Downsizing by Design


For the past couple of weeks I have been working from the Microsoft Surface Pro which we bought before we went overseas.  I looked long and hard but in the end we opted for it instead of an iPad.  The main reason was that it has a USB port (so that I can connect my camera to download photos) and a keyboard cover which functionally turns it into a laptop in addition to the features of a tablet.


The main desktop computer had really reached the end of its useful life so we went to our local computer shop to buy a new ‘tower’.  In the process we discovered a ‘mini’ computer which is 10cm square and about 5cm deep.  Obviously, it is not suitable for everyone as it would depend on how you use your computer.  We decided to purchase this little box and had all of the data and files from the old computer transferred over.


We picked up the new computer on Saturday and intended to sit it on one of the small shelves above the desk.  Imagine our surprise when we unpacked it and found that it could be mounted on the rear of the screen.


Since the tower is no longer in the cupboard on the left-hand side of the desk and requiring ventilation, we have replaced the door and relocated the boxes of computer-related manuals and accessories from the top of the linen cupboard.  The battery charger for the rechargeable batteries is also in there.

I decided that the small desk that was beside the computer desk could go in the guest room and I re-arranged the armchairs.  Finally, I moved the office chair out and have temporarily replaced it with a ‘spare’ dining room chair.  The office chair had arms on it which consistently banged the front of the desk.  Since the chair could not be rolled in under the desk, it took up a lot of space in what is essentially quite a small room.  I am going to replace it with another office chair without arms.

The office/library decluttering has been a long journey but it is interesting to contrast the photos from today with this one from a little over 5 years ago.

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Clean and Ready


My workspace in the office is pretty well uncluttered.  Even though I often have piles of papers that I am working on during the day it is all packed up at the end of the day.

This is pretty much how I leave it every night.  The laptop is packed away as I also work from home on some days.

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I am quite excited as I am getting an adjustable Varidesk next week.

This is what it will look like.  It sits on the existing desk and can be adjusted to be used in either a sitting or standing position.

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I am really looking forward to the option of standing for at least part of the day and expect that moving around will be one of the positive benefits.

The limited amount of stuff on my desk means that I will easily be able to accommodate the Varidesk with almost no interruption.

Home Office/Library

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Today I have been revamping the home office/library area in our home.  This is really a follow up post to one I wrote in January which you can read here.

I finally moved the Australian Geographic magazines to the bottom shelf of the shelving unit in the lounge room and finally the bookcase was empty.

003I advertised it on a couple of local Facebook Buy, Swap, Sell sites and it looks as though it will be going to a new home tomorrow.

2011-12-21 01This is what one side of the office looked like a couple of years ago.  The freezer has been moved downstairs and with one bookcase ready to go we now have this blank corner.

009I am planning to get a comfy chair to put in the corner and create a reading nook.

Meanwhile, on the opposite wall we have a folding trestle table which we use as a computer desk.

001This was always only a temporary measure but it has been like this for nearly 10 years!  After much searching I have found this piece at IKEA.  I have only seen it online but hopefully it will measure up to my expectations.

indexThe look of the room has been changed by re-arranging some of the artwork we have.

007These are above the computer desk at the moment but if I end up getting the IKEA desk I will relocate them to the other side so they will be above the reading chair.

Here are a couple of others which have also been changed around.

008The office/library is a rather strange room due to the fact that the house was extended many years ago before we bought it.  This room was originally the main bedroom at the end of the house, however, it is now a walk-through room to the additional bedrooms.  The cupboards in the above photo would have been the original wardrobe.  The right-hand side is my linen cupboard and the left-hand side holds the filing cabinet.

004As you can see from the link in the first paragraph, we downsized from a 4 drawer filing cabinet to a 2 drawer one.  This left plenty of space but it was not particularly functional.  Today, we have cut down an offcut of melamine coated shelving and created a new shelf.

006There is still more to do but I feel as though I a winning the battle to make the office/library into both a functional and pleasant space.

One Thing Leads to Another


This morning I decided to clean the bookshelves in the office area.  I knew that they were quite dusty and that there was some stuff lying around that really didn’t belong there.

As I started to remove and clean the books I decided to sort them out and see if I could cull any more.  Getting rid of books seems to be fairly difficult for us but in the end there were nearly 60 books that have not made it back onto the shelves.

We have 2 identical tall shelving units from Ikea and it now looks as though one of them may be able to go to a new home.  I am confident that we will never need more shelf space as we both have Kindles and buying a physical book is a rare occurrence.

Here is one shelving unit cleaned and all of the shelves filled with books.

2015-01-17 01These are the 2 boxes of books which will be finding new homes.

002The other unit is a work in progress.

003As you can see, there is quite a bit of spare space on the other shelf which is the reason I think that it can go.  The random books are ones that I am unsure as to whether they should stay or go.  I intend to re-read them and in fact read some for the first time.  Why didn’t I read them when I first got them?  Maybe I did not really like them.  Anyway, I will be working on this pile over the coming weeks and deciding which ones I want to keep long-term and which can go.

The collection of Australian Geographic magazines will need to go elsewhere – probably the bottom shelf of the shelving unit in the lounge room.  There is 23 years worth of them – we stopped subscribing at the end of 2011.  I have never read them all so maybe it is time I did.  I used to joke that I would read them when I retired!!

There is also a shoebox of stationery items which can probably go in the cupboard.  Then there is the pile of photos that need to be sorted any scanned…………one day!!

004This is the cupboard which holds the 4 drawer filing cabinet.  I am in the process of trying to source a 2 drawer one to replace it as we have condensed the contents into 2 drawers.  When this eventuates we will use the top of the cabinet as a shelf and add another shelf a bit higher up.  There will then be plenty of space for the stationery box and photos.

If I had to nominate one room that is difficult to declutter, then the office would be it.  Mind you, we have managed to get rid of quite a bit over the past year but there always seems to be more.

Do you have a particular room or area that is your nemesis when it comes to decluttering?  Please share your stories.

Defrosting, Dusting & De-bugging


Today I defrosted the small freezer.  Since it is only the size of a bar fridge we take it out on the verandah and let the ice thaw without any added assistance.  I pack all of the contents into the camp fridge and set it to ‘freeze’ so there is no problem with anything defrosting.  The freezer lives in the office so I took the opportunity to give the room a good clean.

Here is what I did:

  • Cleared the desk of some random papers
  • Sent some emails which related to the paperwork which was then discarded
  • Threw out a pen which no longer works
  • Wiped down the bookshelves and desk
  • Clean mould off door and architraves
  • Cleaned the windows
  • Washed the flyscreen
  • Removed the light fitting and washed out the residue of bugs
  • Wiped lemon oil around the cornices and corners to deter the spiders
  • Wiped down all of the computer items
  • Vacuumed the keyboard
  • Cleaned power points and light switches
  • Vacuumed and washed the floor

2012-05-07 01While I try to keep the house in reasonable order most of the time, I do find it good to give one room a good clean from top to bottom.

2012-05-07 02How do you clean?  One room completely or do you tackle all of the vacuuming or perhaps clean every light switch in the house?

Decluttering Mindset

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It seems that once you actively engage in decluttering a part of your life, regardless of whether it is physical or mental clutter, there is always more that you can find to do.

My home is far from totally decluttered but I have increasingly found myself applying the same principles to my space in the office.  I work in an open-plan office in a 5 star ‘green’ building.  Many people are resistant to the ‘rules’ attached to this standard, however, I am pleased that we have initiatives such as separate waste and recycling bins in the kitchen areas.  Compared to some others, my work-station is positively spartan.

2012-03-15 01Nevertheless, there are always bits of paper and other junk gathering so each day I check to see what else I can clear away.  It is much easier to work when everything has a home and you have only ‘enough’ of things like stationery supplies.

2012-03-15 02Neither of these desks are mine but I definitely am closer to the tidy than untidy one, thank goodness.  One day I will take a photo so you can see what it is really like.

On another note, Joanna asked what is in my make-up module.  Here is a list.

Liquid foundation
Blush + brush
Lipsticks x 3
Eyebrow pencil
Lip pencil
Pencil sharpener
Compact mirror
Tweezers x 2

Apart from that I have a bottle of organic foaming face wash which lives on the shelf in the shower. There is a jar of moisturiser and rose hip oil which I use around my eyes in a different container in the drawer.  I do not use an fancy make-up remover – just the face-wash and water.  So, it is not only the physical stuff that is streamlined.  My beauty and make routine is about as simple as you can get.

What routines have you streamlined to make your life simpler?

How Do You Clean?


Do you clean all like things together or do it room by room?

From an efficiency point of view I suspect that it makes sense to do all of the sweeping or clean all of the light fittings.  On the other hand , I like knowing that I have completed one room.  An example is the bedroom – I may strip the bed then remove any cobwebs, wipe the windowsills, clean the lightshade, clean mirror, dust and polish furniture, vacuum the carpet, remake the bed with fresh linen – and it is all done.

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while will be aware that the office is the unofficial dumping ground here and getting it the way I want it is a struggle.  Since the weather has been miserable today I have stayed indoors and continued to work on this area.

I am very pleased with my achievements so far.  Here is the desk.

2012-03-04 01Another view of the room.

2012-03-04 02Finally, the pile of stuff that I have yet to sort and find where it is going to live – either in this house or elsewhere.

2012-03-04 03Wish me luck!

Gone From the Office


Tonight I decided to get rid of more stuff I can do without.  My office is still the area where there is significant excess stuff.

First, I tossed a pile of ‘scrap’ paper which I use for writing shopping lists, menu plans and so on.  I realised that there was no way it would ever be used up so into the recycling it went.  I still have a small pile of used A4 paper for using in the printer as well as 6 notepads.  They are more user-friendly than what I recycled which included blank pages from diaries back as far as 2006.

Next I did a quick sweep through the filing cabinet.  It is far from finished but I did cull a lot of stuff.  2 books to the op shop bag, then the cards, piles of old catalogues, fliers and brochures (mostly gardening) from 5 – 10 years ago went into the recycling.  I am not sure how they managed to escape previous culling sessions but it just goes to prove that just because you have decluttered an area once that it is done for all time.  Things tend to creep back in as well as our needs and interests constantly evolving.

2 plastic sleeves have gone back into the stash of sleeves, 1 bulldog clip and 2 Post-it notepads will go to work (I use them there but not at home).

I intend to move something out of my home everyday this week.

Till next time.

Piles of Paper


This photo of the study desk which I posted yesterday, is the superficial face of what is lurking deeper.

2011-08-24 02‘Study’ is probably a bit of a misnomer for this room as neither of us are studying anything and haven’t done so for many years.  I should really call it the office as it is the office from which we jointly run the business of our lives and our home.

The business of our income and expenditure includes bank statements, tax returns, superannuation information, rates, utilities and various insurance policies.  We have a filing cabinet in here.

2011-08-25 02Like this…..

2011-08-25 03I have found that simply filing everything is not enough.  We need to regularly check and cull what we keep.  There is no benefit in keeping bank statements from 20 years ago unless you are planning a museum.  My theory is that since tax returns need to be kept for 5 years, it is reasonable to align other financial paperwork by the same criteria.

Each year when the tax is finalised and we receive the paperwork from the accountant, I remove the oldest year and rename the file for the current year so that we can collect any relevant  information in one place.

I sorted through the bank statements and found that they dated back to 2004 which means that I had not cleared any out for at least a couple of years.  This has now been rectified and I have a pile ready for shredding.  I will add bank statements to the list of things for an annual cull at the end of the financial year.

2011-08-25 04I keep folders of instructions, receipts and warranties for all of our appliances and equipment.  I check these from time to time and remove the details for anything we no longer own.

Keeping the paperwork under control seems to require constant vigilance, otherwise it can very easily get out of control.  It is a fine line between hoarding everything and retaining what is required by law, such as tax returns.

What documents do you keep and why?