Through the cold winter months when we spend more time inside, it’s a great time to do projects that we don’t like to do when it’s nice outside. Many talk shows and magazines are focusing on ways to declutter, or get rid of “stuff”. When we have too much “stuff” in our homes it takes more of our time to clean or maintain it and just keeping up with it becomes a daily challenge.
The challenge is to take stock of what we have and to simplify and downsize to give ourselves peace of mind and to leave a clutter free legacy to our families. How do we do that? There are lots of ideas out there, the challenge is to find one that works for you. Then I can begin to sort and classify. Things that are used together belong together. Store them in one place. Clean out constantly. When you keep things you don’t use, they get in the way and create more work. Keep on top of things. Get rid of the old as soon as you get new. Use storage devices to fit your system. Bad containers make things harder to manage. Label everything. Something left unlabeled causes frustration and is likely to disappear. Keep it simple. Take on only what you can handle and do no more. Decide to decide. Make a decision and follow-through. Ask for help. Delegate tasks, or hire someone to do the things you can’t do yourself. Organize year round.
Even with the above suggestions, I find myself contemplating where to start. I know the steps in theory, but being motivated to begin is a challenge. I found the following suggestions from Oregon State Extension very helpful:
• Focus on one room – maybe the room where you spend the most time or alternatively the room that contains the most clutter. Start small – go through one drawer, one shelf or one counter per session.
• Get tough – dump the contents on the floor and consider each object.
• Go through your mail daily – toss what you’ll never read, file bills for payment, recycle newspapers, magazines and catalogs.
• Set a limit on saving bags, food containers, or boxes.
• Get rid of two old garments every time you buy a new one. This rule also works for kitchen gadgets, shoes, books, videos or CD’s, and toys.
• Pare down mementos – keep the Girl Scout badges instead of the whole uniform, the year books instead of everybody’s school photos.
• Consider making a daily or biweekly uncluttering appointment. Set a specific date and time. Just 15 minutes a day can help, an hour a day is even better. Set a timer. Work on a drawer while watching TV or assisting with homework. Involve your children to help them develop skills for life as well
• Use labeled boxes or bags and group items into categories. Possible categories might include: 1) Things you love and/or use – keepers. 2) Things you can give to someone else. 3) Trash 4) Things you could sell. 5) Things that belong somewhere else.
Remember, over time we begin to overlook the “stuff” and one day we realize it has multiplied and overtaken its space. Talk with your family, maybe it’s time today to begin to clean out the shelves and the drawers so that we can find the things we need and get rid of the things that make life harder. Stuff is only valuable if you can find it when you need to use it so plan time during cleaning or write it on the calendar for a family night. Everyone might appreciate their efforts in the end!