Adapted from The One-Minute Organizer, by Donna Smallin (Storey Publishing, 2004).
While some homes are so clutter-free they feel like a hotel, most of us would welcome the sense of serenity that can be found in homes with minimal clutter. Clutter can be very stressful as it reminds us of work that must be done to pick it all up. The less clutter the more you can focus on the beauty of the day, of your family, and your home. The more you can focus on the meaningful aspects of your life.
Aim to surround yourself with beautiful and useful things. Give yourself permission to let go of the rest. It’s just taking up space and weighing you down. Remember the best clutter rule of all: keep what you love and let go of the rest. Here are 13 good, manageable tips for clearing clutter.
The Umbrella Rule
* Do you find it difficult to make decisions about clutter? Create an umbrella rule about when to get rid of things. At what point are you most likely to be willing to part with something no longer need or use? Six months? One year? Two years? Creating a personal decision-making rule now will eliminate the need to make lots of individual decisions later. Be honest about what you really need to keep.
* Try to make decisions quickly. If it takes you longer than 60 seconds to decide whether to keep an item, you probably don’t really need it.
* Once you’ve made the decision to let go of things, get them out of your home as quickly as possible.
* No matter how much you acquire, it’s virtually impossible to have it all. There’s always something newer and better being introduced. Try to be happy with what you already have.
Daily Organizing and Pickup Control
* Daily organizing is the best line of defense against clutter. Don’t just put things down; put them away. And clean up as you go.
* Do a quick 5-minute pickup every night before going to bed.
* Put a wastebasket in every room.
* Keep a litter bag in your car.
* Keep a handled basket in the family room for quick pickup and containment of clutter.
*Consider creating one or more clutter-free zones in your home. Pick a room and declare it off-limits to clutter. Establish rules for that room:
* Turn piles into files. First step: Take a sample pile and make a list of the types of papers you find. This will help you figure out what type of files you may need to create.
* Sort day-to-day papers into action files: bills to pay, receipts to enter, papers to photocopy, data for reports, items to file or discuss with your boss or spouse, or papers to forward to another department or family member. Create labeled folders for these action files, and store them upright in a stepped desktop organizer.
* Refer to the following standard home filing categories as a guide to setting up your own:
– Insurance – Auto, home, life, disability, medical.
– Financial – bank accounts, credit accounts, mortgage statements, investments
– Property – receipts for home improvements, furnishings and valuables, product manuals and receipts, automotive purchases and repair receipts.
– Taxes – current-year receipts and other tax documentation.
– Medical records.
– Veterinary records.