Project Simplify, week 4: choose your own adventure

I‘m sitting down tonight for the first time all day. After I write this post, I’m going to tackle Mt. Laundry, and then pack for an overnight trip to Portland. Just today, we decided it would be fun to start our spring break with a little overnight trip to Ikea and the children’s museum.

It’s been a tiring month, but a really good one. Project Simplify has made my March fly by, which is actually a good thing for this southerner trapped by mountains and random snowfalls. For me, March normally means saltwater wind from the Mediterranean or fields of Texas bluebonnets. This year, it’s…. snow.

(It’s honestly not that bad. I’ve just been dramatic about the whole where-the-heck-is-spring? thing this month.)

Having a weekly challenge that both makes me physically move about my cabin, and then make said cabin more live-able has been a good way to welcome in the spring.

I hope you feel the same. And I hope you’re ready for this week’s challenge—it’s the last!

Choose your own adventure

We’ve decluttered our kids’ rooms, our pantries and fridges, and some of our toughest drawers, closets, and countertops. This week’s is your choice—however your home could most benefit.

Perhaps you want to finish one of the hotspots from the earlier challenges that you didn’t get to finish. Or maybe you have a completely new idea to tackle.

To get you brainstorming, here are some ideas.

  • Your DVD (and other media) collection
  • The laundry room/area
  • Your own wardrobe
  • Gardening tools, shed, or other lawn care supplies
  • Go big—tackle the garage
  • Books and magazines

  • The craft or homeschool area
  • Your home office
  • Photo collections (digital or print)
  • Your computer files

  • Jewelry
  • Under the bathroom counters
  • The linen closet
  • Backyard toys
  • Outdoor and camping gear

…I could go on, but you get the idea. There’s plenty you could do. And I’d love to hear what you end up tackling.

My plan

My focus will be on making our move go as smoothly as possible, since it’s just a few weeks away. I’m going to cull my wardrobe, get ready to store a few winter items (though I’m still donning my wool coat and scarves), hoping that will force spring to come already.

I’d also like to tackle my bookshelves, and gather the ever-growing collection of duplicate books I’ve been sent to review (so that perhaps I can pass them on to one of you?).

Your turn

Ten participants from this last hotspot will get a signed copy of my first book, Organized Simplicity. This book is the impetus for this entire month of spring cleaning, now an annual thing. And I’d be so honored if it finds a home on your bookshelf.

I know you may already have a copy—and for that, I’m grateful. If you do? Go ahead and gift this next copy to a friend you think might enjoy it. Share your own experience as you pass it on, and perhaps he or she might find some hope inside the covers. Or you could even see if your local library would want a copy.

I truly love giving this book. And ten of you will either get to read my book for the first time, or pass it on to someone you love!

What hotspot will you be tackling this week, as a grand finale to Project Simplify 2012?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. Computer files! Yes!

    Forgive me if I don’t post a picture though….

  2. I think the bathroom is ready for the challenge!

  3. I have really enjoyed this challenge! I haven’t decided which “hotspot” I want to work on this week, because I have so many! I have actually been tearing my house apart trying to get rid of everything we don’t need, making my house work for me instead of the other way around!

  4. We are prepping for a move too, so I feel this is a bit of a cheat, but I just did my two littles’ closets and ended up with TWO CHAIRS piled high with clothes. HOW does that happen?

    Next up are definitely our files, computers and my nightstands!!!

  5. This has been such a great motivator for me to clean up my act! This week I want to revisit a few hotspots I’d already worked on that have started succumbing to clutter creep and after that… I have a few ideas for the week since The Hubby is on his long weekend due to shift change. Mwahahahaha! In all actuality, he’s my biggest cheerleader in all this and is glad to help out. If my strength holds out, I’m hoping to get my bedroom in order and my living room back to living status. We shall see. What doesn’t get done this week will be the project for next week.

  6. I was all ready to do this a couple of weeks ago in the kids room, when lo and behold, the kids did it for me. We have been tackling our disaster of a garage that we plan to make into a studio apartment for my MIL. Hopefully, by the end of the week, it will be all but empty.

  7. I love your book so much! I got it when it was free for Kindle and was glued to it for days. I’ve been loving Project Simplify. I am participating, just not really posting before and afters. I did do a little post about what we’re working on this week and would love to hear from others for motivation! =]

  8. I am SO excited to have the opportunity to win your book! I’ve recently started reading you (and the other blogs in this network) and I am in LOVE. You really seem to speak to my heart. I’ve recently been listening to your podcasts as well and I find them as a great source of inspiration. I am going to tackle my books for this weeks project. Books for me are like gold. It’s the one area of my life where I definitely hoard. I’m realizing that a lot of the books I have have been given to me and I will never read them again. It’s time to pass them on to someone else and make way for new books! Of course I’ll keep a few. 🙂 Thank you so much for all your hard work!

  9. Time to tackle my sewing room… yikes!

  10. I am determined to complete my project with our appliance manuals, either scanning them or decorating the binders I have for them.
    I also want to continue purging down to bare essentials. We are getting ready for a move as well. We haven’t sold our home, in fact, it’s not even on the market yet, but I want to make room in our lives for it to go smoothly and I feel that clearing the clutter and organizing what’s left will do the trick. You gotta make room for the good stuff to flow.
    Thanks for the opportunity to win your amazing book. I did a review on it a while back. It’s definitely one of the best I’ve read to date on organizing!

  11. I’ve got a bag of baby girl clothes that was gifted to me to go through, a linen closet that needs my attention, and I’m hoping to make it all the way through Mount Washmore, determine which socks really are loners, and get rid of the true loners.

    By the way, it’s an amazing year for bluebonnets in TX! We’ve had a lot of rain since the beginning of the year, and there are wildflowers EVERYWHERE.

  12. I’m doing photos, both the digital and print outs. Which essentially means organizing computer files & the bins in our desk, which are full of paper, pictures, and assorted office supplies. And, if I have time, I also want to swap out some of the framed snapshots in the living room for more recent ones.

  13. This one I may actually accomplish! I think I’ll try to tackle my sewing area and my homeschool closet. Let me know if you need help moving. We’re like professionals, we’ve moved so much.

  14. The final hotspot in my house for the project is the OFFICE. Take a look at these pics. Not sure I can do it.. But going to give it a whirl!

  15. I have been decluttering for about half a year now – even hired a personal organizer. What exhausting work! Our first session confirmed how much has to go and I’ve done a lot but there’s still more to do. I have noticed how much easier it is to keep my house clean and what a nice feeling that leaves at the end of each day! The next hotspot would have to be whatever is hiding underneath the beds – guest bedroom and the master. So easy to put things out of sight. Much harder to do the perpetual purge 😉 I would love to win your book – it’s so useful and well designed. Pretty too!

  16. Oh goodness. I must tackle our bonus room this week. It’s become a total disorganized clutter bomb. The train tracks everywhere. The stuff waiting to be sorted to donate/store. My sewing space…um, I can’t even get within a foot of it it’s so overflowing. Thanks for the motivation!

  17. I have never posted a comment anywhere before, but I really love your blog. Yours is the first one I check every day. Anyway, I have been loosely going along with Project Simplify. I wish I would have posted my before and afters of my girls’ bedrooms, because as we (me and my girls) sat down to look at the other before/after pictures posted we realized that there are levels of clutter and my 10 year old hopefully saw that her clutter levels were way above the others! We jokingly call her our little hoarder-she saves things like wrappers and clothing stickers, etc. Anyway, I finished their rooms and now it is time to finish up with the mounds of clothes that we have. We get a lot of hand me downs and having three girls, we hang onto a lot of clothes for the next ones down the line to use. So, there is just too much! My goal this week will be to have everything washed and designated as trash, donations, seasonal or saving for my youngest. I have a good start on it, but I just need it to be off of my list for good (well, actually until fall :)). Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. I have two smallish hot spots to deal with–laundry to put away and sorting through the linen closet. Thanks for the extra nudge to recognize adventures of my own : )

  19. We are in the throes of packing for our upcoming move. Yesterday, I took apart half of my son’s closet organizing system (which housed mostly my stuff) and 2 shelves that held some books (that he wouldn’t start reading for a few years) and stuffed animals. This week, is determining what, in our pantry, we won’t be using in the next 3 weeks and packing it up and cleaning out the garage. Fun! Fun!

  20. Tracey Lee says:

    Time to tackle my daughter’s clothes. I have a huge pile of items she has outgrown accumulating at the bottom of her closet that need to be sorted, tossed and/or packed away. Thanks for the opportunity!

  21. Arran Kerrigan says:

    This has been a wonderful challenge for the month of March! This weekend we had beautiful weather here and I was inspired to organize my garden shed and pull out the graph paper and plan my new raised bed veggie garden!

  22. Sara Kapocius says:

    I bought a large bottle of vanilla extract at Sam’s the other day and when I opened my spice cabinet… I found my project – clean out the spice cabinet. Thanks for the inspiration!

  23. I just cleaned out my whole garage! Wow, that felt amazing, couldn’t believe how much stuff I got rid of. Thanks for the inspiration!

  24. Amy Owen says:

    I just did my much-dreaded laundry room!

  25. Kathleen says:

    I also will be going through my files as well as going through my books. I know I have multiple copies of several ones.

  26. Great that you reminded me of organizing my e-files! I have so many things bookmarked and digitally stored willy nilly, that I’m going to take time to get these organized and purged. Just in time to get ready for taxes…

  27. I’m about to tackle my bookshelves – we’re going to read every book we own then decide whether to keep, give, sell or donate it. Since my husband and I are doing it together we’re hoping it will enrich our conversations too!

  28. I just found your blog recently and I need to declutter my whole life! I think I will start with my closet today!

  29. I have to start working on my dining room table, it has all kinds of paper stacks that I need to go through.

  30. I plan to focus on our entry room. We have collected so much over the years and it is an easy place to store it. The next hotspot will be my closet. The thought of Spring around the corner will motivate me to purge my closet.

  31. I wish you’d do this challenge 52 weeks/year!!! I am so much more motivated when I know others are doing the same thing and will check in at the end of the week. I’ve started working on my clothes closet and hope to finish that up this week. But, I’m also working on my desk and a toiletry closet. Did I mention that organizing my computer files (especially pictures) is also on my to-do list? Ahh, so many things to do!

  32. We have a storage room inside our garage so I’m planning to tackle that this week while my husband is out of town. It’s filled with boxes of old files, books, random Christmas items that missed the trip to the attic & quite a few boxes that haven’t been opened through our past 2 moves! I do not have your book & would love to win a copy and keep this Project Simplify thing going!

  33. I was planning on doing last week’s challenge (broken things drawer), since I didn’t have time to do it, but then I remembered… my son’s birthday is Sunday, and all his little friends and their parents will come to our place! So I decided to tackle the visible areas: shelves in the office, which opens to the living room. The rest «looks» ok. 😉

  34. I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone does! This challenge is fun to watch every year!

  35. we have to work on getting ready for this baby who could arrive at any moment (ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but not really that much of one!). i have neglected getting stuff ready, so i guess this week my place is “nesting.”

  36. Nicole Hankosky says:

    I’m going to hit the closet and get rid of the clothes (donate) that I pass over 90% of the time when I’m getting ready in the morning. There are quite a few items I just don’t like much and don’t wear. I’d rather have 20 pieces I love rather than 50 I am just so-so about.

  37. I am so excited for week four! I count each of the previous projects as a success (big and small) and look forward to continuing the momentum. I have changed my plans a bit as I went and this week is no exception. Forget the garage; this will be a week of big progress when it comes to making the catch-all office into a new nursery! 🙂 Now that I have a real reason to do it, I’m hoping the energy comes with it.

    Thank you for the motivation!

  38. kris with a k says:

    Paperwork!! Files!!! I keep trying to tackle “going green/paperless” and feel like I’m losing ground 🙂

  39. I’ll be tackling jewellery, great idea! Thanks TSH x

  40. I really need to deal with our photos but haven’t decided if I’m actually up to that anytime soon. Ugh.

  41. Definitely the bathroom. I hurt my back a month ago and sm frustrated by how quickly filth accumulated

  42. Katherine Broadway says:

    New reader, and enjoying your posts very much! I want to tackle the garage to make room for a chalkboard and whiteboard for the kids, with the hope of finally catching up with the homeschool art curriculum that I had big plans for in September!

  43. I need to work on the living room, with a focus on toys! This month did fly by!

  44. I’m tackling two areas this week. My wardrobe and my photo collection. I haven’t worn probably 95% of my clothing in the past three years (omg) and I have about ten shoeboxes filled with photo prints from the old days before digital cameras. I plan to donate the clothes and scan the photos into electronic files. I would LOVE a copy of your book.

  45. Susan M. says:

    I’m a new reader of this blog, just started reading 52 Bites yesterday and decided to check out the blog this morning . . . so I’m kind of jumping here at the end. My whole house needs help, but what I’m about to tackle right is my craft/sewing room. My husband is very resistant to decluttering, but I figure everything in that room is mine, so he won’t protest. And maybe when he sees how good it looks he will feel better about me moving on to another part of the house.

  46. DebbieRN says:

    Better be the kitchen. We are in the middle of a re-model.

  47. I chose the Hall Closet, which since I’ve been dealing with pregnancy nausea has turned into the misc dumping ground. It looks great and nearly empty now!

  48. I need to go through several bins of children’s clothes that will not close. With 7 children it can be tempting to save anything that still looks good, but the reality is that we don’t ever use it all. I need to stick to my “the bin must close” rule. I think I will tackle that this week before it gets too hot outside and I can’t handle being in my garage….yes, we live in Arizona where we skipped spring and headed right into summer.

  49. Tackling the crazy, CRAZY, pile of clothes I’ve been ignoring since my son was born over 2 months ago. My clothes… not his. I always save myself for last, and therefore, never actually organize my stuff. So here goes!

  50. I recently moved to another country like two months ago and was clueless on how to organize the home, that is how i ended up at simple mom, been reading a lot of the archives on home organization and putting in place routines to avoid clutter and to ease parenting two little kids too. I love your blog it has been very educative and helpful; continue the good work

  51. Kei Jager says:

    Since our move last month we have been focusing on making our common areas ordered and liveable. This week I am focusing on bedrooms: weeding out toys and clothes, getting misc. moving paraphernalia gone and organizing what’s left.

  52. Have been waiting for this week! Actually, to be honest, I got a head start on it last week. My bathroom is getting sorted, organized, and spruced up this week! Can’t wait for those after pictures that I love to look at!

  53. I’m going to tackle my husband’s closet!

  54. Candice Wise says:

    The dreaded storage shed is last on the list…

  55. This week with be laundry room week. I just don’t understand how the dust and crud gets on everything in that room! Well might as well roll up the sleeves and dive in!

  56. Michelle says:

    I would love a copy of project simplify. Keeping the upper hand with clutter takes more than a once a year overhaul in our house and i need a better plan 🙂

  57. Susan DR says:

    This week I plan to tackle the toys in my son’s bedroom and bathroom. Why is there still an Elmo bath toy in the cabinet when my youngest is 14!!! And if that goes quickly I will donate the clothes my oldest son left in his closet when he moved out 7 years ago. Can’t wait to load up the SUV and get this stuff out of here! Thanks for the inspiration and for the chance to win your book.

  58. Our kitchen remodel is finishing up next week, so I’ll be reorganizing everything as we move back in to a new kitchen!

  59. I’m still finishing up a few things from previous weeks’ challenges. As we were thoroughly cleaning the kitchen (ie. microwave, stove, fridge, etc.), I realized that the organization efforts to the cupboards and pantry I did last spring for Project Simplify were working, woot! I did, however, treat myself to a new set of Rubbermaid food storage containers…the mix-matched set of bases & lids, not interchangeable or easily stackable, various containers of reused sour cream & butter containers, and “temporary” ziplock containers I’ve been using for almost 8 years. could be upgraded for a better food storage system. Also, as I was going through our linen cabinet…I cleared out items no longer being used (ie. old sheet sets we never use anymore, floor mop pads to a mop that had been broken & thrown away, etc.) I also treated myself to a new & inexpensive set of new bath & hand towels (and the old towels mix-matched towels have been repurposed to the garage to use for washing cars, made into rags, etc.) . I also need to make a Goodwill run for the items I’ve cleared out that we no longer need or use.

    This week, I’d like to find a better solution for my jewelry storage (instead of the multiple small cardboard jewelry boxes from the dept. store I currently use). I’ll be searching on-line and pinterest for inspiration! The other “hotspot” I intend to work on is our taxes!

  60. Awesome post – great motivation!

  61. Nice shots! I love the way you make arrange your things.. 🙂

  62. I have completed 2 organizing projects. I sorted through cookbooks and got rid of about 30 of them. I scanned the few pages that had actually been used. The other project was the linen closet which is now down to only what we will use and other people are using the extras. My next project will be my sewing/craft room which is overdue for a major organization. Only problem with that is the room is in Minnesota and I am not.

  63. Financial paperwork now that taxes are done–there are boxes & boxes that need sorting & culling!

  64. I have decided to tackle my Bookshelves. We have 3 . I am downgrading to keeping my favorite books and then purging the rest to then get new books I love on my kindle ! Possibly going for my Office. Organizing all my Scensty Supplies as well as our “junk” just being stored there

  65. My challenge was to clean up my paperwork and home office. Thanks for challenging us! – Shari

  66. ACMommy3 says:

    I have been working on our kids bedrooms and our kids corner in our living room – plus clearing out clutter throughout the entire house. Your spirit of writing is such an encouragement, I really appreciate the focus on simple living! And I’d love to win your book, since I haven’t read it yet…anything that can help me with my goal of creating a peaceful, joyful household living simply is wonderful. 🙂

    And hang in there, Spring is coming! We’re getting tons of wildflowers now and my family in Europe is reporting that the storks are all coming back. 🙂 Spring is my favorite time of the year!

  67. As I stated in my blog post, I had hoped to spend today outside, but it’s too cold. I managed to get a bit of organizing done in my daughter’s closet.

  68. Batteries, batteries, where have all of the batteries gone????

    What an easy fix!

  69. Maybe I am too late to roll in but I’ll give a try. At least it helps to finish my goal but I really would love to read your first book also! Your ideas are inspirering!
    Our family will be moving in June. I have sold some of our stuff we know others would make better use. Also a lot of our kids toys have been given away as well. Still my two girls (4 & 2 years) have their stuff and I’ll do my best to sort them out :)!

  70. Dear Tsh,
    I have written a blog post about my recent blog winnings, so mentioned the autographed book, as well as your terrific blog and a reminder about the past tasks for Project Simplify. It’s posted today (May 24).

    Thanks for the wonderful book! I wasn’t expecting to win, but am so glad I did… and look forward to having it help me declutter our home and lives.

    (I tried to contact you through your site’s email tool, but had trouble with CAPTCHA)

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