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Flylady tackles cleaning chores in steady bursts

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This week was hectic. Now that Halloween is over, it’s time to put up the spooky decorations and start decorating for fall and Thanksgiving. With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away on Nov. 28, I like to start getting my home ready for the onset of baking, family dinners, traveling and new toys that come with the holiday season.

Even though most people are more familiar with the idea of spring cleaning, I believe that fall cleaning is just as important. With colder weather, many of us start spending more time inside. It’s much nicer to spend that time in a comforting environment than a clutter-filled space.

But what if you are a busy household where lives are filled by jobs, afterschool activities, hobbies, sports, or other pursuits? How can a time-strapped household accomplish a fall decluttering without spending a lot of money or time?

Well, over the years I’ve read countless organization and cleaning books filled with tips and tricks in search of ways to keep my house looking nice despite two mini-tornadoes disguised as children and two mischievous cats that have a love of foil packages and knocking over trash cans. Today I’d like to share some of my favorite tips for getting a house ready for winter and company.

My favorite cleaning tips happen to come from a North Carolina lady named Marla Cilley , also known as the Flylady. The Flylady Web site and Facebook page have some great advice on cleaning and how to clean.

She encourages you to jump in and take care of your house one step at a time, a process she calls taking “Baby Steps.”

My favorite piece of advice from her is that “You can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes.” Her main idea is to break a decluttering project into 15-minute sessions. You can easily sort through a drawer or shelf in that time period. Just set a kitchen timer for 15 minutes and go!

When you are done, tidy up and walk away. In no time, you will have a whole area finished.

When I’m cooking dinner or waiting for that load of clothes to finish drying, sometimes I will tackle the kitchen cabinets or a dining room drawer.

Another Flylady tip is to separate your items into three piles as you sort, especially in our closets or the kids’ rooms. The three categories she uses are “Keep,” “Throw Away” and “Donate.” Although the Flylady offers a cute, collapsible set of organizing bins on her Web site, you can get similar plain ones at Wal-Mart or grocery stores and use a tag to label them. I also like to use a small basket for misplaced items that belong in other rooms.

One of my tips is that if you choose to donate an item, make sure it leaves immediately. If I go through my children’s items, it is amazing how fast items in my donate pile mysteriously make their way back to my children’s bedrooms. In order to keep things from reappearing later on, I keep a box that I can easily load into the car as soon as I’m finished. For bigger items, I use a plastic bin and keep it in the garage. As soon as I’m done, I like to put my donated items in the car so I can drop it off during my next errand run.

For some extra spending money, you could also sell your unwanted items. By using online yard-sale groups or Craigslist, it’s never been easier to rid yourself of your unwanted items. But in order to prevent items from building up, I suggest giving your items a time limit to find a new home. If the item has not sold within two weeks, get rid of it. You definitely don’t want to turn part of your home or garage into a long- term storage area.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, my goal is to do two 15-minute decluttering projects a day, in addition to any normal cleaning routine. My hope is by the time Thanksgiving arrives my house will be in top form, just in time to enjoy the holidays.


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