Welcome to the busiest season of the year, autumn! Yes, as the kids go back to school, things ramp up for you at work and, in many locations, summer clothes must go away while the fall/winter wardrobe moves back into the closet. Even cars may need winterized at this time of year. There is much, so much, to do!
You may have resolved to take on this fall season with gusto but, in all practicality, how do you get it all done? First, you need to believe in the value of a clutter-free home. Let’s take a moment to discuss the “whys”.
1. You’ll be able to find your stuff! How many times have you had to go out and buy an item that you know you already own? You can’t lay your hands on it, though, so to save time you buy another one! “Someday it’ll turn up!” you say.
2. Keeping the house clean is easier. You can dust, mop and vacuum with ease when there aren’t piles of things to clean around. Putting possessions away is quicker, now, as well. No more struggling with overstuffed drawers and unmanageable closets!
3. It looks, and feels, so nice! Whether it is for your own pleasure, or the joy of being ready for drop-in-company at a moment’s notice, it is great to live in neat, beautiful surroundings. Everything is in its place. You can even do some decorating, if you want to, or take up that hobby you never had time for.
But we just said that we’ve now entered a very busy season. How do you declutter when you don’t have time? Answer: you do a little bit each day. That’s the key. Don’t write a day off just because you can’t devote hours to the task. You can do something today. Five minutes invested on a daily basis can accomplish much. Fifteen minutes daily can move mountains!
First, identify the area of your house or apartment that magnetically draws clutter. It may be a particular table, the kitchen counter, even the kitchen sink! Whatever it is, make it your #1 project. And don’t simply clear the clutter, make it shine!
Let’s say the hot spot is your dining room table. Assess the situation. Take an overall look at what’s there. My guess is that you can say “doesn’t belong here” to most, if not all, of it.
Use an empty laundry basket or box. Put everything that belongs in the same area of the house, like the bedroom, in the basket. Now, go to where the items belong. If you have time, actually put it all away but don’t be obsessed with it. You are on a time schedule. Decluttering the table is your objective. Especially if this is an emergency cleanup operation, leave it in a nice pile for each of the owners to take care of themselves. (This may require a friendly note on top of the pile to let your family know why it’s there. They need to know that you’re not angry with them, you’re just cleaning up.)
Go right back to the dining room table. Don’t get sidetracked.
Did you know that most of us let clutter climb because we are perfectionists at heart? At first glance, the job looks overwhelming because we want everything to be perfect. Just the visual of all that has to be done can stop a perfectionist right in her (or his) tracks! The first thing to do is to accept the fact that it is NOT going to be perfect. This is a limited, strategic attack on a bigger problem that you will conquer with time.
So, get back to that table ASAP. Scoop up the next group of items and take them where they belong. Now you should be able to see the surface of the table! Do a quick dusting and shine it up so that it looks pretty!
Finally, put a beautiful centerpiece or a vase with flowers in the middle of the table. That speaks volumes to you and the rest of your family that says that the table is now off-limits for clutter! It looks too nice to mess up! This technique really works! No one wants to be the first one to put their stuff there so it really will stay clean for a while. Make it your mindset that you will not be the one to let it go back to the way it was. If you leave something on the table that doesn’t belong there, everyone else will do the same thing.
All of this decluttering project can be done in 10-20 minutes, not a whole day. Stand back and take a look. It looks great, doesn’t it? Doesn’t that feel good? Tomorrow, you’ll move on to the next stage of decluttering. Do a little bit every day, and soon your home will be neat, orderly and beautiful--ready for anything!
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