What do we know about our relationship to clutter? Obviously the more we understand its affect on us - where we get stuck and what prevents us from dealing with it - will go a long way in how to manage clutter and ultimately move it out of our life.
This month's Top 10 Tips help define your relationship to clutter with strategies to help you begin detaching - emotionally and physically - from the mess.
As always, we welcome your thoughts and insights. Keep those emails coming!
1. How do you define clutter? Merriam-Webster defines "clutter: to fill or cover (something) with many things." It is important to be mindful that clutter takes on a different meaning for different people. For example, a desk may have stacks of paper and therefore appear cluttered when in fact each stack is chronologically organized tax information.
2. How does clutter affect your life? Are you able to find, access, and easily put away items? Are your walkways clear in case of an emergency? Maybe your attic looks like a disorganized Goodwill Donation Center? Set an attainable goal for yourself. Decide "I want to park my car in the garage" and make it happen.
3. Mentally prepare. At some point you may face frustration and become upset. Maybe you'll feel guilty or ashamed, but as your momentum and progress increase, these negative feelings will fade.
4. Create a plan. Begin with the end in mind and figure out the easiest and most efficient way to achieve your goal. Write it down, timeline your de-clutter schedule, and figure out what supplies you will need so you are prepared for any obstacles you may face.
5. Get help. Call friends, family, or a professional organizer to help you. Don't be afraid to delegate! You can e-mail a picture of your clutter to firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation if you are unsure of where to begin.
6. What items are the most important to you and why? What would you grab in a fire? Will the memory of your mother cease to exist if you donated her old throw pillows? Perhaps you will realize you are not attached to anything but just have not gotten around to donating your unused items. Or maybe you get excited when you see a sign that says "FREE __________."
7. Do your items have a purpose? If not, ask yourself why you still have them. If an item is broken and you haven't fixed it yet, get rid of it.
8. Clothing items are especially difficult to go through due to the seasons and the sentiment. If you haven't used/worn an item in over six months, do you really think you'll get to it someday? Do you have a friend who would love to wear your old sweater hiding in the back of your closet? Donate your unused belongings. If your winter coat is torn and no longer functional, it may be time to get a new one.
9. Create a sentimental scrapbook. If you really cannot bear to part with something, take a piece of it and put it in a scrapbook.
10. Make de-cluttering a habit. Once your place is de-cluttered, make an effort to keep it that way. Maintain a de-cluttering system that works best for you and your schedule.