New Year time to de-clutter

Christmas has come and gone.

The decorations have been stowed and now your left with a cluttered house.

Time to de-clutter

Time to de-clutter

It’s a new year and time to make changes.

Here is a no-stress system to unclutter your home. ..

If I had 20 minutes to evacuate my home, what would I take? That’s when you realize that most things aren’t very important.

How much is enough? On a scale of zero to 10 — with 10 being everything you now own and zero being nothing — what amount of stuff would you prefer to own? Nine? Eight? Five? If five seems about right, your goal should be to eliminate half of your belongings.

If that seems like a lot, remember — you’ll be getting rid of things you don’t want, use or need.

TOSS OBVIOUS JUNK

Walk around your house with a plastic garbage bag. Toss out expired packages of food no one will eat… single or worn socks… old travel brochures… expired medicines… make-up that is more than one year old… extra grocery bags (10 are enough)… things that are broken… old, rusted tools and utensils. Do this the night before garbage pickup so you aren’t tempted to retrieve anything.

SORT YOUR THINGS

Now comes the hard part — deciding what to keep. Bring a laundry basket or large box into a room, and gather everything that doesn’t belong there. Carry these items into the rooms where they do belong, and put them away properly.

When you’re done with the last item, look around the room you’re in. Repeat the process, gathering all the things that don’t belong and taking them where they do belong. Keep going until all your rooms are clutter-free.

For items that belong in a room, you need to make some decisions.

If you haven’t used an item for a year or you don’t like it anymore — get rid of it. If you really want it — put it back.

If it’s hard for you to toss things, organise a cleaning party. Find a few people willing to help — in exchange for you helping them another time.

Touching an item increases your attachment. So ask a friend to hold each item while you decide whether to keep it.

Place items you’re unsure of in a box. Seal the box and date it. After six months, if you haven’t gone back to retrieve anything from the box, get rid of it or have a tag sale. Take items to a church sale or donate them to a charity.

STAYING AHEAD OF CLUTTER

Organising is a process, not a onetime event. If you spend 15 minutes a day on the task — while watching TV or waiting for dinner to cook — you’ll stay ahead of the clutter. Other strategies…

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Watch what you bring home. When you buy something, get rid of something else. If you get two new shirts for your birthday, get rid of two old shirts.

Stay current. Open, sort and file your mail every day. After you read a newspaper or a magazine, get rid of it. If you want to save an article, tear it out and file it. Clean up the kitchen every night. Hang up your clothes or put them in the hamper when you take them off.

Decide what you want to keep.

Save photos — not objects. Take a picture of your daughter in her Girls Guide uniform. Keep the photo and get rid of the uniform. It’s the memory you’re trying to hold onto, not the uniform.

STORING YOUR STUFF

Decide how much space to allocate for storage. When it is time to add storage, it’s probably time to eliminate items instead. Storage secrets…

Buy different-coloured bins. Use green tops for Christmas materials, blue for summer clothes, etc.

Label everything with a wide-tip marker. Store boxes with the labels facing out.

Buy furniture with built-in storage — trunk-style coffee tables, beds with drawers underneath, covered benches with room for hats, mittens and bags underneath.

Think vertical. Hanging shoe bags take up less room than standing shoe racks. They can also be used for sewing supplies, crafts, tools and toys. Floor-to-ceiling shelving uses space efficiently. Also, hang wire shelving or shoe bags on the backs of closet doors.

KIDS’ STUFF

Go to your local pizza place and ask for a few clean boxes — one for each child. Store artwork and school papers in them. The boxes can slip easily under the bed.

Dressers. For young children, tape pictures of what goes into each drawer. After they learn to read, replace pictures with written labels.

Bookshelves. Store thin books in magazine holders. Make your own using cereal boxes, sliced on the diagonal.

Garage. Designate a clean trash can for storing outdoor toys. Save only the sports equipment that you still use. Create ‘parking spots’ along one wall for bikes and riding toys.

Artwork. Keep tubes from paper towels or wrapping paper for rolling up artwork. When you get too much art at home, make a calendar… or create a collage that you can hang on the wall.

Follow the anticlutter ground rule — whoever makes a mess is responsible for cleaning it up. Every family member has to clean his/her bedroom and leave the bathroom and kitchen the way he found them.

If family members leave things where they don’t belong, put the items in a plastic bag in the garage. When the kids ask for their stuff, they can do an extra chore to earn it back. If they don’t care enough to work, give the stuff away.

Recognise and reward good efforts. Praise children for their cleaning accomplishments. Rotate jobs that everyone hates. And finally, if one approach doesn’t work, try a different one.

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