1/07/2012

Decluttering 101

I've begun another decluttering tour this week. After the holidays it seems like paper, assorted magazines, and just plain junk have taken over counters, tables, nooks, crannies, etc. There are all those little instruction pamplets for new coffee makers, toys, GPS devices. Then there are magazines that have been saved throughout the year for one or two recipes and sometimes a decorating idea. The Christmas cards and letters...they're too pretty to throw out...right? The closets are bursting at the seams, the garage is a mess. It's an overwhelming task if you take it on all at once, so I've developed a system over the years to take a few minutes a day and eliminate one area of clutter at a time. Since clutter equals chaos and order equals tranquility for me, it's a task necessary for mental health, along with a sense of order. You know--a place for everything and everything in its place. Sometimes the place is the garbage.

First, why do it? It's only going to get messed up again. Ah...it's like telling your kids to make their beds. They're only going to sleep in it again. Order is peaceful and it's being a good steward of your stuff. Unless you make the bed, no one (including you) will ever see that lovely comforter or those pillow shams. Even if the bedroom isn't out of Better Homes & Gardens, a made bed makes all the difference when you walk in the room.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with "stuff" here are a few tips that have worked for me over the years.

1. Identify the target areas, i.e. kitchen counter, night table, dining room table.

2. Begin small and allow yourself 15 minutes to do the declutter from start to finish. This morning, I pulled open the junk drawer in the kitchen to find it a little disorganized with things thrown in willy nilly and not in their proper storage sections. While I stood and finished my final cup of coffee of the morning, I sorted rubberbands, batteries, picture hangers, and other miscellany within 15 minutes, restoring order to the junk drawer organizer. I did the same thing in my closet this week, sorting one area, discarding clothes to the trash and The Salvation Army. Next week, I'll start on another section.

3.  Most Americans overbuy just about everything. Why not give it away to an organization that can distribute it to those in need?  We've all bought a shirt, pants, or some other piece of clothing that was spectacular in the store, but when we got it home it:
a) made us look 10 years older
b) was too tight or too tent-like 
c) made our complexions look like we have jaundice 
d) all of the above.

Because it was such a good deal, we can't seem to part with it. We decide we might wear it someday or alter it so it fits. What are we smoking? Put it in the bag for Goodwill. Free up space so you can find another good deal this year. Do you have a surplus small appliance taking up space in the cupboard or garage? If it's broken, for heaven's sake throw it out. What are you waiting for? If it works, ask around at church or work if someone can use it. We've done that lots of times and have helped meet some needs and others have met our needs. It beats planning a yard sale that you really don't want to have.

4.  Maintenance is the key to taming clutter. Baskets, drawer organizers, and the like can help in a big way. Watch for store sales on these items or sometimes you can pick them up really cheap at yard sales or a dollar store. Some should be fun so you and your family enjoy keeping things organized. You also have to make a decision to stay decluttered.  That's the hard part. But it's like anything else, it's a process, a discipline, retraining, a new habit. e.g. Instead of throwing the mail on the counter and letting it accumulate until you get around to it (a very dangerous phrase), throw out the junk mail immediately, open the bills and put them in your handy bill paying basket, and relegate the magazines to the magazine basket. It's done and it took probably three minutes. It beats a half hour or more two weeks later.

Well, that's enough advice, otherwise I'll have subjected you to word clutter. Happy decluttering!

1 comment:

Jeff Spear said...

My dear Aunt Lois (Wing) said it well. "Clean the house and six months later you have to do it again."

Positively encouraging

1/07/2012

Decluttering 101

I've begun another decluttering tour this week. After the holidays it seems like paper, assorted magazines, and just plain junk have taken over counters, tables, nooks, crannies, etc. There are all those little instruction pamplets for new coffee makers, toys, GPS devices. Then there are magazines that have been saved throughout the year for one or two recipes and sometimes a decorating idea. The Christmas cards and letters...they're too pretty to throw out...right? The closets are bursting at the seams, the garage is a mess. It's an overwhelming task if you take it on all at once, so I've developed a system over the years to take a few minutes a day and eliminate one area of clutter at a time. Since clutter equals chaos and order equals tranquility for me, it's a task necessary for mental health, along with a sense of order. You know--a place for everything and everything in its place. Sometimes the place is the garbage.

First, why do it? It's only going to get messed up again. Ah...it's like telling your kids to make their beds. They're only going to sleep in it again. Order is peaceful and it's being a good steward of your stuff. Unless you make the bed, no one (including you) will ever see that lovely comforter or those pillow shams. Even if the bedroom isn't out of Better Homes & Gardens, a made bed makes all the difference when you walk in the room.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with "stuff" here are a few tips that have worked for me over the years.

1. Identify the target areas, i.e. kitchen counter, night table, dining room table.

2. Begin small and allow yourself 15 minutes to do the declutter from start to finish. This morning, I pulled open the junk drawer in the kitchen to find it a little disorganized with things thrown in willy nilly and not in their proper storage sections. While I stood and finished my final cup of coffee of the morning, I sorted rubberbands, batteries, picture hangers, and other miscellany within 15 minutes, restoring order to the junk drawer organizer. I did the same thing in my closet this week, sorting one area, discarding clothes to the trash and The Salvation Army. Next week, I'll start on another section.

3.  Most Americans overbuy just about everything. Why not give it away to an organization that can distribute it to those in need?  We've all bought a shirt, pants, or some other piece of clothing that was spectacular in the store, but when we got it home it:
a) made us look 10 years older
b) was too tight or too tent-like 
c) made our complexions look like we have jaundice 
d) all of the above.

Because it was such a good deal, we can't seem to part with it. We decide we might wear it someday or alter it so it fits. What are we smoking? Put it in the bag for Goodwill. Free up space so you can find another good deal this year. Do you have a surplus small appliance taking up space in the cupboard or garage? If it's broken, for heaven's sake throw it out. What are you waiting for? If it works, ask around at church or work if someone can use it. We've done that lots of times and have helped meet some needs and others have met our needs. It beats planning a yard sale that you really don't want to have.

4.  Maintenance is the key to taming clutter. Baskets, drawer organizers, and the like can help in a big way. Watch for store sales on these items or sometimes you can pick them up really cheap at yard sales or a dollar store. Some should be fun so you and your family enjoy keeping things organized. You also have to make a decision to stay decluttered.  That's the hard part. But it's like anything else, it's a process, a discipline, retraining, a new habit. e.g. Instead of throwing the mail on the counter and letting it accumulate until you get around to it (a very dangerous phrase), throw out the junk mail immediately, open the bills and put them in your handy bill paying basket, and relegate the magazines to the magazine basket. It's done and it took probably three minutes. It beats a half hour or more two weeks later.

Well, that's enough advice, otherwise I'll have subjected you to word clutter. Happy decluttering!

1 comment:

Jeff Spear said...

My dear Aunt Lois (Wing) said it well. "Clean the house and six months later you have to do it again."