Declutter update on my projects – 6 months in

stationery

I did my last declutter update at the end of March. Read more here.

Another 3 months have passed and while, I’ll give you an update, I also want to add some thoughts about my feelings on this project.

General decluttering:

I have just finished batch 8 of 24 items – that’s 192 items that left my home. We’re on a net lighter item number because some of the things that left were lovely big things like a bed, a car seat and two booster seats, as well as all the other bits, mainly clothes, etc.

Use up 24 in 2024

I have finished this project and continued on. I particularly want to use up all the little sample sizes of things like Advent calendar goodies, many half-used lipsticks, etc.

Stationery

13 items used up or donated, and I’ve given 7 gifts made up of several stationery items. If I donate another 4 stationery items, I’ve reached my full goal and we’re only half way through the year.

What I’m learning:

General decluttering

This is already a well-established habit and I probably don’t have to focus on it for it to continue being a fixture in my life.

I have good systems – my one in, one out rule works very well to keep things under control, and I love limitations of space as a trigger to get rid of stuff.

Use up 24 in 2024

I really had no idea I had so many speedsticks, soaps and body lotions around. I mean, I’ve been using them up and still I have lots. I want to persist with this one because it’s good to force myself to finish up things and not just buy something on sale. Also, when I truly need something, it feels like a real treat. E.g. I have about 2cm of body wash left and I bought a new bottle last week when I picked up my prescription. Every morning I sniff it and I cannot wait to start using it. It’s the small things 😉 I also find immeasurable joy in the new lipstick I bought.

Stationery

I actually have too much to use up myself so I’ve been making gifts for others (if they’re into stationery – surprisingly, not a lot of people get such delight from stationery as I do).

More importantly, I’m using my stuff. No more keeping the nice notebooks for “one day”; I am using them now, even if only for boring work notes!

In summary

I will continue with the beauty, body and bath stuff (just so I don’t break loose and go wild) but also occasionally treat myself. The goal here is to not hoard or stockpile but still enjoy a lovely lip or nail colour. And hopefully use up all those darn speedsticks and body lotions. I actually found myself thinking yesterday, “wait, do I actually have to go BUY face wash?” (yes, once the one in the shower is used up, I will check my stash just to make sure)

And I have to remind myself that I do not need any more notebooks or gorgeous pens.

My domestics’ children will be getting a lot of their pens and pencils from me at the end of the year.

How are you doing with your decluttering projects?

Why my reading’s going so well this year

I am having an exceptional reading year so far.

When you decide if a reading month, season or year is good, some people judge that based on number of books, some judge by quality of books and I judge it by these criteria:

  • Am I excited to pick up a book and read? (vs scroll my phone)
  • Do I consistently have something to read next?
  • Am I reading great quality books? (I would rather read fewer books but have them be 4 and 5 stars than many 2.5 – 3.5 star books)

A few things are influencing this year’s reading year:

Quality over quantity

Since first hitting the over-100 books mark (I’ve been reading over 100 books a year since 2017 and in 2016, I read 97, so very close), I’ve tried to observe the point at which the goal makes me chase a number rather than the quality of the book. As you well know, I love a goal but I feel like that number is 100. When I’m chasing more than 100, I start looking for shorter books that I can finish quickly, I start pressing through on things I’m not enjoying and I start choosing books on length rather than the story. So my goal has been 100 or fewer for a few years now. This year my goal is 96 (12 months X 8 books). As at the end of May, I’d read 50 books so I’m well on track to reach my goal. I like keeping it low so that I can enjoy reading longer books and not automatically only reach for 300-page novels.

Libby

My Libby (City of Johannesburg) has come out of hubernation. For a few years there were many books I wanted to and did read (2019 – 22; 2020 – 29) but then in 2021, only 6, and in 2022 and 2023, nothing. Not one book on Libby that was something I wanted to read and hadn’t.

Suddenly, this year, on the 1st, I went in and lo and behold, many new buys so I put as many holds as I could and borrowed one or two immediately, and so it started.

I am very good at tagging, so I have whole “shelves” full of “want to read” or “not for me”. I do this second tag because too many books sound the same these days and therefore I don’t want to waste time clicking through and reading a whole synopsis, only to realise, “oh right, that’s the reason I haven’t placed on my “to read” list”.

The good thing about Libby is you have two weeks (in South Africa – I think it may be three weeks in the US) to finish a book so you have to crack on and read. The not-good thing is that the COJ library only buys one copy of a book so there are always tons of people waiting so you cannot renew popular books. E.g. I have borrowed Wintering by Katherine May (haven’t started reading yet!) and it’s due in 11 days, with 5 people waiting. Which means, I need to get reading because that book is disappearing in 11 days and I’ll wait at least 2.5 months before I can borrow it again.

Reading my physical shelves

I decided at the end of last year that I’m tired of looking at the same books I want to read over and over. Why don’t I just prioritise them and get reading?

Hence my goal to read the non-fiction books on my shelves. I have done a great job so far, and when this is done, I am almost never going to buy a physical non-fiction book again. I’ve read 7, am 34% through with one and 70% through with another, have 3 left on my shelves but only plan to read two as I decided devotionals are not for me after ploughing through 1 for months.

That’s it.

In a nutshell, I am reading at a faster pace than I planned (and way more non-fiction) because of Libby (already 17 books for this year), my little non-fiction project and I think I have enough sources of books (let’s not forget my own Kindle shelves – 28 – and Everand, formerly known as Scribd) to keep me reading.

 How is your reading year going?

PS interestingly, I’ve unsubscribed from all but one reading podcast. That might also be a factor – the other two read books I am not even remotely interested in picking up… so I’ve stayed with the one where there’s a definite Venn diagram of overlap with my own reading

An easy trick to help you let go of your stuff

I wrote  on Instagram recently that I had a watch from May 2008 and I finally had to let it go.

Suzanne’s mom reminded me in the comments that I bought it on the same trip to Scotland when I met Suzanne (we’d arranged to meet up half way around the world for the first time – read more here). In fact, we stopped at the Swatch store in Princes Street, Edinburgh, on our way to drive to Stirling, where we were to meet Suzanne.

There are are 3 points to this post:

  1. Some of us are more sentimental than others.
  2. For those of us sentimental people, take a picture so that you have something to remember your item. It is easier to keep a photo than the physical item.
  3. That may be enough to then let it go. If not, you might need a bit more intentionality like giving it to someone who you know will use it.

Bonus – sometimes we all need to take a wide-angled photo of the rooms in our house. When you see the same thing, day in and day out, you forget what it actually looks like. I did the same recently (took a picture of the morning light) and realised there are PILES of books that need to be dropped off at the library again.

Are you sentimental?

Is it easy for you to let go of stuff? If yes, what is the sentence you tell yourself to help you let go?

{Money} What to do when you want to break loose from your goals

Two weeks ago I had a meeting that really irritated me. I can’t even remember now what it was about so it couldn’t have been that significant. However, I wanted to do something nice for myself (treat myself, if you want) and went to my nail polish stash to find a fun colour to cheer me up.

There was “nothing” in the same way we have “nothing” to wear.

I then remembered a colour I love (Rimmel’s Velvet Rose) which is discontinued and decided there and then to go to the shops after work for 30 minutes to browse and buy something similar.

Long story short – there was nothing similar but I did find a colour I liked (Sorbet’s Macaroon).

I was home and the colour was on my nails when I realised that I’m supposed to be on a “use up first” mission.

There was another incident where I didn’t even think about it and bought three sets of (admittedly) very well-priced miniature toiletries when again, box 1 was opened and I was like “no, not allowed”. I took the other two sets back.

Sorbet Macaroon

But now it’s finally sinking in – I am breaking loose from my challenges of using stuff up first. Why?

  • Perhaps I’m placing too many restrictions on myself? This is possible as I’m definitely a moderator with money.
  • Perhaps I need to allow myself a treat here and there? Possibly – this is week 16 and I have stuck to my no buying of body, bath and beauty products beautifully except for these two mishaps.
  • Perhaps I need to remind myself why I’m doing this again? Highly possible – I want to get back to my pre-pandemic self where I used to buy what I needed and not treat myself daily due to the “hardship” of being locked down. To be fair, it really was a hardship for me.

This colour is Essence’s Powder Room Party

Where is this going then?

  1. I reminded myself this week while listening to The Broke Generation podcast (search your podcast app – British girl in Australia) that I need to have something to work towards ALL THE TIME. Maybe I should book an overseas trip because the thought of the very weak Rand will focus my spending super quick!
  2. I wrote my goal on a post-it note and am wrapping it around my credit card in my wallet (this has been very successful for me in the past).
  3. But also, R39 on a nail polish is absolutely fine after 14 weeks when I’ve been good with my Clicks/ Dischem spending (I have only spent on boring meds and supplements).
  4. I also set myself a budget for Clicks spending based on actual averages.

Thought for the week:

Where might you be breaking loose from your goals? Why?

Did you enjoy this money post? I’m on a money kick so I’m going to be writing more about this as long as my obsession continues.

Goals update – 24 in 2024 goals, and the secret list :)

I’m writing this goals update 3 months and 1 week into the year.

Summer – beautiful, but I have had more than enough of it.

A few disclaimers before I start the update:

  1. I have two lists this year, the main one and a few more fun, once-off items on a second list, simply because when I looked at the main list, it looked like a LOT of hard work and I didn’t want to feel burdened by a list.
  2. Therefore, when I talk about numbers done, I’ll refer to both of these.

Done

  1. Buy a new car
  2. Try a new stretch class
  3. Read Atomic Habits as a work book club (I have read it, we have met 4 out of the 6 allocated sessions and I got what I wanted from it).
  4. Listen to more music. I have listened to more music in one month than I did the entire year of 2023, so I’m calling it done.
  5. Watch more TV. Same. May I recommend Dance Life on Prime Video? I loved it! I love seeing people in their passion and hard work that goes into making that passion true excellence.

Abandoned

Do Happiness Project Revisited. Towards the end of February, I cancelled – nothing to do with the content but I was bone tired of chasing up on my playbook, nearly 3 months after ordering. The chasing up was worse than work and it was causing unhappiness instead of happiness. (nothing to do with Gretchen’s team; I am not sure why DHL decided to send it to our liquidated Post Office in South Africa – seriously, we have no post offices).

I was trying to take a photo of my favourite new summer pants; clearly I am bad at taking these pics but I still liked how I looked, so there you go

In progress

  1. Exercise going well but I have abandoned the stretch because I wasn’t getting enough cardio and that is very important to me for heart health.
  2. Reading – 30 books in
  3. 10 non-fiction physical books – I have finished 4 of the 10; 2 currently in progress.
  4. Play with photography again and post things that delight me – yes, going well! Also really looking forward to full autumn foliage, the most beautiful season.
  5. Write 24 in 2024
  6. Use up 24 beauty/ body/ bath products – this is going very well. Just this week I had a little relapse (I bought a set of body wash/ body lotions, realised only once I’d got home and opened it up so I kept one of each, and gave some to the kids and Precious). Bonus points for me for returning the other two boxes I’d also bought.
  7. Do many declutter challenges – I have now done 6 batches of 24 (you can see all of these on my Instagram highlights; I post the week’s stuff every weekend.

on my other list, I have to try a recipe every month. this is so easy because of Instagram. Also, StephCooksStuff 🙂

The other list

  1. Finish listening to last few CDs before decluttering them – done (the new car sped things up because I have no CD player so had to listen on Spotify)
  2. Make eye appointment – yay, I don’t need new specs. R10 000 saved!

And that’s it – very happy with my Q1 progress. On my main list, I am tracking at 33,3% for the year, which is ahead of  my budget. Good thing, because it looks slow hereon out unless I actually get around to planning my 50th, booking a weekend away or doing that no-spend month. Hmmmm.

How are you doing on your 24 in 2024 goals?

Declutter 24 in 2024 – how it’s going, 3 months in

At the end of last year, I felt like I had too much stuff – stuff that needed to go out, stuff that needed to be used up and stuff that should be gifted to others.

Why?

I am generally an underbuyer but during the pandemic, I got into the habit of “treating myself” for staying home and even when things returned to normal, I was still in the bad habit of buying myself treats for no good reason. We did this with takeaways and fun food at the grocery store too, but have reigned a lot of that back, due to pure necessity (the exhorbitant price of food).

I am not the type of person who says “I work hard; I deserve it” because I believe that 95% of the population works hard and that is just not a good justification.

The point is I had lots of things I wasn’t using and they all need to go.

Disclaimer – since I first Konmari’d my house in 2014 (ten years ago!), most of the time my house just needs a quick analysis of one in, one out before it feels right again. Except for the water bottles. I give them away as fast as they land and it always still feels like there are too many.

My three categories

Beauty/ body/ bath – both personal items and household items like soaps and toilet sprays #useup24in2024

Stationery – books, pens and pencils

General decluttering – anything else goes here. The idea was as many batches of 24 as I could do in 2024. #declutter24in2024

What I’m learning

That I had no idea what I have in my house in the way of toiletries. I mean, I had 5 speedsticks. This is the beauty of the Konmari method and bringing everything together into the same space.

It’s making me chomp at the bit to buy things that truly spark joy. When I had the urge for a new nail polish colour, I went looking in a box of spares and lo, I found some bottles to scratch the itch.

It honestly helps to ask, “who can use this today?” if I’m not wild about something (hand creams, t-shirts, bags).

So how are things going?

Beauty/ body/ bath – I’ve used up 13 items from speedstick to conditioner and two (!) lipsticks.

Stationery – I’ve used up or donated 8 items – used up 3 pens and donated 5 new pencil bags.

General decluttering – I’m on batch 5 of the year. I will push to finish that batch so that the quarter ends nicely with 5 complete batches or 120 items.

Tell me, how are your decluttering/ organising efforts going?

Decide what’s right for you – whether it’s one drawer every week or one room a month. At the very least, try one in, one out or, as I heard Lisa Whittle say on a podcast years ago, one in, three out. It makes you more aware of what you bring into your space.

15-minute Fridays: clean out your handbag

This is meant to be a quick but satisfying organising task.

I open my handbag and tip it all out on the bed.

  • I then go through each of my “mini” bags – make-up bag, wallet and “odds and ends” bag.
  • I replenish anything (e.g. Panado, tissues, hand cream, lip balm, etc.) and return items like my extra ponytail holder to their place (the “odds and ends” bag).
  • I toss receipts (I toss the credit card slip unless I need to keep it for an expense claim, and keep the actual receipt of what I spent).
  • I remove nail polish if I’ve changed colours. I return a lipstick to my bathroom if I only needed it with me for an evening update.

I do switch out my handbag often (weekly or even more frequently) so I’ll probably then repack the few things into a new colour bag for the week.

Tell me about all the fun things you found in your handbag.

How I did on my Project Upgrade for 2022

Unlike #rest22in2022, Project Upgrade was a huge success.

I just read the first paragraph of my post where I told you about it and it is literally the opposite of what rest was for me… and maybe that’s why it worked so well.

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Remember it all started with a hotel facecloth from a hotel… and morphed into a big list of 22 items. As is always the case with these kinds of lists, some things were not as important but other things had to be added onto the list that I couldn’t have anticipated.

Things that didn’t get done

  • we were just about ready to sort out the pool and then our city announced water restrictions so we couldn’t go ahead
  • I still don’t have the big pot I mentioned in that original post (I still want one and welcome your ideas)
  • I have started to simplify our luggage (kids are sorted) but mine could use an upgrade 😉
  • I don’t need a standing desk anymore as we’re in the office so much but I did buy two laptop raisers – one for work and one for home

Good things done that were not on the original list

  • got 4 new tyres
  • got some plumbing sorted out (much, much bigger job that spanned two months)
  • we had to replace a section of our boundary wall
  • I replaced two phone screens
  • I bought a lovely, new laptop bag and handbag (and mouse pad) with some of my bonus
  • I bought new glasses (not covered by medical aid!)
  • I loved the upholstery so much I went wild and did two more chairs and an additional couch

All in all, I still did more than 22 things so this was a big, big success for me.

You’ll not be surprised that I’ve already made a smaller Project Upgrade list for 2023. One of the big items is getting solar panels installed which will solve so many problems in this land of loadshedding and power outages.

Feedback to follow at the end of the quarter 🙂

Do you need to make a Project Upgrade list for 2023? Or maybe a few items on your 23 goals in 2023 should be matters of upgrade?

{Organising} 10-minute organising projects – nail polish

I like to think that one of my superpowers is using tiny bits of time efficiently.

I had to catch up on two training courses at work recently which involved watching some videos. The videos didn’t need me to take notes so I thought I’d organise my nail polish while watching.

I’d recently bought more nail polish (my first nail polish spree since lockdown!) so I had to declutter old ones (the one in, one out rule) and while doing that, I arranged them by brand and not by colour as I usually do.

While it’s nice to try new ways of organising, I quickly found that this didn’t work for me as my brain thinks, “oooh, I feel like wearing something pink” rather than “I want to wear the essence polish”.

I took them all out and arranged them in their shade categories…

see all the neutrals in the front left

a bit or order emerging (I also saw too many similar shades so I donated 3 bottles)

And done. I love having the boundary of this perspex container – it takes at most 18 – 19 bottles, depending on the shape. I use the round ceramic pot for my base and top coats.

This little project took less than 10 minutes, and that includes going to fetch the polish, the organising and returning them to my bedside table drawer.

If you struggle to think about what to do with small bits of time, make a list now of quick, 10-minute organising tasks:

  1. tidying a drawer is always a good one
  2. decluttering a pile of paper/ receipts from your wallet
  3. unsubscribing from sales emails

(my next little project will be sorting the kids’ reports and cards for their 2021 folders – yes, I haven’t bothered yet, probably because they all still fit in my slimline file box)

{Organising} You’re not alone when you ask this organising question

There’s one question I get asked by clients, friends and readers more than any other question.

It’s a question that makes me empathise with them so much because I know exactly where they’re coming from.

Marcia, I want to get organised but it’s all so overwhelming.

Where do I start?

There are different ways to approach this question but before we even start with the practical aspects, you need to do this:

First of all, relax and take a deep breath. Then get your mind in the right space.

Realise that organising is a process and that you won’t have a totally organised home in one hour, despite what you see on television.

Remember the home makeover shows have many organisers and stylists behind the scenes making the space look beautiful. You only have you (or if you’re really blessed, a friend or family member to help you).

Now that we’ve got that part settled, let’s talk practical.

1. Start with the area of your home that bothers you the most.

This is usually a space that you see when you first walk into your home, or it’s a space that you use all the time. If you feel drained when you enter your living room, start there. If you can’t bear to choose clothes every morning because your wardrobe is too cluttered, then that’s probably a good place to start. The benefit of choosing this area is that when you feel overwhelmed by the rest of the house you can go to this one space, look at it and feel inspired.

2. Decide what you want to have happen in that space.

Do you only want clothes in your wardrobe, or do you want shoes and handbags in there too? If you’re not sure what you want, it’ll be easier to let your standards and boundaries slip and, before you know it, you have a disorganised space once again.

3. Declutter

You can’t organise clutter. Get rid of everything that shouldn’t be there. You may need to move some things to other rooms and some things may need to move right out of your house!

4. Organise what’s left according to your personality and style

Not everybody is a minimalist. Some of us need to surround ourselves with our treasures. It’s all okay.

Your system works as long as you can find what you’re looking for relatively quickly (within a minute).

5. Maintain

Last but not least, do a quick, 5-minute maintenance session in each major space every week so that your space remains organised.

So tell me, where do you think you should start?



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