Fly Lady Friday: An Interview With “Fly Lady” Marla Cilley


I hate housework. I hate spending hours picking up the mess that will never stay organized, vacuuming floors that will be messy the next day, and never having the time (or desire to spend so much time) thoroughly cleaning.

That is why there have been entire years where we never invited friends or family to our house.

But do you remember our transformation? After spending half a summer living on board, where housework was a quick 5-10 minute pick-up n the morning (later, we added a 5 minute vacuuming as needed, usually less than once a week), I was ready for a change in our house.

It started with multiple trips to Goodwill. Anything we didn’t use on the boat was questioned. Decluttering alone made our house company-worthy. But it also made cleaning much, much easier. It took some time to fall into a good routine, but now our cleaning barely takes more time than it did on the boat.

I owe a great deal of our success to Fly Lady. Yesterday, I was able to interview the Fly Lady herself, Marla Cilley. This is what she had to say about decluttering, perfectionism, and avoiding CHAOS.

Intro to the Fly Lady System

Marla describes her system as a way to avoid CHAOS. “Are you living in CHAOS? When you ask that question, most every one answers yes”.

CHAOS, in case you don’t know, is “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome“. The Fly Lady system helps you to set up routines so that you can maintain an orderly home.

According to Marla, it is very similar to living aboard. “On the boat, you had things that needed to be done everyday. Now bring that routine home.”


And it all begins with polishing your sink. Why? Marla states that, “You’ve got to do a few things to set your morning up to be better than it was yesterday…It’s all about giving you some hope…You’re overwhelmed and need to take some baby steps…[You will] get up in the morning not greeted by mystery water and dirty dishes. This puts a smile on your face.”

Sounds good to me.

Dealing With Clutter

According to Marla, clutter begins when young people first start out, and friends and family give them lots of items to help them just get started. Then, they start collecting items that fit their own style. Then, eventually, they inherit items from relatives, and adult children may move back in with their own items. One family’s house becomes filled with possessions from multiple families. “Stuff accumulates,” Marla observes, “When you have no system.”

It took Marla 9 months to finish her initial decluttering. But, she says, “It’s an ongoing process. It never finishes.”

Like many minimalists (Fly Lady is not specifically a minimalist system, but it works amazingly well in a minimalist household), Marla recommends starting with clothing. She always gets rid of one article of clothing when a new one comes in. When she’s trying to reduce the amount of clothing she has, she will eliminate–“fling”–two articles for the one she is bringing in. Doing this “makes room in your closet for things you love, things you have that fit.”

But will that clutter creep back, once you get rid of it? Marla says it won’t, if you get rid of all of it. You will, “get the feeling that your house is a haven for you and your family.”

The problem is that most people are reluctant to declutter in the first place. As much as they want to get rid of it, they “like clutter. It represents something“. That is why, according to Marla, “They have to see it for what it is”.

The biggest battle, in all of this, Marla says, is against perfectionism. It’s perfectionism that makes us hold onto items that people have given us, because we don’t want to hurt the giver’s feelings. It’s perfectionism that leads us to hold onto something until we can find the “perfect home” for it, rather than throwing it away or donating it.

To overcome this, Marla strongly advocates spending time on yourself. She recommends a “morning musing” or meditation to start the day. (Here is my morning routine).

Decluttering must be done, before you can begin thoroughly cleaning. According to Marla, “Clutter stands in the way of the baby-steps. You can’t organize clutter.”

What If You Become Overwhelmed?

Last summer, I did a great job keeping my house organized. Then, as the school year went on, I began to fall behind. On Monday, I was supposed to clean the fridge, but I had a late meeting. So I planned to do it on Tuesday, but I got home late. So, on Wednesday, I tried to clean the fridge, as well as complete Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s tasks.

I stated in my blog that rather than FLY-ing, I was “sinking slowly.”

When I described this to Marla, she gave me this admonishment,”You’re not behind…Jump in where you are! So what if you missed cleaning the fridge? Jump in and grab the worst thing…You can’t beat yourself up because you didn’t get around to it!”

Fridge day will come again next week. You don’t move backwards in this system. If you miss a task, you get to catch it next time around. Again, it’s all about overcoming perfectionism,

Marla says that it’s those “negative, ugly voices” that lead people to fail on her system. We’ve been told that, “If you can’t do something right, you shouldn’t do it…But [we need to realize that] housework done incorrectly still blesses our family.”

For that reason, the Fly Lady system should not be overwhelming if it is implemented correctly. People become overwhelmed when they allow perfectionism to have the upper hand and try to do too much, too fast. Marla says that, “They go guns-ho and before you know it they’re burned out. They’re trying to do too much.”

For readers who are feeling this way, Marla recommends slowing down. Focus on keeping that sink polished, getting enough sleep, and leaving your clothes out for tomorrow. “Slow your brain down,” she urges.

So what about those of us who work outside of the home? We have an advantage, Marla says, because we know that “every minute is precious“. There is really no difference in what we should do in the daily routines because, done correctly, they should only take 15-20 minutes. The important thing, according to Marla is to “remember to do it“. It’s important to keep reminders up. The other tasks, especially the “weekly home blessing hour” can be broken up into 10 minute sessions that are done everyday.

Involving the Kids

The Fly Lady system works even better if we get our children involved. The best way to do that? Make it fun! “Kids love games,” Marla says. “We love games. If you make it fun, you will get it done.”

Marla even has a CD available, called “Up Kind of Day,” that uses music to teach kids about picking up toys, dusting, and other household chores.

A Final Thought

In the end, I find it necessary to confess that I don’t follow the Fly Lady system to the letter. I don’t leave out my clothes for the next day, because I only own 5 outfits. I didn’t shampoo my living room carpet (don’t worry–this is on the “in-depth cleaning” checklist, that should only be done after decluttering!), because we plan to get rid of it soon.

And this is exactly the point, according to Marla. “I’ve always told people to adapt it to your family.”

So, please go and explore the Fly Lady website, and give some of her ideas a try. You have nothing to lose, except your CHAOS!

Note: Marla writes a weekly column, and I will be publishing those, along with notes on my progress, every Friday.

Zero Waste Wednesday: Getting the Kitchen Under Control

At times reducing waste and minimalism seem to be at odds with each other.

We want to have fewer things. But we don’t want anything to be disposable. So that leads to more storage containers and, thus, more things.

If I were counting possessions and aiming for 100, I would not worry about reducing waste.

But true minimalism is not about counting possessions, it’s about living deliberately. It’s about having just enough reusable containers.

And I had way more than just enough. It was time to go through my cupboards. Would you like to see my progress?

First, the medicine and spice cupboard. I have natural remedies on the left and standard medicines on the right. Hopefully, as we work to eat less poison and focus more on wellness, I will need less on both sides. The spices look cluttered, but that’s because I’m not using half of the space. I can never reach or see anything in the back of that shelf, so I slid them all forward. I’m going to keep track of which spices I use over the course of a month and pare down even more. I hate the top shelf since I can not reach it, so I just used it for things that we rarely use.

Before moving on to the next cupboard, we cleaned out the junk drawers! We had two, as well as a black box that collected junk. These are definitely our “hot spots!” Now, we’ve got one drawer for kitchen utensils ONLY and another for “awesome meal” supplies. I will look through these as part of my daily routine, and immediately remove anything that doesn’t belong there.

This cupboard is strictly for homebrewing supplies. Brewing our own beer, wine, and kombucha not only reduces waste, it also saves us money!

This cupboard used to be a disaster. The top shelf held our cleaning chemicals, which I moved to the cupboard over the washing machine. I went through my “mommy file” and eliminated any paperwork from Beanie’s school that I didn’t need anymore. I also purged out my Home Management Guide. I decided to keep my lunch-packing supplies here as well. On the bottom shelf, I got rid of one of our ceramic mugs. We really don’t need both ceramic mugs and travel mugs, but one mug says “#1 Dad” and has pictures of Beanie on it, so we’ll keep it.

Our lower middle cupboard is just for the garbage and bags, and I did nothing there.

This cupboard is now for food and FULL containers. It usually gets packed full, so I’ve decided to grocery shop once a week, rather than every other week. This should reduce the stockpiling.

I keep the empty containers down below. I listed all the items that I might buy in bulk and only kept that many containers. We also keep our washcloths, which we use instead of paper towels, down here.

How do you organize your low-waste kitchen?

Decluttering Lessons: Getting the Kids’ Rooms Under Control

After I finished with the clothing, I ventured into Beanie’s room. This was not too difficult, for a couple reasons.

First, we keep most of her toys in the basement. This keeps her room from being too cluttered and eliminates the temptation for her to play after bedtime. We will be changing this when we move her room upstairs, so we will have to deal with that challenge when the time comes. For now, the only toys in her room were the Legos, a toy truck, her balance board, a scooter, lots of stuffed animals, a toy piano, her trampoline, her vacuum and broom, and a crazy amount of books.

Second, we declutter this room a lot, so it never really gets out of control. In fact, I thought it was perfect when we left. But after living on Moonraker, I could definitely see room for improvement.

So how did I declutter Beanie’s room? Here’s how:

1. I did the wardrobe first, so that part of the closet was all set.

2. I pared down the books. I love books, and Beanie loves being read to. But, she had so many that we rarely made it through them all. I wanted to get us down to 20, but I settled on 35. They fit on the shelf in her closet now, and aren’t on top of one another. I think we’ll be able to pare down more after we institute a weekly library date. Beanie has her familiar favorites, which we kept, and a few more because she loves novelty. Eventually, library books will fulfil her desire for something new.

3. As I worked on the books, Beanie played with her stuffed animals. We kept the ones she used, but I was able to eliminate half of the animals (the ones that weren’t used!) without her noticing or caring.

4. The Legos were kicked out of the room. We have an area in the basement for “therapy toys” for guided play. We only get out one of these at a time. Since the Legos always end up spilled all over the floor, it was time for them to join this area. Sorting toys this way really helps cut down on the toy mess.

5. The stuffed animals were moved to the train table, rather than on the bed, so that they wouldn’t end up under the bed every morning.

The end result? A calmer room and a happy Jelly Bean!

Decluttering Lessons: Clothing

Like many who declutter, I decided to start with clothing.

Clothing is easier for many reasons. First, it is something that is not designed to last forever, so parting with it is not as difficult. Also, it is something that replaceable if you do purge something that you later regret. Your clothing is strictly yours, so you don’t have to worry about purging something that somebody else loves. And, once you are finished, you can see immediate results in your closet!

So, here is how I manage clothing:

1. I keep a list of the types of clothing that I want in my wardrobe. For example, I want to have 4 sundresses, 2 blazers, 1 denim jacket, 1 short-sleeved top (to go over a dress), 1 short sleeved shirt, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of jeans, and 1 bathing suit. For shoes, I have 1 pair of dress shoes that are never used outside, 1 pair of sneakers, and 1 pair of sandals. I also want to have 2 pair of tights and 5 pair of underwear (we do laundry every 5 days!). I have one pair of “grubby” pants for painting.

2. I look at my closet and sort my clothing by type. If something doesn’t fit into a category, or if I have too many of something, I purge. I do have two pretty, more formal dresses that I still enjoy, and these stay. But the fewer exceptions I make, the better!

3. Sometimes wardrobe maintenance involves shopping! I go to thrift stores and hunt for the items I need.

4. Some articles of clothing hold up better, and some just work better than others. It’s been a process of trial-and-error. It’s important not to be set in stone.

5. Once I’m done with my closet, I repeat the process with Beanie’s clothes. She often gets hand-me-downs, so I go through those, looking for items that she needs. Beanie has 4 long sleeved shirts, 4 pair of pants, 4 short sleeved shirts, 4 pair of shorts, 3 dresses, 3 sweaters/undershirts, 3 pair of tights, tennis shoes, boots, dress shoes, sandals, 2 sleepers, and 2 swimsuits. As hand-me-downs come in, I start collecting these items in the next size up as well!

6. Rob is the tricky one. We sat down together and came up with his wardrobe list. We decided on 3 pair of shorts, 4 short sleeved shirts, 4 long sleeved shirts, 2 pair of dress pants, 1 pair of jeans, 1 sweater, 1 turtleneck, 1 pair of grubby pants, running shoes, dress shoes, and Topsiders. He also has his t-shirt collection (not too out of control) and two suits (probably ready to be pared down to one). Rob does all the repairs around the house, as well as the yard work, so he goes through clothing faster than I do. We’re working on limiting the work that is done in the grubby pants.

So, there you go! Make your wardrobe list. Don’t even worry about the number of items in the beginning. This trick is to do it deliberately, so that you’re using all the items that you have.

Sunday Supper: Salmon Salad

Surprisingly, we ate little fish during our time at sea! We don’t fish, and we didn’t dare keep fish in our fridge, that we often could not run at night.

But one of my friends is moving, and she gave us a care package, made up of the food left in her fridge. That included one large salmon fillet. And what could be a better light dinner on a summer night, than salmon salad?

I hate it when fish tastes like fish, and this frying method gets rid of the fishy taste. Here’s how you cook the salmon:

1. Melt a LOT of butter. Have at least a quarter inch covering the bottom of the pan.

2. Add the salmon.

3. Add three capfuls of white vinegar.

4. Chop half of a lemon, rind and all, and add it to the pan.

5. Slice a white onion at the thickest part, two times. Separate and add.

6. Add two green pepper slices.

7. Add garlic salt to taste.

8. Add a dash of pepper sauce.

9. Cook until blackened and done!

Now it’s time to make the salad!

1. Chop the rest of the green pepper and half of the onion. Mix them with a cup of other veggies (I used broccoli slaw).

2. Add 6-7 tbsp mayo. Mix well.

3. Add the salmon and 2 boiled eggs. Mix.

4. Season with garlic salt to taste.

5. Add salad greens.


Saturday Simple Playtime: Household Items

We brought a lot of toys on Moonraker.

There were the Legos, the dollhouse, the crocodile game, the coloring books, the chalkboard/box, the colorforms, the paper dolls, the books, the bubbles, and all the other small toys stashed away in the cupboard, for when Beanie got bored.

And get bored she did. By the end of June, she was tired of playing with all of those toys. We needed something different.

In Frankfort, they have a low-priced variety store, with lots of small, cheap toys. I mentioned to Rob that I thought we should pick something up for Beanie, for our next run.

“You know what you should get?” he said. “Get some clothespins and yarn. She needs some open-ended, creative toys.”

Worth a try. I grabbed a bag of clothespins, some multi-colored yarn, and two foil muffin tins. Beanie quickly destroyed the muffin tins, but the clothespins provided her with endless entertainment. She colored them, turning them into alligators. She made them talk to her dolls. She strung them up on yarn, all over the boat. These provided way more entertainment than the iPad and all of her other toys.

I have been intrigued by this toy kitchen, and would love to put something like that together for Beanie to use in the cockpit. In the meantime, I started saving wine corks. Aldi has a “Winking Owl” wine, which puts owls on the corks. Beanie loves these. She will have them be owls and act out their little dramas. Or she will use them to build a sand castle for her dolls. Her little jar of corks has kept her quite busy.

Remember, sometimes the best toys are not the most expensive!

Back to Reality

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.
John F. Kennedy

We’re at home. Or perhaps I should say “home”. We’re at our house, the place where we spend 9 months out of the year.

This summer’s adventure is over.

After we pulled into the overgrown yard, I tentatively walked out of the car, feeling the cold, damp grass on my bare feet. When we opened the door, I was bombarded by the slightly musty, cottage-like smell of home. Beanie’s preschool diploma and artwork still covered the fridge. The launch reminder sat on the stove.

But man, so much stuff!

Do we really need a collection of old laptops, mountains of toys, and so many dishes? I thought we were done decluttering, that we’d reached our just-right amount of stuff. And our house does look more minimalistic than most. But, after living comfortably for 91 days, with so few possessions, the house looked like it belonged on “Hoarders”. There will be more decluttering, and I will keep you posted.

I needed to go to the grocery store.

I toyed with the idea of taking my bike, and I would have if the store were closer, if the town were more bike-able. So I drove.

I hadn’t noticed that stores are more fun by the water, especially in the middle of the western side of the state. There, people would always visit while in line, and somebody usually had something funny to say. At the very least, there would be small talk about the weather, and sometimes I would tell our story, which always interested everyone. Getting groceries was pleasant.

People here are so quiet. It felt lonely. I looked around for a familiar face, for some connection, for someone to at least welcome us back. Nothing.

We humans are social beings. We need community, even if modern corporate-sponsored culture has led us to believe that we don’t. This will be something we seek out. Friends will be much more of a priority than they have been in the past. Stay tuned.

There were the simple adjustments as well. Beanie rediscovered her dress-up clothes and took a bath. We have access to so much electricity, without any trouble (until the bill comes, so we will conserve!). We slept in our bedroom, on a comfortable mattress.

This morning, I procrastinated with starting the coffee, because I knew it was a pain. First, I had to go outside and get water. Then, rinsing the French press was always messy business. The stove had to be lit, which was especially annoying if it was windy or the fan was nearby. We always had coffee late in the morning.

But, folks, guess what…We have water, inside! There is a spigot right over my sink, and it’s even safe for drinking! We’re totally living it up here!

The stove isn’t that different, though. The range has an igniter of sorts, but we still get to light the oven. Bringing a bit of Moonraker home, I guess.

So, here we are. There’s a lot to do, and eventually I will have to deal with work.

But the thing we’ve noticed is that we’ve changed. Not everything will be as it was when we left. And I have a feeling that we have yet to discover exactly how profound that change is.

Adventures in Grand Haven

So here we are, at our end point for the summer. We’ve been having fun here, but we’ve been without electricity, so I haven’t been able to update.

Now, we’re in a slip, complete with hook-ups and showers, but I mistakenly took home our computer with a card reader, and brought a computer without one. So the pictures will have to wait until tomorrow, when we go back home.

In the meantime, here are some stories about our adventures:

Beanie and the Wave
We arrived at the sea wall on Tuesday, which gave the three of us time to play on Wednesday and Thursday, before getting ready for Rob’s moped rally over the weekend. One of the first things we did, of course, was explore the river walk.

Wednesday was a crazy day, with waves breaking over the end of the pier. The red flags were up on the beach, and few people ventured out far into the water. The pier itself was safe, although we got a little wet as we made our way toward the light house.

Rob and Beanie–with her life jacket on–made their way to the front of the light house, where a wave crashed right in front of them (they were still a safe distance from the edge). Beanie thought this was amazing and couldn’t stop talking and singing about it as we walked back to our slip.

Fun Downtown
There is always something going on here! We bought Beanie a lighthouse shirt, got free ice cream, cinnamon rolls, and coffee, and explored the splash park and playground.

Remember Tawas, our first port of the summer? And those pancake-covered hot dogs that I fantasize about? Well, they’ve got a stand here, too! Yummy…

The Musical Fountain
On the wall, we were right across from a hill that had “Coast Guard City” written on it. At night, there is actually a musical fountain on that hill. Downtown becomes absolutely crowded at least an hour before it starts. Local artists design the shows, and there is something for everyone–usually, there is a classical song, a current pop song, a song from the ’80s or ’90s, etc. Beanie was fascinated by it, then she began dancing to the music. She would look, to make sure the people nearby were watching her. If they weren’t, she would seek out a new audience.

Crunchy Guests
The overwhelming majority of Michigan Natural Parenting members live in Grand Rapids. And many of them have been stalking us this summer…

We knew we would stop in Grand Haven! But we hadn’t counted on the rough Lake Michigan weather making it our end point. This was kind of a bonus.

Dawn, a music therapist, came to visit while we were on the sea wall. We enjoyed the sunset, and Beanie kept her entertained. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures…

Today, Jenn and her family came to visit. Beanie showed them the playground.

And then there was Emily and Keegan, with their two .ittle ones. On Sunday, we decided to take the boat up the river to Riven Haven, our end point. It was a short motor, so we invited them to come along…

Up the River (and Back Again)
So, we rented some life jackets and piled everyone into our boat. Emily took the pictures (which you will see tomorrow), while I helped navigate.

This trip did require precise navigation, because then channel gets narrow at one point. It is shallow as well, but the marina owner assured us that a boat with a 3 1/2 foot draft could make it in, if we stayed in the channel. And the river is a muck and seaweed bottom, so we wouldn’t damage the boat if we ran aground.

First, we learned that the depth sounder can’t get a reading in muck.

Then, we learned that running aground in muck sounds a lot different than running aground on rocks. We tried to plow through. We tried the center and both sides of the channel. It wasn’t happening. We later learned that the water levels are down by 6 inches, from the drought this summer. We turned around.

(Thank you, Emily, for taking the pictures of the river trip!)

The real fun began in the morning. I saw a nice looking marina on our way back, so I drove there (our phone battery was dead, and we could only charge it in the car). They didn’t do sailboats. They recommended the marina down the road. Full.

This place said I would probably have to go back to Muskegon. No, wait a minute. All the sailboats go to North Shore. I should try them.

I called North Shore, and, happily, they had room for us. And they’re backed up, so–darn it!–we just have to keep our boat in a free slip for a week or so.

It’s a rough life.

Minimalism: A Beginners’ Guide

Note:  Many of the resources in this post are no longer published.  You can find an updated version of this post here.

I had an interesting discussion on an online forum recently. The question was, “How do you get started living minimistically?“. I was able to quickly throw out some tips on decluttering, but the answer to the question is much more complicated. If it were just about stuff, we would all run to Goodwill a few times and be done with it.

So, I examined my journey toward minimalism, and I’ve researched the paths of other minimalists. What I’ve realized is that, in order to live a more minimalistic life, you need to consider four things: the reason you have so much stuff, they way you want your life to look, starting (and finishing!) e decluttering process, and preventing the clutter from returning. Let’s take a look at each of these.

How Did I Get So Much Stuff?

All the clutter came from somewhere. Francesca, from the blog Tasmanian Minimalist, found that she was shopping to meet emotional needs. Who hasn’t indulged in a little retail therapy? (Read Francesca’s story here). I found that not only did I clothing shop for fun, I couldn’t pass up a good deal. I also inherited a lot of items that I needed to store. I kept a lot of items for hobbies that I never engaged in, and I kept a lot of things “just in case”. I also owned a great deal of “must-haves” that I never questioned.

Realizing why I had so much clutter helped me to realize the downside of my situation. I spent so much time managing my possessions that I did not have time to do the things I enjoyed.

So look at your current situation. What don’t you like about it? How did things come to be the way they are? This is really the first step toward decluttering.

What Does Your Dream Life Look Like?

Decluttering, or even minimalism for that matter, is not an end in itself. If you are aiming to make minimalism your only passion and decluttering your only hobby, you probably won’t be happy. I found that when I decluttered for the sake of decluttering, I seemed to make sure I was never finished!

So, why do you want to be a minimalist? Erin from Healthy Branscoms wanted to improve her health and make life less stressful for her family, (Read Erin’s story here). Gigi, from The Ramble, wanted to travel throughout Europe. (Here is her story).

In our case, we were first intrigued by minimalism because it seemed like a stress-free lifestyle. But we were lukewarm until we spent last summer living on the boat. Then, we had found our passion. We wanted to sail. We wanted to have the time and the money to pursue our passion, and that required some (still ongoing) restructuring of our finances and our priorities. We wanted to eventually live aboard full time, and that led us to seriously reduce our material possessions.

Minimalism will not look the same for everyone. Your dream may be to have a clean house and frequently entertain friends. In that case, you will want enough dishes and probably a dishwasher. You will be more likely to purge knick-knacks and items for hobbies you no longer enjoy. However, if you want to homestead or live off the grid, you will likely go extra dishes and a dishwasher. Without a vision, you will just purge for the sake of purging, and run the risk of living a life of doing-without. Minimalism is not about martyrdom, it’s about only having what you need, to live the life you envision.

All Right, So How Do We Begin?

Pick something manageable, and get started! (See “It Starts With One Box“.)

Francesca started by giving her excess clothing away (see her story, referenced above, for more information). Here is her tally, of the possessions she’s purged so far.

Erin recommends filling one bag, from any part of your house, per day (see link to her story above). Sarah, from Teenage Minimalist, recommends a similar approach.

Some minimalists were forced into the lifestyle, by unfortunate circumstances. Tony, from Writing From Afar, went through a divorce and had to leave with whatever would fit into his car. (Read his story here). Hulya, from A Minimalist’s Musings moved away, then lost the possessions that remained at her parents’s house in a flood. (Here is a link to her story.). If you’re reading this, studying up on minimalism, you probably haven’t experienced a life event that has thrown you into the lifestyle. But thinking “what if” can get you started with decluttering. Heather, from Wanting What You Have, often wonders “what if we were moving?”

There are lots of “how-to” articles for the task itself, so I don’t feel the need to re-invent the wheel. All I can add is that, if you’ve got a passion you’re working toward, you will have success with any method. We went through the house, multiple times, questioning anything that we hadn’t used on the boat. We preferred to “rip the Band-Aid off” rather than taking a gradual approach.

Here are some links to articles about decluttering:

How to Win the War on Clutter

Twenty Questions to Clear Your Clutter

Exorcise Your Clutter Ghosts

No Regrets

Declutter Your Fantasy Self


How Do I Keep the Clutter From Coming Back?

This is the challenge. We would declutter, then it all would mysteriously come back. Here are some lessons I’ve learned, that have helped keep our house clutter-free:

–Just because something is a freebie, doesn’t mean we need it.

–Hand-me-downs are tough. Often, I’ve realized, the person giving them away is also trying to declutter, but doesn’t have the heart to donate the clothing. In that case, I take anything I might need (that would still fit into my wardrobe–probably replacing something!), and I donate the rest. If there are other people who might want the clothing, then it is easier to say “No thanks.”

–Make sure friends and family understand, in the gentlest terms possible, what you are trying to do. Christmas used to be a great clutter-fest, until I started writing about minimalism.

–Look back at your reasons for gaining clutter. Address those specifically. For example, if you take in a lot of retail therapy, find some other way to release stress.

–Tony recommends keeping an inventory of your possessions, in order to keep,the clutter under control. Here is his article.

Now, all that’s left is for you to get started!

More Reading

Good afternoon! Here are some good links, for your reading pleasure…

The Magic of Compound Interest
Making your money work for you can actually be exciting!

Change Your Life in 6 Months
How to take lemons and make lemonade.

Small but Perfectly Functional
A look at Scandinavian architecture.

I Don’t Believe in Printers!
There just might be one less thing you need in your home!

Why you don’t need to do it all.

Zero Waste Wardrobe?
Another look at the clothing issue, from a minimalistic perspective.

Sweet Washing
Enjoying the simple pleasure of line drying.

Picky Eaters
How to expand your culinary horizons.

Fifty Ways to Wear a Men’s Dress Shirt, Day One
A little clothing innovation!

Keeping it Simple: Money and the Amish
A couple good book reviews!

Backyard Mexican Barbecue: Homemade Carne Asada
A yummy end-of-summer treat!

$7 Bathroom Makeover
Forget HGTV…

Should You Eat Cinnamon?
Did you know that there are two types of cinnamon? One has more benefits than the other.

The Family Command Center
A good way to keep everybody organized.

A New Place Coming Soon
Time to downsize!

Rejection: The Bane of a Transplant Patient
If you’ve been following Bridget and Jason, things are not going well. Be sure to leave your support in a comment.

Hoarding or Minimizing: Finding my Place on the Continuum

The dilemma we all face: How much is just enough?

A Completely Rational Fear of Butterflies
You’ll be afraid of them too, after reading this!

Market Day in Freiburg
You’ll love reading about Gigi’s adventures backpacking in Europe!

The $1.50 Sheets
Check put these cute dresses, made with thrift store bed sheets!

Happy Monday and happy reading!