Today I want to share the next step in the ‘Streamline’ process that is outlined the book, “The Joy of Less”.

Make-up module

The concept of modules is that like things are kept together but more than that, it is about creating a group of items required for a particular task or activity.  It could be keeping your knitting needles, wool and pattern all together in one basket so that you can pick up your knitting at any time and know that it is all there.  Perhaps, creating a bill-paying station where you have all of the items required such as pens, stapler, filing box etc.

By keeping like items together this method helps you to identify where you have an unnecessary duplication of items.  An example is pens:  If you have them lying around on various desks, drawers, kitchen bench, side tables etc it is difficult to understand just how many there are.  Gather them up, check to see which ones don’t work (there will be some),and place them all together.  So, do you really need 57 pens?  They last for ages and you probably have more than a lifetime’s supply!  Choose the best 10, keep them together in a convenient and confined spot.  47 pens that have been lying around the house as clutter are gone!!

Once you start thinking in terms of modules you can apply the principle to almost anything in and around your home.

On the weekend, The Duke and I spent quite a bit of time decluttering, sorting and organising the workshop.  It is definitely a work in progress but now we can actually see some of the half-finished projects that had been buried under other things, completely forgotten or simply unable to be worked on due to the clutter on the workbench.  Much of what we did was putting like with like.  There were pieces of baling twine which we keep for various odd jobs.  It seemed like everywhere I turned there was another bit of baling twine but they are now all together in one plastic bag and easy to find when we need a piece.

We have almost finished demolishing the old chicken run and this has entailed removing the side of the woodshed which was adjacent to the run.  The woodshed will remain and a new side panel built to keep the weather out and the wood dry.  This has prompted us to look critically at all of the various piles of wood – everything from tree branches to leftover material from previous building projects.  We are attempting to get all of the suitable firewood in one place in the woodshed so that we can easily access it when needed in the winter months.  One day the firewood ‘module’ will be complete!

The wood is currently in piles to be cut for firewood, stored for future projects or simply of no use and needs to be re-homed or dumped.

Modules create efficiency and also limits.  Whilst the STREAMLINE process is most definitely NOT about rushing out and buying a whole lot of pretty boxes to stash your stuff in, it does help to be able to physically contain your identified ‘modules’.

Stationery module

You probably have ‘modules’ that work for you but that you have not even described as such.  Please share your idea and what works for you.

LIMITS is the next in the series and follows on very neatly from today’s topic.

STREAMLINE – All Surfaces Clear


Today’s gem from Francine is pretty simple to say but not quite so easy to achieve.  Keep all surfaces clear.  Clear surfaces provide us with possibilities.  Somewhere to eat your dinner, prepare a meal, pay bills or simply to sleep.

She also reminds us that surfaces are not for storage.  If you have too much stuff for your available storage spaces perhaps it is time to let some it go.

This is one area with which I have had partial success.  For instance, my dining table always is clear apart from a doyley and vase which provide a decorative element.  I am also pretty good at keeping the vanity bench in the bathroom as well as the laundry bench clear.

Dining table

The study desk is generally a failure and the kitchen benches range from good to bad depending on the day of the week and work in progress.

Kitchen bench

It takes time and effort to achieve the state of a completely clear surface.  Like all changes you need to start small.  Don’t expect to turn the study desk which is overflowing with stuff into a minimalist’s paradise overnight.  If you have sufficient storage in the bathroom, I think the vanity bench is a great place to start.

The dining table is also a good one to tackle because anything that is on here is definitely in the wrong place – a dining table is to sit at to eat a meal.  Since most of us eat 3 meals a day there are plenty of opportunities to make sure that it is clean, clear and ready for use.  Since it is also a public part of your home everyone will benefit from it being clear and ready to use for its designated purpose.

Please let me know – do you have any constantly clear surfaces of which you are particularly proud?  What are the areas that seem to defeat you?

Tomorrow we will move on to something a bit more interesting than my kitchen bench.  Modules – containing what you have.  It is definitely a new twist on rushing out and buying containers to store your stuff.

STREAMLINE – Everything In Its Place


Just to prove that I don’t always live up to what I write here is a photo of my kitchen bench this morning.

Kitchen bench
Well, everything was certainly not in its place.  Saturday morning is not usually the best time at our place.  We have both had a long week at work and despite the best of intentions, I have usually run out of steam be the time I get home.  The empty box on the floor and the wine on the bench were part of a delivery of purchases made by The Duke while we were away the other week.  There is an assortment of paperwork that had not been dealt with  as well as some clean dishes and numerous glass jars and bottles.

So, what is their place?

The packaging from the wine has gone into the recycling.  The box was repurposed to hold some jars that I have listed on Freecycle.  The paperwork has been sorted into recycling and a pile to be filed.

I keep 2 plastic tubs of jars in my pantry.  One holds the ones which have pop-top lids which I use for preserving and the other tub has an assortment which I keep for storage etc.  There were too many jars so it was time to cull them and keep only the best ones.  I only keep about 4 different style/size of jars with pop-top lids so that I can use a consistent size when making something like pasta sauce.

Preserving jars

The excess jars have been listed on Freecycle but if no-one wants them I will drop them off at the op shop.

Excess jars

The wine has been relocated to the wine rack storage in the cellar.  Alas, it is not strictly a cellar in the true sense of the word but it is downstairs and maintains a fairly even temperature.  The Duke and I took the opportunity to tidy up and sort out the contents of the rack.  It is now in a more logical sequence and hopefully we will easily be able to locate what we are looking for in future.

As usual, one thing led to another and I now also have some excess coffee mugs to take to the op shop as well as 2 low folding chairs to put on Freecycle.  The less stuff we have, the easier it is to keep everything in its place.

STREAMLINE – Trash,Treasure or Transfer


Now you have bitten the bullet and everything is out of the room, cupboard or drawer that you have chosen to work on. As I mentioned yesterday, the first thing is to focus on the space you have created.  Although it is not strictly part of the decluttering process, I am sure you will want to clean the space.  Wipe out the cupboard or drawer. If it is a whole room you will probably set aside some time to give it a really deep clean. Notice how easy a room is to vacuum or dust when there is no ‘stuff’ in it.  Keep this in mind and remember that cleaning and general housework become much easier when you are not fighting the ‘stuff’ on a daily basis.  On of the great attractions of a minimalist lifestyle is the reduced time and effort spent on routine housework. Contents of cupboard Time for a bit of show and tell.  This is what was in the cupboard. 3 trays 1 carving platter 1 long basket 2 serving trays 3 bowls These items have been part of our household for many years.  They all fitted in the cupboard easily and were only used rarely.  Without the prompt of the doors being opened frequently (which I discussed yesterday) inertia would have dictated that the status quo remain.  However, when I took them out of the cupboard (their comfort zone) and laid them on the bench I saw them in a different light. TRASH – nothing went in the rubbish as these are all perfectly functional items.  However, I needed to decide what would be transferred – that is – rehomed. The easiest decision was the long basket.  This was used for serving a baguette cut and prepared as garlic bread.  How very 70’s!  I cannot remember the last time I served bread in this manner yet the basket lived on.  I have other containers which would do the job admirably if I ever serve bread with a meal in the future.  Since I eat a gluten-free diet that is fairly unlikely. The 3 wooden bowls also screamed 70’s, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it does give you an idea of how long they have been lurking around.  The set originally included the large serving/salad bowl and 4 smaller bowls.  There were also a set of salad servers which, from memory, were fairly useless.  The large bowl is somewhat misshapen but still is used occasionally for serving potato crisps or corn chips in a party situation.  This was useful when there were young children around as it is unbreakable, however, I have plenty of other options.  Time to move these on. The most difficult was the timber tray because of the sentimental value.  It belonged to my grandparents and it was one of several items that I chose to keep after my grandfather died (over 25 years ago).  There were 2 other trays in the cupboard and I knew that I could not justify keeping all 3 of them as they are rarely used.  This was the least practical as it is oval and has very little capacity for carrying things which should be its prime purpose so it was time to say goodbye. Transfer pile What made the cut? Trays These 2 trays are being kept.  The wooden one is a practical item for taking food and utensils from the kitchen to the outdoor eating area.  I do not use it enough and I have reminded myself of its existence and will use it more often in the future.  The striped tray is not all that good for carrying things as it has not defined handles nor sides and is quite slippery.  However, it can be used as a large,unbreakable serving platter so it stays for now. Other stuff The carving tray belonged to my parents and is used occasionally.  The other criteria when decluttering is whether an item could easily be replaced in the future.  I do not believe that this could be replaced by anything approaching the same quality, therefore it definitely stays. Finally, the 2 stainless steel serving trays are used on a semi-regular basis for social afternoon teas to serve sandwiches, slices or cake.  The fact that they are not breakable makes them a good choice for ‘bring a plate’ events as well. The result?  5 items to go and 5 to stay.  I have halved the contents of one cupboard and know that I will not miss the ones that go.  I also know that I am more likely to use the remaining items more often since I have clearly identified the reasons that I have them. I hope this has helped you in your own attempts to sort out the trash, treasures and things to transfer. You need to make sure that complete the task by actually putting the rubbish (if any) in the bin and moving the transfer items on to their new homes.  That may be via eBay (or similar), Freecycle or the local donation bin. I would love to hear how you go. In this post I have actually addressed the “R  – Reason for each item” as well. Tomorrow – “E – Everything in its place”.