Time to Clean Up the Clutter. Now that we better understand why we accumulate so much stuff, let’s look at where we typically dump, store and (often) forget and how to deal with it.
• Closets Besides desks, these mini rooms collect lots of undesirables. Spring cleaning or annual community garage sales are excellent times to check all your closets. Find something you haven’t thought of or used for a year? Good reason to not keep it. For your clothes, Peter Walsh suggests using what he calls the Reverse Clothes-Hanger Trick. Check this out. Turn all the clothes hanging in your closet so that the hangers face back-to-front. For the next six months, if you wear an item of clothing, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct way. If you try it on but decide not to wear it, make sure you put it back with the hanger turned backward—no cheating. Be prepared for a shock; you are going to find you own lots of clothes you have no use for. You should seriously consider getting rid of anything you don’t wear regularly. Why stop there? Put stickers on shoes, scarves, belts and other accessories and do the same.
• Garage Do you care how your garage looks and feels? We use part of ours as a gym so clutter management is important. Why not make it pleasant when you get out of your car? Might be a big job. Rent a small dumpster and see if a neighbor wants to do it with you. Find your nearest Goodwill or similar so you can move the unwanted stuff out quickly. With whatever you have left, use clear containers and label them. Otherwise, you won’t remember what’s in there and no one else will know either.
• Cabinets Kitchen and bathrooms including medicine cabinets. Hello to outdated, expired, gross, worn out or inapplicable. Check your meds for expiration dates at least once a year. Take an honest look at your glasses, cups, plates, etc., in the kitchen and only keep what you actually use. Make “empty space” a goal. I found three plastic egg holders under the kitchen sink. I guess I thought I might want them at one point. That was probably in 2003 when we moved in.
• Drawers Kitchen utensils; make-up, lotions and perfumes (they expire); junk, tools, toiletries, office supplies, etc. Utensils that haven’t been used in over a year might not ever be. Toss, toss, toss.
• Kitchen pantry and refrigerator Expired items and freezer burned frozen foods create clutter. Check dates and signs for frostbite at least once a year. That alone, will help you control clutter.
• Kitchen counters and tables Counters, tables and floors are not storage areas. Toss or organize.
• Desks Just because you have empty spaces doesn’t mean you need to fill them. Having said that, have a spot for everything you absolutely need to keep. Think about an inbox for daily to do’s and important documents; a spot for bills, invoices or whatever makes sense in your life and work. Clean up every night so the piles don’t grow.
• Vehicles: Trunks and glove compartments, any compartments – purge!
• Purses and bags Just like our bigger houses, a giant-sized purse needs to be filled up, right? Wrong. First of all, do you really need to carry around a backpack purse or a mini-suitcase? Fine, but clean it out quarterly.
• Kids Toys Find a spot and categorize your toys in kid friendly containers. Help them learn to help you. Start tossing or hiding away items as they become less attractive. If your child asks for it, give it back or see if you can redirect.
• CDs and DVDs Are they in their cases and stored away?
• Drop-off areas Where do you put your wallet, keys, sunglasses, etc., when you walk in the door? Designate a spot and use it. Spread the word. All family members need to be on board.
• Communication and Gadget Clutter Email, social media, Internet (google search), texting, phone, television; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., They all create mind clutter. Manage your time and manage your mind clutter.
Next week, I’ll wrap up with a few more suggestions and tips from the experts, a little motivation and my parting words of encouragement. If you missed my intro to all of this – the first post, here is the link.