As promised last week, here are some tips for tackling the two most often cluttered areas in your home – closets and home offices. Take small bites. You can do it…and you’ll thank yourself later. I promise. Probably the very first time you are in a hurry, go looking for something, and you actually know right where it is!
This is a good place to start. Usually relatively small spaces and not too overwhelming a task.
Remove everything from the closet and sort into piles – according to use (towels, facecloths, hand towels / bedding, sheets, pillowcases / extra blankets…etc.).
Get rid of towels and linens that are stained or torn. These make great rags for the workshop, gardening shed or for cleaning up the aftermath of arts & crafts!
Fold towels neatly and stack them by size and color. This gives you a practical view of the contents.
Fold linens and stack them by the bed they are used for.
This is your guests’ first impression of the neatness to your home. It should only contain what is used on a daily basis and all clothes that do not belong there should not be stored there.
Hang umbrellas on the bar or lay on the shelf.
Hang purses and bags on a hanger on the bar.
Boots and shoes should be the only thing on the closet floor. Place them on a rack or clean mat.
Don’t be afraid to clear out the clothes that you no longer wear. Bag them up and donate to any number of local charities.
Organized this way, you get a better handle on what you already have in your closet, so you avoid buying items you already have.
When you declutter or change clothes for the season, hang items on the rod with the hook turned backwards. Each time you wear an item, re-hang it facing forwards. After 6 to 8 months, cull out everything still facing backwards.
Use the one-to-one rule – for every item you purchase, get rid of something you have. This is an effective way to avoid an over-stuffed closet of unworn clothes. You will buy less, wear what you have, and save a startling amount of money.
A good filing system is key. Take time at the beginning to set this up in a way that works for you. You will increase efficiency and effectiveness. Neat, clean and accessible.
(I know, I know…this stinks…and there are at least a million other things you can think of that would be less painful!)
Shred or throw out what you can toss.
Now decide where and how everything kept should be filed.
Not everything needs to be kept indefinitely. Check municipal and other government regulations to confirm how long certain documents (like tax records) need to be retained.
Many statement & bills are now also available on-line. Switch to electronic versions and be amazed how much paper you save.
It’s a good rule of thumb to keep all paid bills for a year, if you need to track annually. But credit card and other bills often don’t need to be saved once reconciled.
File insurance and medical records separately and keep for at least three years.
Use technology, such as a scanners, to help streamline files. Switch from paper to storing “soft” copies in well organized computer files.
Plastic storage boxes, baskets and similar storage solutions are readily available — and better looking then ever! This is the best way to store items and keep them easily accessible.
One word of caution – don’t move the clutter from one room to another. You’ll never finish! Just remember, take small bites. Before you know it, you’ll be a de-cluttering expert. And keeping it up on a daily basis will be second nature.