Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week Three: Conquering Clutter!

How did it go this week ladies? How is the laundry coming along?  Did you lay out your clothes at night in anticipation for the next day?  Did you dress all the way to your shoes?  Please leave a comment and answer the following:

  1. What difference has laying out your clothes before bed made?
  2. Have you established a laundry routine?  Have you learned anything you'd like to share?
  3. What changes are you noticing in your life?
I have to say that this week gave me so much HOPE!  I decided that instead of trying to take a shower in the morning while the kids were "watching PBS kids" (let's be honest, they were usually doing everything BUT watching PBS kids, including climbing up into the food pantry, playing outside in the dirt, screaming at each other, etc.), I learned so many things this week that I think if I can keep this up will seriously change our lives over here:
  • I learned that by taking a shower at night, I can relax knowing that the kids are at least in their rooms reading or sleeping
  • I have made a new rule for everyone.  It is that 8:30 p.m. is Mommy's shower time/time off.  I will be available to snuggle, hug, read a gazillion books, pray, help with brushing teeth, etc. until 8:30 p.m..  After that, Mommy is off!  If the girls still need something, it gets referred to Daddy.  If they get out of bed, Daddy handles it (and he's so much better standing his ground than I am).  I cannot even believe how well this has worked for everyone!  I wake up a bit before everyone and brush through my clean hair and get dressed and do a load of laundry.  So instead of chaos every morning, the girls are greeted by a clean home and a happy, put together mommy.
  • Laundry is completely manageable and (dare I say it) even a joy!  I confess that I did three loads on Monday just because they were already washed and just sitting in piles for me.  But once those were done, I stuck to just one load a day all week and it has been a dream.  I feel so good about knowing that it is under control and managed and that everyone has clean clothes folded and waiting for them each day.
  • I learned that when I have the laundry under control, it's easy to lay out clothes for the kids the night before and even plan outfits for the whole week in advance.  It is working well for us so far.  It makes my mornings so much better...not having to figure out what everyone will wear.
  • I have time while I fold and shower to listen to the Book of Mormon or a Conference address.  This really means so much to me and adds to my ability to be patient and kind (which, is important!)
There are many more benefits.  Mostly just a clarity that I didn't have is really nice.  I still have a long way to go but I really am feeling hopeful.

OK, now on to our new assignment.  I think this one will be a fun one.  Here's what Fly Lady has to say:

You Can’t Organize Clutter

Remember this new term: Hot Spots. They are something every home has — and in this chapter we’ll talk about them and about other important tools for conquering clutter. The main goal of this chapter, however, is to learn decluttering in a way that takes you only 15 minutes a day. Now, are you dressed, in shoes, with your hair and face fixed? If you answered “Yes!,” I AM SO VERY PROUD OF YOU! If you have not yet done this, go do it now! This is a prerequisite for the next steps. Let’s Evict Your Clutter!!! Few people think clutter is good — but do you ever think of just how much it really affects your life? After you read the following pages you will never walk into a cluttered room and feel the same. We have developed solutions to your clutter problem. Let’s start with the obvious. The Oxford English Dictionary defines clutter as “a crowded and untidy collection of things.” That’s a very sterile way to look at this truly evil problem. Consider clutter in these ways: Clutter is too much in too small a place. There are many of us that have too much stuff in homes that are too small to hold it all. This happens for many reasons: Your family has expanded while the size of your home has not. You have brought too much stuff into a home that was never big enough in the first place. Do you move or do you try to streamline your “stuff”? How many of you have tried to use plastic totes, nifty storage boxes, little rolling carts, and laundry baskets to organize things? I will let you in on a little secret:
Clutter can’t be organized!!!!”

When you have too much stuff in too small a space your home can’t breathe, you can’t breathe, the clutter will take over, and you will feel smothered in your own home. Clutter is things that do not bring you joy, you do not love, or you don’t need. Things that you use, love, and enjoy are necessary and important to have. Things that you have in your home that you don’t need or don’t like will have the opposite effect on you: they will make you feel negative and dragged down. Clutter is disorganized. You may have things that you love and things that bring you joy, but if they are just stuck everywhere and have no real order to them, they will still have the same negative effect. You may have a beautiful collection of antiques but if they are everywhere, covered in dust, with no sense of flow, then you are not really enjoying them to their full potential.

Clutter can keep you living in the past, or reliving the past. When you have things around you that don’t bring you joy from your past, you can’t move forward. Clutter causes problems in your family; I don’t even think I have to explain this one. Clutter makes you feel embarrassed and ashamed. How many times have you turned people away or not invited people to your home because of the clutter? Clutter has a way of taking over our lives before we even know it. Clutter becomes that unwanted houseguest that you can’t get rid of. It robs us of peace while we are home and it also steals any bit of joy when we leave home. Worse, it creates a feeling of dread when you know you have to return to that mess. How many times have you stayed late at work just to avoid the clutter in your home? What about those of you that will not go anywhere because of the chaotic state of your home? “Release your clutter and find the things you are searching for.”

Clutter has to be conquered. Don’t think so? Look at some of the things we give up so we can devote our lives to this selfish houseguest. I received a message once from a lady who gave up her family vacation to clean and declutter their home for the safety of a crawling baby. Clutter-filled homes are not welcoming to friends or family. So we do not invite them over often. When we do, we almost kill ourselves trying to get the house presentable so we will not be embarrassed. You know the drill. Major Crisis Cleaning until 3:00 AM because they are coming the next day. As a result of not wanting to make the preparations, we alienate ourselves from our friends and family by closing our doors and throwing away the key. Clutter does not allow your mind and body to rest. The guilt of all the clutter keeps you working non-stop. You can’t organize clutter; you can only get rid of it, like a cancerous tumor. Purge it from your life and you will find out what living is all about. Not convinced? Here are more thoughts to ponder: Clutter causes you to turn down invitations to lunch or weekend getaways with your husband. It will also get in the way of you taking time for you. It yells at you, “You don’t deserve to have any fun; you have not taken care of ME yet!” Oh, selfish clutter. Like a spoiled child, it requires all of your attention. Clutter also sends a subconscious message. Clutter tells the world that you are not worthy. We have all heard it. If you can’t take care of this, you can’t have anything else. We have been brainwashed by this clutter to believe that we do not deserve to have nice things, since we can’t keep our home looking presentable. So we buy more clutter at yard sales and junk shops because it only costs a dollar. Now don’t fuss about this. I love yard sales as much as the next person, but think about this mentality for a few minutes. Don’t we deserve to be surrounded by pretty things that we love, instead of someone else’s cast-offs? When we quit wasting our money on more clutter to feed the already growing demon in our home, we can save to purchase things that make us smile. Clutter never wants you to leave home. This is why it makes it so difficult for you to pack and go on vacation. Laundry has to be done; you have to get people to come to the house to feed your critters or, worse yet, you need someone to house sit for you. Clutter will never allow strangers in its domain. It wants you all to itself. The bills have to be paid. Before you can go, clutter invades your finances and family responsibilities. You don’t have wills done because it is just too much trouble. You stay home, so you won’t have to make the decision of who will care for your children in case of an accident. Clutter loves to make you sick. Clutter attracts dust which then can affect your health. How many of you suffer from headaches, sinus problems, and allergies? This way you are totally dependent upon its way of life. It robs you of your health, so this gives you an excuse to give it more clutter. The more there is the happier it becomes and the sicker you get. Sometimes you will not allow people to come into your home to help because clutter has quarantined you. Or shall we say imprisoned you in your dungeon?

Here is yet another way to see clutter: Clutter is to our homes as cholesterol is to our arteries. This is scary, so let’s examine the similarities:

  • Cholesterol clogs arteries. Clutter invades the pathways of our homes. 
  • Cholesterol increases blood pressure. Clutter causes stress in your life. 
  • Cholesterol reduces your life span. Clutter decreases your joy in living. 
  • Cholesterol costs major money when you treat it. Clutter pushes money away from you.
  • Cholesterol causes heart disease. Clutter destroys closeness in families. 
  • Cholesterol is a result of over-indulging in fatty foods. Clutter is a result of over-indulging in stuff. 
  • Cholesterol causes arteries to harden. Clutter causes hearts to harden. 
Do you see that we have to put our homes on a cholesterol free, clutter-free diet? How do we do this? By changing our “eating” (acquiring) habits. We live in a society in which the one who dies with the most stuff wins! Do you want your stuff to be the death of you? Start changing your habits by only buying things that are needed. Clutter was clogging up my pathways to abundance. When I got rid of my clutter I opened my heart to all the joy that life has to offer. Clutter’s main sustenance is chaos. When you are running around your home searching for something in all the mess, clutter is celebrating with a feast. Trying to find a document on your desk is not fun for you, but clutter begets clutter. You end up making an even bigger mess during the search. The answer is no more clutter! Your life will work better when you know where things are. You will be more productive. How many of you lose your house keys on a regular basis? I used to! Now I make sure that I have a specific place for them and use it! I had to train myself—and I rarely lose my keys anymore!! Things that are disorganized are things that don’t have a proper place or that have strayed from where you usually keep them: Mail, keys, pens, pencils, calculators, scissors, shoes, books, etc. These become your Hot Spots!!
Clutter loves ignorance, because you know no other way to live. If you did, clutter would not have a home that provides it with all the undivided attention that you give it. You have never enjoyed a peaceful afternoon without clutter vying for your every thought and deed. It knows that if you ever feel one ounce of peace, you will tell it to hit the road, because that peace is so contagious.

So, enough already! How do you get rid of this most unwanted houseguest? It is not easy. It keeps pleading, “You need me” and laying guilt trips on you for what relatives will think if you put it out into the cold. (You know those gifts and inherited clutter you have been saddled with over the years.) Your clutter did not accumulate overnight and it is going to take days, weeks, and sometimes several months to rid yourself of this squatter. We do it in small steps to make it easy on you. This way, your houseguest has no clue that you are evicting it. Slowly but surely the clutter will leave when we use our 27 Fling Boogie or 5-Minute Room Rescue. Some of you may need to take a “get tough” approach and order a Dumpster or set up regular pickups from charity thrift stores. Whatever you decide to do, consistency is the ticket to getting clutter to vacate your premises. Just 15 minutes a day is all you need to set it on the road. When you kick its bottom out your door, you will begin to have your home to yourself again. Peace is just a 27 Fling Boogie away.

BabyStep Tool Box For Dealing With Clutter

Do you have your shoes on and are you dressed, with your hair fixed and face gleaming? You cannot attack clutter until you are dressed for the job and I don’t mean frumpy sweats either. The work you are about to do does not require a safety jumpsuit or a hardhat. The Old Way I’ll bet in the past clearing out a room was like this: sorting through piles and moving them from one place to another, never really getting rid of it for all time. As a result your clutter continued to pile up each time you brought home something new. The New Way: Meet The Timer — your new best friend We all dread cleaning because we think we have to do it all day. I make it fun by setting a time for short increments. Making it fun gets the job done! So get and set a simple kitchen or other sort of timer to five, ten, or fifteen minutes. You can do anything for fifteen minutes and it won’t kill you.

Bring in the new, fling out the old! 

1. Helpful Hint. Don’t let it in to begin with. Every time you buy something new, take the bag or bags that they came in and pack up a similar item to give away. A born-organized friend taught me this. I watched her add a new pair of tennis shoes to her closet and cull out an old pair for the trash or charity. It made so much sense, why had I never thought of it? At the time I beat myself up over it; now, I realize that our minds do not work like this and it takes a good example to show us the way. You won’t even realize you are removing the old. If you cannot find a similar item to dispose of, then you get to pick out two unrelated items to toss. This practice will help keep your home clutter-free before it even gets through the door.

2. The Famous 27 Fling Boogie: This is a fun, fast exercise! I practiced this daily for six months until everything in my home was something I loved and used regularly. In Suze Oman’s various books, such as The Courage to Be Rich, she suggests a simple tool. I have adapted it because I was studying Feng Shui principles for putting order in my home. Suze says take a garbage bag and run through the house collecting 25 items to throw in the trash. I took it two steps further. I added two items to the collection tally because of my interest in Feng Shui. This really doesn’t matter, but it made it fun for me. Now set the timer. In the beginning, you can start at 15 minutes. This will become your daily routine. Turn on the timer, grab a box, and go through your home as fast as you can, collecting things to give away. Speed is the key. Don’t think about it and talk yourself out of tossing the clutter. As soon as you have the box filled with 27 items, take it immediately to your car to be disposed of at your local charity thrift shop. Stop when the timer goes off. That’s enough for the first day. You have done something for yourself and for someone else and you should feel so good about this. You will be blessed for giving your excess to those in need; you will also be blessed by getting the clutter out of your home, so you can find peace.

“If it doesn’t make you smile, get rid of it.”

Now don’t tease yourself into believing that you can have a yard sale and recoup your wasted money. There is no way that you are ever going to get back what you have spent, so forgive yourself for the waste and let it go to bless another family. Be a songbird, too. I have a favorite song that I sing at the top of my lungs when I am removing clutter from my home. It is a take-off on the old country music song, “Please Release Me, Let Me Go,” as sung from two points of view. The first version is from my point of view or how the clutter is holding me back and won’t allow me to live in peace. The next verse I sing from the stuff’s point of view, begging to be released from a home that doesn’t love it to a home that will use and love it. I don’t know the words to the whole song, so I just make up new words each time I sing it. Tossing while singing helps you to FLY!

Do this every day until your clutter is gone.

The Next Clutter Control Method: Hot Spot Fire Drill

What is a Hot Spot? A Hot Spot is an area that, when left unattended, gradually and insidiously takes over your home. Think of a Hot Spot in a forest fire. It may seem under control but it really isn’t. If left alone it will eventually get out of hand and burn up the whole forest. This is what happens in our homes. If left unattended the Hot Spot will grow and take over the whole room as well as make the house look awful. When you walk into a room, a Hot Spot is the first thing you see. Your eye is locked on it. Over the years my Hot Spot has migrated. As a child it was a chair in my bedroom. I would pile it to the ceiling. It has been a corner filled with unopened storage boxes. Right now I have two Hot Spots in my home: a table by my chair and our big coffee table. This coffee table is a staging area for unopened mail. Sometimes you cannot see the top of the table. Do you know why Hot Spots exist? It’s simple. There is an unwritten rule of clutter. Clutter attracts more clutter — like a magnetic force. Whenever you catch yourself saying, “I can put this here and do it later,” you have created a “Hot Spot.”

You will know where your Hot Spots are because the rest of the family sees them as a place to put things when they do not want to put them where they belong. But you are going to put an end to this and stop this Hot Spot from becoming a raging “clutter inferno.” The Hot Spot Fire Drill Twice a day, as a part of our Morning and Before Bed Routines, we will survey our usual Hot Spots and put away the items that have just been left out. If we take only five minutes to find a home for those items that are trying to take over, the Hot Spots will disappear. Easier said than done? Try this: in order to keep them from igniting, place a decorative object there or a vase of flowers, and you are going to be so pleased with your home as you put out the fires. “Let go of the things that are holding you down and FLY!”

Time for the Five-Minute Room Rescue — another step on the road to clutter recovery. Do you have rooms that you can’t even walk through? I used to. In just a few short months, I rescued each of them from the CHAOS that had invaded by taking only five minutes at a time to put things away and toss things out. Keep in mind that this means purging the room of the clutter. You cannot organize clutter. Quit stepping over, on, and around this clutter. This room is not a landfill. Garages and basements beware, you are about to be reclaimed for family fun! At one point all I could do was go in the room and put two things away or toss them in the trash. BabySteps will get you there.

Quick Review:

If you do nothing else besides getting dressed to shoes and spending 15 minutes a day tossing out your clutter, you are going to see major changes in your home and the way you feel about yourself. This is all I ask. You can do this by setting a timer and spending the whole session in one area or you can spread it out over Hot Spot Fire Drills, Room Rescues, and 27 Fling Boogies. Get the family involved and let the clutter fly out your door. Have fun and before you know it, you will be FLYing too.

Crisis Cleaning 101:
In the event that you need to see some progress and you just can’t seem to get into our BabyStep method, I have a tip or “gimmick” for you. Pretend that you are going to have guests or better yet actually invite someone to spend the weekend or have dinner one night. This puts the pressure on you to get your Franny moving. Naturally, you will do the good old Crisis Cleaning, Stash and Dash. But this does allow you to begin to keep it clean with the foundation of your simple routines. After a few months of consistency, you will gradually be getting the hidden clutter disposed of while keeping the surface clutter at bay. Many of you have written to us saying you work better from this starting point. I have even had members become cleaning partners, helping each other one day a week to eliminate the surface clutter.

Marathon Clean — if you really have to I can hear the panic in your voices. “In six weeks I have a ton of company coming, what am I to do?” If you want a crash marathon cleaning session, I can help you, but be warned: without the routines, your home will be trashed again in a day. So you have to listen closely.

1. Go get dressed all the way to shoes, hair fixed, and face moisturized or makeup put on. Don’t question me on this. Just do it now. Put on some good working music. Not too fast, just slow and steady, peppy but not aerobic. Light a candle that has a good scent or put some spices on to boil on a very low heat.

2. We are going to start in our kitchens. As the kitchen goes, so does the rest of the house. Set a timer and spend 15 minutes in the kitchen. If your sink is not clean and shiny, then shine it first. Then you can fill the sink up with hot soapy water and start to clear off the left and right counters. Empty the dishwasher. When the timer goes off, stop what you are doing and go to the living room.

3. Set the timer again and do 15 minutes cleaning off the coffee tables or picking up toys or newspapers. Concentrate on one thing, not all of it. Get a laundry basket and put the things that don’t belong in the living room in the basket. Take a garbage bag with you as well. Start throwing away the trash. Don’t get caught up in the guilt we have about pounds of trash going into a landfill. It is not going to kill you. Your home is not a landfill. So get over this perfectionist attitude. As you get your home in order there will be plenty of time to recycle. For now we are focusing on getting the home presentable. You can’t do this if you are hyper focusing on sorting and recycling. When the timer goes off, go back to the kitchen.

4. In the kitchen set the timer for 15 more minutes and continue to work on clearing the counters. Do not get sidetracked and begin to clean out a cabinet. We are doing only surface cleaning.

5. Now take a break and walk around and look at what you have accomplished in just 45 minutes. Set the timer for 15 minutes and drink a cup of tea or coffee or whatever you love and just relax. When the timer goes off you are back in work mode for 15 more minutes.

6. This 15-minute session is in the bathroom. Do you understand this? Clean the sink in here first, then pick up towels and dirty clothes and put them in the hamper. Do not get sidetracked and start a load of laundry. I mean this. Laundry will come later!

7. When the timer goes off, you are back in the kitchen for 15 more minutes. We can do anything in 15 minutes. Keep working till the timer goes off. Then you go to the living room once again.

8. In the living room, continue to pick up and put away for another 15 minutes.

9. Every 45 minutes take a 15-minute break. Are you beginning to get a feel for this? Adapt this schedule to fit your physical limitations and children’s needs. But you get the picture. Stay focused on one job for 15 minutes. You are going to be so surprised at how much you get done in two hours time or spread out across the day with plenty of break time. Now you can understand why the timer is your new best friend. You can do this if you have to. You have in the past, but have forgotten to take breaks and recharge your batteries and strategize. Your home will not stay this way unless you establish your routines, 5, 10, or 15 minutes at a time.

Tool Box Inventory Review

A timer
Bring in the new and fling out the old 27 Fling Boogie
Hot Spot fire drill 15-minute declutter sessions
5-minute room rescue
When all else fails, invite guests and Crisis Clean.

Homework Assignment: Time For Another 27 Fling Boogie Grab a garbage bag and boogie! Run through the house as fast as you can and dispose of 27 items. Then put the bag in the trash. Do not look through it. After you have thrown out the trash, pick up another bag or box and gather up 27 items to give away. Do this as fast as you can, don’t think, just boogie. When you have filled the box with the 27 items, go take it to your car and put it in the trunk. Don’t second-guess yourself! Next time you are out, donate it to a charity. You can do this. As you lighten your burden by giving away your excess, you will be free to FLY! “By thinning out clutter, the real beauty of your home shines through!”

Cilley, Marla (2007-12-18). Sink Reflections (pp. 34-35). Bantam. Kindle Edition.


  1. I didn't ever finish reading last week's post!!!! I know that it was about laundry and getting dressed though. I did get dressed every day before going downstairs and that makes a huge difference for me. Also, laundry is actually pretty under control already. I enjoy laundry because the washer and dryer do most of the work and for some reason I've always enjoyed folding warm clothes out of the dryer. I always need more hangers though. Does anyone else have that problem?

    My sink shines most of the time, but out of the ordinary events totally throw me off. I had a last minute house guest this week. So a last minute dinner party. Also a last minute salsa making and canning party and stuff like that, or even just a really long day make me let the dishes pile up. It's shining now though and I am making progress and it does make me happy when it's clean. i'm just not perfect at it yet.

    I'm really excited for de cluttering. You all know me and you've seen my house! I can't wait to get rid of stuff! I hope that Micah will be as on board because a lot of times we will let piles hang around because we can't decide what to do with them. I'm really excited about not caring about recouping the money I've waisted. I'm not going to think twice about taking a huge ikea bag full of stuff "to be returned" to DI. Unless someone comes and gets it before I take it :) Or you can buy it at DI :)

    Anyway, I need to buy a timer. But I am EXCITED!!!!!

  2. I think I missed the part about laying out my clothes before bed; however, I did manage to get dressed all the way. I'm a simple girl and I don't do fancy hair dos, so that wasn't too bad. I also tried real hard to keep the bedroom clean. We don't have a washer and dryer in our apt, so usually we do ALL our laundry in one day because it's easier that way. My amazing husband is great at helping me with that. When we move again I will have to re-read the laundry chapter again, since right now it gets done in one day a week and everything gets folded while we watch a show at night time.
    Like Camille, my sink shines most of the time. Sometimes if I've had a crazy day I try not to stress out if my kitchen is not shining. I just shine it as soon as I can and everything's fine. Something I've learned is that by keeping the kitchen clean other part of our home stay clean as well and I begin to pay attention to other aspects of my life that I had been neglecting. I'm also excited about starting to declutter this week.