How Much is Enough?

“The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach." – Yutang Lin 

Two Estates

While working on two estate clear-outs recently, I became aware how different the households were. The contrast in how the residents maintained their homes and their possessions throughout their lives became painfully apparent. 

The first home was packed with decades worth of family belongings: closets stuffed with old clothing, hundreds of musty books, outdated household items, and stacks of yellowing papers. Finding treasure beneath the 50-year accumulation was daunting. Clearly, not much had left this space once it entered.

The second home was neat, tidy and spare. Each item was treasured, cared for and clean. Articles were placed where they were used. Collections were artfully arranged and edited. Objects had been treated like valuables. Because they were fresh and current, they retained value. Working in this home was a breath of fresh air.  

Acquiring stuff is easy. Goods today can be inexpensive, so they pile up. Yet we rarely prioritize time for clearing out. Many use shopping as entertainment, and feel there's never enough. It's easy to see why homes are exploding. 

Think about vacationing in a clean hotel room and the freedom of living simply from a suitcase. It would be nice to live simply at home, too. Here are some easy ways to clear out clutter.

Establish Routines

• Decluttering is a process, not a one-time event. Keeping everything takes a toll on everyday life and causes added stress, maintenance and housekeeping. 

• Reserve one day a week for home maintenance, grocery shopping and errands. It will add up to more leisure time. 

• Taking time to downsize periodically is rewarding. Keep a bag in your front closet for items you no longer need. Donate the contents when the bag is filledYou'll feel good by helping others.

Ask the Right Questions

• Does this item add value to my life? Is there clothing in my closet sporting store tags? Return the items, have a clothing swap party or donate them. 

• Will I miss this if I let it go? If it's hidden at the bottom of your closet or cluttering up your surfaces and doesn't serve a purpose, let it go. We develop clutter blindness. Items hanging around become part of the furniture and we no longer see them.

• Do I have too many? Sort and donate the excess. No one needs four hammers, especially if you are not into DIY. Redundancy creates clutter in small spaces.

• Does it cause stress because it's damaged or broken? Take the time to fix or replace it, to regain control, time and serenity.

1-in 1-out, 1-up 1-down

• After you've cleared out, it's easy to maintain organization. When you buy a new shirt, donate or toss an old one. To thin out, donate two for each item you bring in. Keeping like items together makes it easier to find what you own.  

• Place dirty clothing in a hamper or laundry bag. It seems obvious but many homes I visit have an empty hamper and clothes strewn about. Set a regular schedule for laundry so it doesn't build up.

• Keep a size larger and a size smaller but let go of clothes you'll never fit into again. You don't need a reminder of the size you were in college, and it's also hopelessly out of fashion. Even trends referencing the 60s, 70s and 80s have updated shapes and styles. 

A Custom System

• Containers create boundaries. Add a recycling system to your kitchen with a bin for bottles and cans, one for garbage, and one for paper. It's helpful if they are all the same and sit next to each other, or find those that stack for small spaces. When the bins fill up, out the contents go. 

• Place a trash can in every room so trash doesn't land everywhere. There are pretty ones available for every decor. Empty them all at once each week. 

• Stash a magazine basket next to your seating area for magazines and catalogs. When new magazines arrive, review and recycle the older ones. 

• Sort toiletry items on the shelves of a linen closet. Use baskets for games and toys. Store all media on shelves or in drawers near the DVD player.  

Small Changes, Big Results

• Sock Locks are one of my favorite products. They keep socks paired when you take them off. They go from hamper to washing machine and back into the drawer holding socks together. No more time wasted pairing black socks or finding mates in the morning. 

• When going from one room to another, pick up items to go back to that room: a plate or cup, or a newspaper you've read. It saves steps and keep rooms tidy.

• Keep a list of small tasks that can be done in a few minutes: sewing a button, pruning a plant, cleaning out your purse. When you need a break from larger projects get one of these nano tasks completed. You'll feel good when you cross it off the list.

Help is Here ...

Want assistance to get your home or office organized? Call me at 718-930-8111. If you have favorite systems, habits or routines to save time and maintain organization, I'd love to hear about them. Post your reply below.

On Board

I'm excited to announce my appointment as Director of Membership on the Board of Directors at The National Association of Professional Organizers, NY Chapter (NAPO-NY). I'm happy to serve an organization that has provided me with support, education and referrals. 

Stay focused, stay organized, stay calm. 

See you soon,

1 comment:

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