16 April 2013
by Marie

Temporary Hiatus

Hi everyone,

I haven’t posted for a while as matters personal are having to take a front seat at the moment.

Don’t worry. I will be back in a few weeks’ time.


11 March 2013
by Marie

40 Bags in 40 Days Declutter 2013: How to Declutter and Week 4 Update

So, I’m more than halfway through the 40 Bags in 40 Days 2013 Decluttering Challenge now, and my experience has helped me come up with a  handy “how to declutter” guide to help make your challenge a success.

1. Tackle it in small chunks

Once you’ve worked out the areas you are going declutter, allot 20-30 mins and tackle a small area. A couple of drawers, a shelf in your wardrobe, a kitchen cupboard. Don’t aim to clear a massive amount, or you’ll get swamped in the task and might give up. I tried to tackle my entire wardrobe in one session,  and I ended up moving things from pile to pile and not sorting much out. So: Smaller goals and frequent successes. It’s much more motivating.

2. Take everything out

Yup. You heard me. Let’s say you’re tackling your junk drawer in the kitchen. (I think everyone has one of those! Mine’s a shocker. *Hangs her head*) Take everything out of the drawer and go through each item individually. Sort your things into four piles: keep, donate, bin, recycle. Don’t put ANYTHING back into the drawer until you’ve done this.

3. Get the clutter out

Once you’ve finished number (2), bag up the items to donate, put the rubbish in the bin and the recycling in your recycling box. Get it out of the way so it doesn’t get mixed up with the things you want to keep. And it’s often too tempting to start re-evaluating half way through.

4. Look at what’s left with a critical eye

Come back to the things you have left  and decide which ones you really want to keep in that space. Do you really need a spare screwdriver in the kitchen drawer? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to get it out of the toolbox when you need it, instead of seeing it there cluttering up your drawer every day? Is there somewhere better for your collection of hair elastics to live? Almost certainly. Again, be ruthless and decisive.

5. Organise it and put it back

Now that you know exactly what needs to live in the space you have just decluttered, you can start to put it all back. Think about ways to keep the area tidy. Do you have drawer organisers, boxes or baskets that could help keep everything in its place? Do you need new items to help keep things tidy? (NB Think before you buy and don’t forget to have a wander around your house to see if you already own something that fits the bill.)

6. Enjoy your space

You should now have a nice tidy space with clear homes for everything. This should make it easier to keep tidy and to help you remember what is in there. Enjoy!


As for this week’s update, I’ve not done so well this week. I’ve been out of town again. One bag of assorted random items awaits a charity shop run (sunhat, shoes, songbook, old cake tin, couple of books and other bits and bobs.) That said, I did sort through my summer clothes and realised that I didn’t need to go out shopping and buy more, as I already had plenty. So that’s at least kept extra clutter out of the house.

4 March 2013
by Marie

Simple & Organised Technology: Five steps to an organised inbox

Tim Harford Screen Grab

I stumbled across a fantastic article today on how to manage your emails. Written by everybody’s favourite “Undercover Economist”, Tim Harford, he’s really nailed the ‘how to organise your inbox’ conundrum. Article: Five steps to an organised inbox – Tim Harford (Or indeed “an organized inbox” – since we’ve just had our first visitor from across the pond. Hello!)

I love the no-nonsense approach. No need for complicated filing or organisation systems, just trash what you don’t need, and search for what you need from what remains. Simple, logical, organised. I’m all about that.

Favourite quote? “Searching for email tends to be quicker and no less reliable than filing it.” So true.

And I love the idea of having two files. One called “Not Done Yet” and one called “Archive”, which you search from. And thus your inbox becomes exactly what it is meant to be. A box for incoming mail that you have not yet touched. Genius.

I wish I’d seen this before I went on maternity leave – the e-mail traffic at my last organisation was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I always prided myself on dealing with e-mail efficiently, since I was client facing at a consultancy prior to that, and not answering e-mails quickly enough was commercial suicide. Plus it really messed up your annual client 360 feedback results. :-)

But I digress. From now on I’m sticking to Tim’s recommendations. Thanks Tim!

2 March 2013
by Marie

The One Where We Met… Kirstie Allsopp

Kirstie Allsopp

Although I just spent my last post telling you at some length that I’ve done 4/5ths of naff all on the “40 Days” front this week, back in Dorset I did cross paths with someone very exciting indeed!

Kirstie Allsopp was opening a new look B&Q store near to my parents’ home. There was no question when my sister and I spied the ad in the local rag – we had to go. She’s a bit of a hero to us both. And the best thing is that she is even more lovely and genuine in person than she is on screen, and that makes me so so happy. She even wrote a get well card to our mum who is recovering from an operation. STAR.

N.B. Sorry about the blurry picture quality. I didn’t think I would need my camera this week, so a random took this pic on my iPhone for us. I’m the one in the pink scarf.

2 March 2013
by Marie

40 Bags in 40 Days Declutter 2013: Week 3 Progress Update

Another week of being away from home has made this week’s 40 Bags in 40 Days 2013 Declutter Challenge somewhat, well, challenging! But I have spent some time looking through my summer clothes ready for our Easter HOLIDAY (yippee) and found another bag of  ”no, it doesn’t fit, and even if it did, I wouldn’t wear it” clothes, which I realise I have been hanging on to for 5-10 years.

WHAT was I thinking?? I’m 35 now, why would I hang on to things which suited me when I was 25. I baffle myself sometimes.

I’m also planning to have a root through the chest of drawers in the spare room, which is a dumping ground for all of those things that don’t have a home.

23 February 2013
by Marie

40 Bags in 40 Days Declutter 2013: Week 2 Progress Update

View from my bedroom door

View from my bedroom door

So it’s the end of the second week of our 40 Bags in 40 Days 2013 Declutter Challenge and as you can probably guess, my zen-like tidy feeling has disappeared. Sprocket and I went to the south coast for half term and so the house was left in an almighty mess, as lovely husband was working late all week and I was in a rush to get going. I physically can’t leave a house with a messy kitchen, so whilst our kitchen and utility were spotless, our bedroom looked like a hell hole (c.f. above). 

Still, despite the fact that I have a Sunday of tidying looming over me, I am going to look upon this as an opportunity and not just a colossal pain in the buttocks*. A chance for some more ’40 Bags’ action and a good stretch of time to organise another part of the house. 

Admittedly, I do have a couple of bags of clothes downstairs waiting to go to the Cancer Research shop, so this week wasn’t a total bust in ’40 Bags’ terms, but being away for four days has also slowed down my progress. So tomorrow we will be getting back on the wagon – I think we can do a little better than two bags! 


****** Saturday Afternoon Update: Since I was making the trip to the charity shop anyway, I decided to have a quick 15 min rummage around the house to fill an extra couple of bags. And I managed it! An old unloved cake stand, a wardrobe sweater hanging thing, a bunch of plastic coat hangers that our tenants ‘gifted’ us (matching, not shop-branded ones) and some old shirts of mine which don’t fit well. RESULT. ******


* PS Autocorrect on my iPad seems to be getting worse and worse since I started blogging on here. It just suggested that instead of “buttocks”, I might actually have meant to type “rear tutors”, and I had to share that one! But Apple, seriously, that’s so wrong on so many levels. Back to Autocorrect School for you. :-)


17 February 2013
by Marie

40 Bags in 40 Days Declutter 2013: Week 1 Progress Update

It’s been quite a week. Not quite what I expected for the first week of our 40 Bags in 40 Days 2013 Declutter Challenge!

Sprocket and I both came down with the norovirus, plus there was lots of teething fun later in the week, with lots of cuddles needed.

However, I still managed to stay on track with the challenge. I think it helped to clear my virus-befuddled head and soothe my sickly self.

So what’s the skinny? Well, our house is feeling quite a bit emptier (and tidier!) since we donated:

  • 5 bags of clothes (Cancer Research shop)
  • 4 bags of books (Fara shop)
  • 3 bags of unused nappies of various sizes (Give and Makeup)
  • 3 bags of toiletries, gift sets, make up bags etc (Give and Makeup)
  • 1 bag of weaning equipment (Give and Make Up)
  • 1 bag baby clothes (Give and Make Up)
  • 1 bag baby toys (Give and Make Up)
  • 4 bags of kitchen paraphernalia (Cancer Research shop)

Twenty-two bags – not bad going for a poorly mum and babe! The only thing I didn’t get was photos of the stuff – it was quite a mound of carriers, though, believe me. I now also have far fewer carrier bags too. ;-)

Happy decluttering!


13 February 2013
by Marie

The Great 2013 Declutter: 40 Bags in 40 Days

Every New Year, I’m overcome by a very strong urge to declutter. I get antsy and fidgety and grouchy until I get stuck in and start working out what to keep, what to dump and what to donate to charity. And if there is reordering and alphabetising involved, then so much the better. That’s when it starts to get really FUN!

(My name is Marie and I am a big organising dork. And an INFJ, if you’re into Myers-Briggs. Obviously. The “J” is strong in this one.)

The start of 2013 was no different, but life intervened in a big way and de-cluttering has had to take a back seat. Until I stumbled across the 40 Bags in 40 Days Lent challenge.

You compile a list of forty places in which you think you could find a carrier bag’s worth of unwanted items. And then you donate, recycle/upcycle or bin them, leaving you with less stuff to manage and hopefully a more zen-like home.

At the same time, my lovely friend Lilly sent me a link to a fantastic charity called Give and Makeup. It basically takes unwanted or lightly used toiletries, cosmetics, undies and nightwear, as well as hair-dryers/straighteners and baby items, and takes them to shelters for those fleeing domestic violence. Not only did she send me their web address, but she also offered to take my bags along with hers to the drop off point in the City. She is a legend.

So with two great reasons to fuel my decluttering drive, I’m getting cracking on my list. I’ve got twenty so far, but I’m sure I’ll find some more along the way.

40 Bags in 40 Days

  1. Utility room – right hand cupboard
  2. Utility room – left hand cupboard
  3. Utility room – top cupboards
  4. Study – bookcase 1
  5. Study – bookcase 2
  6. Study – boxed books
  7. Sprocket’s room – baby clothes/toiletries/small nappies
  8. Kitchen – pots & pans
  9. Kitchen – pantry
  10. Bathroom – under sink unit
  11. Bathroom – medicine cabinet
  12. Master bedroom – rarely worn clothes
  13. Master bedroom – rarely worn clothes
  14. Master bedroom – rarely worn clothes
  15. Master bedroom – worn out socks, tights & undies
  16. Master bedroom – shoes
  17. Master bedroom – “I’ll never be that thin again” clothes drawer
  18. Study – documents for shredding from filing system
  19. Study – documents for shredding from filing system
  20. Eaves – massive box clear-out (There will be more than one here, but how many, I have no idea.)

Progress updates to come as I clear out the clutter!