FYI: De-Cluttering

Following is a collection of links that may be of interest to you related to our latest topic. Note, listing does not imply endorsement. Please evaluate for your own situation.

Tidying-Up — chances are you’ve heard about or read Marie Kondo’s book; here’s David Murray’s take on it

Mental Clutter — tips on streamlining your decision-making process

Your Closet — what a “wardrobe crisis” says about your heart

More on Your Closet — the impact on your brain

Further Considerations for Your Wardrobe — suggestions for choosing what you keep

Benefits — what you’ll get from de-cluttering

Summary of Methods — 6 ways you may choose to de-clutter

A Few Tips — professional organizer thoughts

Counterbalance — warning to guard our hearts as we de-clutter


Rejoicing in Relationships

Recently I was part of a reading group discussion on Unforgettable by Scott Simon, and part of the conversation was about how the author told the story of his life with his mother through relationships. The people they knew made their life what it was. Memories of family and friends, long-term and short-term, painted the picture of the decades they shared. Whether life-time family members or friends known for a time, so many made an impact.

So often we think of lives — whether ours or anyone else’s — as a series of events. We are born, we walk, we start school, we graduate, we work, we marry, etc. Project-driven types like me tend to think of our days as a series of tasks; Monday is defined by the to-do list.

Speaking for myself, I need the reminder daily (if not hourly) that my life is in relationships, not accomplishments or milestones. My relationship with God is life, all I need today and for eternity. My relationship with my husband is my earthly priority and a priceless work of God’s grace in my life. My relationship with my stepdaughter is a precious treasure day after day. My relationships in my local church and through the work day build me up and provide an avenue for blessing in turn. My friendships provide similar benefits and a whole lot of joy. Neighbors, extended family, acquaintances, waiters and clerks we see on a regular basis, and more — all enrich daily life.

I need to remember that my life so far is a beautiful tapestry of people God has placed in my path. I need to remember that my day today is not about getting the oil changed and the laundry caught up and the project finished and dinner made, but about loving those in it. Yes, I love them by doing the dishes, but often I need to look up from the sink and smile at my family and be thankful.

Organized Shelves

May I introduce you to my home? It contains a lot of stuff. A LOT. OF STUFF. I suspect I am not the only one. If you choose not to be minimalist (or minimalist in spirit but not practice), you end up having to find a place for all that stuff. Once your closets are full (oh, yes!), or if you don’t have many closets (I know your pain), we often end up looking at cabinets or shelves for the rest. And that is a good option for items we use often, like shelf-stable food or cookie sheets or toiletries. But the option will fail if it’s not sufficiently organized.

It helps to be able to find what you need AND minimize visual clutter in the process. Shelving is great because it is easy to access. It can be a problem, though, if it’s just more layers of unknown piles stacking to the ceiling. If what you need is buried, you can’t get it and you are oppressing your brain in the process!

Sort. Sort. Sort. Put like items together. Make it easy to see where things are in a split-second glance. Consider also which items are often used together. Mixing bowls can be in the section next to the brownie mix. Plastic food storage containers can be in the section next to the plastic bags for post-dinner clean-up.

Do your best to fit the items to the shelf size. Big shelf, big stuff. Push the little things to the smaller shelves. The less you have stacked, the easier it is to put your hand on it when needed. This also goes for bookshelves. Keep the big, tall books on the taller shelves and the short paperbacks on the more narrow shelves. It will fill the space better and look neat.

Put what you use most where it is easiest to reach. The heavier, less frequently used stuff can go on the very bottom shelf. The lighter items can go on the top shelf. You will see and reach for the middle shelves the most, so save yourself a few inches.

IMG_4225Hide what you can in plain sight. We’ve already discussed closets, but this is also for shelving out in a room. Using baskets or bins or banker’s boxes covered in contact paper will help cut down on the clutter in the room. It is there, but you don’t have to look at it until you need it. Using a neutral color for the bins or paper cover will make the shapes blend into the background. Or you can take the opportunity to add a pop of color to the room.

Mix up your shelving. You can use the same set of shelves for books, a few boxes, a vase with flowers, a few picture frames, and toy storage. Bonus: it looks decorative, just like in catalogs! This will also help relieve some of the pressure to fill the shelf with whatever you had earmarked for it. Keep what you need and is meaningful. If you only need enough books, toys and pictures to fill one shelving unit — excellent. If it eventually expands to two, no problem, but resist the urge to force the expansion just to fill space. Note: you will still need to sort into separate areas. For instance, one shelf is books, one shelf is half books and half pictures, and the bottom shelf is toys.


Don’t Go It Alone

As we discuss ways to manage our selves and our households well, I want to spend a few minutes on words of warning. As humans, when we strive for excellence, it can be easy to get caught up in the achievement itself (or lack thereof).

We all too often struggle with a skewed perspective. We have to do and be “good enough.” Martin Luther described it this way:

This pernicious opinion of the law, that it justifies and makes righteous before God, is so deeply rooted in man’s reason, and all mankind so wrapped up in it, that they can hardly get out; yea, I myself, have now preached the gospel nearly 20 years, and have been exercised in the same daily, by reading and writing, so that I may well seem to be rid of this wicked opinion; yet, notwithstanding, I now and then feel this old filth cleave to my heart, whereby it comes to pass that I would willingly have so to do with God, that I would bring something with myself, because of which he should give me his grace.

Sisters, you are children of God your Father. In Christ, you are secure and have no need to earn your position or measure up. When you fail in your efforts to manage your household well, all that is at stake is the cup of milk spilt. That is it. Your salvation and identity are not at risk. God’s desire for you is that you serve your family well. And He has already provided all you need for godliness (II Peter 1:3-4). You have what you need! Your efforts, goals, plans and obedience are the outcome of an end already achieved by Him. You are free to live exultingly dependent on His power and grace at work in you.

No matter where you are on the spectrum — looking forward, with your ducks self-righteously in a row (you assume), or wandering, distracted and discouraged with ducklings far afield — I encourage you to lift your eyes. Live as a fully mature child. Your every minute is not allotted to assigned tasks to be completed. Your responsibilities are yours to manage, thriving through the strength God provides. Live in the light of your adoption as a daughter of God.

As a Christian, you are also a vital part of the body of Christ, the church. You will benefit from partnering with your sisters as you grow together (Ephesians 4:16) in Christlikeness. We are all in this together. There is beauty in relying on each other for encouragement and wisdom and accountability. We glorify God as we embrace His plan for His people. Live as a child of God in the body of Christ.


An Organized Purse

Speaking for myself, my purse is my treasure trove, lifeline, constant companion and security blanket. If it wouldn’t break my back, I probably would put the kitchen sink in there!

We use our purses for many things throughout the day. Think of how many times you reach into or look into yours. How many minutes a day do you spend digging for car keys or wallet or Chapstick? Add that up over a month, and you may be surprised. If you could reclaim those minutes, would you?

I have found that organizing my purse saves a great deal of time otherwise spent scrambling. An added benefit is that it takes less than 2 minutes to switch purses when I want to add variety. There are lots of ways to do that, but I would like to share what I have found works best for me. I hope that it helps, in whole or in part, as you seek to improve stewardship of your 24 hours.

With a couple large exceptions (i.e., Kindle), everything has a zipper pouch for a home. Each pouch is a different size, shape, and texture, so that I can reach in and feel what I need without even having to look. I’ve collected mine from a variety of places, from Walmart to thrift stores to Vera Bradley direct. It is your preference.

  • One case contains “tools” such as a flash drive, a couple pens, a Sharpie, a highlighter, and a creaser.
  • Another pouch has makeup and medicine. So lipstick, aspirin, essential oils and BandAids are all in one place.
  • A third has gum, a granola bar or dehydrated fruit, and cough drops/peppermints for church. Basically these are edibles, so I find a lined case works best.
  • There is also a bag for hygiene, ready when needed. Key here is refilling it at home on the weeks it is used.
  • Coupons, gift cards, and important membership cards and papers can go in an envelope or pouch also.

In addition to the pouches, I have my wallet, an emergency shopping bag, my Kindle and my car key. My phone is generally in my pocket, but occasionally it has to be dropped in as well. I have found that having at least one pocket in the purse helps immensely to contain the key. If I always drop it in when it’s not being used, it’s always there when I need it. If your phone is always in your purse, that would apply to it as well.


Anything other than those items that gets dropped in will stick out like a sore thumb, so I generally find it easy to take care of it when I’m at home or have a few minutes. And as I mentioned, when switching purses, I move 5 pouches and four items over. Then all I have to do is check the pockets and throw away any debris at the bottom of the bag. Ready to roll!