Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Clutter, clutter everywhere

NOTE FROM PM: New Zebra Historical author Pearl Wolf was supposed to guest blog for us today. As of midnight I had not received her blog, so I've offered some spring cleaning tips. We'll re-schedule Pearl for a later date.
It’s invading suburbia -- an insidious ogre, creeping silently and often accompanied by the words “But that might come in handy one day.”

Its name is clutter and it may be caused by bad habits, a packrat attitude or chronic bargain shopping. Whatever the cause, clutter leads to lost time while you search for your keys or the bill that’s due tomorrow.

Most of us would de-clutter this minute if we only knew where to start. First, begin with yourself and set a good example. Next, schedule regular de-clutter sessions. Spend ten minutes a day cleaning up, or decide to remove a certain number of items each day. Don’t stop until they’re in a garbage bag and tossed.

Major clutter may call for a marathon session. Schedule this on your calendar since having adequate time increases the odds of success.

One method involves three boxes and a trash bag. In the clean-up area pick up each item and decide which place it goes.

Box #1 is the “put away” box. These items can be saved; they just need to be put in the proper place.

Box #2 is the “give away or sell” box. Store these items in the garage or trunk of your car til you take them to the thrift store or hold a garage sale to avoid incorporating them back into the household. Or list it on Freecycle and let it clutter someone else's house. At least it won't end up in the landfill.

Box #3 is for “storage.” Designate a place for this after marking the contents on the outside.

The trash bag is self-explanatory.

Move from room to room until you’ve de-cluttered the whole house. Don’t forget the attic, home of hidden clutter. I remember the summer we cleaned the attic in our old house and discovered boxes for long-gone electronic equipment along with an orphaned ski pole.

After spending most of a Saturday hauling stuff to the curb, it was easy to keep that attic free of clutter; when I was tempted to stash something up there, I remembered how hot that attic became during an Alabama August.

Getting rid of clutter doesn’t mean it won’t reappear. Sadly, it’s like a bad penny that keeps returning.

One solution uses that old adage “a place for everything and everything in its place.” As long as stuff has a “home” it won’t clutter the house.

Another solution is to establish routines. For example, always put your purse away when you return to the house. Put the newspaper in the recycling bin as soon as you finish reading it. Sort mail when you bring it inside. Toss the junk and file the rest in its “home.”

Adopt a “one in and one out” attitude. When you buy a new pair of shoes, get rid of a pair. Want that colorful vase on sale at the mall? What will you discard if you buy it? This method not only tackles clutter but can save dollars as well.

With some scheduling, the right tools and a few rules, you can drive the clutter monster from your home and keep him away.

Okay... I wrote this a few years ago for a newsletter. It all sounds good, but somehow the monster has taken up residence in my office. That laundry basket on the futon contains things that go to our place at the campground, and weather permitting, we're going there this weekend. The plastic bag is full of books for the visitor bags for my RWA chapter. Beside them are tote bags that Maven LJ kindly donated for the visitor bags too. In the forefront is a pile of shirts and slacks that need to be ironed. Usually I take the ironing into the great room and do it while I watch a movie. That makes the chore less boring. But in the meantime, those clothes and the ironing board are cluttering my space. And I really need to find a better place to store my duffel bag than under the futon -- or at least shove it further back.

FACT: Getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of housework in the average home.

I don't know about you but I could use a 40% reduction in housework. Have you done your spring cleaning yet? Got any good tips to share?

One lucky commenter will be selected to win a book and help declutter the bookshelf in my office. :-)


Jane said...

The only reason I've actually started my spring cleaning is because we had to get our apartment painted. I refused to throw away any of my books and papers from school. I did set aside a box of clothes to be donated. I threw away a wobbly table and some rusty chairs. The apartment already looks roomier and neater.

Laurie said...

I have to declutter because we just don't have room for everything I want to save. Every space is filled even under all of the beds!

I'm giving away clothes that don't fit now or that I'm never ever going to wear again.
Kid's school papers that grow every year! OUT!
Plus, I've put shopping on hold until thing's are cleared out!!

PM's Mother said...

RE: De-clutter:

It must be hereditary. The sofa in my "office" is also filled to capacity.

As to housecleaning tips I refer you to

Today is Anti-Procrastination day. so get to it! I'll get to de-cluttering my house some day.

Maureen said...

I have been working on de-cluttering for a few years and while I have not got everything cleared out yet, I have cut down on some of it. I have found that when we paint a room I don't let myself put any clutter back in so it forces me to go through everything that came out of that room.

CrystalGB said...

We are decluttering too. I find it so hard to throw things away but I am doing it.

Smarty Pants said...

This is where DB and I butt heads the worse. He's a packrat and I throw things out - sometimes important things, but oh well. It's a constant battle. Everything is a collectible. So frustrating. I usually end up throwing out my own stuff just so there's less things in the way.

Do not confuse this with being a neat freak. I am messy. There is just a method to my madness.

Christine said...

I staged a house and got rid of TONS of clutter last year. When we unpacked the boxes here, we had a throw away box, a give away box and the rest got put away.

Moving is a great motivator to declutter the house!

Virginia said...

No I haven't done my spring cleaning yet because all we have had here is a whole lot of rain and I want to clean my windows. This next week we have to tair up our kitchen floor and replace part of the wood, this is going to be a hugh mess, so I will wait and see how that goes!

catslady said...

I'm sure it's more than 40% for me - I am such a pack rat! When my daughter moved back home for 3 months I had to clean out her room (well at least some of it) and it's probably the first time I've cleaned out anything for years and years and years so I really need another book for my collection to fill up that room again lol.

Gina said...

Yea I started but cleaning for the first quarter of the year last forthnight, but I start with a room and go from corner to corner instead of all over and getting nowhere

Amy S. said...

Thanks for the chance!

Caffey said...

I keep a box that says 'Goodwill' on it or 'Night People' which are two agencies here that need clothing and home items and I like to give them where they give them free. So when I do spring cleaning, I have those two boxes and my hubby takes them. I keep it going during spring cleaning but also keep one box out so that we have it anytime of the year. Due to my health, my daughter is helping this year so its slow going, we only up to the kitchen cupboards with cleaning so far!

Anonymous said...

not yet but i plan to too and give away to goodwill and donate some books

good luck