating does NOT mean you have to over crowd or operate in a cluttered space. Analyze what types of non-linen items can be moved to other practical spaces in your house. If some non-linen items must stay in your linen closet, that's fine. We can work with that- all you need to measure your closet length, depth, and width to find baskets to store your items. If you need more shelves consider installing shelves or rearranging the shelves in your closet (you will have to use a drill).

3. Once you have found your baskets begin placing like items in baskets. Queens sheets should all go in one basket and full into another. Fold all sheets and place them into corresponding pillow cases and then into the baskets.

Fold towels into squares or roll them up and store them in a basket. Different size towels should go into different baskets.

Blankets are heavier and should be stored on a lower shelf. I personally like blankets to be in a tall basket on the floor.

Table cloths and napkins should be stored together in sets.

Beach towels and beach/picnic blankets I store on the highest shelf because they are seasonal items.

If you have medicine, also store that in a sealed basket on the highest shelf so children cannot reach them.

If you store extra toiletries in your linen closet, group them and store them in baskets on the second highest shelf.

Make sure not to over crowd your shelves AND baskets. And to finish off, label everything! Tada!

Side note: I don't actually believe in linen closets. I very much believe in logically uses spaces- take into account location when contemplating function. Ideally, I would store bath towels in a bathroom closet, bed sheets and blankets in a bed trunk at the food of each respective bed, table cloths in a dining room cabinet, and beach towels and blankets in a garage or mud room. Everything is where it should be. But we don't all have that space. :)

Happy decluttering!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 5: Simplicity Challenge


We use it every single day and yet, we rarely think to clean it or clear it out. Our fridges are really a modern marvel! They keep food fresh for so much longer and allow us to have a little grocery store right in our own kitchens! We must show such amazing technology love but cleaning it out regularly! 

Before I start, I would really lol to share a few stories! I remember once wanting to make crepes on a Sunday and enjoying them with lots of berries! As I started mixing ingredients together I reached into the fridge to grab the pint of milk only to realize that someone used the milk and put the bottle back on the fridge! You can imagine how upset I was! Another time I wanted to make a fig jam sandwich (you'll all soon realize how deeply my love for sandwiches runs) and when I pulled out the jam jar from the fridge I realized it was spoiled!!!! So disappointing! This could have ALL been avoided if we cleared out our fridge regularly! 

This is what I suggest you do today. Take out ALL the contents of your fridge. From those figure out what is expired and what you don't eat so that you can toss those. Be realistic-do you need 7 bottles of hot sauce?! Anything  that stays whip it down and place it on a kitchen counter. 

Next, clean your fridge. This is going to be heavy duty work. Take out all shelves and bins and wash them with warm soapy water. Clean the interior of your fridge with warm soapy water and use baking soda and vinegar on tough stains. Once to rinse the inside of your fridge and pay it dry, reassemble the shelves and bins. 

Finally, fill your fridge with the contents that you decided to keep. Make sure you put all dairy and meat products towards the back of the fridge because that's the coldest spot. Vegetables and fruits should be kept towards the front of the fridge so that they don't get too cold and can better circulate. (I might do a post on how to best store veggies and fruits). Place your condiments in the door shelves and complete organizing your fridge.

There you go, you've de cluttered your fridge. I suggest whipping down your fridge every week and deep cleaning, like today, every month. Don't forget to toss expired foods!!! 

Enjoy your clean fridge!! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 4: Simplicity Challenge

Throw Away Newspapers and Magazines

You're at the midway point or challenge hump day! You are halfway there, don't give up! Today we address the stacks of unused or old newspapers and magazines. I love print media, but not so much that I would let those products clutter my house. Purge your mags and papers!

1. Collect all your newspapers. Pick up the most recent paper and throw the rest away! Trust me, you will not have time to catch up or read all the others. You just won't! If you want to keep an article, clip it. Or if you want to keep a specific date because it showcases important news, fine keep it but STORE IT away. Otherwise, you should be left with today's paper. Everything else in the recycling! Put this paper somewhere it will be read.

2. Collect all your magazines and divide them by category (if you have many) or by magazine name. Pick the latest (that month's edition) magazines out of each category and trash the rest. If you like an article or an ad in a magazine that has to go, clip it and save it somewhere. If you , say work in fashion, obviously you can take these rules more loosely. For the rest of us, stick with the "one in, one out" rule and keep these magazines where they will be read, such as bathrooms, living rooms, etc. For every magazine in each category that comes in, another has to come out. If you have 50 magazines total, maybe you should consider cutting down on your subscriptions....

Aren't you glad you got rid of all those newspapers and magazines. Continue to keep only the most recent magazines and papers and your piles will never get out of hand.

Any remarkable success stories? Send them in, I'd love to share them here on my blog!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 3: Simplicity Challenge

Purge Your Pantry

Welcome to day three, where we tackle the pantry. Most people over stuff their pantry so much that they don't even realize how much of what they buy has already expired. Let's clear our the pantry today.

1. Take all of your food items out and give the pantry a good wipe down.

2. Sort through your items and classify them into 3 categories: Expired, Give Away, Keep. Food that has expired automatically toss out. Certain foods that you don't eat, see if your local pantry/food drive/friend/family will take them. If you have a gluten intolerance and have 4 bags of white flour, you can give those away.

3. Re-shelf your pantry, making sure to group like items and displaying items that expire first at the front. (We'll address pantry organization another time- for now work with what you have).

I bet after completing this task you'd be shocked at the free space in your pantry. Don't go restocking. Just because the space is there, doesn't mean it has to be filled. Think about NEEDS not wants.

Enjoy the clean pantry!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 2: Simplicity Challenge

Welcome to day 2! This is probably my most favorite task! Let's organize our bags!!!!!!!!

Bag Organization

We all have them and we all use them. Every time I head to buy groceries I get at least 4 plastic bags and if I buy clothing or shoes I always get a shopping bag! I can't run away from bags! Year ago, our under the sink cabinet was just full of bags. All colors, shapes, sizes, materials, etc. We used (and still use) most of the bags as trash bags so we never gave their storage much thought. If they are going to exit your house, what's the point of organizing them?! Boy were we wrong! One day we discovered we had a leaky pipe and that all of our bags were soaked in water  and covered in rust. After cleaning up the leaky mess we decided to control our bag situation. Here's how we did it:

1. Buy/reuse a basket to place in the cabinet's under your sink. Use this basket to store plastic bags. When you come home with plastic bags, knot each once and stick in the basket. You can use these bags for trash- you'll never have to buy garbage bags again!

2. Paper bags, which are not damaged, should be neatly folded and kept in a largish shopping bag. These are useful for say sending packaged food out of the house with guests, for storing paper to be recycled, or packing presents. Whatever your use, make sure to keep all paper bags together and in a dry nonflammable place.

3. Store reusable shopping bags in a tote or container. If you drive keep these in your trunk. If you use public transportation keep one foldable bag in your purse and the rest near the door so you can grab and go.

Voila, it's that simple! Send me before and after pictures of your bag organization.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 1: Simplicity Challenge

So happy you have decided to take the 7 Day Simplicity Challenge! I know at the end of the challenge you'll see the change in your house and you'll be so proud of yourself! Here's your first task:

Sort School Books

For those of us who have school books and textbooks, do you ever wonder what to do with them? If you haven't already sold your books, returned rented books, or donated them now is that time to do so. Filter through your books and keep the ones that you would be interested in keeping for your personal library collection, otherwise let go of those books.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

7 Day Simplicity Challenge

7 Day Simplicity Challenge: DECLUTTER YOUR HOME

Sometimes when I think about ALL the cleaning and organizing that I have to do, I become overwhelmed. How can I possibly get to everything! It seems I can't make a dent in my increasing list of household duties. It's time to take control of the growing monster and simplify 7 spots in your house!
Take my simple 7 day challenge to decluttering!!! Everyday for one week, complete one task for 20 minutes after dinner. Challenge starts tomorrow- game on!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Can't Stop Procrastinating?

Ever find yourself procrastinating? Can't seem to start anything or finish anything? Procrastinating is basically delaying decisions and thus postponing actions. Beat your procrastination with this motivational exercise!

Pick 7 things you want to get accomplished. These activities shouldn't be massive- something realistic and accomplishable in a day. If it's something you have been putting off, write it down! I, for example, would pick:

1. Schedule doctor's appointment
2. Clean through makeup
3. Clear out closet for donation items (I don't have much to give away, thus this is a sensible choice for this exercise)
4. Create E-bay account and post items to sell (This might be ambitious- I might only take pictures of the items that I want to sell and create an account later)
5. Finish my book and order new book I want to read
6. Buy skirt hangers
7. Get started on my special case project by contacting lady to get her contact information

Once you have your 7 tasks or activities, write each on a separate piece of paper/sticky notes. Find yourself a hat, vase, box, or any kind of container and put these papers in there. Every morning pick out one task, at random, from the container and make that your goal for the day. One task is much simpler to complete and will make you less likely to procrastinate. Completing even one simple task makes you feel accomplished and eager to feel that sense of achievement again! Try it for 1 week and, if you like the results, try this exercise for a whole month! You need not have 30/31 tasks, but a few to get you started because you can always add more tasks as you go! For now, try the 7 day task exercise and see how far you get and if you feel motivated to keep completing tasks.

Wish you luck!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Control That Inbox

Does the above picture seem suspiciously familiar? Don't worry, you aren't the only one. Today I'll share my tips on clearing that inbox.

So let me start, once again with the idea of simplicity and of keeping your inbox at zero. It is important to go through your email every single day, if not multiple times, especially for your work email. Thanh Pham has a wonderful article on Asian Efficiency about managing email. Basically, he asserts that your inbox is not a storage place, but rather a temporary holding ground for email that needs to be attended to. He advises to create two folders, "Reply" and "Waiting," to be able to sort through your email. This is a FABULOUSLY simple plan for managing email! Any email that can be taken care of in 2 minutes goes in the reply folder while any email that needs additional processing time goes into the waiting folder. Simple, right?! If you'd like, please go read the article! I highly recommend it!

Now that you've developed a way to sort through mail, it's important to go through ALL your mail! Yes, all 99,999 emails have to be looked at! Sorry, buddy, ain't no easy way to go about that. It just has to happen. Break this task up throughout several days. Take two 30 minute daily sessions to clear through old email. Make sure that you are also clearing through new email as it comes in!

While you are clearing through email you should also be sorting it into categories, instead of simply archiving them. The categories will differ from person to person, but every person will have several. Think of these categories as ongoing conversations or ones that have already ceased. Say for example, you are a student that just finished interning at a law firm and  have many correspondence emails in your inbox. Create a folder that will specifically archive these emails. Don't just toss all those emails in that folder, decide which are important and should be kept. Remember, we aren't just relocating the mess, we are sorting through it. You might have many categories such as bills, bank statements, online receipts, etc. So again, let's say you ordered something from Amazon and have received an email confirmation for your order. Put that email in the "Waiting" folder. Once you get your package move that email to your "Receipts" folder. You might want to keep the email confirmation for a few months and then purge it. Some receipts you might not want to purge at all, for example large/expensive purchases whose receipts have been sent to your email.
These are my folders, which are also color coded.
 Please don't freak out when you read Mass Murder Inc.
It's a research project that I worked on- scary name, I know. 

Now that your necessary mail is sorted, what to do with all the junk mail? Most email providers already sort out some junk mail, but I bet you still receive a lot of mail that clutters your inbox. Maybe you purchased something from Company Y and now you constantly receive newsletters or promotional emails from them. Well, instead of just sending them to trash make sure they don't enter your inbox any more. Search at the bottom of these emails for an unsubscribe link or button. Click it and deselect yourself from all their promotional emails. If you do this to every unwanted email that comes into your inbox, in a month you'll see the difference! Also, as in regular snail mail, make sure that you use discretion when signing up for online services or making purchases. Look for options that let you deselect having promotional emails sent to you.
An example of what the unsubscribe section at the bottom of the email might look like. 

Having learned about managing your inbox, do you feel any more powerful about tackling your emails? I hope so! Tell me of your success stories!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

15 Things You (Probably) Have Never Cleaned

When we clean we usually clean with the big picture in mind, but sometimes we forget the not so obvious spots or things. Next time you clean try hitting up these 15 spots.

1. Dusting wall decorations, whether it be picture frames, clocks, or shelves.
2. Disinfect points of contact (doorknobs, switches, handles, etc).
3. Clean remote controls.
4. Clean phones and charging stations.
5. Clean the filters (e.g. AC's and vacuum cleaners) and vents.
6. Clean baseboards.
7. Dust plant leaves (real and fake).
8. Clean behind the fridge and oven (if they move).
9. Dust the top of cabinets, bookcases, and tall dressers.
10. Clean doors, internal and external.
11. Clean windows and window sills.
12. Wipe down wires of all electronics and appliances (make sure everything is plugged off and you are using a dry cloth).
13. Dust the top of books and DVDs (you'd be surprised how dusty these get).
14. Wipe down the inside of drawers and any separators in drawers.
15. Wipe down makeup cases.

Happy cleaning! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

All Those Coupons

So a few months ago, after watching Extreme Couponing on TLC, I was obsessed with trying to find deals. I quickly accumulated a shoe box full of useless coupons as they were never organized and expired before I could use them. I quickly realized I had to do something! In came my binder organization system- I separated coupons by item types and expiration dates. After I was finished I couldn't believe the results. Yes, my binder looked wonderful but I couldn't believe for what the coupons were- most were for boxed or canned foods! My family does not even so much as eat cereal so most of what I had collected was useless to us! Even the coupons for personal items such as shampoo and razors were useless to me as my house does not have space for 10 shampoo bottles or 50 laundry detergents. Please don't misunderstand, coupons might work for some families but not for my family, our restrictions, or philosophy. That said, we do use some types of coupons, for example coupons for school supplies or clothing. Therefore, I decided to share my simple coupon organization system for those of us who have a few coupons and have a magnetic surface in plain view when exiting our houses.

The first action you need to take is collect all your coupons and go through them. Keep only the coupons that have not expired. Be realistic about what you can and can not use. Just because you have a $10 off coupon from company X, it does not mean that you have to keep the coupon or even USE it. Coupons are a marketing ploy, don't get caught up in HAVING to use them all the time.- that causes for irresponsible financial habits and a cluttered house. The coupons that you don't wish to keep send to military families! The Krazy Coupon Lady has a wonderful post explaining how to go about sending unused and expired coupons to military families. 

Once you have decided on the coupons that you are going to keep, you need to sort them into categories. I only have 6 coupons that fit into one category- clothing. With the coupons sorted you will need a place to store them. I suggest purchasing some adhesive poly envelopes (I use Avery envelopes from Staples) and magnetic sheets that are close in size to your envelopes (or reuse old magnets). Use one envelope for each category. Adhere the magnet to the back of the poly envelope and place coupons inside, the largest coupons in the back and the smallest in the front so that they are all visible. Seal your envelop and stick it to your refrigerator. BAM, now all your coupons are sorted by category and easily assessable. The key here is to get rid of as many coupons as possible. Keep your coupon collection to an absolute minimum and to go through expired coupons on a monthly basis.

My six coupons left after the purging.

My coupon envelope on the fridge. I always see my fridge before
 exiting the house so I am more likely to use the coupons
 if they are near the entrance door. 

You can tailor this system to fit your needs. If you don't have a magnetic surface then consider mounting a hanging folder near your door, just as long as your coupons are discretely visible to you before you exit your house. If you own a car, leave your coupons in your car so you always have them with you. It all depends on your lifestyle and your couponing habits. There is no one system that works for everyone. The point is to limit your collection to what you will realistically use and to strategically place them somewhere that they are visible and thus will be used.

Hope this helps!


How do you organize your coupons? Do you use all of your coupons? 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tackle Your Mailbox

Welcome back! Hooked ya, did I? Interested in taking control of your mail? Well, it's going to take a bit of prep work, but it will be easy sailing once that's done. 

Until recently I used to cringe when I would look at our mail basket. Although I love opening the mailbox to see if any of the incoming mail has my name on it (hey, we all need attention and this makes me feel important haha) but once the mail is in the basket a sense of terror descends upon the house. Why, you ask? Well, it feels as if my family is being buried in paper, especially junk mail! I have decided to rein in the beast and forever give junk mail the boot. Here are the lessons I learned from my experience:


What plan doesn't start with prevention?! My first tip is to prevent unwelcomed or unnecessary mail from entering your mailbox. What's the use of constantly trashing the endless flyers and cataloges when you can simply stop them from coming in? When you see that catalog from XYZ company, instead of trashing it try stopping it from entering your house. Preventive measures go a long way in helping you minimize the amount of mail you will have to deal with in the future. Preventing junk mail from entering your house comes in two phases- not sharing your information and calling to cancel unwanted mail. 

First, you have to be careful about sharing your information. Whenever you give your name, address, or phone number away for any reason expect your information to be shared, either for internal company purposes or with external parties. That means, MORE JUNK MAIL for you! So use your discretion when giving away your contact details. Note, sometimes you'll end up sharing your information without even knowing it. Say, you are about to make an online purchase from X Company, and don't notice their sneaky advertisement tactics. Most companies include a tick-able option (which is always auto ticked) that allows them to send you updates on the company, products, etc. Well, we are CLEVER too- always be cautious and deselect those options. I once signed up for a Bloomingdale's credit card and, my goodness, they sent me at least 1 MASSIVE journal a week! It was ridiculous! It took up so much space in our mailbox that our postman actually told us that he had trouble putting all our mail into our mailbox! Had I known that Bloomingdale's would have such aggressive advertising I would have called their customer service right after I signed up for their credit card to remove my name from their mailing lists. This brings us to the second phase, which is to call and cancel unwanted mail.

If all your hard work at trying to protect your contact information doesn't seem to be doing the trick, then take matters into your own hands and call customer service. Most catalogues, fliers, coupon booklets, advertisements, promotions, etc contain a phone number which you can call to ask to remove your name and address from their mailing database. I suggest doing this on a monthly basis, as it can be daunting if you call every day. If you receive a lot of unwanted mail, try to break up the calling bi-weekly or weekly and assign the calling duty to one household member.

As a tip I would suggest to keep the portion of the unwanted mail that contains your name, address, and company phone number in an envelope labeled "TO CANCEL" as easy reference when you begin your calls. Since my name, which is very ethnic, is often misspelled I find keeping the mailing address and name that the company uses useful when I call to remove myself from their mailing list. Typically when you call, you will be filtered through an automated system and then connected to a customer service representative that will be able to remove you from their mailing list. Usually they will ask for your name and address and then warn you that it might take a month to 6 months to stop receiving their mail as many of their advertisements/promotions/catalogues are prepared well ahead of their mailing date. So do not be discouraged when you see that catalogue which you cancelled last month- it will eventually stop coming to your house. I would also suggest, once you have called to cancel, to write down the name of the company or catalog that you called to cancel, so when it does come next month you won’t spend precious time calling to cancel again. Keep this list in your "TO CANCEL" envelope. Keep in mind that you can't stop all unwanted mail. This process is about decreasing, not completely eliminating, junk mail. Receiving certain mailings, such as candidate informational cards/booklets, is inevitable. Don’t fret, just call and cancel those seasonal/biennial/annual/etc mailings.

Sometimes this calling process can be done in bulk. I have been told that you can call certain agencies that take your name off company mailing lists for you. I don’t necessarily like this idea because I like to take matters into my own hands and I don’t trust third parties. I would however, give the Consumer Reporting Agency a go (for my American viewers). Their number is 888-567-8688. It’s a government agency so no worries about shady business, hopefully. ;)

Once you have cut down on the junk mail that comes to your house, you will see that managing and sorting mail is FAR easier. If you want to slim your mailbox even more, consider the next section about enrolling in electronic mailings.


I always find this specific topic to be a dangerous zone. Many people subscribe to electronic bank statements/catalogues/bills without realizing that they have only REDIRECTED their mess to another part of their life. It’s like having a junk closet where you shove anything that you can’t be bothered with organizing. That’s not controlling your life, that’s delaying decisions and further cluttering your life. So keep that in mind and teeter carefully with electronic options.

Bills and bank/insurance statements, for the most part, can be accessed online. Consider subscribing to e-bills or e-statements on company websites. My bank, for example, sends my bank statements to my email. Most of my family's bills can also be accessed online. We are sent a friendly reminder that our bill is due via a timely email. That means we get less mail in our mailbox, in exchange for more mail in our e-mail inbox.

If you are someone who needs physical copies of bills and statements in order to not forget about them, then by all means continue the paper method. However, if you think you can cope with electronic versions try to enroll in electronic options. Almost every utility/service which we use or subscribe to has an online account that can be managed via the net. If you are going to make this switch I suggest the following as to stay on top of your bills and to avoid more virtual clutter:

1. Create a separate space for such email to be stored. You can make a separate email account or create folders in your personal email. This means that you won’t have to look at your bills everyday and they also won’t get lost in your inbox.

2. Create a payment schedule for bills and a statement checklist for statements.

Most of the time, a specific bill will be due on the same day of each month (same applies to annual, biannual, etc bills) so it is easy to predict when the bill will be due again. Set up a spreadsheet and list all your bills and when their payment is due (you can easily see this on your bill statement or call to find out). My family usually likes to pay bills in clusters and a few days before the due date. You can do the same thing and adjust it so that it makes sense with your payday schedule. If you get paid bi-weekly cluster monthly bills so that you pay them only twice a month.

As for statements I suggest to check them every month. So whenever your bank, insurance provider, etc sends statements check all your online accounts once a month. Most of my statements come at the end of the month so I check at the end of the month to make sure everything is in order. Well... to be honest I check my bank statements online every week to make sure my debits and credits match.

3. Create a written place to store all your passwords for ALL your accounts. If you have 3 utility bills, 2 credit cards, and 1 loan to pay write all the usernames/IDs, passwords and answers to security questions on a paper and keep it in a safe place. So when you need to log on to pay that bill you have all that information at the ready. I, for example, keep a list of all my passwords/IDs in my checkbook, so when I do pay bills, I whip that baby out and get to work.

4. If logging on to 3 different sites to pay bills is too much for you, then try and see if your bank has a bill pay service. This allows you to automatically pay your bills from your bank account instead of through individual service provider accounts. NIFTY?! What’s even better is that most banks will analyse your money spending habits for you, so you can monitor and adjust how you spend your money online. If you want to go a step further and have as little to do with bills as possible enroll in automatic payments. I would caution against this because our bank account balances always fluctuate and you don’t want to incur fees for insufficient funds. Also, you want to check your bill statements before paying them incase they need to be disputed.

5. Finally, if you choose to go the electronic way, make sure you develop a system with which to control that new influx of email. If you pay bills online monitor the statements that you receive and purge them once the payment has been cleared. Don’t let your physical mail clutter become electronic mail clutter! One of next posts will deal more with electronic mail, so I'll address this issue in more depth.

So let’s recap before we move on to sorting mail. First, prevent unwanted junk mail by using discretion when sharing contact information and calling to remove your address from mailing lists. Second, enroll in electronic billing/statements to avoid paper coming into your house but make sure to develop a system to sort through that email as well. At first it might be a pain, but you’ll see, cutting down on incoming mail will pay off!


With the junk mail gone, what shall we do with the necessary mail? Sort it, duh! When sorting mail, I believe in keeping it simple- as Michael Scott from the NBC TV series, “The Office” would say, “keep it simple, stupid.” You should have 4 (maybe 5) categories in which to sort mail: bills, action, to file, to read, and to trash/shred. When you enter your house, be prepared to file the mail immediately or file it at the end of each week, whatever works for you. My family attends to the mail at the end of each week but some people might find it more efficient for their needs to sort the mail as it comes in everyday.

(Extra: keep your envelopes, stamps, pens, checkbooks, labels, etc in your mail basket or near it. Sort everything into a pouch so it's neat. Dealing with mail will be a breeze that way.)

If you are not enrolled in electronic billing this category is ESSENTIAL. Open each bill and write its due date on a post it and attach that to the bill. Even if you aren’t using ebilling you should have a bill payment schedule so that you can keep track of your bills. We don't pay our bills as they come in, we pay them in groups. It might not be much easier on our bank accounts but it is on our mental sanity. I would suggest to deal with bills at the end of the week or every two weeks, or monthly if you can get away with it. You have to find what works best for you and your financial situation. I would suggest keeping bills in clear folders so you can always see when the bills are due.

Mail that is sorted into the action file requires additional work on it. Maybe you have to call your health insurance to dispute a claim or send off a thank you note. The "To Cancel" envelope, with the contact information page, should be kept in the action file. Write on a notepad what you have to do and set yourself a deadline. At the end of every week (or whatever works best for your schedule) attend to these items.

Not everyone will need this folder. I personally do not use a filing folder as my family sorts through the week’s mail every Sunday and we file at the same time. If we have “action mail” we will usually attend to it on Monday and then file whatever that needs to be filed or keep it in the action folder until it has been resolved. But if you receive a lot of mail that needs to be filed, I would suggest creating a separate folder as to not clutter your action folder because action needs your attention and sometimes IMMEDIATE attention whereas the Filing folder is just a transitionary space for already attended to mail such as disputed claims or paid bills.

The read folder also does not exist in my house (we don’t subscribe to any print magazines or newspapers) but it might for you. I wouldn’t suggest an actual folder but I would suggest separating that mail from the rest of your mail when you step into your house. If you subscribe to lots of magazines automatically put them in your magazine holder, on your coffee table, or wherever you like to read them. Don't let them sit in your mail basket and take up precious space and become obsolete.

This also isn’t a folder per say, but it is a category. This is the mail that needs to be trashed or shredded. Obviously shred sensitive or personal information and recycle catalogues and unwanted mail (after you have unsubscribed from it).

So all in all your mail will be sorted anywhere from 2 to 5 categories (and in whatever storage system you decide on). There are many storage ideas online, especially youtube, give it a search and see what appeals to you but make sure whatever SYSTEM you settle on works for you and that you keep up with it. Once your mail is stored I would suggest to sort/deal with it on a scheduled basis, my family does it every week. We have a little mail basket on top of our fridge in which we toss all of the mail and then sort/deal with at the end of the week. We do not worry about the mail until the end of the week- load off our minds. We keep a bills and an action folder at the bottom of the basket to which we attend at the time we go through our mail. We file and shred as we sort through our mail and take action on the mail that needs our attention at that time too. You have to find a system that works for you and your family. Make sure to get everyone involved. If you have children, obviously of the right age, involve them in the shredding- they LOVE that. If you are married or living with a partner/roommate do the mail together. Let someone call to cancel subscriptions and another pay the bills. If you get a hold of your mailbox, you won’t avoid it like the plague and you will live a more organized, worry free, and clutter free life.

Hope this post was helpful. Please excuse any mistakes, I was very eager about getting this post out! :)

Until next time,
Taguk Mook

P.S. Please send me your questions, comments, and (hopefully) success stories! I want to hear them all! :)