Two Crucial Ways to Fight Clutter, and Why You Should

one_minute_clockI used to feel harassed by reminders of chores I needed to do:

The book or the stapler I couldn’t find, or the pile of papers that was in my way. But worst of all, by tasks I’d been procrastinating.

While worrying about clutter might seem like a fairly frivolous preoccupation, I’ve found that clearing away the mess—both physical (closets, countertops) and mental (answering difficult emails)—makes it easier for me to stay calm and cheerful. Read more

Are You Stuck in Clutter Limbo?

clutterEvery once in a while, I get overwhelmed by a feeling of disorder.

It hit me last night.

I realized what was causing it: too many items of questionable use lying around. These things aren’t obviously clutter, because MAYBE they're useful. But maybe not.

That phone toy might be broken, or maybe it just needs a new battery. Would this CD work if I wiped it off, or is it permanently scratched? Did I stop reading this novel, fifty pages in, because I didn’t like it or because I just misplaced it? Etc. Read more

What's Your Clutter Style?

clutter typeI’ve noticed that there are several very distinct kinds of clutter. Do you recognize yourself in one of these five statements?

   • “This is perfectly useful, I can’t just throw it away.”
It’s good to have useful things around the house, but you don’t need them in massive quantities.

If you can’t bear to throw useful things away, give them to people who need them. I had a shelf packed with those glass vases that come with flower arrangements – too nice to toss but too many to use – so I gave them all to the neighborhood flower shop.

   • “One day, this might come in handy.”
True. But there’s a cost to having piles of empty shoe boxes, jam jars, and half-filled cans of paints.

Ask yourself: how much would it cost to buy this item, if I needed it? Do I need to keep more than one of this item? How often does something like this come into the house? Read more

Six key questions to ask yourself when you're drowning in paper clutter.

piles of paperOne of the worst kinds of clutter is PAPER clutter. And no matter what you do, more paper comes into the house every day.

When you’re deciding whether you need to file, save, or toss a piece of paper, ask yourself the following questions:

   • Do you actually need this piece of paper or receipt? What specific use does it serve? I have a friend who saved receipts from her gas bills for five years. When I asked her why, she had no idea.

   • Have you EVER used such a piece of paper? Even if something looks useful — like a bus map — don't keep it if you've never needed it before. Read more

Nine questions to ask yourself when facing down a packed closet.

Messy Closet

  • Do you actually wear this item of clothing?
  • Do you love it or, if not, is it truly useful?
  • Even if you love it, is it in such bad shape that you ought to get rid of it?
  • How many fungible items do you own? If you have five pairs of khaki pants, will you ever wear your two least favorite pairs? How many t-shirts can one person wear?
  • Do you worry that it’s out of date? If you think it might be, it probably is.
  • Read more