Not just a place for everything and everything in its place…

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I do love the mantra, a place for everything and everything in its place. This is a good rule to live by when dealing with an excess of stuff. But it is just as important to ensure that the place you give something to ‘live’ is also at the logical point of use, and easy to access.

We live in a small space so inevitably, we have our armchairs in front of book/storage shelves and these need to be moved if we want to get something behind them. One thing that has been annoying me for a while is that somehow, my filing system has ended up behind my chair (and therefore now behind a sofa – see last post ‘Would I buy it now?’).

Although on paper you wouldn’t think it takes a moment to move the chair/sofa, the reality is that is doesn’t happen and paperwork piles up unfiled. I also had an ‘in-tray’ next to my chair that I no longer had room for – and to be honest it only acted as an  – “can’t be bothered, let’s dumps it here for months” tray anyway and looked messy.

home 003So on my unscheduled mass de-clutter day, in the middle of everything else, I decided to ruthlessly weed two 3 feet (1 metre)  shelves of paperwork to take up half the space and look for a new home for my paperwork…and no in-tray would be it had to be done straight away or diarised and filed.

Which led me to my 1950’s retro cupboard…. that was full of craft stuff:

I’ve had various crafting hobbies over time, but in recent years have been learning to down size the stuff I keep and to recognise hobbies I have gone off. A year ago I bought a 2nd hand cabinet for my crafts stuff with the commitment that anything that couldn’t fit in there had to go. It’s worked really well. So well in fact it has made me see that after 10 months, I am no longer that interested in making stuff.

So, enthused by the changes I needed to make, I got ruthless with the contents.

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This is just the bottom cupboard  pre sort out, the storage space above looked much the same:

365 Pics

All my craft stuff has now been reduced to just the bottom cupboard:

Now the top 2/3rds of the old crafting cabinet is my new office 😀

A month on, and not one bit of filing has hung around for days – it can be put away very quickly and easily. You will note from the photos that I have also labelled a lot of things with printed labels. This helps not just me, but if anything should happen to me, anyone else who needs to sort my paperwork and find vital stuff.

Anyone else got things they use regularly that never gets put away because there is no convenient place for it/ or too much effort to put it where in the place designated for it?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter an item you have known you no longer want but guilt has had you hanging on to.

Eco Tip for the Day

Use the stairs rather than the elevator. This of course has the added bonus of a little impromptu exercise.



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  1. Fantastic job, and I absolutely love the cabinet.

    • Thanks Cindy! And thanks so much for loving the cabinet. I know it’s not to everyone’s taste but I absolutely love it. My grandparents had one when I was growing up. I bought this on ebay last year and I think I’ll have it always. The pull down ‘desk’ bit is enamel as obviously it was originally for use in a kitchen.

  2. Great job Doodle! I’ve been working on de-cluttering and cleaning in my home office as well. I got rid of 3-4 13 gallon trash bags of trash and shredded documents along with lots of other items that i put in my yard sale. It’s not perfect yet, but I’m working on it slowly and surely 🙂

    • Thanks Shoeaholicnomore. I think there is particular satisfaction is dealing with the paper mountain isn’t there. It’s amazing what mounts up even when you think you’ve been vigilant.
      4 13 galleon trash bag sounds impressive!

  3. I love the retro cupboard. A big effort indeed! Good idea to label everything.

    • Thanks Moni – I wish I could have another one or two for the kitchen, but regretfully, like most people in the uk, I have a fitted kitchen and I can’t really justify ripping that out, lol.
      I think having a label printer brings out my inner geek, but I does make my filing system nice and simple.

  4. Good job Doodle. I like that cabinet. My next goal is to be ready for the move whenever it comes. To do that I want to get things down to where I have a combo cabinet and bookcase that will be my space for everything crafty, office, books, etc.

    • Thanks Deb J. You know, I frequently have the thought of moving in the back of my mind when I am sorting my stuff. Although we have no plans or need to move as we already live in a small space in an area that suits us, I think you never know what our needs will unexpectedly become.

      • At least we have plans to move. I just don’t know when. I just know I am looking forward to it in one way.

  5. Highly energetiic post, I enjoyed thaat a lot.
    Will there be a part 2?

    • Hello, and welcome to 365 and thank you 🙂 This post was actually the second part to a post made last week on 4th June titled ‘Would I Buy It Now’.

  6. I tend to leave piles of things everywhere rather than just walk across the room, or into the next room, to put it away. I’m not the best housekeeper.

    But it’s a funny thing because as I declutter I find myself trying to keep things a little bit tidier. Rather nice and maybe I’m finally getting it.

    Guilt item for the day: sheet set never used from a family member now gone into the charity shop box (and a good pillow that never worked for me). My shop says they’ll take such things (if good quality) and I had no idea. Great.

    I visited a friend’s apartment today (I’m in a house) and kept looking around wondering how my stuff would fit into a similar place. I’ve got a ways more to go to live that particular dream.

    • Hi Ron, I think it sounds like you are definitely making progress on your de-clutter journey – slow and steady wins the race. Over the next year you will see the difference as you continue to make changes here and there and get rid of things you no longer need. No need to overwhelm yourself – just keep going a little bit each day.
      I’ve got into the habit before I go to bed, to put away anything I have been using that day back where it came from and it seems to be working: each day it means I come back to a tidy sitting room. I do think getting into de-cluttering wakes up the desire to be tidier because you begin to see that it makes a difference. Making small habit changes is far easier than expecting a complete personality change overnight.
      PS my husband is a ‘piles of stuff’ man too 😀

      I don’t know what part of the world you live in Ron, but our charity shops love any sort of material (as long as it is clean) However worn out, they still can make decent money from selling in bulk as rags.

  7. Definitely paperwork–too many different types. Sometimes it just seems easier to let it accumulate than walk across the room to file one or two papers in the older and much less handy files. Since we both generate some records that have to be kept for a month or longer, it is a constant struggle to keep things fairly neat. Some are for taxes and have to kept 3 years or even up to 7 years depending on what they are for. Then there is all the medical stuff–insurance, prescriptions, doctor. and lab bills. There just seems to be no way to keep it simple anymore. Then it has to gone through as it “ages” so that some of it can be discarded. We use 3 ring notebooks as much as we can, which keeps it separated and not falling out of folders. I really dislike paperwork, but have to deal with it every day. So I am happy for you that you have a pretty solution in your cabinet. I like the cheerful color, too.
    On your end table problem in your previous post, depending on how often and what you use it for, you might just use a small folding TV tray type table, and maybe store it under your couch .when you didn’t need it. I use a small stepstool beside the bed to hold a sleepmate (makes noise at night to mask outside noise), but something that size would hold a teacup, etc. Anyway I am sure you will think of something that will work.

    • Hi nana, is there anyway you can devise a drop box system, where you have a filing box you can just drop it into and then file once ever few months. For example, a box divided into sections ,(so paper can be dropped in vertically on it’s side). 2 sections labelled for the the stuff that can be got rid of after a month,(so you start a new slot every other month and know the 1st lot can be got rid of after 2 months a it will all by then be over 1 month old). Then another medical long term, prescriptions etc. So very easily you will have already subdivided the paperwork as it comes in with one quick action. You can then file or shred once section at a time every few months.
      The thing about any system, of course, is that it has to work for you and your particular needs and it should be as simple as possible.
      Thanks for your thoughts on my side table issue. Our sitting room is also our study so I do spend quite a bit of time working from that chair, so I needed something to put my cup of tea on, hold a few pens, my diary, notepad and a reading light.
      In the end I re purposed a v small set of drawers (keeping the same things in the drawers, that didn’t change) which has just enough room on top for the above mentioned things and no room for anything else. This means clutter can not collect there!

  8. Paperwork is a huge problem for me. I have to spend some time thinking about this and get a better solution. Craft materials are another problem, but I’ve done one sweep and that will be it for the time being.

    Count me as another who loves your cabinet!

    • The simpler the solution the better Jo in my experience – there are all sorts of systems out there, but some are very complicated. You need a solution where you touch each bit of paper a minimum number of times.
      My own experience with craft stuff is that it is like peeling onion layers. One sweep is good for now. And one day you’ll suddenly be ready for another etc. And over a year you have downsized it quite a lot.
      Thanks for the cabinet love 😀

  9. Hi Doodle, I am pleased to say that I can answer your question with a “Not me.” There is a place for everything and everything is usually in it’s place around here or at least is by the end of the day. I am glad I can say that given the huge downsize we just had. I would be happy if some areas were completely organised to my liking but that will require one more storage area fit out. I think I will go measure the area now before I do anything else. Hubby and I can then go to the hardware store on Friday and get it sorted before the weekend is over.

    • Good morning Colleen. Well done that woman – your methodical de-cluttering and downsizing has worked!

      I think this latest sort of mine is the last bit of my stuff not being in quite the right place and that has taken so long due to amalgamating two households into one by marrying a (lovely) husband who holds dear his 1000’s of books (a collection that gets added to every week) The advantage of him needing so much space in a small house has meant I have had to work harder of assessing my own things and got rid of a lot, with still more to go I know.

      Have fun sorting your storage this weekend.

  10. How apposite. My study is the blackhole of our house. While the rest looks a lot neater, more minimal the study was my dark secret. Last week I began the massive job that could no longer be hidden. One of the reasons I was determined to clear it was the craft supplies. I had too much and that was one of the reasons I hardly ever used them, there was too much choice it was all too hard. Now, I still need to tidy up but there is so much less to tidy up 🙂

    • If it is any consolation, we have a black hole too Gilly – the attic. It’s 80% my husbands stuff up there so I can’t de-clutter it, but I am building up to a huge reorganisation and labelling session (got a friend lined up to help) so that it is more efficiently used and accessible.
      Well done on what you have achieved so far in the study – keep chipping away. Tidying up is so radically easier when there is less stuff to tidy!

  11. Doodle – as we seem to be talking about paper work, I read Fly Lady (the ‘Lite’ version) as I needed to smooth out household routines this year to accommodate a few changes. She often highlights the “office in a bag” to hold one’s control manual and basic office supplies and recommends using this when opening mail to file bills, newsletters etc until they are finalised.
    I tend to use my iPhone as my organiser but have wondered if something designated and portable could be a good idea as these things get stuffed in my handbag as I often use time while waiting for kids to deal with such paperwork. Before I jump on that bandwagon, I was curious how you deal with paperwork,

    • Well, first of all I only have to deal with paperwork for 2 of us: I deal with all household stuff (including repairs etc), the car paperwork, my own tax related info. There seems to be a lot of admin with school age kids that I don’t deal with.
      All mail that arrives by post, I open immediately and bin in recycling anything irrelevant.
      We have an attractive basket for stuff that needs shredding: stuff gets chucked in to there until it reaches the top and then I have a mass shredding session every 2 months or so.
      House stuff – all bills are paid by Direct debit so I don’t have to worry about action on them.
      I have a box file I chuck all house related paperwork into straight away. If something needs replying to it is written in my dairy but the actual paperwork is put away. All nice and easy just to chuck it in – I don’t even need to open thefile or take it off the shelf.Anything that replaces a previous one (like a renewed insurance certificate, or utility bill) the old one gets chucked. Occasionally I don’t do this straight away and have a little purge every couple of months.
      A file for all car stuff, with separate wallets, for insurance, MOT, annual car tax, resident parking details, receipts of work done.
      I don’t keep bank statements or credit card statements – I do all banking online.
      Any calls I need to make go into my diary, which acts an organiser really. I do like writing things down and crossing them off so have never used my iphone for that purpose – just personal preference.
      Different file titles are:
      Box files:utilities and household is one and work and pensions, tax (i.e. income related) is the other. At the end of each financial year, once I have made my tax return, all related paperwork goes into a large envelope with the year written on it and it gets stored in the attic. In the UK we have to keep this info for for 7 years, so when a new one goes in, an old one from 7 years previously can get chucked.
      I have a manila folder for cards and writing paper. A box for instruction manuals, with receipts at date of purchase stapled to it.
      A folder for medical stuff
      A cute little box for all receipts(apart from these for big purchases which are attached to the instruction manuals as above.
      this needs weeding every so often.
      I have a metal wire lidded basket I keep essential supplies in: stapler, hole punch, sellotape, my label printer, rubber bands, post it notes and such like.
      Emails I try and deal with quickly and then move to relevant email folders: I have folders labelled to do with my work, friends, builders/decorators and such like.
      The best way to handle paperwork is to have a system that means you touch that piece of paper minimum number of times. Open, deal, put away. I am not infallible though: I can procrastinate with the best!

      • Doodle – thanks for all that – I can sort of see why I find it a bit more of a juggle. Many of my bills arrive by e-mail ie power, phone, rates, water. There are die hard places that post bills most of which go to our PO Box which we piggy back with the business we own. Then there are places which insist on sending correspondence and bills to our home address ie letter box, especially medical and onsite type services ie carpet cleaners, contractors. Yesterday I found a bill that had dropped out of my son’s pocket from the Dentist on the floor of the car and one under my daughter’s bed she’d brought home from school. I’m also wandering around with the car ‘rego’ papers for my daugher’s car at the moment as they can’t be processed until after the six-monthly Warrent of Fitness is completed (underway) as she in her final year of High School and even less mechanically minded than myself (and I’m pretty hopeless) it is best if I stay involved with the legal requirements of maintaining the car, especially as it is registered in my name!

        Many of my accounts get paid by Direct Debit especially power, rates, phone. Aside from that 99% of my payments are done via internet banking and my smart phone bank app is awesome for that. Some have extended payment dates or most need discussing with my husband or further enquiry. The accounts that are one-off ie I’m doing an e-cheque from internet banking where I type the bank account numbers, I prefer to do from an actual computer not the little touch screen on my phone. Its all definately a step up from when I was a kid and my mum had to actually go and pay bills in person but it doesn’t seem to generate any extra spare time.

        We won’t even touch on school newsletters! And amongst it all at the moment quotes and info on improvements and upgrades we’re considering.

        Because we’re self-employed the line between home and work are definately blurred. And more often than not it is the home life crossing into my work time, but that flexibility is why I chose to work for my husband rather than pursue my own line of work.

        At the moment I am lugging a plastic container back and forth between home (we’re amidst heavy rainfalls at the moment) and the tendancy is to stack it up but then not tackle the work as I sit down in the evening at home and a great pile of work lacks appeal, and so I’d describe it more of a mobile in-tray that I try to ignore! Especially the work stuff that I faithfully take home with me with good intentions!

        I might look into getting a compendium and that can hold our personal bills – ironically our personal bills get filed at my work office as there is a convenient folder shelf, scanner and shredder facilities. Yeah I’m a bit of an organised-muddle or a maybe a muddled-organiser. Not sure.

  12. I’m terrible with everything that needs to be put away, when I’m not in the mood… :-/
    I am just plain lazy!!!
    However, I have some coping strategies:
    -if there is already a used glass/mug/knife, use that instead of getting out a new one (even if it has to be rinsed)
    -if too lazy to put laundry away, wear it straight off the clothes line
    -put paper work in its box instead of a random place (I’m now down to only two stand-up-boxes, so it’s possible to find everything in there in a couple of minutes, even if it’s not sorted! Also, one of the two boxes holds permanently important stuff to save like certificates and such, the other more temporarily important stuff like recent mail etc.)
    -put things in their home as I walk through the apartment – or at least closer to it (in the right room, on the right shelf etc.)

    These coping strategies do of course not lead to a spotless home, but they help keep up a relative order until I’m more in the mood for real tidying and cleaning.

    • Sounds very similar to me Sanna – if I’m not in the mood for a few days… it shows, lol. But with a simple system, it isn’t difficult to drop stuff in one of a couple of boxes. Minimal crockery means we are forced to wash up and not have piles of washing up all over the kitchen. A capsule wardrobe means I know exactly what I have got and no piles of clothes to be dealt with.
      I put things away as I walk through the house too – if going up or down stairs, I look around to see, what can I take with me. And last thing at night, in the sitting room, what can I put away that I was using today.