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The Clutter Clear Out


Published: 06/25/2012

by Helen Buttigieg

Getting organized is consistently in the top three resolutions people make. Bookstore shelves are lined

with countless books on how to get organized. However, not having enough time is the number one reason

people give when asked why they haven’t organized their space.

With so much information on organizing, and so little time, how do we achieve our goal without

feeling overwhelmed? Stick to the basics. Here are the 10 basic rules you need to know to keep your

home organized and clutter-free.

1. Toss the ‘no-brainers’ first, because getting started is the toughest part.

This is the easy stuff like expired coupons, outdated warranties, excess plastic containers

and glass jars, expired medicines, tattered towels, and stained or damaged clothing.

Once you get started, it will be hard to stop. Your ‘purge muscles’ will get stronger and you’ll soon be able to tackle

the tough stuff.

2. Limit memorabilia to favourites. Create a pocket file system for your child’s art and schoolwork; label

each file by the school year. Help your child choose only their best pieces to save. Toss unflattering and duplicate

photographs and store favourites in acidfree photo boxes. Keep only the greeting cards that contain special messages.

3. Think outside the storage box. A fishing tackle box can be used to store Lego, Barbie accessories, makeup

or sewing supplies. Recycle what you already have on hand before you purchase new containers. Use egg cartons

to store small holiday ornaments or use ice-cube trays to hold earrings. Empty tissue boxes (with the tops cut

off) can store packets of soups or powdered mixes upright. Use empty cereal boxes (cut off the top third diagonally)

to store magazines or product manuals.

4. Use bins and baskets to hide a multitude of sins, but store like with like. If the bins aren’t clear, make sure you

label them. Choose containers that stack. Square is better than round because they hold more yet use the same amount of

space on a shelf. Purge your space and take stock of exactly what you need to store before you shop

for storage containers – otherwise the containers become part of the clutter. Always keep similar items together so

you can easily find what you need.

5. Book an appointment. Make a firm commitment to begin organizing by booking an appointment with

yourself. Choose a date and time and mark it on your calendar, whether it’s next week or next month. Blocking time

to handle tasks prevents procrastination.

6. Assign a home. Every Item Needs a home. Store items close to where you would normally use them to save

steps and time. This increases the likelihood that they will be put back in that spot when not in use. Items used together

should be stored together. Create kits for regular tasks like sewing, gardening or washing the car. When choosing a home

for your items, ask: where am I most likely to look for this item? The first location that comes to mind is usually the best.

7. Use the ‘One-In/One-Out’ rule. When you purchase one item, it should replace another similar item. Resist

buying extra hangers and additional shelving units after you’ve done your initial purge.

8. Maximize vertical space. When there doesn’t seem to be any storage space left, look up. Using vertical

space frees up horizontal space, which is more limited. Add shelves above existing ones, over door frames and as a border

just below the ceiling. Use tall bookcases and wardrobes and add bins or baskets on top for additional storage. Use overthe-

door hangers, hooks and pegboards. Mount small appliances under cabinets.

9. Use it or lose it. Picke your favourites and let go of the rest. If you haven’t used it in a year, you probably

never will. If you had to replace it in a pinch, you probably could. On the other hand, if you keep everything ‘just

in case’ you’ll eventually have to buy a bigger house to store it all (and then you may not be able to find the item when

you need it anyway).

10. Focus. Avoid zigzag organizing or you may become distracted and overwhelmed. Begin in one corner and

work your way around systematically. Resist going from room to room – have a ‘move elsewhere’ box for items that

belong in another room and transport them at the end of the organizing session.





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