Have you ever get worried out at the thought of clearing clutter from your home? Is clutter making you nervous or anxious?
Are you reluctant to prevent clutter?
You look around and see nothing but clutter that never seems to go away. You clean but it doesn't seem to make much difference – not for long, anyway. What's wrong? How can you fix it?
Well, I know exactly what you mean, although those of you with large families with have that many more people making your cleaning stress and anxiety worse.
Over the past 5-6 years, my house has become extremely cluttered. I've been busy with my online business which, in itself, causes clutter believe it or not. And here I thought that working electronically would eliminate all that paperwork – Not.
One day, I turned around from my computer and wondered where the heck all that mess came from. It was closing in on me with alarming speed. I can't remember the last time I sat on my couch or ate dinner at the dining room table.
That's when I made a decision to sort and clear the clutter. To my surprise, it wasn't nearly as easy as I had expected. It shouldn't have been a surprise, though, because I do tend to under-estimate how much work and how long it will take to do things.
After spending several days clearing clutter from one of my spare rooms, I got back to work at my computer to give myself a brief reprieve from cleaning. I needed a break from clutter clearing stress.
A day or so later, I realized that my living room was even more cluttered than it had been when I started my cleaning crusade.
Again I got to work clearing the clutter. I shuffled, sorted, threw out some stuff, actually put away a few items where they belonged, and managed to clear off my dining room table.
The next time I went into the spare room I'd cleared earlier, I was shocked to see how cluttered it had become when I wasn't even using it. That's when I made a startling revelation.
I hadn't really cleared the clutter. I'd redistributed it. What had been in the spare room initially had traveled to my living room and back again. In fact, it probably made its way into several other rooms as well during the process. Instead of finding homes for everything I touched, I put it in another room fully intending to "find a home for it later".
You see, when I'm on a clutter clearing campaign, I can't be distracted. I don't even stop to eat or have a drink. I forge ahead until I reach the bottom of the pile. Stopping to find permanent homes for everything is stressful. It means having to take a moment to think about each item, run it through my emotions to see if I really feel anything for the item, decide where it makes sense to store it, and then create the facility to store it, whether it's a canister, a cupboard or a file folder.
Yes. For some strange reason, that exercise of thinking, sense testing and decision-making stresses me out. Funny, huh?
Decision making is stressful. Doing it repeatedly throughout the clutter clearing process makes cleaning even more stressful. So, to alleviate (or should I say avoid) the stress, I move things around.
Apparently, I'm not alone in this methodology. A long time ago, I was watching a TV show about how to clear and get rid of clutter. The host pointed out that people pick up an item a certain number of times before they actually do something with it. I think it was 7 times. This is the basis of my thinking, I guess. Items won't get a permanent home until I've moved them 7 times.
I can tell you right now that my moves far exceed the norm. I've come across things I was sure I'd tossed out or filed. Yet there they are, making their way back into the spare room.
The solution to this form of cleaning madness is to take each item and make a definite plan for it's destination. Rather than putting it down elsewhere, make that final decision once and for all. Don't delay making that decision because to do so will only add to the stress of cleaning.
Are you ready to clear up your clutter?
Here's what you need to do.
Rule number one is partly taken from a great tip a military friend of mine gave me. Anything you haven't used in two years is probably garbage. Toss it or put it in a yard sale.
In preparation, take a box and mark it "yard sale". For each item you've decided to sell, put it in there right away. Don't put it on another table or in a corner of the room to put in the box later. You and I both know that you'll likely change your mind and you'll have an item that still hasn't been taken care of. I can't begin to count the number of times I've put stuff in the 'yard sale' box, only to soften my determination and bring them back inside. So the follow up rule is to have a yard sale as soon as possible, so you can't change your mind.
For all your other clutter, you need to go through each item and be harsh in your decision. Do you really need it? If so, for what? And when might you use it again. Is it strictly a piece of nostalgia or is it of true value?
Here's an example.
I just finished cleaning out 3 boxes that held my portfolios from all my work as a reporter. I'd collected every article I wrote, including some very poor quality ones. I had duplicates of articles. I had duplicate copies of the actual newspapers "just in case" - in case of what, I don't know.
I had extremely poor quality photos I'd taken during my early years, some black and white darkroom experiments that didn't work. There were also some old photos I'd taken for certain projects I ran while I worked at the Canadian Mental Health Association. These weren't photos I cared to keep, so why was I hanging on to them?
Nostalgia. Just like the multiple copies of newspapers. I wanted the entire issues so I could have the overall experience of having been published. Well, getting published is no longer that important to me. The thrill went long ago.
Ruthless and determined, I went through each box, tossed out an entire recycling box worth of old articles, papers, brochures, letterhead, graphic designs, magazines and newspapers that were no longer important.
I no longer run a freelance business, so all those promotion kits are garbage. What do I need them for? To fill my closets, never to be seen again? No.
You have to be equally ruthless in your clutter clearing efforts. Be very selective of which items you keep and then find a permanent home for them. If you are reluctant to toss a favorite t-shirt or infant outfit, you could cut out the t-shirt image/graphic or logo, or part of the infant outfit, and frame it neatly and hang it on the wall. Then, you can truly enjoy them for eternityh, rather than having them stored out of sight.
Create file folders for all your paperwork and store them in one of those cardboard file drawers or in a cardboard box.
By the way, if you want a great box for files, drop by your local print shop and ask them for any empty paper boxes they might have. Those are the cartons that hold packages of paper. They make great file boxes because they are sturdy, they are the exact size you need, and they have a lid. They're much cheaper (free, in fact) than buying "proper" file boxes from the local stationery shop.
Clean out your drawers and allot one drawer per 'topic'. My stuff generally finds itself in the handiest or emptiest drawer. This has created drawers with mixed content, which makes it that much more difficult to find homes for things.
A friend of mine used to have a 'gopher' drawer – one drawer where she dumped everything. That's where you looked when you had to go-for something, especially items that are one-of-a-kind and don't justify their own space. These are just some of the ways to prevent from clutter, pass through the clutter clearing stress and bring the clutter free smooth life.