Get Rid of Clutter
From Tips and Steps
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- Choose a room or space to declutter. This should be the single-minded focus for the time that you have available - an hour, an afternoon or a day. Do not try and make the job too large or you will probably become discouraged and will not be able to tackle it.
- Empty your drawers, your shelves, piles of papers and items etc. Attack any space that has attracted clutter and lacks organization or system.
- Place everything into one big pile. On a clear and comfortable area, such as the floor or a table top, place all the items you have removed for decluttering purposes. You are going to tackle this pile in a systematic manner.
- Divide the big pile into three separate piles:
- First pile: Pile number one should be the things that you mostly use on a daily basis. Keep these items and papers in areas that are easily accessible. For instance, create a bill rack for bills to be paid, a utensil jar for cooking utensils or a muddy boot holder at the back door.
- Second pile: Pile number two should include the things that you use at least once a week or once a month. These are the items that belong in closets, garages or other places that are out of the way. It helps to label the items well, especially if they are unseen. For example, label your shoe boxes or your filed papers.
- Third pile: Pile number three should include the things that you have not used for at least six months or a year. If you have not used them in a year, chances are you may never do so. Therefore, make a decision to get rid of them unless they are essential for annual purposes such as camping trips or visiting far-away relatives (in which case, such items should be neatly stored and properly inventoried so you are aware of what you own). Give unused and unwanted items to charity, so that someone less fortunate can use them.
- Finish up for the moment. Don't try to tackle too much at once. Survey your handiwork and start using it. You will be surprised to see how much more space you will be blessed with and how you will be much less angst-ridden through not living in a swamp of "stuff".
- Don't try to organize an entire house or office in a few minutes or hours. You will feel overwhelmed and that would be the end of your great endeavour.
- Try to do one room at a time. Starting at one corner and working your way around an entire room before moving to the next room.
- You might wish to have a friend over or a relative to help you. Do not invite a pack rat to help you or you will end up in a worse situation. And beware of inviting someone who is too tidy. If they try to toss out your "valuable" items -- you might panic and end up not throwing out anything!
- Set a specific time to do it. Never try to undertake such a task after a long day of work.
- If you must do so after work, try to do a little bit at a time. Set aside fifteen minutes each evening to tackle one small area -- one drawer, or one shelf.
- Keep a diary of your progress. A deadline may also help to motivate you.
- Promise yourself a gift such as a movie, a new outfit, or a trip after you have finished. Rewards can help you to move ahead with the project by providing an incentive to reach completion.
- Donating items to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc. is tax deductible. This can include old clothes, old shoes, old toys, old appliances, etc. When you drop off the items, ask the attendant for an itemized receipt. Sometimes they let you itemize the items yourself. Ensure receipt is signed & dated by the attendant. This can be then be deducted in your taxes using reasonable values for used items. TaxCut and other tax software packages easily guide you through the process of claiming the deduction and can even help you assign reasonable values to the donated items.
- Don't try to organize an entire house in one day.
- Before you start the task, make sure that you have the energy and time to complete it. A good rule of thumb is not to pull out more than you can finish in one hour. Set a timer for an hour, and when it's over, you can decide to do another hour if you have the energy. Be sure to give yourself a 15- or 20-minute break as a reward in between hours -- look at email, have a cup of tea, lie down on the couch.
- Do not force yourself to do it. Make it enjoyable or you will soon lose interest. Give yourself credit for making some progress. A mess that didn't happen overnight won't get all cleaned up overnight either.
- Remember that there is a difference between clutter and items that make up the mood and environment of wherever you are cleaning. This distinction depends on the person.
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