10 Small Things To Do Around Your House Today

If you are fully or partially responsible for the place that you live, whether that be a house you own, house you rent, apartment, townhouse, whatever, you know that there is always something to be done.  Much of the time we are focused on big projects, things that can pay off big, cost big, and can take big chunks of time.

Today, let’s focus on some small things that everybody should take a look at (well, some might not apply, but I think there are enough things here that everybody can get some benefit).

Consider one or two of these things to get done today, and look at all of them as things you can do that will only cost you a few minutes of time, and in many cases, won’t even cost you a single penny.

  1. Change your furnace filter – You’re supposed to change these things every month, unless you have a special one that either lasts longer or can even last forever (though they do require regular cleaning).  If you haven’t changed your filter in a while, it’s probably time.  The more clogged that filter gets, the harder the furnace has to work to push air through it, making your bills go up and diminishing the life of the very expensive appliance.
  2. Do a quick check under your sinks – Go to each sink, flip the water on, and take a peek under the sink.  Hopefully the answer under all of your sinks is ‘nothing’, which means everything is in good shape.  But, you might find a few drips of water, either from the water lines or the drain lines.  In either case, it’s usually just a bit of tightening up to get rid of the leak, but those little drips can add up to ruined cabinets, mold, and a bigger leak down the road if you don’t catch it before it gets out of hand.
  3. Polish your wood furniture – If you have a dining room table made of wood, think of the last time you put furniture polish on it.  Doing so will protect it from drying out and will extend the life of your furniture.  It will also give your wood table a nice shine, something you may have forgotten can actually be present!
  4. Clean and treat your leather furniture – When we bought our leather couches a few years ago, we bought a ‘Leather Protection’ plan, meaning that if anything goes wrong with the leather, they’ll repair it.  On top of that, we get to go to the store and get free refills of leather cleaner and leather protector.  Every few months I’ll clean the couches and then put the protector on them.  This keeps the couches clean and will help prolong the life, and protect them from drying out, which is when you then start seeing cracking of the leather.
  5. Test your smoke alarms (and maybe even replace the batteries) – All smoke alarms are equipped with a button to test them. Go around and press this button on all of your alarms and make sure it beeps.  If you have a system where all of the smoke alarms are wired together, it should set off all the other alarms to, so test this.  If you can’t remember the last time you changed the batteries, it’s probably time to do that as well.  If you have smoke alarms that aren’t connected together (and thus aren’t connected to the house’s electrical system), you should replace the batteries every six months.  If you have alarms which are wired to your house’s power, once a year is generally fine.
  6. Clean your dryer line – You know how you’re supposed to clean the lint filter every time you run the dryer?  That’s great advice, but the dirty little secret is that lint continues through the system.  If you have a hose connecting the back of your dryer to the hole in the wall that sends the exhaust outdoors, you should disconnect that hose and make sure it isn’t clogged with lint.  Letting this go untouched for too long can make your dryer run poorly, and can put you at risk of carbon monoxide posioning and at risk of fire.  Just make sure that you securely fit the hose back on tightly, and ensure it’s on properly after the first few times you run the dryer.
  7. Check the caulking around your windows – Ideally you should do this on the inside and the outside, but since these are ‘quick’ fixes, just focus on the inside of your windows.  Take a look around at the caulking between the window and the wall.  If you don’t have any, you have a big problem!  If it’s there and it doesn’t have any cracks, that’s great!  But, if it’s there and starting to crack, you should start thinking about re-caulking.  This means it’s drying out, creating gaps, and losing effectiveness.  Caulk is one of those things that you can generally apply and forget about, but just for a few years.  Not forever.
  8. Go take a look at your water meter – Go find your water meter and take a look at the reading.  Write down all of the numbers.  Go do something else for 15 minutes or so, making sure that you aren’t running water anywhere (no flushing, no showers, no washing your hands), and then go take another reading.  If the numbers are all the same, you’re in good shape.  But, if the numbers don’t match, it could mean you have a small leak somewhere.  Many leaks go completely undetected but can take big chunks of your water bill.
  9. Tighten something that’s loose – There is always something that’s come loose somewhere.  It drives you crazy when it jiggles, then you forget about it, so it never gets fixed.  Whether it’s a knob on a closet door or a kitchen cabinet, the handle on the refrigerator, or somewhere else, chances are a screw just needs to be tightened
  10. Go clean something – Find an area where you haven’t cleaned in over six months.  A junk drawer.  The shelf in one of your closets.  Whatever.  Take a few minutes and clean it.  Chances are if it’s been that long, you’ll find some stuff you can get rid of, eliminating clutter and getting something clean in the process.  You may even come across something you haven’t been able to find in quite some time!

Those are just a few ideas.  What types of little things do you do that you’d like to share?

Get Rid Of That Clutter Once And For All – Until Next Time

Clutter can take on many forms, and getting rid of clutter is a never ending battle for most people.  We try to stay on top of clutter as much as possible, but I was still amazed when I went through just the basement and thought about some of the items that we could likely eliminate or reduce if we really put some effort into it.

Here are a list of things that are currently creating clutter in our basement.

  • Old couch and easy chair – I bought a leather sofa and easy chair back around 1999, which graced my condo for the eight years or so that I lived there.  It was a pretty cheap buy and the bachelor life didn’t do it any favors, so it quickly showed its age.  I keep it because the cats actually still like to sit on it now and then when they hang out in the basement, most usually to take a breather from the kids.
  • Two old television sets – We have two TVs, probably 19 or 21 inch models, that are pretty much collecting dust.  I’m not sure Salvation Army would even keep them.  I put them downstairs when we replaced them with flat screen TVs, thinking that if the flat screen went out, we could use it as a stopgap measure.  But, realistically, if a flat screen TV goes out, I’m getting another flat screen.  And if one of the remaining non-flat screen TVs that we use goes out, I’m not even plugging one of the ‘basement spares’  in.  I’m probably just…getting a flat screen.  These need to go.
  • Paint cans – I keep just about every bit of leftover paint there is from when a room gets painted.  With our house being somewhat colorful, there is quite an assortment of paint sitting in the shelving unit dedicated for paint.  I’m guessing that a lot of it could likely be eliminated.  I know that we bought a gallon of paint for the kitchen that we ended up not needing (that was the only paint we had mixed that I overestimated, which wasn’t bad) but do I really need a whole gallon and a half of spare paint?  Probably not.  I’m sure there are other cans that could be eliminated as well.
  • Table setting boxes – We use Fiesta Ware for all of our plates, dishes, bowls, and serving dishes.  We got a majority of the settings back when we got married, and have added to it since.  I have kept all of the boxes for this which takes up a significant amount of space.  Do we really need all of these?  Would we really pack them up this way if we ever moved again?  The only reason I would see us using them is that we pack some of the settings away since we don’t have room for all of them.  Right now they go into our china cabinet, but we’ll probably run out of room there someday.  So, maybe some of the boxes would be useful?
  • Kid clothes – We keep most of the clothing that both Little Boy Beagle and Little Girl Beagle have grown out of.  My wife prides herself in keeping it in great shape.  We keep it so that if we ever have more kids, or if anybody else in the family would perhaps need it some day (the likely candidate would be my wife’s sister, though she’s likely a ways away from having kids).  My wife keeps it packed in rubber storage bins, but the number of bins is starting to be overwhelming.  She is going to talk to her sister to find out if she would want us to keep it.  If some of the clothes might be five years or more old by the time they’d be needed, she might not even want them.  Eventually, it might make better sense to try to sell or donate them, but I don’t think we’re to that point yet but it’s something to keep in mind.

All of these things added together would free up a significant amount of space.   Will we get rid of everything at once?  Probably not. At this point, I would say the televisions are the only things that can go right away.  The couches can probably go when the cats no longer need them.  The clothes can go when my sister-in-law either takes them or decides she probably wouldn’t want them.  The dish boxes can probably go or at least be reduced.

There are a few things you can do to manage or reduce your clutter.

  • Identify what is or will be clutter – I just took this step with the list above for the items in our basement. I now have a watch list and have identified things that I can likely discard or donate right away, and also have a list of things that can be acted upon with a little more thought or other input.
  • Decide what to do with the clutter items – Many of the items have some sort of value above throwing them in the trash can.  Perhaps the televisions can be donated or given away through FreeCycle.  The boxes from the dishes could be recycled.  The couches could also be given away.  The clothes, if not given to my sister-in-law, could be sold, consigned, or given away.
  • Set criteria – Many people don’t know what to do with clutter because they don’t establish and follow criteria as to what clutter is.  This will depend on you.  Sometimes people will identify things that may be clutter, and pack them in a box that they will label with a date.  If it goes unused for a certain length of time (say a year) then it can be assumed that the items are no longer needed.  If this rule works for you, go for it.
  • Stick with it – If you establish a rule about dealing with clutter, follow it.  Hold yourself accountable.  Using the example above, many people will go an entire year without using the items in the box, but hold onto them anyway.  If you find yourself falling into this trap, you will become inundated with clutter.  Make sure to follow the rules you establish.
  • Know that you’ll never be done – Even if you follow all of these steps, you still need to stay on top of it. If you go one room to another and eliminate clutter, you will have done a lot of good for yourself and your home, but the fact is that by the time you get done with that last room, you’ll probably need to go back and start over again as new things will have cropped up in the meantime.  It’s like painting Mackinac Bridge here in Michigan.  They’re never done with it, because by the time they get to the end of the bridge, it’s time to go to the beginning and start over again.

A cluttered life can cause many issues.  You can feel overwhelmed with life, especially if you allow clutter to build up in areas where you spend a good portion of your waking hours.  It can make living in your home less enjoyable.  Less happiness can drain on your health.  So, don’t underestimate the power and the importance of keeping clutter to a minimum.

A Sure Fire Way To Reduce Clutter: Move!

Nearly everybody accumulates too much clutter in their lives.  Whether it be in their house, their car, of their office (or cubicle), clutter simply becomes.  And it grows.

For years, the IT department here at work was housed in one building.  Eventually it grew to where they started renting out suites of the second building in the complex as those tenants closed up shop.  Finally, they decided to take over the second building altogether, at which point they decided to completely gut and renovate the two buildings.  They’re doing it in multiple phases, beginning with the space that was formerly occupied with others.  We just moved into that new space last month to clear the next part that will then be renovated, at which point they’ll move over to the other building, and so on.

Even though everybody was moving just a couple of hundred feet away, the mere act of having to pack up everything for the move created an enormous reduction in clutter.  This was obvious by the shredding buckets that got filled daily, as well as the massive accumulation near the big garbage cans.

Bottom line, when it’s time to move, it forces you to go through things and reduce the clutter.

So, if you have too much clutter around your house, here’s the suggestion:

Move!

Now if that’s too drastic, well, then use your imagination and pretend you’re going to move.  Go in and take everything out of a closet and only put back what you would put in a box should you be packing for a move.

Go down in the basement or storage room and go through piece by piece of whatever is there, and if you wouldn’t want it going on a moving truck and to a new house, then put it in the pile to get rid of.

Junk drawers.  Desk drawers.  Garage shelves. Empty them and put them back pretending you’re packing the stuff in a box.  Move all around the house.  I guarantee you’ll get rid of so much stuff, you’d be amazed.  You’ll find things you never knew you still had (and certainly don’t need).

And, hey, if you then decide to move at any point in the near future, you’re already one step ahead of the game, right? 🙂