By Melissa Tosetti
I've been a fan of small homes for a long time. The movement toward smaller homes has gained steam, especially in the last year, with television shows about microscopic living cropping up across cable networks.
Just a few of the biggest perks include:
- A much smaller mortgage
- Smaller utility bills
- Less time cleaning
However, there are definitely challenges to tiny and small home living and storage space is the biggest one - especially when you, your husband and your 8 year old son are all book collectors.
Tiny homes are loosely described as less than 1,000 square feet. At 1,200 square feet, our home falls into the small category and storage is definitely a challenge. In fact, one of our projects this spring is to cull through our attic and reorganize the space for better use. Our more urgent projects are storage for Dante's room as well as my office.
There are a lot of lessons to learn regarding clever storage space from the tiny house movement and we've been paying close attention. Today I stumbled on this article: 11 Lessons We Can Learn From AirBNB's Tiniest Homes.
My favorite lesson from the article is the use of vertical space. It's a tip we can use, especially in Dante's bedroom!
By Melissa Tosetti
Despite what the weather looks like on the East Coast, according to the retail industry, it's SPRING!
That means, anything and everything related to spring cleaning will be on sale. This is my favorite time to stock up on my go-to cleaning and home care products including:
With an eight year old, a dog, a hamster and a husband who teaches martial arts for a living, Febreze is a treasured product in our household.
In addition to cleaning products, cleaning equipment will also be on sale. So, if you're in the market for a new vaccum cleaner or carpet steam cleaner, start watching your favorite store's sales ads. Over the next six weeks they'll be at some of the best prices of the year.
By Suzanne Haze
Ever notice how purging clutter is the first agenda item on home makeover shows? If you are getting ready to redecorate or make simple changes to your space there is ONE crucial step to make first. Before you paint, before you refurnish, before you bring one cute-must have decorating item into your home - you have to get rid of the clutter. If you skip this step, your new paint, furniture and must haves will be lost in the sea of your possessions.
What is clutter?
Clutter is a confused collection of ‘stuff’, including things you do not use or enjoy, in a disorderly state. Clutter adds stress to your life. It keeps you from being organized, wasting your time and space.
Your physical, emotional and mental health is directly impacted by your environment. If you can’t unwind at home and have to go to a spa to relax, clutter is most likely the culprit.
Americans are notorious for acquiring ‘stuff’. We spend weekends at the mall shopping for clothes and house wares. As everything goes in and nothing goes out, your home becomes constipated.
Clutter is Expensive
Have you been thinking about moving as your home bursts at the seams? Are you paying rent on a storage space for things you haven’t touched in years? By culling through your existing stuff it is possible to free up precious closet, shelf and storage space. You may realize that you don’t need a bigger home after all. That’s a hefty financial bullet dodged.
Having a clutter free home allows you to know what you have. Nothing is more irritating than going out and buying black shoe polish then finding four bottles of it in a drawer the following week.
Getting rid of clutter takes time. If you attempt to sort through everything at once you will be overwhelmed. Do it in phases.
Take one room at a time and start with what is seen. Look at each item in that room and ask yourself:
- Do I really need this?
- Do I really want this?
- Am I going to be upset if I get rid of it?
- What is the worst that can happen if I give it away?
Your home is an environment you control – not your Aunt Beatrice who gave you the crotched toilet paper cover. Bag it up and send it off.
Take a look at the things that you bought for yourself. Have you grown out of your unicorns and whale phase? If so, off to the thrift store with them!
Once you have gone through what is seen in each room, move onto what is unseen - your closets. Go through the same process. The rule of thumb for closets is, if you haven’t used it or worn it in over a year – get rid of it. The little black dress is one of a few exceptions.
There are two enormous benefits to getting rid of clutter. Your keys stop disappearing and you eliminate much of your housework. As you streamline your home you will become more organized, thus being able to find those mischievous keys. Also, with less ‘stuff’ to shift, dust and file you will be able to clean in half the time.
The key to keeping your home clutter free is diligence. The minute you bring in the mail, go through it and toss what you do not need to keep. If you purchase a new item, see if you can get rid of something you already have. Clutter is sly - go through your home once a week and see if any sneaked in while you weren’t looking.
There is a strong possibility that once you declutter, you will realize that you don’t need to paint or buy new furniture after all.
By Melissa Tosetti
In a previous article, I talked about mental clutter, the details that plague our minds on a daily basis such as:
- What am I going to cook for dinner?
- What am I going to wear to that meeting?
- Do I have enough gas to get to work?
Having to answer these questions, at the last minute, on a daily basis places us in a loop that keeps us from moving forward. Our thoughts are constantly focused on immediate needs rather than being able to put mental effort into anything that will help us get closer to our goals.
In order to eliminate mental clutter, you must first identify it. Your homework was to create a list of the day-to-day details that clutter your mind.
Below are just a few ideas to help you begin to break out of your cerebral loop. They’re not new concepts and you may have tried some of them before. The challenge lies in doing them long enough so they become habit.
As you read through the list and identify ideas you want to implement, write them down and keep the list with you. Put a checkmark on your calendar for every day you successfully implement the soon-to-be-habits. After 66 days, the habits will be in place and you will be able to focus your mind on far more important thoughts and ideas!
Mornings & Evenings
The key to reducing the mental clutter that hits first thing in the morning is to plan ahead the night before.
While changing your clothes after work, set aside what you want to wear the following day.
As you make dinner, think about tomorrow night’s dinner. If anything needs to be defrosted, or marinated, you can take care of it right then. It’s also a great time to decide on tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch. Again, anything that needs to be taken care of in advance can be done then and there.
Taking your lunch to work not only saves money, but it saves time as well. By the time your coworkers get to their destination and order food, you’ll be finished eating and can use your remaining lunch hour to read, go for a walk or even run an errand. No more “hunting and gathering” your lunch.
Provisions & Supplies
One of the keystone habits for reducing mental clutter, simplifying the week and saving money is to create a non-negotiable day to get to the grocery store.
Instead of having to figure out where you’re going to fit it into your schedule each week, fit your schedule around this very important errand. Remembering that there are no groceries in the house and having to figure out what’s for dinner at the last minute can throw off what was going to be a perfectly lovely evening!
The same goes for fuel. Having a day, each week to get to the gas station will help keep you from having to worry about filling up before getting the kids to school or that meeting across town.
Once a week, ideally the same time each week, sit down and check your calendar for the next seven days. The idea is to look for any type of occasion that is out of your normal routine, requires running an errand or making a purchase. For example:
- Unusual supply purchases – i.e. printer ink
- Gift Giving Events
- Baking cupcakes for your child’s class
You can then strategically plan your tasks and errands for the week. No more staying up until 10:00 pm at night baking cupcakes and then getting up at 5:00 am to frost them. No more running out of ink in the middle of a deadline and having to drop everything to get to the office supply store.
It’s helpful to also look at the following 4 – 8 weeks to give you an opportunity to plan as far in advance as possible – especially when it comes to gifts. The more time you give yourself, the more opportunities there are to purchase what you want to buy at the price you want to pay.
What Else is Haunting You?
As I mentioned, these are just a few ideas to get you started. If you’re struggling with an issue that continues to haunt you, consider asking a friend or family member to help you talk out ideas until you can come up with an implementable and sustainable solution. You can then return the favor!
If you have questions about mental clutter or would like to share your success stories, write to me at