Freedom From Clutter

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10 tips on how to get organized

1. Give everything a home. The reason we have unorganized spaces or cluttered homes, rooms, & offices is because we have too much stuff. Designate a room, closet, draw, piece of furniture a specific function. Place like items together. Also ask yourself do I love it, use it or need it?  Just because Auntie gave it to you doesn’t mean you love it, use it or need it. Donate, trash or recycle all items that don’t have a home. Do a little every day & before you know it everything will have a home & you’ll know where it belongs. And what doesn’t needs to go. 

2. Think outside the box. Use all containers that come into your home (after washing, of course). Food & drink containers are a treasure.  Plastic can be easily cut down to fit in a draw to corral all kinds of small items such as paper clips, crayons, sea shells, batteries etc. I especially love shoe boxes to keep like items together. They can store everything from pictures to gloves to medicine & bandages. Remember to label them. Clear glass jars are good for cotton balls & Q-tips. Closets can be used for more then clothes too. In my front hall coat closet, besides coats & a shoe box for gloves, I placed a shelving unit to house limited use appliances (griddle, crock pot. & large mixer), along with extra light bulbs, board games, & a small boom box we take on vacations. Use an old garment bag to corral wrapping paper, decorative bags & tissue paper & hang in a closet (no more ragged edges).  Use scanners as well to cut down on paper clutter. 

3. Do it now. This principal will save you from more disorganization. Procrastination seems to suck the life out of people, & keeps a forever to-do list hanging over their heads. If a light bulb blows, replace it right then & there. If you notice a handle lose tighten it when you notice it. When you are done with the scissors & tape from wrapping a present put them back in their home. I keep a roll of towel paper & glass cleaner in the bathroom & give a quick swipe of the mirror, toilet & vanity when I’m done with my morning routine. Also decide on your mail as soon as it comes in. Where will the bills go, your tend to place/box/basket, your magazines & catalogs. Sort near a trash can & shredder to cut down on your paper piles once & for all. 

4. Plan ahead a little at a time. Planning a vacation, holiday, celebration or event a month before is a good amount of time, not when it is a week or day away. And keep the list readily available so when you have a moment the moment isn’t wasted it becomes productive. One month (or sooner) prior to any event sit down & ask yourself these questions – Who will be coming? And get those involved by asking -what traditions does everyone love, which ones can I scrap? Will there be food & what is my budget? What is the menu & what can I get now or next week or the week after (since you are shopping anyway)? What can I make ahead & freeze? What gifts do I need & for whom & what is the budget, what can I get now or next week? If wrapping or decorating is involved break it down (15, 10 or 5 minutes at a time & use your timer) a day. Is travel, visiting, or parties involved? Plan those as well. If you give yourself time, even 5 minutes a day, to plan & prepare you’ll have plenty of time to play.

5. Scrap perfectionism. The reason we allow things to pile up is that we don’t feel we’ll have enough time to do it right so we shove it aside for the perfect time (of course perfect time becomes crunch time). When we put it off the task seems huge & overwhelming, & makes us feel bad, so we continue to avoid it. We also get distracted & don’t stick to our prepared list (trust the list!). One project leads to another & another. A nice dinner party turns into painting the room, re-decorating or some over-the-top cooking fiasco. Stop trying to be Martha Stewart (she has a huge staff & isn’t very nice!)! People remember the attitude of the hostess more then a perfectly set dining table or a perfectly decorated tree or the perfect gift or even how you were dressed. Think back on holiday’s or celebration you attended, what do you remember? Get real & ask yourself- Who are you over extending yourself for? Let good enough be good enough! 

6. Use a calendar. Calendars can come on your computer, phone or you hang one on a wall. The key is to record everything & look at it daily. It can save you so much time if you know how to use one. Record when a bill is due (yippee no more late fees), when an rsvp is required & all the info that goes along with it, what you made for dinner so when you are strapped for ideas you can refer to past recipes, it can keep a visual track of exercise, birthdays or other events, upcoming due dates for projects & reports. For doctor, hair & other appointments. Make it a habit to look at the calendar the same time every day. It is another tool to an organized life.

7. Bring one in, take one out. Sometimes we can’t find something, although we know we have it, so we buy another. Or sorting through our clothes seems overwhelming so we buy more. Decide to not shop (only for necessities) until everything is sorted, de-cluttered & has a home. Once you know what you have decide if you are going to buy more you’ll bring one in & take one out. It is a good trick to cut down on your purchases & create more clutter. 

8. Convenience is the key. If you convenience yourself you have won the battle with disorganization! Do you know why you lose your keys? Because you don’t have a designated spot (home) for them. I bought a key chain clip, no matter where I am I click it onto my pocketbook’s handle. If you don’t carry a purse you can click onto your belt loop & when you get home & remove your pants have a designated spot where you get undressed & dressed to place them. If you follow the prior suggestions everything will have a home & with the do it now principal you will place it in its home. Now if you’ve designated a home that doesn’t work for you find a new home, think outside the box. Use hooks, shelves, a box or area that works best. Make it fit you & your family. This also means having good equipment to get jobs done as well. If you find yourself frustrated, instead of complaining or becoming a martyr, get creative & see how you can turn it around to benefit you. 

9. Jump in where you are. Just begin now, today. No need to beat yourself up that it should have gotten done or use excuses why you can’t or blame others for not helping out. Just start now, right where you are. Start with 5 minutes, & use a timer, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in a short amount of time. Before you know it you will start to notice big changes & others will too. 

10. Make it fun & it will get done. That is another important key. When anything seems like a chore or mundane we hesitate & put it off, instead make the tasks fun & they will get done. Be creative, get the group involved (whether it be people living in your home, or friends in their own homes invite them to play) have a race to see who finishes a task first. Get a feather duster or hand duster & put on some fast music & see if you can finish before the end of the song. See if you can find 20 items to throw away in one minute. Prepare great, fun & creative rewards for tasks completed as well, so there is something to look forward to. It has to get done anyway so make it fun! 

Best wishes to you all! If you have any questions about organizing your home, office, or life send them to & I’ll be happy to answer them. ~Sandy