give dice

Stuff Be Gone

Helpful Organizer BlogA game helped my husband and me get rid of 930 things. We played the 30-Day Minimalism Game in June 2016. Deciding what stuff to get rid of was the first step. Figuring out where to get rid of the stuff was the second step. Physically removing the stuff from our house was the third step.  Want to know where it went?

We were givers. Our goal was to give the stuff away, not throw it in the trash. Five things out of 930 went in the trash. The rest of the stuff was reusable. So we gave it away.

We gave to family and friends. We didn’t just unload our stuff on them. We made a point of asking if they wanted the stuff, before we gave it to them. My sister was happy to accept a small framed photo of her and her son, that had been sitting on my shelf for years. My friend enjoyed looking at the clothes and jewelry I was getting rid of. She took a few shirts and a pair of earrings. My sister, who has 3 small children, gladly accepted an unopened pack of washable markers.

We gave to local causes. Our local library was collecting for their annual books sale. We donated several books and DVDs. We also gave several books to the school where my husband teaches. We dropped off several pairs of eyeglasses to the local Lion’s Club. We gave unopened toiletries to the New Hope shelter.

We donated to resale stores. We dropped off a car load of items to Hometown Savers. We made a trip to the Habitat for Humanities ReStore to donate an old door and a few old tools. We gave craft items, that I wasn’t going to use, to The Craft Room. We gave a bunch of clothes and household items to Savers.

We recycled. We recycled some old phone books and a bunch of paper. We recycled broken and outdated electronics to Indie Cycle.

We consigned. We used Chic2Chic for our clothing consignment. We used The Thrifty Witch for our household consignment.

We offered items for free. We put old hand weights, a hose, and an unused shelf out by the side of the road with a free sign. They were picked up within hours.

We got rid of 930 things. You can too! We know it takes time and effort. Use these resources and options. They will help.

©July 2016   Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®   All Rights Reserved


paper piles

A Paper Minimalist – Not

Helpful Organizer BlogIn June 2016 my husband and I played the 30-Day Minimalism Game. We each got rid of 930 things. (See how we did it.) For me, one of the most challenging things was to get rid of paper. We agreed that it wouldn’t be fair to count one sheet of paper as one item. So, we counted 25 sheets of paper as one item. Guess how many sheets of paper I got rid of?

I got rid of 1300 sheets of paper! (In addition to other things!) Shocking. Right? Where did it all come from? I’m an Organizer. I shouldn’t have this much paper. This was important paper that held important knowledge. Wasn’t it?

No, not most of it. Are you wondering how I got rid of all that paper? I did it with a 4 step plan.

Step one of my plan was to carve out some time to get rid of paper. I know from working with my clients that paper always takes the most time to organize. That’s why I dedicated 10 hours to get rid of paper. I gave myself at least one hour a night to work. I picked my starting point, my business files, all my business building suggestions, conference notes, marketing tips, networking strategies, business cards, and organizing statistics. Then got to work.

Step two was to get rid of all my easy-to-toss papers. Papers in this category were the duplicate business cards, the outdated business cards, the multiple copies of business cards, the outdated information, and the information in which I was no longer interested. These papers were easy-to-toss, because letting them go didn’t require a lot of thought or effort. Once all the easy-to-toss papers were out of the way, I could look at the rest.

Step three was to decide what to keep from the papers that remained. This paper held information that was, at one time, important to me. But was it still important? How could I decide? What questions would help me? How could I make myself answer honestly. Would guidelines help? This is what I came up with:

  1. On a scale of 1-10 how important is this information to me, now? Anything below a 7 goes.
  2. Could this information be found more quickly and easily on the internet? If yes, let it go.
  3. On a scale of 1-10 how usable is this information now? Anything below a 7 goes.
  4. How soon will I act upon this information? Action must be taken in the next 3 months, or it goes.
  5. Am I holding this information to pass along to someone else? Pass along in 1 week, or it goes

These questions were very helpful. I was able to let go of a lot of paper that I had previously kept. However, there was still more to do. I wanted to get rid of more paper. It was necessary to carve out more time. Another deadline was in order.

Step four is reading through the remaining papers. It’s still happening. I’m taking two hours each week to read and decide. Some I have kept. Others I have tossed. The questions and guidelines in step three help me. It’s an ongoing process, but organizing always is.

©July 2016  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All rights reserved



stuff to donate

Minimalism Game

Helpful Organizer BlogMy husband and I did it. We successfully completed the 30-Day Minimalism Game. This game started with Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, a.k.a. the Minimalists. The object of this game is to get rid of stuff all month long. Starting on day one, get rid of one thing. On day two, get rid of two things. On day three, get rid of three things, and so on. If you make it to day 30 you will get rid of 465 things. My husband and I played in the month of June 2016. We each got rid of 465 things.

Our home is lighter by 930 things, and this is how we did it. First, we took the game seriously. We called it a challenge. My husband likes a challenge. Since I knew he wouldn’t give up, neither would I. We encouraged and motivated each other.  This was very helpful. If you play the minimalism game, I recommend doing it with someone who will not give up when the going gets tough. Take it from me, the going does get tough.

For me it got tough around day 23. At this point I still had to get rid of 212 things, but I didn’t let that get me down. I kept my eye on the daily goal. I did this by keeping a tally sheet. We wrote down each item we got rid of. It was easy to forget, and this helped us keep track. When I would read the list of items on our tally sheet, I would feel happy about our progress. It would motivate me to keep going. If you play the minimalism game, I recommend writing down everything you give away.

Keeping a tally of what we got rid of helped us in another way. It helped us keep track of what area we hadn’t tackled yet. It helped us be thorough and methodical. By doing this we noticed that we missed a few cupboards in the kitchen. When we went back to look through them we got rid of 15 more things. Going through every cupboard, shelf, nook, and cranny helped us complete the game. Even if we thought we wouldn’t get rid of anything in a specific spot, we checked it to be sure. If you play the minimalism game, I recommend going through everything in your home, including the basement, attic, and garage.

We realized early in the month that going through everything we own was going to take a lot of time and effort, especially if we counted paper. (That’s a whole other story.) Our tally sheet helped us. Setting up a collection spot also helped us.  Our collection spot was our dinning room table. We would place items on the table whenever we came across something we were ready to part with. Then we would write it on our tally sheet. On the weekends we would box things up and deliver them to specific donation locations. (Want to see where all the stuff went?) This process helped us complete the game. If you play the minimalism game, I recommend setting up a collection spot and donating stuff.

The 30-Day Minimalism Game was a challenge. It did take a lot of time. It did take a lot of effort, but to us it was worth it. We’re very happy that our home is lighter by 930 things. Everyone asks us if it’s noticeable that we got rid of all that stuff. I’d say, YES.

©July 2016  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer,  All rights reserved

home happy

Remove Things to Create a Happy Home

Organizing tipThe way we feel about our homes influences us every day. I think we all want to be happy in our own homes. Here are three removal guidelines that will make our homes happier.

  1. Remove broken things. If you intend to fix the broken items do so right way.
  2. Remove things with a negative association.
  3. Remove static stuff (things that are not used) that may be in the attic, basement, garage, or other storage areas.