3 Clutter Buster Tips

First of all, what is clutter? What does it look like to you? My definition of clutter is a jumbled mess of miscellaneous stuff that has accumulated as a result of indecision and inaction. It’s piles of mail, heaps of clothes, and a tangled mess of adapters and earbuds. So how do we get rid of it?

Clutter buster tip #1

Reclaim order often and ask yourself two questions:

  1. What decisions do I need to make in order to get rid of this clutter?
  2. What actions do I need to take to reclaim order?

Reclaiming order is the process it takes for us to create order after we’ve made a mess of things. For example if all the laundry was clean and put away, how long would it take for more dirty laundry to appear?  Less than one day, right? That is natural disorder. We wear our clothes and get them dirty, and then they need to be laundered. Those three steps create the organizing flow (see diagram). The more often we complete the organizing flow circle, the less clutter and mess we have to address. I’m not recommending we do laundry every day, but I am recommending we do it often enough so it doesn’t become an overwhelming task. This organizing flow circle works for all areas of clutter, mail, clothes, cosmetics, tech paraphernalia, email, and the like. The key is to reclaim order in a timely manner so clutter doesn’t have a chance to grow and take root.

 

Clutter buster tip #2

Stop - Do not enter sign

Say No! and use gatekeeper questions.

A very effective way of reducing clutter is preventing it from coming into our homes in the first place. This is often easier said than done, but there are things we can do to stop clutter at the door. One option is to get removed from mailing lists, both electronic and snail mail. Use the national do not mail list. Another option is to see what makes up the piles of clutter and figure out who brings it into the house. Is it clothes, books, paper, or toys? Have the person responsible use a list of gatekeeper questions before bringing anything new into the house. These questions help determine the usefulness and practicality of items. Some examples are: Why are we buying you? What value will you add to our household? Where do we have a place for you? What will happen if we don’t buy you today? The point of these questions is to make you stop and think about what you’re bringing in before it gets to your door.

Clutter buster tip #3

tiny house key Adopt a return-home-routine.

Give yourself 5 to 10 minutes when you return home to take care of anything you brought home with you. I mean anything. Put your keys and handbag in a specific spot. Hang up your coat and put away your shoes. Take care of receipts, mail, and other items you carried in with you. Find a destination for any new purchases you bought. Do this every time you enter your home so it becomes a habit. This helps prevent piles of clutter from growing. We need to be diligent and have a do-it-now attitude, because clutter is a social creature and will attract other clutter if we let it.

 

©January 2020  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

But I Might Need That Someday

We’ve all said it. Even me, but not anymore, and after reading this blog you won’t say it either. I’m referring to the phrase, “but I might need that someday“.  It’s a phrase that gets spoken when we think something needs to be kept, despite the fact that it hasn’t been used in a very long time. For some unknown reason we’re fearful that as soon as we get rid of this item we’ll desperately need it. We refuse to get rid of kitchen gadgets that live in the darkest recesses of a corner cabinet. We insist on saving the rarely used tools that are buried in the shed. We fantasize about using fancy linens that are still in their original packaging that has yellowed with age. We all own things that lay dormant in our homes, never being used or useful. So why do we hold onto them?

We hold onto them because we think they’re useful. BUT are they? What if someday comes and you can’t find it. It’s not where you thought it was. Will you waste valuable time looking for it? Will you go out and buy a new one? If so, you’ve not only wasted time, but money as well. What if someday comes and it’s not in the condition you thought it was in? Is it easier to make do without it or find an alternative solution? What if someday comes and you can’t get at it because it’s buried under a pile of clutter? How much time will you spend retrieving it? What if someday never comes?

Items are useful only if we can find them when we need them and they’re in good operating condition. It takes time and effort to organize and maintain our belongings. Why waste time and effort on items that haven’t been used in a very long time or at all? A guideline that I find helpful relates to how easy it is to replace an item and how costly it is to replace an item. If an item can be replaced in 20 minutes for under $20.00 then get rid of it. Instead of saying “I might need that someday!” please consider letting the item go.

The next time that phrase is on the tip of your tongue ask yourself these questions.

  1. When is someday? Are you willing to put a note on the item that says if not used within 3 years from today (date) then get rid of it?
  2. Will you be able to find it and will it be in good working order when someday comes? If no, let it go.
  3. Is there someone who can use and appreciate it now instead of waiting for someday? If yes, than give it to them.
  4. How much space is it taking up? Can that space be better used for something else? If yes, than free up that space.
  5. Can it be replaced in 20 minutes for under $20.00? If yes, than let it go.

 

©October 2019   Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organzier®   All Rights Reserved

key holder

10 Effective Organizing Habits

Helpful Organizer BlogHabits help us establish and maintain order. According to Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, creating a habit requires three things, knowing what to do, knowing how to do it, and wanting to do it. I can help with knowing what to do and knowing how to do it, but you have to want to do it. Below I’ve listed 10 effective organizing habits that work for me. I’d like to encourage you to pick one and create a new organizing habit for a month. Pick one that sounds doable to you and give it a try. (This is knowing what to do.) Do it every day for a month. I find it helpful to perform a new habit at the same time every day. (This is knowing how to do it.) Adjust your mindset and tell yourself that you want to and wish to do this habit. Think of it as an experiment. (This is wanting to do it.)

10 Effective Organizing Habits

  1. Collect mail every day and immediately recycle all junk mail.
  2. Establish one specific spot for keys and put them there every time you return home.
  3. Use only one date book/calendar to keep track of appointments, obligations, important dates and to dos.
  4. Have one ongoing grocery list and write down what needs replenishing as soon as it gets used up.
  5. Hold coupons and receipts in one designated spot and clean them out at least once a month.
  6. Place purse in one specific location and always put it there when home.
  7. Put all dirty clothes in hamper every night.
  8. Put clothes that can be re-worn in one designated spot in your closet.
  9. Plan the next day’s outfit the night before.
  10. After dinner each night plan dinner for the next night.

How did you do? Did you successfully create a new habit for yourself? Please share your experience with me in the comment section.

©July 2019  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved

Clutter

Keep up with Change

Organizing tip

Change is sure to happen. Keeping up with change requires making decisions and taking action. If we neglect this, clutter builds. As clutter builds, accumulated amounts become overwhelming and more decisions need to be made. As time passes action becomes more difficult to take. So keep up with change to stay clutter-free and organized.

Clutter removal project - before

Do-It-Yourself Organizing

Helpful Organizer Blog

Are you a do-it-yourself kind of person? Do you clean your own house, mow your own grass, shovel your own driveway? Is organizing a do-it-yourself project? What about downsizing, clearing out the garage, or getting rid of all that has accumulated in the basement? From what I’ve experienced in my 11 years as a Professional Organizer, it depends on three things. It depends on the volume of mess, thoughts and feelings about the mess, and amount of time one has to devote to organizing and clearing the mess. All three of these factors help us determine whether we want help, need help, or can tackle it on our own.

Let’s first discuss the volume of mess. The amount that needs to be organized affects whether we cry for help or think we can manage on our own. Most of us are willing to organizing a junk drawer on our own, and even a kitchen pantry, desk top or medicine cabinet, but what about our closets, basement, or garage?

Secondly, let’s discuss our thoughts and feelings about the mess. How stressed and overwhelmed are we about it? Is this causing us to stall and procrastinate. Are we frustrated trying to figure out where to start?

Lastly, let’s discuss the time we have to devote to organizing? How much time do we want to devote to clearing the mess? Do you want to eat up your precious free time organizing your closet or family room?

We all have our own tolerance levels. That point where we just can’t stand it any longer, and things have to change. When do you reach yours, and do you ask for help once you’ve gotten there? Help is available. I’m available. If you’re not within 15 miles of North Attleboro, MA you can find a Professional Organizer in your area by visiting the website for the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals.  If you are close to North Attleboro, MA I’d be happy to assist you if you’d like help. Email me today.

©March 2019  Janine Cavanaugh, Certified Professional Organizer®  All Rights Reserved