How I Save Space in My Jewelry Organizer

I’m the girl that loves scarves and necklaces and cute belts when I see them on other people, but I hardly wear them myself.

Until…

I started hanging my scarves with the outfits they go well with.

It’s been so helpful because I don’t have a messy pile of scarves to sort through if I decide to wear one. And I no longer forget about the scarves altogether like I used to.

Another problem with how it was before was that I didn’t enjoy taking the time while getting ready to try different ones to see which scarf I liked best with that outfit.

As I wear and wash the outfit, I can put the scarf with a different shirt or dress for next time so I’m still getting some different styles in.

I realize that some people might have a different system that might work better for them, but this is the only thing I’ve found to work for me. I’m sure there’s someone else out there in the same boat as me!

Space-Saving Tip

So finally as I was going through my jewelry organizer to make room for more, I realized I could do the same thing with necklaces!

Not only does that keep them from getting tangled up, it also sparks joy when I look at it hanging with the shirt. And for some reason, I don’t love the displays of all the necklaces hanging on a jewelry holder.

I also love that the decision of what to wear them with is made ahead of time. And if I pick an outfit that doesn’t have a necklace but I’d like to wear one with it, I can grab a necklace from another shirt’s hanger. And I do have one necklace that I’m keeping in my jewelry organizer because it goes with so many outfits.

 

4 Benefits of Traveling Light (& How to Make it Happen)

Living tiny has affected how I travel in so many positive ways. This guest post, by Jennifer of A Life Designed, shares not only the benefits but also some practical tips to assist you in your travels.


Packing Light

If your focus is on living a life that matters, you can free up your time and energy by learning how to pack tiny while traveling.

Packing light can help you travel with less stuff so you can enjoy the people you’re with and the places you visit.

I know all too well how not to pack because I’ve been a chronic over-packer my whole life. I used to think that I needed to be prepared for every scenario while traveling, which meant lots of stuff and a big suitcase.

But after a two week trip to Ireland a few years ago, I realized that toting a huge piece of luggage around was not only impractical, it was exhausting!

Bringing so much was a big mistake, and I struggled every time I dragged my enormous suitcase up a flight of stairs or into the trunk of the rental car.

Since then, in my quest to live with less, I’ve pared down my wardrobe significantly and created a capsule wardrobe.

This simple change to my morning routine has taught me that less is more, and this habit has spilled over to how I travel as well.

 

How Traveling Light Can Benefit You

1. Preparing for a trip is easy. When you pack minimally, less time and effort is required to get ready.

 

2. You are free to explore without a lot of stuff holding you down. It’s much easier to navigate trains, rental cars, hotel lobbies, and airports with less.

3. Your mind and body get a vacation from taking care of stuff. We all need things. But having a lot of things drains our energy, time, and money. Taking less when you travel allows you to take a break from taking care of your belongings.

4.You have freedom to focus on where you are and who you’re with. Your memories will be about the experience of traveling and the fun you had, not about how difficult it was to get your stuff to and from the destination.

A Few practical Tips for Tiny Travel
• Bring only the essentials
• Wear items more than once
• Use a basic color palette so pieces are interchangeable
• Take three pairs of shoes (or less)
• Leave jewelry at home
• Use travel size items instead of full size products
• Take one bag (tote or briefcase) as a carry-on to hold personal items and electronics
• Pack a small purse in checked luggage to use at your destination

I’d love to hear about your experiences if you’ve tried traveling tiny! Please share in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

~Jennifer

If you’d like to learn more about creating a simple, meaningful life, check out my blog, ALifeDesigned.net, to get articles sent to your inbox.

$100 Bill & other things I’ve found while decluttering

I’m not gonna lie and say it’s common to find $100 bills while decluttering, but it’s also not completely uncommon to find some cash. Yesterday I did find this $100 bill I had no clue I was missing.

Value Decluttering

 

I’ve also found $10 and $20 bills while decluttering before (and have clients who have done the same). Yet that’s been over the course of about three years.

 

I’ve found other things that were super exciting to me, like $10 worth of postage stamps (I love writing letters). But pretty much everyone gets excited about finding money! And I really didn’t think that would happen for me because I’m not the type to intentionally hide money from myself.

 

If finding $100 bills is your motivation for decluttering, you probably won’t stick with it for very long.

 

However, as I’ve been writing my book, I realized that I find more value in decluttering than even $100 a day. Meaning, even I feel someone offered me $100/day to quit decluttering, I wouldn’t do it. Especially right now while I’m in the process of moving!

 

And if you can gain that mindset of really valuing a clutter-free life, you’ll also be able to get rid of a lot of stuff… and maybe even find a hundred dollars along the way.

 

The Biggest Reason I’m Glad I Stopped being a Packrat

“You know books weigh a lot. And the military only pays for a certain amount of weight to be moved.”

That’s what my sweet fiancé said to me, a girl with an English degree, when we started moving my stuff to his house. (But it’s okay because everything else I move will be lightweight.)

Best Reason for Decluttering

I originally started this blog with the goal that before my 30th birthday, I’d own a tiny house.

Well, now I don’t need a tiny house, and I won’t be living alone in the house I move into before I turn 30.

I’m so grateful I won’t be dragging nearly as much stuff into my marriage as I would’ve had I gotten married just three years ago.

Even though there’s more I want to get rid of, I can easily do that along the way.

Now that I’m not a packrat, I have a better idea of what I like and use. I have fewer things for us to argue about. And I won’t be instantly making our lovely home look like a pigsty when I finish moving in.

Knowing that cleanliness levels can be something many couples get annoyed at each other for, I’m glad I’ve gotten to where our standards match up a lot better.

And I’m excited to reap the benefits for years to come.

We’ve now got over $150 in store credit at used bookstores from books we’ve gotten rid of. One of the things I love about my fiancé is that he enjoys reading, so now we’re able to buy books we’ll read together and it hardly costs a thing.

While I’m grateful for all the little things decluttering has helped me with…

  • being focused
  • practicing discipline
  • having space for important projects
  • being free from the concern and care of so many possessions
  • gaining new skills and interests

…those aren’t the main benefit I’ve gotten out of decluttering, although they greatly contribute to it.

The biggest reason I’m glad I stopped being a packrat is because of how it affects my relationships.

I meet so many amazing people that I get to teach about how to declutter, and I’ve learned from so many cool people that I never would’ve met otherwise.

I’ve given space back to family members whose houses my stuff had taken over.

Most of all, as I look at the ring on my finger, I’m so glad I got rid of items from my past to make room for new joys, new memories, and new people in my future.

 

Today’s Task: Try filling a grocery bag with items to get rid of, and think of how decluttering will slowly improve your relationships over time.

Having Kids Help Declutter: 3 Day Challenge

While we’re in the middle of a 100 Day Challenge, that can be overwhelming and isn’t practical for everyone. Plus, the way to declutter for 100 days is to start with a few days.

Help kids declutter

Just as you don’t enjoy being overwhelmed with daunting decluttering tasks, neither do your children. While you can implement this challenge however you want, here’s my advice to add structure if you don’t already have a plan.

1. Teach the benefits of decluttering. Teach your kids that it’s a valuable life skill that will benefit them and those they love for the rest of their lives. Share the joy and freedom it enhances. (I say that it enhances joy and freedom because I had plenty of joy and freedom even when I had clutter, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t have lots of clutter but that doesn’t mean they automatically experience overwhelming joy and freedom. So much of that comes from choosing joy and freedom no matter what.)

2. Explain the tasks. Let them know how much time you want them to put into it. This depends on what age/stage your child is at. But I’d say anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes is a good starting spot. Tell them why they’re doing this. (It can give them room for more stuff later…birthdays or Christmas. It’ll make cleaning their rooms faster. It makes it easier to find things. There’s more room to play or be creative.)

3. Set small goals and work your way up. Day one might just be a day of discussing the benefits, tasks, and goals and then getting them set up to start the next day. You could tell them that if they happen to find something to put in the donation pile, they can go ahead but that you don’t require them to start until the next day. Day two could involve a challenge to fill the box or get rid of X number of items (10?). Day three could be for them to go through one category of clothing (all of their shirts or all of their pants or all of their shoes, etc) or get rid of 11 items or work for 15 minutes instead of 10 (or 6 instead of 5 if they are much younger).

4. Help get them started. Supply them with a box or bag to put items in for donation. Make sure they have a trash can so they can also get rid of things that aren’t worth donating. Tell them it’s best to start with larger items because it makes a noticeable difference faster. Trashing a piece of paper won’t put as much of a dent in the clutter as getting rid of a big stuffed animal.

5. Be prepared for them to want to get rid of things you don’t want them to get rid of. Maybe you paid a lot for it or it’s great quality or has sentimental value for you. At that point, they’ve done the work and should reap the benefits. Maybe find a family member who would also find it sentimental. Or put it in your own room or in the attic until another child can use it. If you aren’t willing to keep it among your items, maybe it isn’t as valuable as you thought. Try not to force them to keep too much in their room even though they’ve said it doesn’t spark joy. That will discourage them to keep going because they’ll think you might overrule them about more stuff, so they’re just wasting their time trying to get rid of clutter.

 

Other Tips for Making the Process Easier

My sister’s daughters were really involved in choosing which clothes to get rid of, but her sons didn’t care much. So for them, we went through all of their clothes and took out the ones we thought didn’t fit or had too many holes/stains. Then we had them look through that pile we were going to give away to make sure they didn’t want to keep any of it. They did decide to keep some, but we were still able to get rid of a lot.

Even for me, I recently chose one bookshelf to go through and choose the books I definitely knew I wanted to keep. Then it was much easier to tell myself that I must not really want to keep the others because they aren’t in my “definite keepers” pile. So I boxed up two-thirds of the books on the shelf to sell at the bookstore! And I seriously love books. Like, if anyone else had told me a few years ago that they were doing that, I’d have said they weren’t really a book lover. But I have an English degree. Believe me, I love books! So this might be a good task for your kids to quickly get rid of items on a shelf.

 

If you don’t have kids, you could still try three of these items for yourself or a roommate. Choose three days this week to work on this challenge. They don’t have to be three days in a row. 

Let me know how you do with this challenge as opposed to the 100 day challenge. I always love hearing how many people are able to accomplish their goals!

 

Clutter-Free Moms: Do What Works for You

You may have heard lots of advice about how to declutter, and you may hear lots more advice here. Some of it will help you, some won’t. Stick with what works for you. Try different things, but remember you can always change back.

I’ve seen that what works for me in a certain stage of the decluttering process isn’t as effective later. And what works for people who have less cluttered lives than I do, doesn’t help me right now. But I keep it in mind as something to try later.

This week’s tips might be one of those things for you. And that’s perfectly ok. If you’ve got plenty of decluttering tasks you want to do before trying this one, go for it.

Clutter-free by thanksgiving

 

Tip of the Week: If you, like so many other people, wear the same pair of jeans multiple times before washing them, you may not have a great system for keeping them separate from your cleanest clothes. Consider having one drawer just for those clothes that have been worn more than once. Or have a space in your closet for hanging those items so they can air out in between wears…instead of piling up on the floor or a chair.

 

P. S. Just checking in again: How many days have you been decluttering now? I’m excited to see how many people turn this into a habit.

Clutter-Free Moms: Overwhelmed

Clutter-Free by Thanksgiving

Ever just want to hide from all the responsibility that comes with having so much stuff? Wanna get away from the clutter?

As you declutter more and more, you’ll feel less and less like you need to escape from your own home.

Having so much to do can be paralyzing.

Tip of the Week: Start small. Take 5 minutes. Maybe that’s enough time to empty your purse and only put back what currently needs to be there. Or you can get rid of that plastic cups that only annoy you every time you see or use them. 5 minutes is enough time to put a few clothes that don’t really fit you into a bag to donate next time you’re near the thrift store. Get to it, and mark off one more day!

 

This is day 14 of the challenge, but if you’re just joining, you can still get your 100 days in by August 31st to get a free digital copy of my upcoming book. Just check out my previous post with the introduction to the 100 day challenge.

Clutter-Free Moms: Progress

How nice would it be to have a table with nothing on it but your cup of tea to enjoy? 

Instead there may be papers reminding you of all you should be doing while you’re drinking your tea. Or maybe there’s honey or jelly stuck to the table that you should have wiped off earlier. If only there weren’t so many dishes and boxes of snacks piled up, then it would be easier to wipe the table.

The clutter won’t magically disappear, but over these 100 days it’ll slowly begin to shrink if you put in the work. And it’ll be so worth it!

Simplicity Clutter-Free by Thanksgiving

Tip of the Week: Make a simple chart to record your 100 days. You could put a small box to check off your calendar each day, write the numbers 1 through 100 on a dry erase board and circle each one you complete, or put a post it on your mirror that you can add a tally mark to every day that you do a little decluttering.

Most importantly, find something to get rid of today (not your kids) and mark off day one!

 

It’s not too late to help a friend get in on the challenge so they can declutter their lives as well.

Next time we’ll talk a little bit about how to go about this process of decluttering without feeling overwhelmed.

Clutter-Free Moms: 100 Day Challenge

 

It can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to establish a habit.

It all depends on the difficulty level of the habit as well as the individual’s resistance to forming habits.

But the average time to make a habit second-nature is 66 days. (All of the above is according to this study).

 

Maybe before you had kids, you didn’t really have to make decluttering a habit. Even if you aren’t a parent, taking this challenge can prepare you for when you are someday, or it can help you stop being a packrat like I was! I have since learned that decluttering is a great life skill.

So let’s start by making it a habit.

Clutter-Free Moms Challenge

Why 100 Days?

Just in case decluttering is one of those complex habits, or in case you’re resistant to habits, 100 days sounds like a good number to start with. It isn’t quite as intimidating as 254, but it’s a solid start.

I’m even building in some wiggle room for you because the challenge will actually take place over 123 days (May 1-August 31). You can skip nearly a month and still complete the challenge!

 

Details of the Challenge

Over the next four months, I’ll send an email every other week with a short “Tip of the Week.” Each one will likely be 1-3 paragraphs long. Just enough to serve as a reminder and provide some inspiration, but not so much that it takes up all the time you had for decluttering.

You will be in charge of remembering to declutter even on the days in between so that you can form it as a habit.

You get to check your decluttering off for the day whether you declutter for one hour or one minute.

My recommendation is that you do it for 15-45 minutes a day depending on your schedule. But even if you just do one minute a day, that would end up being over an hour and a half total. If that’s more than you would’ve done otherwise, it sounds like a win to me!

If you feel like there’s no way you could even find 15 minutes a day, that’s ok. We’ll discuss that during the challenge, too. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 5 minutes if that’s as much time as you can afford to focus on decluttering.

The topics for the posts include:

  • How to keep from being overwhelmed as you get started
  • Having kids help declutter
  • How to adjust the KonMari Method for those who have kids (or only short chunks of time to work on decluttering)
  • Combating daily paper clutter (mail and kids school work)
  • Tricks for decluttering the kitchen

 

What you get for Participating

At the end of the challenge, each participant will receive the first chapter of my upcoming book, From Packrat to Clutter-Free. 

For those who actually complete the challenge by decluttering for 100 out of the 123 days, they will receive a digital copy of my entire book. (They just have to send me a copy of their chart or tag me in a social media post of it.)

 

How to enter the Challenge

1. Simply enter your email address into the bar at the top of this page or in the pop-up box.

2. Make sure you check your junk mail in case your confirmation email ends up there.

Once you’ve subscribed, you’ll get each post sent to your email. If you’re like me, you wouldn’t remember to check the blog every other week for the latest post.

Plus, if you don’t sign-up, then you won’t get the first chapter of my book at the end of the challenge since I won’t be posting that to the blog.

 

And don’t forget to share this with your friends so they can take the challenge with you!

The first post will help you get started by making a simple chart to track your 100 days.

I’m so excited to help you become a little more clutter-free by establishing this habit!

 

Being Afraid of Marriage is like being Afraid of Swimming Pools

 

Some of my best memories have happened in and around a pool with family and friends. I think of laughter and fun and relaxation when I see a swimming pool.

And it blows my mind that people could see a marriage and think of those same things. Laughter? Fun? Relaxing?

More like terrifying, overwhelming, and disastrous. And yet the possibility is looming in my not-so-distant future.

I recently contemplated that I could someday actually enjoy marriage enough to say to my husband, “I’m sorry I was so afraid of this.” It was strange to imagine that one day I’d feel silly for being so frightened over something so good and fun.

 

Then I realized his reply could be something like this:

“If a child had seen his father drown his mother in a pool and try to drown him, too, you wouldn’t tell him he was being completely silly for being afraid of swimming pools.

You might show him how much fun it could be and coax him in when he’s ready. But as he finally laughs and plays in the pool and then turns to you and says, ‘I’m sorry I was so scared of this. I can’t believe I was so stupid,’ you wouldn’t say, ‘Yeah, I tried to tell you a long time ago to stop worrying about it.’

No, you’d feel sorry that anyone has had to go through something so horrible that it would make them afraid of something that brings so much joy. You’d tell him it’s not his fault and that you’re proud of him for overcoming his fear.

So that’s what I’m telling you. I’m sorry you had to go through so much pain growing up that you weren’t able to comprehend how great marriage could be until now. I’m just glad you decided to give it a chance anyway.”

 

If you’re like me, I hope that sinks in as much as it did for me.

Just like it’s crazy for me to think that anyone could not love a swimming pool as much as I do, I guess there are people out there who can’t imagine someone so scared of marriage that they won’t even give it a try.

And just like I would want that little boy to move past his traumatic experience enough to be able to enjoy swimming, I want myself to take those steps to see how amazing marriage can be.

In the past, I’ve allowed the negative relationships I’ve seen to outweigh all the positive ones. Because it hit closer to home, the negative stories seemed more real, more believable. But I’m realizing that the damage done doesn’t have to be permanent. Good marriages are real, too.

 

It’s easy for me to have hope for a child I’ve never met who had such strong negative images about a swimming pool that it canceled out any good memories he had.

But seeing it as something similar to what I do with marriage helps me believe I can soon have good memories about marriage. So many good memories, in fact, that I realize that my view from the beginning (of marriage being bad) was the view that was skewed, rather than the other way around.

 

By the way, this is not an invitation for you to tell me that marriage actually is the worst thing ever. As I mentioned, I’ve seen the ugly side of it and fixated on that enough. It’s time for a different perspective. I look forward to the day when I say, “Why was I afraid of this!?!!!”

 

I think part of the problem is that people seem fine with sharing all the horrible things about marriage, but they don’t say, “Marriage is mostly horrible, but also there are some really good things about it.”

On the flip side, maybe I just overlook the positive things people say about marriage because I don’t believe it. But also when people actually talk about how great marriage can be, they usually add, “But it is really hard and there’s a lot of bad that can happen, too.”

And as my boyfriend pointed out, people probably aren’t as vocal when they’re happy with their marriage because they don’t want to come across as bragging about something other people don’t have. Plus, they know there’s always the chance something horrible could happen later in their marriage.

 

Even though there are real dangers in swimming, I don’t let that stop me from enjoying a day at the pool. And I don’t intend to let fear of potential hardships keep me from enjoying marriage and dealing with any problem as it arises.

 

And actually, when I was a baby, I did very nearly drown. My face turned purple and blue, and I eventually threw up a bunch of water. I don’t remember it, but still my parents could’ve used it as an excuse to keep me from ever going swimming. They could’ve frightened me away from it by telling me all the bad things that could happen.

Instead, I learned to swim at the age of two or three. Instead of avoiding the possibility of another tragedy, I was taught a healthy way to deal with water. I learned some things that gave me an advantage.

And so instead of avoiding relationships altogether, I’ve continued to learn how to have stronger ones.

 

I’ve talked before about how being single is awesome, but it comes with its own set of struggles. Staying away from swimming pools wouldn’t keep that child out of danger. He could get hurt any number of ways. Avoiding pools just ensures that he misses out on the fun he could be having.