A few days ago, I came across excellent tips in a file. Here’s a sampling from the archives.
Since clutter tends to expand to fill the space “allowed” for it, move items from your junk drawer into the smallest drawer in the room. Keep miscellaneous storage bins small to keep them from overtaking your rooms and closets.
Creating a to-do list is a great first step, to get things off your mind and onto paper. The second step is crucial – schedule appointments with yourself to actually accomplish the written tasks. Checking them off, or crossing them out, can be surprisingly satisfying. Try it. You might like it!
When dealing with paper, have as few file categories as possible. Instead of, say, a file for paid cable bills, consolidate all paid bills into a file for the year. The more streamlined system also will keep your drawers less crowded.
As previously suggested, collect bills that are tax-related in a file for the year’s taxes. They could include child care, education, medical bills. Also add to the file – charitable donations, online purchases for paying state sales tax. (Yup – I’m honest about that!) Keeping a file of tax-related information, and adding to it all year, might help to make filing your taxes a bit less “taxing.”
Do you forget your lunch? Leave grocery lists on the counter? (I can’t count the number of times I’ve done that…) Solution – place your car keys on top. You likely won’t get far without them.
It’s always good to shed mental clutter; it makes us lighter. It can come in many forms. One can involve gardening, of all topics. Do you struggle to remember what plants work well, and where? What annuals grow well in the ground, or look good in particular planters or containers? How much mulch to buy? How to recall all of this useful information?
You might start a gardening journal. Do you have a favorite place to buy plants, as I do? You might secure the receipt(s) from your purchase(s) to its pages. You’ll better remember how much you spent on what, which also could help with future budgeting. Tape little plastic plant and/or veggie identifiers to its pages, with comments about how plants do, perhaps as the season progresses and, then again, once it’s done. How much compost, fertilizer, mulch and other plant supporting products do you need? Write notes, so you’ll remember from year to year. Very useful for me, so I’ll know that a yard of bulk mulch will do it, with a bit left over for touch-ups.
I always feel lighter after adding to my gardening journal. Less mental clutter! Now, if I only can rid my brain of truly useless information, like the obsolete phone number of my best friend’s family from decades ago. There’s also a storehouse of song lyrics. Not useless, but also using up some of my available cranial cavity space which, like for everyone else, is in somewhat limited supply.
As you may note, I’ve not written an entry on this page since the spring. Why not? I had nothing all that compelling to add, though I’ve been working with de-cluttering clients all along. It would have been the written equivalent of talking just to hear myself talk. Not useful, and actually could have been considered mental clutter.
I’ve been thinking about mental clutter a lot lately. It comes in many forms. For me, part of it stems from spending too much time in front of the computer. It draws me, as it must be the case for many others, too. At some level, it becomes mental clutter. We spend time on emails and other electronic activities. How might other parts of our lives miss out and/or suffer because of too much screen time? For me, among other concerns, I lose out on time for pleasure reading.
I’ve been reading Helen Nearing’s book Loving and Leaving the Good Life, about her time with husband Scott Nearing. Very much oversimplified, it’s about their decision to leave New York City in 1932, moving to southern Vermont. They hoped that scratching out a Depression-era living would be easier in the country than in a big city. When the valley they dearly loved became too much ski-area-oriented in the early 1950s, they left Vermont, moving to the Penobscot Bay area of Maine.
Reflecting about Scott Nearing, Ronald LaConte wrote, “To sit and talk with Scott, whose life has spanned almost a century, is to be reminded that there are constants, that beyond today’s computer games and television sets are natural rhythms and human values that do endure. A visit with the Nearings is a reminder that there are other things to plug into.”
Indeed. Don’t know about the Nearings? They’re worth your investigation. I first read Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing decades ago. Inspiring. I think you’ll find that to be true, too. Happy reading!
In this era of super-sized this and that, it’s easy to get lured by the temptation to buy more of various things than you really need. Do you shop at “regular” grocery or big box stores that offer multiples? Tightly packaged rolls of paper towels, toilet paper and the like may seem like a good idea in those non-home settings, with their different scale of wide aisles and huge shopping carts.
While you may save some on additional items, are those savings in balance with at-home conditions? Do you have to force those additional paper towels into cupboards that now seem too small? How much time might you waste trying to get to other items? What about your frustration level?
Unless you live very far from stores and shopping requires a major excursion, you might want to think carefully about how much stock of anything to keep on hand. For most items, a week’s supply, or enough for two weeks at the outside, will be enough. More could be considered clutter. And, remember that physical clutter = mental clutter.
Have you ever felt slighted by someone? Been unable to get beyond anger about something done to you? While this website’s major focus is clearing physical clutter, mental clutter can drag us down just as much, maybe even more. Harboring resentment drains your energy. It can take the joy out of living.
As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, ““No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
How to get beyond such a situation? Use it to your advantage. Redirect the energy that you’re actually wasting. Would it be possible to bring your anger to its source, and resolve it with respectful talk? If not, maybe write a description of the situation and, if you have a fireplace, burn the paper. Or, write a letter to the person(s) who have cluttered your brain, then burn it. No fireplace? Ball it up, then recycle it.
However you decide to clear the mental clutter, keep in mind another wise statement from Eleanor Roosevelt. “Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
As you scroll down through other Timely Tips, you’ll read about how to clear clutter. This tip, though, is about the emotional lift that comes from getting rid of excess stuff. I’ve been doing that quite a bit over the last week or so, as I set aside a wide variety of donations for the annual Bella Voce Tag Sale. I’m an alto in the women’s chorus.
There are piles of stuff around my condo – costume jewelry on my dresser, clothes in the guest room from its closet. There are jackets, housewares, books, CDs and three art pieces in the living room. Several boxes in the garage are already packed, and ready to deliver. They include more housewares, holiday decorations, vases and other planters, teddy bears and other stuffed toys, etc.
As we work together, many of my clients say, “I feel lighter!” It’s true. I do, too. You can feel the same lift – by de-cluttering. And, bonus points, you often can get a tax deduction for donations to second-hand stores and other businesses that might welcome your used, but reusable, items.
As the saying goes, “Less is the new more.” Try it. You’ll like it!
Elsewhere on this website, you may read that physical clutter = mental clutter. While many clients learn that while we’re working together, others knew it already, which may have inspired them to hire De-clutter Me!
There’s another kind of clutter that may be calling for your attention, though not as visibly as physical objects you can see. Is your email inbox bulging? Your “sent” file, too? You might want to consider purging from them on a daily basis, as the previous Timely Tip (which perhaps you’ll actually read next) suggested about (physical) things. That way, you can clear your mind, wiping your mental slate clean. It helps me, and it might work for you, too.
Happy New Year? What? It’s not January! The calendar shows August. Even so, with the school year already begun in some places, and about to start in many more, in some ways it feels like the beginning of a new year.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions in January and, if so, how long do they last? A few days? A week? A month or two? Here’s something you can do on a daily basis, to lighten your load – clear clutter each day. That’s right – get rid of something every day. You will feel lighter and, after a short time, you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment. Can you imagine how it’ll be after 365 days?
Here are some tips to help.
- Consider how to do this. Give away, donate, recycle? If none are appropriate, toss?
- Don’t buy out of habit, or worse, out of boredom.
- Don’t keep items out of guilt or obligation. I had a pottery cookie jar, a gift from someone I’ve not been in touch with for years. I really didn’t like it all that much. I dropped something a few days ago, which landed on its lid, chipping it. Did I want to struggle with trying to glue the little pieces back on? No thanks! Could I “re-purpose” and use the bottom, say, as a planter? No, not really. I actually was relieved to place it in the trash.
- Does like = need? You may like some things that you don’t actually need.
- Don’t over-equip. You likely don’t need enough plates, cutlery, bed linens, towels, etc., to stock a hotel. If a big group of guests is coming, you might borrow from friends, neighbors, family.
- Save time. Every item you own takes time – to clean, maintain, perhaps repair. And, that’s after likely earning the money to buy, then taking the time to shop.
- Non-material gifts. Encourage those who might buy presents for you to make them gifts of experience or adventure. Concert tickets? A special restaurant meal? A hot air balloon ride? Also, consider time together, perhaps to be used on a big project. How about a donation in your name to a charity you hold dear?
Happy New Year!
Are you busy? Most people are. Is clutter getting away from you? If so, here’s a suggestion about how to control it. Assign a short period of time each week to de-cluttering, at the same time. Let’s say you put little ones to bed by 8.30 pm. Right after that, say, on Wednesday nights, devote 15 minutes to clearing clutter. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by all that you can accomplish. Once a month, work for an hour, also at an assigned time and day of the week.