Did you know that physical clutter can cause psychological clutter? Now that we are home due to COVID-19, we have had to rework our space to accommodate for our New Normal Lifestyle. We are working from home and for many that means your dining room is now your office. Files, pads, pens, computers, are all over the table. Our living rooms are now classrooms for the kids. They too, have their books and projects all over the place. Just being home all day everyday is going to create more clutter than usual. If you had existing clutter before the stay at home now it could be out of control. So you clean up! You take the mail that was on the counter and stick it in a draw. Maybe you have a desk but in order to use it you had to do the "arm sweep" and put everything in a box, that is now in the back of your closet. I'm here to tell you that even if you can’t physically see it you know it’s there and it has an effect on your well being.
Just like every change we make in our life, small changes over time are easier to manage and implement then trying to take on everything at once. We have time!! Now more than ever we have more time, but that doesn't mean you have to do it all at once. Start small with either the amount of time you’re going to commit or the area you’re going to tackle. For example, set aside 5-10 minutes every day and de-clutter one area. Organize one section of your closet, like your shoes or work cloths. A little everyday adds up to a lot before you know it. By the time we are able to get back out your home will be organized!! What is clutter? Clutter is anything that gets in your way or you don’t need, use or love. No matter what area you've decided to de-clutter separate the items into 4 boxes labeled Keep, Trash, Donate and Maybe.
Here's how to define what goes in what box.
The MAYBE box. This is not a box you put things in as “I’ll get to that later”. Use this box for items you are truly unsure about. Once the box is filled put it out of site (here is the exception to putting it in the back of the closet). Add a to-do item to your calendar for 6 months out. When you go back to the box, how many of those items did you really need or miss? Chances are you will be throwing out or donating the entire box.
The KEEP box. This box is for items you definitely love and/or use but are not where they belong.
The DONATE box. Just like it's labeled this box is for items that will benefit someone else, old clothes, dishes, knick knacks, etc. Sentimental items will often end up in this box. If you you’re hanging onto it because your nana gave it to you for your birthday, it’s hard to decide what to do with it. Ask yourself, do you love it or use it? If not, take a picture of it so you can remember the gesture then donate it so someone else can enjoy it.
I like to keep a donate box in my garage and as I’m going through my house and find something I want to donate I put it in the box. When it’s full I put it in my car and bring it to my charity of choice. Goodwill, Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans of the United Sates, your church will all take cloths and household items. The SPCA needs clean towels and blankets and your local food banks can always use canned goods and non-perishables.
The TRASH/RECYCLE box. That sock without a match or the 10 take-out menus from the same restaurant you have in the draw. Keep one menu, the others go in the trash or recycle. Please be mindful and recycle the items that you can. De-cluttering your home doesn't mean we should clutter the earth.
Once all your boxes are full and/or the area you have designated to work on is complete take care of those boxes IMMEDIATELY! Recycle and throw away the trash box, put the keep items where they belong, and put the donate box in your car to drop off to your favorite charity.
5 WAYS TO STAY CLUTTER FREE
1. 13 items. On garbage day throw 13 extra items away. Remember those 10 Chinese take-out menus? That’s 10 items! Only 3 more to go for that day…how about the pen that doesn’t write anymore, the battery that is out of juice and the deck of cards that is missing the Queen of Hearts. 13 done! 2. Get the family involved. If you de-clutter an area only to have it filled again by the family you’re going to get frustrated. Show everyone designated areas for the mail, their backpacks and shoes. Most of all lead by example. This will create an environment of encouragement instead of nagging. 3. Stop the junk mail from coming. Go to Direct Marketing Association at www.dmachoice.org. For a small fee your name and address will be removed from the prospective mailing lists. This can reduce your junk mail by about 75% within 90 days. 4. Touch it once. Don’t pick it up and move it from this counter to the chair to the desk to the stairs to bring up to the bedroom. Just bring the item to where it belongs. 5. Stay Focused. It's easy to get distracted with the "remember this" and before you know it 20 minutes have gone by and you've lost your motivation. Put your items in the appropriate box and keep going. Once the area is complete, them you can go back and reminisce. Have fun de-cluttering your space and make a conscious effort to recognize how it translates into a de-cluttered mind as well.