Tuesday, June 28, 2016

27 Things - A Garden Approach

I love to putter around the garden but recently with all the work going on with the inside of our home, I haven't spent as much time out in the garden as I want to or as I need to.  I have a lot of potted plants on the front porch, as well as on the back patio, and they can get unruly and messy looking awfully fast if you don't tend to them on a regular basis.  I don't think people realize how much maintenance goes into keeping a yard looking nice.

I decided to take my 27 Things philosophy and apply it to the garden.  My approach was to look at each pot as one thing and I did this with individual flower beds as well.  My goal was to complete 27 Things in a couple of hours.    I first tackled the 14 potted plants on the porch.  It actually took much longer than I thought it would but I removed dead leaves, dead flowers, snipped here and there to shape some of the plants, added dirt to some containers, planted a few new little plants,  wiped off cobwebs and debris on the outside of the pot, and gave them all a good watering.  It was very satisfying and everything looked so fresh and healthy.  We've had really high heat here in Northern California, well over 100 degrees, and the heat can really wilt and burn a plant that is not hydrated enough.

Front porch jade plant and basket with ivy and inpatients!

More potted plants on front porch.  

I also used our blower to sweep off the dirt and debris from the front porch.  I would love to have used water but we are experiencing a drought here in California so the blower does the same thing without use of water.    I then worked in 3 flower beds in the front yard, primarily weeding and clearing out dead leaves, etc.   I think because I had the focus of 27 Things I was willing to keep working and the work paid off as the front yard looked really good.

Next I tackled the back patio.  I have 9 potted plants on the back patio and basically did the same to those pots as I did on the front porch.  I have a beautiful tree azalea that still had dead flowers on it and I was able to clean that up.  Also for some reason, I had lots of weeds in the patio pots that needed to be pulled out.  I finished up my small tasks with a clean-up of one flower bed that has a beautiful Japanese Maple that needed some dead branches trimmed off.  

So, 14 pots on the front porch, 9 pots on the back patio, 3 front yard flower beds, and 1 flower bed on the back patio and I've got my 27 Things.  It did take several hours and I was hot, sweaty and dirty when I finished but it felt so satisfying finishing up those tasks.  I've wanted to work out there for days but couldn't get motivated.  Thinking in terms of 27 Things was just what the doctor ordered!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Another 27 Things Bites the Dust

The post title is dedicated to my sister who used those exact words in a text to me to let me know she had just finished gathering another one of  her 27 Things!  The power of 27 is amazing when it comes to decluttering because it is a small enough number that you know you can gather that many items to move on and it is a large enough number to really make a difference.  The cumulative power is big as you start to total your individual groupings of 27 Things!

This past week I have been working on small projects that combine decluttering with cleaning and organizing.  However,  I still keep my guest bed available as a gathering place for my ongoing quest for my 27Things.  It is taking a little longer to get to that magic number, but as I do, I bag up the items for donations or to pass along to people who I know can use them.   I then begin again and the bed slowly gets filled up with the next stash of 27Things.

Here is my latest haul.

Most of the items will be donated but a few are things I'm passing on to friends.  There is a bath and body cream that is really good but the scent bothers my husband.  I'm passing that on to a friend who can and will use it.  The important thing here is that in the past I would have stashed it under the sink or in a drawer and years later would come across it and have to throw it out.  I like that as soon as I know something doesn't work, I'm able to decide to let it go and that is transformative for me.

There were some cute containers with a French and 4th of July theme that I am passing on to use for a friend's 70th birthday party which just happens to have a 4th of July theme!  I'm not sure what we will put in the little containers - candy, nuts, or some type of decoration but they will be put to good use.  I've had them for several years and they have been sitting in the drawer just waiting for an opportunity like this!

We had several pieces of hardware under the bathroom sink and I asked my husband what they were for and if we needed them!  He said no -- so they ended up in the pile as well.  There were some broken tools, little containers, a book, some clothing, and part of an appliance that all went in the pile!  Yes - it is getting harder as I've whittled away at the stuff in my house the last couple of months, but there is much more to accomplish and I am asking myself each time I consider purchasing something -- do I really need this!  I think that is the big gain from this whole thing - I am a more prudent consumer in every way!

So in keeping with my sister's sentiment - another 27 Things bites the dust and it brings my total to 405 items released from my space and into another life!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Second Project - Done!

My second project for the week was an outside project and instead of one small shed I tackled both small sheds.  In order to organize and inventory, I really needed to do both sheds!  The project took about 60 minutes from start to finish and although it is not perfect, it is good enough.

Shed #1 - Before

Shed #2 - Before

The sheds were not in bad shape but they were disorganized with stuff shoved in where it would fit. Overall the space was not utilized efficiently.   I removed all items and laid them out on the cement to help me decide how to organize what I was keeping.  Most of the tools were in good shape but a few tools were broken and no longer usable.  I set those aside to recyle.  I also found some tree fertilizer stakes that had gotten wet and no longer can be  used as tree stakes.  I decided to crumble them to use on the trees this week.  I didn't even realize I had tree fertilizer stakes!

Shed #1 - After
Shed #1 now mostly contains small hand tools and sprinkler items.  The hand tools are arranged so you can see what is there and easily remove it for use and replace it after use.   I also placed seed packets and flower description tabs on the top shelf along with gardening gloves.  There were several pair of gloves and some that were in such bad condition I threw them out.  The bottom shelf contains decorative rocks for plant pots and a pad for my knees when I'm working in the garden.

Shed #2 - After

Shed #2 contains fertilizers and pest control items.  We also have electrical lawn tools such as our mower, edger, and our blower so we have several long extension cords.  I only think we need one but my husband said all three were good so all three are stored.  There were also some masks for protection when working with chemicals and it is nice to know we have them and where they are.

All in all this project and the under the sink project took about an hour and a half.  That is a small investment of time to have things organized.  I find that small projects like this add up and eventually all the small projects add up to a fairly organized space inside and out.  It's a good thing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

One Project Down - One More to Go!

I tackled project #1 for the week which was to declutter, clean, and organize the items under the kitchen sink.  It actually did not take very long but the results are very satisfying!  This was a very small and somewhat contained project.  It only took about 30 minutes from start to finish.  I ended up throwing away some cleaning products I had that were in the small packages, e.g., wood wipes, leather wipes, window wipes, etc.  Although wipes can be very convenient, if you don't use them quickly the cloths dry up and they are somewhat useless.  I won't purchase them in the future as I really don't like throwing stuff out that I haven't used, it is so wasteful.  Keeping your home organized has the great benefit of reducing waste because you don't buy things you already have and you use up the products you do have!


The contents pulled out

After decluttering, cleaning and organizing!

I may tackle project #2, the outdoor shed tomorrow!  I have until the end of the week to complete it but it will be very hot here at the end of the week so the sooner the better!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Small Projects with Big Payoffs

I am surprised at the rush I get from getting things organized and since I like that feeling it kind of motivates me to keep finding those projects to organize.  I'm still working on my 27Things and currenlty have about 21 items on the bed ready for 6 more to make my 27!  However, it is getting harder to find things as I've cleared out so much already.  In the meantime I'm keeping up my momentum with small projects.

I just found a blog called 365 Less Things which emphasizes daily decluttering of one item each day (hence the title 365 Less Things)!  There is also a page for mini-missions focusing on daily activities to move things along.  I really enjoyed reading some of the blog entries and shared the blog link with my sister who was wowed by it!   My philosophy is anything that grabs your interest and gives  you ideas to keep the momentum going is a good thing.

So in keeping with momentum, this week I am going to work on two projects that combine three elements - decluttering, cleaning, and organizing and I know the pay-off will be much bigger than the effort that goes into each project.

The first involves the cupboard under the kitchen sink.  I have a lot of stuff there and some of it has been pushed so far back I don't know what is lurking in the back of the cabinent!  I also know I have duplicates of cleaning supplies and supplies that I've forgotten about so taking an inventory will be good and combining half used bottles of the same cleaning solution will reduce the clutter and a general clean-up of the whole area will be a worthwhile project this week.

The second involves a small outdoor shed with gardening supplies.  I'll approach this as I do the cupboard under the sink.  I have attempted the last few weeks to use up the fertilizers I have before buying anything else this season and once I clean up the shed I'll know what I need and can go buy gardening supplies with a clean slate.

I am finding that each step I take makes the next step easier.  Moving forward is what it is all about - big or small steps, it doesn't matter,  just taking the step is the key!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Digital Maintenance and the Power of Unroll Me!

Cleaning up and decluttering is a little like losing weight.  When you are losing weight you are totally focused on that task and that focus usually results in success.  However, once you reach your goal weight it can be hard to maintain it.  Maintenance requires a different focus and in some cases a different set of skills.  Well I am proud to say that I am maintaining my email inbox and keeping the digital clutter at bay.  The new app I downloaded (at my sister's suggestion) has helped tremendously.  Unroll has been a big part of why my inbox has not been inundated and I would recommend it to anyone who has difficulty managing high volumes of emails.

In fact, I have added about 15 email subscriptions to Unroll me since I initially installed the app and now have over 100 email subscriptions that go into the Unroll me folder.  I've also had the app unsubscribe me from almost 40 email subscriptions.  The app is free and I am so glad that I checked into it.  It has helped make maintenance of my digital clutter a whole lot easier.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Clutter can be Digital!

Well I am back from a fantastic two week holiday to Norway and England.  All the decluttering work I did leading up to the trip was worthwhile and I left the house clean and tidy for the most part.  All the stuff I moved out gave me room to breath and relax a little and the clean-up process prior to our trip was simplified given I had 378 less items to deal with!

Several days before I left on my trip my sister visited for a couple of days and her visit helped me on two fronts.  One, because she was arriving on Monday,  May 23rd, I had to have the guest room cleaned up, as well as the living room which was a total mess resulting from all the construction work.   Her visit helped me prioritize this task early so that I wasn't waiting to do those projects the day before we left on our trip.  I got both rooms cleaned up before she arrived on Monday afternoon and I really appreciated having those two big tasks out of the way.   The second way her visit helped is that we got a chance to spend time together and I was able to relax a little before our trip.  We had fun and it felt like a mini vacation before our big vacation.

She and I talked about our decluttering projects and the success we felt and I shared that I also was working on cleaning up my digital clutter.  Just talking about it with her galvanized me to get it done before we left on our vacation.  At this point I'm only talking about my email inbox and file archives but for me that was the elephant in the room and a darn good place to start.

I had over 7,500 unread emails in my inbox.  Who has that many unread emails?  Well based on what I know about other people from my work life I know that I'm not alone with unread emails and that others struggle with this same dilemma.  You sign up for an email notification you think you'll need and before long you are receiving hundreds of emails daily.  If you don't stay on top of the emails they seem to grow and before you know it you have thousands.  You hesitate to delete them because after all, one of them may have something important you need, but you will never know because you can't tackle going through them all.  Haha!  It is almost as bad as physical clutter and can play with your mind in the same way.

I think because I had some of the big tasks, like the guest room and the living room completed early, I was able to focus on the digital clutter as I relaxed in front of the television.  Some of the older emails were easy to delete because whatever they promised had expired.  Over several days, I was able to delete my entire inbox and archive things that I felt I may need to reference.  At a later date, I will look at those more closely but for now the inbox is clean.  For some reason, having the inbox clean was a big load off my mind and when I did need to check email while on vacation, it was definitely less stressful to open that email inbox.

Keeping it up will be the real test and my sister suggested an app called "Unroll Me" which I downloaded to my phone.  That app will go through your email subscriptions and allow  you to unsubscribe (very easily too), keep, or put in a special unroll me file.  I did end up unscribing to 35 vendors, and rolled up 80 so they won't clog up my inbox, and I kept 16 notifications I want to see when they come in.  I may modify that at a later date but for now it is working.  I can easily go to the Unroll Me file folder and take a look at what is there but it does not overwhelm my inbox.  The emails I kept are notifications from organizations that I want to be aware of as soon as possible so this system works.  The emails I unsubscribed to were things I really didn't care about and was happy to let them go.  I would recommend the Unroll Me application for anyone who has issues with their inbox (and I think that is most of us)!