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Clutter Control ItIt’s been a very long winter for most of the country – mega snowstorms, thundersnow, mixed rain/snow combinations, on and on.  Life happens and we’ve moved on to welcome the freshness of Spring!

Spring in my area of the country got off to a really rough start but I think it is finally here to stay!  Everywhere you turn these days people are out and about planting flowers, shrubs and trees, shopping for the latest lawn gadgets and zooming through their yards on their riding mowers.  Along with my neighbors, I’ve been busy pulling up weeds to make way for new plantings in my flower beds.

Just as weeds choke out our flower beds, clutter chokes and weighs down our lives.  After awhile it becomes invisible to us and we no longer see it around us.  It becomes part of our normal background and looks like it belongs there.  Its time to Clean It Out!

Let’s start with 10 areas to tackle:

1.  Closets – we have several of them!  The hall closet, the linen closet, the pantry (kitchen closet), the bedroom closets, the basement closets.  Face it, they are probably all crammed full of items.  The jeans that have paint on them, the button down missing a few buttons we intended to replace, old medicines, non-fitting or ill-fitting items, not to mention old cereal or canned food items purchased who knows when.

Solution:  Pick one closet.  Start with one shelf.   Keep going until that closet is completely cleaned out.  Toss, sell or donate what you no longer need. Organizations like AmVets, Purple Heart and The Lupus Foundation routinely schedule pick-ups in my neighborhood and I always look forward to finding items I can give them.  Did you know you can also call them to come pick-up?  Consider The Freecycle Network for giveaways or places like Ebay, Craig’s List or other sites to sell no longer needed belongings.  Allow the items you no longer need to bless others.

2.  Our vehicles – we may have several of these too!  When running errands, it always amazes me as I walk through the parking lot at Safeway, Target, the movie theater or wherever I’m going the amount of stuff people keep inside their car…I see things such as clothing items, food wrappers, sporting gear, books, CDs, etc. Fortunately, I like a clean interior and I just happen to keep all my stuff in the trunk.  Stuff like the zillions of branded shopping bags I have from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Safeway, Giant, etc., garden supplies and tarps, the big umbrella (just in case it rains!), etc.  Along with the plastic bags I always intend to drop off at the grocery plastic bag recycle center yet they just continue to ride along with me everywhere I go!

Solution:  Once a week, toss what you don’t need from the interior and the trunk of your car.

3.  Technology – oh technology, how we love you!  But, you’ve given us another area that develops clutter – e-mail, cell phones, text messages, etc.  The other day I was going through my emails (many of us have several of these too!) and noticed I had several Black Friday emails.  What?  Black Friday was in November, 2013. Why do I still have several “get ready for Black Friday”, “don’t miss out on Black Friday deals” emails still hanging around in my inbox?  Or for that matter why do I have the millions of emails from listservs, retailers, etc. over six months old still hanging around?  Although its not technology, snail mail still comes around daily too.

Solution:  Once a week, hit delete.  Whether it be snail mail, email, old text messages (why, oh why, do we hold onto these things?), pictures we can transfer from our cell phones.  Clean it out.  If its wasting space in your home office or on your kitchen counter, in your email or your cell then its wasting space in your life!  For snail mail make it a habit to file it, toss it, shred it and avoid piling it.

4.  Totables – items such as a purse, messenger bag, gym bag, tote bag, diaper bag, wallet, change purse, etc.  You know the place…where old receipts, protein bar, candy and gum wrappers or old snacks go to die.  Where we have that handful of pennies and other coins or maybe even a few bills randomly tossed in.  I don’t know about you but I always seems to have 2 or 3 pens (you know the ones that never write).

Solution:  Establish a routine to clean it out.  File those papers you brought home in your tote bag.  Go through those receipts and keep what you need, toss the rest.  Put those loose coins that have been been riding around in the bottom of your bag in your change purse or wallet, along with those loose bills.  Get a pen that writes.

5.  Laundry – Friends and coworkers with kids are always complaining about piles of laundry. Or we wash it but it never gets folded or put away in a timely manner.

Solution:  Don’t wait until Saturday.  Who came up with that “rule” anyway?  Tackle a little bit of the laundry during the week. Create your own schedule, perhaps wash the bed linens on Tuesday, whites on Thursday.  Fold the towels while watching tv.  Why wait to devote only one day to washing, folding, and putting away laundry?  Make it easy on yourself.

6.  Entertainment – Our books, CDs, DVDs, blue ray discs, video games.  We love our books, our music, our movies and our games.

Solution:  Set aside time to look through your collections.  Consider keeping it in digital form (e.g., Kindle, iTunes, Amazon Cloud Player, etc.) instead.  I’m a book junkie and Kindle saved me!  Sell, donate or give away no longer needed items.

7.  Our bodies – Toss the clutter in the form of sugar, processed foods and sweet treats.

Solution:  Read blogs, books, websites or Facebook pages on nutrition and adopting a healthier lifestyle.  Try some new healthier versions of your favorite recipes. Increase the veggies, they’re good for you just like your Mom said!

8.  Our gear – maybe you’re already leading a healthy lifestyle and now you’re overflowing with gear.  It could be gadgets – heart rate watches, pedometer, Fitbit, smart scales, fitness wristbands, pulse oximeters, etc.  All of these gadgets are really cool and they’re also very expensive.  Maybe gadgets aren’t your thing and you’re overflowing with sneakers, yoga pants or tank tops.

Solution:  Consider all you need is a few good apps to track your activities and diet.  Perhaps a simple pedometer is all you need to keep track of steps. Something to think about before purchasing another expensive piece of gear.  Check the tread on your gym shoes.  Ditch the old ones and keep the ones with the good tread.

9.  Social Media – social media is a fantastic way to stay connected to friends and family.  Its here to stay and I suspect more options will continue to become available.  The question is do you really need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumbler or more?  I have friends who seem to be on Facebook 24/7. They are always posting before work, during work, after work.  Firstly, I don’t know how they do it.  Secondly, I don’t know how they have time to do it (how do they get their work done?).  Thirdly, do they have time to get out and enjoy life?

Solution:  Reevaluate which form(s) of social media is best for you.  Delete the accounts you rarely use.  Consider using social media in moderation.  I may be in the minority but I choose to limit my time on social media.  Once time is up, I’m done for the day.  I’d rather be out and about.

10.  The Junk Drawer – we’ve all got one.  The place where everything goes in and nothing leaves.  It could be in your home office, your kitchen, or your bedroom dresser. Maybe yours is a cosmetics drawer or a crafts drawer.  It contains things like the single unlabeled key that you don’t know what its used for, old batteries, old notes or grocery lists, lipstick or cosmetics, etc.

Solution:  Set aside a few minutes weekly.  Clean it out.  For cosmetics, if in doubt please throw it out.

Clutter.  We all have it.  And just because you have clutter doesn’t mean you’re a “hoarder”.  It’s everywhere in our modern society.  Its insidious.  It creeps in and takes over all aspects of our lives.  It weighs us down and depresses us.  It steals our space.  It frustrates us and makes us feel inferior because it manages us, instead of us managing it.  It steals our confidence.  It steals our joy.

Its time to restore your joy!  Make a conscious effort to clear away the clutter.  Make a decision to pick one category.  Then set aside time to work on it by setting aside 15-20 minutes daily, devoting one evening a week, or tackling it over a weekend.  Do whatever works best for you.   Simply Clean It Out.

How do you manage the clutter in your life?