Mindful Metropolis May 2010 : Page 39

10 TIPS FOR cLearinG CLUTTER 1 4 7 BarBara taKo, autHor oF CLUTTER CLEARING CHOICES 10 great vacation memories, or I could use the intestinal distress to jumpstart a diet and ex- ercise campaign to reduce my body clutter! After all, since food wasn’t appealing for a while, I sort of got a free stomach shrink out of the deal! I don’t always make the best choices, but I think we all fare better when we try to keep our eyes open for better options and different choices than we have made in the past. For ex- ample, we can keep leaving clutter in our car, or we can make a different choice to empty the car out each time we get out of it. We can continue to throw our mail on the kitchen counter, or we can sort it while we stand by the recycle bin before we come in the house. We can try different options and variations and see what works the best. The purpose is for each of us to make our homes best fit and support our own unique lives. That will look a little different for each of us. We can each strive for personal function- ality and homes that energize and restore us. The goal isn’t about trying to make our homes look “magazine perfect.” What is the foundation of keeping an organized and clutter-free home? are there a few basic principles that just about anyone can take to heart and ex- pand on depending on their situation? There are many small doable tips to manage assorted kinds of life clutter better. I tried to Feel guilty about extra stuff only one more time—when you toss/recycle it! use only one organiz- ing system for each category of stuff, so you only have to look in one place for whatever you are looking for. any paper pile can become a new file. Quit looking at it and worrying about it, and start clearing it! 2 5 8 Group smaller items together, so you can make good decisions about what to keep and what to donate. think like a profes- sional organizer: organize by primary, secondary and ter- tiary space and stuff. Keep an ongoing donation box or shelf in your home to take discards as you dis- cover them daily. 3 6 9 include a variety of tips in my book for each clutter issue because we are each unique. Each of us has our own personality, life stage, and personal preferences for managing our households. There is no one right way to get rid of clutter or to keep an organized home. It is important to pick clutter clearing and home organizing techniques that fit your own style. If you try to follow someone else’s sys- tem, there is a high likelihood you will aban- don it. Clutter often happens when we have multiple partial systems going for organizing things. For example, think about business cards. Maybe you have a few in your wallet, some in a desk drawer, some on the side of the refrigerator, and a few on the corkboard by the phone. Those are four places you have to hunt when you are looking for a phone number. My advice would be to pick one system for organizing each category of stuff in your life and stick with it. When you trust that all the business cards, or all the hats, or all the DVDs are together in the same place, it will simplify your life. You will save time because you won’t have to hunt for things. You will save money because you won’t accidentally buy duplicates of things you already own. You will make bet- ter clutter clearing choices because all the items in a given category will be in front of your eyes at the same time. You will be able to see what you want to keep and what you don’t want, and you will know what size container or organizing device will work best. accomplish a lot of weeding out in small blocks of time—as little as 10 or 15 minutes! remember the 80- 20 rule! We use 20 percent of our stuff 80 percent of the time and are merely storing the rest. Be honest with your clutter. eliminate what you will never really use or go back to or finish. how much of living a clutter-free life is mental and how much of it is physical action? you write about toxic relation- ships and clutter that is life harming but not necessary related to personal pos- sessions. is recognizing this duality part of maintaining a clutter-free home for the long term? Ah, you got it! Yes! If we can change our perceptions about the things in our life, our mental approaches to the assorted clutter in our lives, we will “do” the physical actions that will improve things. It might be spending 15 minutes per day weeding out physical clut- ter or filing paperwork so that our home is a more relaxing and restoring space. It might be ending a relationship that isn’t healthy. It could be writing things down on a prioritized to-do list to clear mental clutter, or donating some “gifts” that have been causing emotional clutter. Living a clutter-free life frees up time and energy for our personal priorities in life, what- ever they are. Anyone can make these simple small choices to clear clutter and become bet- ter organized. Christine Escobar is a native of Chicago, a freelance writer and the founder and editor of GreenParentChicago.com. mindfulmetropolis.com 39

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