Declutter 101

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Declutter 101: Where do I start?
Article from

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Standing amid the stacks and piles, it can be hard to find a good spot to dive in and begin. Too often, de-clutter efforts fizzle along with the light of day.

This time, resolve to succeed! To get your organized journey off to a good start, try these clutter-cutting start points. They will help free a strangled household from the clutter monster.

First Step: A Single Small Success

At the outset, adjust your vision downward from the big (cluttered) picture, to zero in on one small, solvable clutter problem. Clear one counter, de-clutter one shelf, or bring order to a single drawer–and do choose an item that nags at you daily.

Beginning your war against clutter with a small success provides welcome motivation for the long haul. When you feel yourself starting to flag, returning to that one clear space, shelf or drawer will remind you of the goal–and give a new burst of energy for the next step. You can do it!

Slow and Steady Progress

Clutter tolerance seems to run a fever cycle, much like the flu. Every so often, the cluttered household will become intolerable, sparking short-lived but fiery anti-clutter efforts. Piles will be shifted, boxes will be filled, stuff will be stashed–until the fever breaks. Then the clutter tide flows back in, confusion redoubled because of the flushed and furious attempts to get a grip in a hurry.

Just as clutter arises gradually, over time, so it must be fought gradually and over time. Beating clutter requires building new habits, applying new organizational methods, and creating new household routines. The clutter cure takes time, and can’t be short-cut.

Resist the temptation to go all-out in fevered, short-term sorties against clutter. Like the fable of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the declutter race.

Schedule Declutter Sessions

A successful attack on clutter requires time, energy and motivation. There is no such thing as a declutter fairy, who works while you sleep!

First things first: schedule time to declutter. Even 15 minutes a day will make a good start. Better, schedule larger blocks of time, from two to four hours once or twice a week, for maximum declutter efficiency.

Scheduling declutter sessions brings the goal out of the stratosphere and into real life. By committing time to decluttering, you strengthen motivation and embrace the goal of a clutter-free home. By keeping the declutter appointments, you begin to create islands, peninsulas, then continents of decluttered space.

Trust me. It won’t happen magically behind your back, so schedule your declutter appointments today!

Change Begins With Me

In family settings, clutter accumulates for myriad reasons. Adults shed newspapers and personal items with abandon. Children clutter with playthings, art materials, and school papers. Poor housekeeping routines land clean clothing in piles on the couch, paperwork in stacks on the counter and mail in jumbled heaps everywhere.

When you need help beginning your decluttering project, reach out to Organize Me!

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Receipts: Keep vs Throw Away

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What Receipts Are Safe to Throw Away vs. Shred?
Free yourself of receipt clutter!

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You’ve probably heard warnings about identity theft and how professional criminals can get all the information they need to make your life miserable just by taking your old, unshredded receipts and financial documents out of the garbage dump. Those warnings are true, but you really don’t have to shred everything. You can just throw away receipts that don’t have any real identifying information.

Shred It:
Anything with even part of your credit card, bank account or Social Security number on it, along with your signature, should go right to the shredder. This includes any receipt that has your entire card, Social Security or bank account number on it, signature or no signature. Any receipt that you sign is best shredded, especially if it also includes identifying information such as your name or address. Shred anything that has any identification number along with your name, even if it is just a customer number or retailer account number.

Throw It Away
You can throw away simple cash purchase receipts such as supermarket cash register receipts. They have no information at all about you. You can even throw out receipts that just have your name and address on them. Your name and address are already on record and accessible by everyone and anyone. If the receipt shows the last four digits of your credit card number or Social Security number and it is not signed, you can throw it away.

Shred It Right
Inexpensive strip shredders just cut your documents lengthwise, and today’s pros can put them together again and get your information very easily. Spend a bit more and get yourself a cross-cut, confetti or diamond-cut shredder. Alternately, you can incinerate your sensitive documents in your fireplace or barbecue grill, but make sure they’re reduced to ash.

For help sorting through your pile of receipts, contact Organize Me!

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Culture of Clutter in America Article

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Culture of Clutter is Taking Over America
Article by The Christian Science Monitor

A mulit-year study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Connecticut College sheds new light on the culture of clutter taking over America. It’s not pretty. The results are coming out in a book, complete with photos, called ‘Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century.’

Raise your hand if any of this sounds disturbingly familiar:

A garage that doesn’t have room for the family car because it’s filled with bikes, baseball bats, rusting tools, old furniture and possibly even a large snow blower. (Arm a-waving over here. The snow blower is a long story.) Or, how about a hall closet that can’t hold any more coats? Or a child’s room filled with more than 100 Beanie Babies?  Or a fridge covered in hundreds of pictures, magnets (even the free ones that come in the mail, because, you know, you never can have enough magnets), calendars, dry erase boards and shopping lists?

Clutter, it turns out, is a hallmark of mainstream America. (Depressing, no?)  And now a new book coming out by researchers from University of California, Los Angeles, and Connecticut College – “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” – details just how much clutter, and promises to take a sharp look at the impact of all this stuff on daily family life.

toys organize kids frederickThe researchers immersed themselves into the daily lives of 32 families in the Los Angeles area, taking tens of thousands of photographs, hundreds of hours of video, and copious notes from first-hand observations about how people move through their homes, and what they have.

“People’s homes are a canvas for self-expression, so it is crucial to see what middle-class America buys, cherishes and displays at home, along with, in their own words, what their possessions mean to them,” said Jeanne E. Arnold, professor of anthropology at UCLA and the lead author of the book, according to the Connecticut College news service. “We measured. We photographed. We filmed. We interviewed. We gave parents and older kids cameras and they gave us narrated home tours. We now know what goes on moment-by-moment and, as our book documents, we know exactly what people keep in their homes and where and how they use things.”

Some of the findings:

  • The volume and sheer number of things in our homes is unprecedented. From toys to music collections to books to knick knacks to large quantities of paper towels bought (it was a deal!) from Costco. And managing the volume of possessions turns out to be so stressful that it elevated the level of stress hormones for moms.
  • Most families spent little time in their yards – even if they had spent a lot of money on outdoor furnishings.
  • Seventy-five percent of garages had too much stuff in them to fit cars.
  • And I love this one: The number of objects clinging to your refrigerator may indicate how much clutter can be found throughout your home.

“Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century” is coming out in August, but I am already tempted to get a trash bag and start tossing stuff.  Anything.  Because one of the other findings of the authors is that Americans are really bad at getting rid of things – we think that we’ll use them some day, or that it’s wasteful to just toss objects.

And in the meantime, the stuff takes over.

A good time, I say, to ponder consumption, materialism and how to adjust our way of life.

View the article from its original source here: Culture of Clutter 

For assistance in trying to make your life less materialistic and clutter free, contact Organize Me! Scheduling available here: Schedule with Organize Me!

Photo provided by Photography By Barb