Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Five Tips for Getting Your Stuff in Order

Last December, we painted my studio. All my stuff, art supplies, books, junk, had to go out of the room and come back in, piece by piece. Since then I've been trying to put a bit of thought and logic into how my things were organized. I've also been helping my 84-year-old mom declutter her house bit by bit.

Here's a list of five things that have helped me in managing my "stuff".

Tip One : The hard part for some people isn't getting rid of "stuff" but getting rid of memories. If you are having trouble deciding whether to keep something, listen to how you feel about an item. If you have good memories, and want it, put it aside. If you feel negative energy, chuck it in the box. A couple of years ago I got rid of a beautiful wool scarf that I had lent to a horrible boss at a trade show. Every time I opened the drawer it made me think of her so I gave it away. I haven't missed it.

Tip Two : Go for the low hanging fruit... is there a pile of papers to throw away? Do that first. If you know something needs to go to the Salvation Army, chuck it in a trash bag and put it in your car. Creating even a little extra breathing room feels good.

Tip Three: Get help with the big jobs. When cleaning out my mom's closet I grabbed a friend and we took everything out and put it on the bed. Then we found a skirt that just fit my mom but was snug. Any skirt smaller than that went into the bag. Everything that fit went back in sorted by type, long sleeves, short sleeves, etc. Now it's 100 times easier for my mom to get dressed.

Tip Four : Keep the things that are most useful to you close at hand and store less important items farther away. I keep my everyday art supplies like pencils and drawing paper on my desk along with the book that I am currently illustrating. Paints and inks are in the closet in labeled boxes. Beads and sewing supplies are in the hall closet.

Tip Five : "When in doubt, throw it out."... or give it to someone who can use it. Pass books, clothes, dishes on to someone who can use them. Doesn't that make you feel a whole lot better?

Here are a few clutter problems solved....

Problem... Where's the pencil sharpener?

Solution - All of my drawing supplies that I use everyday are organized by type and have to stay on their side of the line. I still haven't figured out how to keep the pencil sharpener from sliding back, but it is a lot easier to reach. All my bead supplies went into the closet.


Problem - My mom was having trouble finding clothes that fit. Too much stuff! Ack! 

Solution - Take everything out and put back only the clothes that fit. Sort by type. This project took three people an entire afternoon so having help is key. Sometimes the big jobs must be tackled with abandon.


Problem - Bottles of nail polish all ever my desk...

Solution - Five dollar box from Michael's.  

I'm still struggling with how to manage too much paper, drawings, bills, receipts. If you have any suggestions, ideas, life hacks, please let me know. 

Make space so magic can happen,



“Give me the discipline to get rid of the stuff that's not important, the freedom to savor the stuff that gives me joy, and the patience not to worry about the stuff that's messy but not hurting anybody.”
 ~ Vinita Hampton Wright


  1. Yikes, this is the third time I have tried to comment. I enjoyed your post and the before and after pics. Especially loved 'Make space so magic can happen'! At this stage it will be magic if my comment appears. But thanks, your post was very inspiring. Jenni (Melbourne, Australia)

    1. Thank you for your persistence, Jenni! :-) Glad you liked my rambling post. having room to be creative is good.

  2. Well done, not an easy task. Many years ago there was a hand-me-down culture in families however if I ask my adult children if they want a small piece of furniture or anything I am thinking of disposing, they always refuse to accept, what I think they perceive as my clutter. So perhaps another tip could be to call in the help of ones much loved but ruthless children to declutter. Love your post, so off to start immediately 'letting go'

    1. Most of the furniture in our house came either from family members or consignment stores. Our coffee table and Persian rugs came from my hub's aunt and I have art and rocking chairs from my great grandmothers. I think we paid $125 for our iron bed.

      Good luck with your decluttering! Inch by inch, everything's a cinch.