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Three Steps to Help You De-Clutter

It’s finally Spring and beyond celebrating the end of winter and the promise of warm-weather activities, I start to get the itch to get my surroundings in order, and my thoughts turn to Spring cleaning.

There is a real co-relation between clutter and our emotional state. Clearing away clutter can be freeing, but it is not always easy to do because clutter causes feelings of disorganization and being out-of-control, which further causes us to feel so conquered by all of our stuff that we don’t know where or how to begin. So, if you’re like me and are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of de-cluttering, here are some steps to help motivate you to rid yourself of clutter:

Step One: Unclutter Your Thinking.

  • Recognize that every article in your life demands your time, space, energy, resources and money. You have to take responsibility for each and every item you own. If you own a car, you have to devote your energy to maintaining that car. Every item on your shelf, you have to dust. Every piece of memorabilia, you have to store.  Be aware of how much time, space, energy, resources and money your things are taking from you and question whether you want to invest so much in those things.
  • Consider how your accumulation of things affects the environment. The more you buy, the more you have to eventually dispose of. When you purchase something, be aware of the throw-away packaging, the plastic, the cardboard that goes along with your purchase. Think about the energy and resources that were used to manufacture and transport that item. Ask yourself where will that item be in five years?  And buy good quality items that last.
  • Take stock of how you accumulate clutter. Plan your purchases rather than spending on a whim. Pause before you buy something – leave the store for thirty minutes and ask yourself, do I really need it? If it’s on sale for $5, ask yourself, would I still buy it if it was $20? Am I being seduced more by the price than the item itself?
  • Realize that, in the future, your children will have to manage all of the stuff you keep .

Step Two: Make a Plan

  • To begin, unlock all the reasons that are preventing you from de-cluttering. What do you keep, how do you keep it and why do you keep it?
  • Set some goals – what would you like to be different?
  • Make a plan. The best way is to set small, attainable goals. Focus on one room at a time. Set aside 15 minutes a day dedicated to getting rid of stuff. Gather one bag for donation to the Goodwill. Identify one drawer in a dresser that you are going to clean out.

Step 3: Develop Systems – Ways to Deal With Clutter

Establish a clutter disposal depot in your garage comprised of five “R” boxes – for Return to Owner, Resell (garage sale or consignment), Reuse (items to give away to someone else or for Goodwill), Recycle, Rubbish.

Tackle only one closet at a time. Empty the whole closet and intentionally put clothes back that you know you will wear. Or, turn all of your hangers backwards; every time you wear an item turn the hanger forwards. You will soon be able to identify what items you wear and what items you don’t.

Have things that you use most often in handy and easy to reach locations. The items you rarely use can be stored out of reach at the back of the top cupboard. Don’t let stuff you rarely use take up good cupboard space. A good trick to cleaning out your utensil drawer is to put all the items from the drawer in a box. As you need each utensil, wash it and put it back in the drawer. This soon identifies the utensils you use, and those you don’t. Items that you are not using on a daily basis should be stored in the cupboard, not on the counter. The kitchen often becomes a drop-off centre. Consciously store things where they belong. Kitchen stuff should be in the kitchen; bathroom stuff, in the bathroom; bills on/in your desk.

Don’t bring paper in the house that you will not read. Open your mail right over the recycling bin. Deposit all the newspaper flyers in the recycle bin before you bring the newspaper in the house. Once you bring paper inside the house, give it a home immediately. Create a filing system for all of your paper – a traditional filing cabinet works well. File your photographs, your recipes, children’s school papers, forms. Establish categories for anything that you use on a regular basis. Have a separate “to do” basket for anything that requires your immediate attention.

Avoid using paper products; use your computer when you can, and a chalkboard for notes. Get books from the library, instead of purchasing them. You can get a lot of information and recipes on the internet instead of purchasing magazines.