10 easy steps to organize your home

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

We recently remodeled the playroom and that meant going through everything that had accumulated in that little room.  As such, we found it necessary to do a major declutter. Today I hope to inspire you with some suggestions we found helpful in the remodel project and ten easy ways to help you organize, whether it be one room or your entire home.

1.         Get into the right frame of mind.  You must be in the correct frame of mind to organize.  Plan a day (or days!) to do it, then stick to it.

2.         Take small steps.  If you can’t get it all done in one or two days, that’s fine.  Set up another day to continue the task.  Tackle a certain area or room at a time.  Set realistic goals because if your goal is too big,  you will be overwhelmed and procrastinate.

1209088_deposit_trash3.         Set goals.  One of our main goals when “decluttering” the basement several years ago was to fill our garbage can full before “trash day.”  We easily reached this goal, and filled the neighbor’s garbage can full too.  (With her permission of course!) It also helps to write your goals down so that you can cross off each accomplishment.

4.         Spring clean, even if it’s not spring.  Take down each object from your shelves and cabinets and dust them.  This way, you will see everything you have.  As you are dusting each item, notice which items are not sentimental to you in anyway.  Also notice which items you do not have a personal attachment to or of which you have more than one.  These are potential “get rid of” items.  Check for old outdated items, such as, food, shampoos, lotions, and perfumes that also need to be tossed.

1225260_cardboard_box5.         Divide into piles.  Make four piles.  One pile will be for the items you are using now.  The second pile will be for items that that you will be storing in storage bins.  The third pile is for donation items to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, and the fourth pile is items that are someone else’s that you have been storing and need to return. A good rule of thumb – if you have to think about whether or not you’ll ever use it, you should seriously consider getting rid of it.

6.         Help someone else. Besides donations to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, we also found a great organization in our town while remodeling the playroom that was looking for items for their garage sale. We loaded up quality items that we no longer needed and donated them. For an inspirational article on helping others with items you no longer need, see my post How to instill compassion and servanthood in your children.

7.         Take drastic action. For our playroom remodel project, we carried everything (and I mean everything!) from the playroom to the living room. It stayed there while we painted, redid moldings, and installed a new desk and cabinet. My rule of thumb was this…nothing was to be taken back into the playroom once the paint was dry unless it had “passed inspection.” The last thing we needed was to have everything returned without having gone through it.

1336514_a_cd_player8        Turn on the tunes.  It always helps to have a little outside noise to take your mind off of “decluttering.“  Put in your favorite CDs in the CD player and open your windows for a fresh breeze. For us, some Newsboys, Kutless, and Third Day were just the ticket!

9.         Enlist assistance.  When we decided to clean out our basement, I enlisted my husband’s help.  He was more than willing to assist me because 80% of the “stuff” was his and he didn’t want me to be the one to decide whether or not we should keep it.  My sister was also an unbiased  help because she is not sentimental like I am, so she was able to help me get rid of things that I no longer need or want (I sometimes need help knowing what I do and don’t want!)

10.         Congratulate yourself! After you have successfully organized and “decluttered”  your home, congratulate yourself and treat yourself to something special, preferably nothing of the cluttering sort!

What ideas do you find helpful when tackling a declutter project?

*Portions of this article first appeared in my article for Home and Family Magazine

5 Ways to Bless Others and a Giveaway!

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This week, I’m giving away a signed copy of my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a DifferenceIdeas and Activities for Serving Others

Resolve every day to make a difference in the life of someone else…

Simply telling our kids to love their neighbor isn’t enough. They need to see and experience love in action. This was the springboard for my book 77 Ways, which includes practical service ideas for a variety of budgets, Bible verses to help children connect God’s truth to their lives, and interactive discussion questions to help families understand the importance of each activity and correlate it to God’s Word.

In addition to families, these ideas and activities can be easily adapted to use with youth groups, Sunday School classes, home school curriculums, small-groups, and church-wide community projects.

Entering to win is super easy, and I’ll explain that in a few moments at the end of this post. In the meantime, here are some easy ways you and your family can bless others:

1. Clothing – experts say if you haven’t worn something in the past two years, pass it on.

  • Check your community for places that take used clothing. Homeless shelters and the Salvation Army or Goodwill are just a few suggestions.
  • Dress for Success accepts nice women’s clothing that can be given to disadvantaged women, those exiting the prison system in search of employment, or those in need of clothing for a job interview. God has used this organization to bless those seeking a second chance. For more information, see the website for Dress for Success.

2. Toys – why not bless a needy child with a gently loved toy?

  • Know a foster parent? Might their foster child(ren) need toys or clothes?
  • You can also check with your community Department of Social Services to see if there is someone in need.
  • The Salvation Army/Goodwill are good choices as well.

3. Books  -If you have extra Bibles or other books in your home, there are plenty of places to donate them:

  • Love Packages accepts Bibles, Christian books and magazines, tracts, and hymnals. They distribute these items to numerous countries and into the hands of those who are hungry for the Word of God.  Be sure to check their website for a detailed list on what Love Packages does and does not accept.
  • Send your books to Hands for Christ. They found Lending Libraries in other countries and lend out Christian items to new believers. More information can be found here.
  • Why not donate some of your items to your church library? Be sure to check (and double-check!) your items for content. The Bible warns us in 1 Corinthians 10:32 of causing others to stumble. Make sure your donated books, DVDs, and videos are clean and wholesome family-oriented material.

4. Other items –

  • Have some clean plastic cottage cheese or butter containers? Check to see if your church needs these containers for leftover meals at funerals, etc. Also, if you have other clean “Glad” or “Tupperware” containers you aren’t using, these can be donated as well.
  • What to do with all those Christmas cards (as well as other occasion cards) you receive this year? Donate cards to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children at their Card Recycling Program.
  • Could your local Habit for Humanity use your gently used household items, such as ceiling fans or doors?

Feeling inspired to help others? Before you get started please check out these rules of thumb:

  • Always ask someone in your family, immediate and extended, if they need the item first. First Timothy 5:8 tells us to first provide for our relatives.
  • Do you know any widows or single moms who could use the items? James 1:27 instructs us to take care of the widows and orphans.
  • Do NOT pass on anything you wouldn’t use or wear yourself (i.e., junk). Clothes with stains and holes, books with pages ripped out of them, scratched DVDs, or expired food that doesn’t have a place in your home certainly won’t be welcome (or appreciated) in someone else’s.
  • Always call first to see if donations are being accepted. Some places are inundated with items and are therefore not accepting donations at this time. Please be respectful of their donation criteria.
  • Most importantly, pray for God’s guidance as you seek to find who could use your gently used items.

And now, to win a copy of  77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference all you have to do is leave a comment about your favorite way to bless someone else. For example, how do you and your family encourage others? 

A winner will be chosen at random. Sorry, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. For an extra entry, please “like” my Facebook author page. Giveaway ends on November 8, 2012.

Stay tuned for the details on who won Deb Raney’s three-book Hanover Falls Series coming soon!