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.
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.
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!
As suggested in previous Timely Tips, are you working to clear clutter? If not, are you feeling stuck, unsure of how to start? Facing family resistance?
Here are some tips that might help you. Get some round adhesive dots in several different colors. Office supply stores stock them. Also, get some sturdy boxes and/or large, preferably clear, plastic bags. Clear bags will help prevent mistakes. Attach labels to the boxes and/or bags – Keep, Repair, Trash, Donate, Gift, Recycle, Sell and, if needed, Not a Clue.
You might alert your family that you will devote a couple of hours to each room in your home. You might allow time to share stories, which can be an important part of “saying goodbye” to items. Ask each person to attach dots on items in the room, according to a color key. White dots could be attached to items used daily, green ones for those used weekly. Next, yellow for those used monthly, then red for annual use. You might see consistencies, or no particular patterns. Either way, it’s likely to be interesting. The colors will guide you, as you decide what to do with each item.
The next step is quite important to achieving the sense of accomplishment you deserve. Place items in the right boxes or bags. Do what the labels direct! Be sure to actually act, or the boxes and/or bags will sit, perhaps bugging you, and could prevent you from moving forward to working in more rooms.
The reward? You might share a meal including family members’ favorite foods. During it, you could plan your next de-cluttering session.
Do you have memorabilia that reminds you of cherished times past? Teddy bears? Other items that you may have outgrown, even decades ago? If you’re having trouble letting them go, you might take photos, then preserve them in whatever way is easy and will be accessible. Still difficult to imagine doing? You might ask a loved one or a friend to help you by listening to stories about the objects, so that you can say goodbye. You’ll feel lighter – really!
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!