Decluttering For Dummies book cover

Decluttering For Dummies

By: Jane Stoller Published: 12-05-2019

The book that cuts through the clutter of decluttering 

Modern life has produced so much clutter that the thought of packed closets, attics filled with storage bins, and rental units specifically used to store odds and ends produces its own stress. The decluttering movement offers solutions for those interested in reducing the amount of stuff in their life and embrace a more minimalist, tidier lifestyle. 

Professional organizer Jane Stoller helps you bypass the stress of a tidying project by offering simple, proven methods for organizing every space in your life—even your mind!

  • Build a new mindset for minimalist living
  • Declutter your home, office, and digital life
  • Develop new routines for a tidier life
  • Establish minimalist practices

From adopting a decluttering mindset to finding new homes for unwanted items, this is the book you’ll need to keep handy after the big cleanup!

Articles From Decluttering For Dummies

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Decluttering for Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-07-2022

Throughout my books and teachings, I always say get started now versus later. Whatever you declutter today will help you tomorrow, so start small and stay consistent. These quick tips can be a reference guide to help you get started or keep you motivated in between your decluttering sessions.

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Bathroom Organization: Decluttering Your Products

Article / Updated 03-04-2022

Your bathroom shopping habits have a lot to do with how cluttered your bathroom is. Your habits and hobbies have a lot to do with the amount of clutter you accumulate. You may not think of skincare and makeup as a hobby, but tell that to the countless makeup YouTubers making seven figures on their delightful monthly favorites and product reviews. As you may have already realized, bathroom decluttering goes deep into your bathroom cabinets as well as your habits around grooming and lifestyle. Yes, it is sometimes a sensitive subject. From pill poppers to makeup junkies like my former self, this decluttering subject may make you deal with some of your inner bad habits. The dreaded bathroom cabinets will soon emit a clutter-free, Zen-like serenity that the entire bathroom should reflect. Here are a few strategies to help get you started: Avoid storing multiples. I think being prepared for anything is important, from earthquakes to having spare toothpaste so you don’t have to run to the store at midnight. However, I don’t agree with storing multiples of all your bathroom products and certainly not more than one extra of each. If you’re at Costco and you see your exact moisturizer on sale in a set of 20, think twice. Will they expire before you’re even ready to use them? Will you switch moisturizers next month? Will your skin type change? Are you willing to give up your precious real estate in the bathroom for these to sit for possibly years? Let your bathroom real estate guide you. Often, I caution against space — just because you have a 1,000-square-foot attic doesn’t mean you have to fill it! The bathroom is usually the only room in the house where I say that space should help you determine how much stuff you can physically keep. And more often than not, especially with newer modern bathrooms, there is actually less storage space. So, let this be the first sign to declutter. Your bathroom is not Sephora. You don’t need endless numbers of products that essentially do the same job or are the newest trends. You can have a spare of your essentials, but that is it. Do an inventory of how much you have and how much it cost you, and you will soon realize how much money you are wasting on bathroom products! The bathroom can be a serious money pit! Let go of the past. You don’t need to keep the prescribed throat spray for that strep throat you had five years ago. That special shade of eyeshadow you wore at your wedding ten years ago and haven’t worn since? You likely won’t wear it again, and neither will your daughter. Ditto the overpriced beard oil you bought two years ago but always forget to use. Bathroom decluttering applies to both genders. Even dogs somehow have more shampoo selections than I did when I was a kid. Determine your essentials Remember that bathroom items are easy to replace, find, and source. The pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries are two of the largest industries in North America; therefore, you can replace anything. Plus, they continue to innovate. This is one area of decluttering that you can freely declutter knowing that tomorrow you could buy ten more easily if needed. The medicine cabinet is a good place to start. Medicine cabinet Now, chances are you have lots of items — not only medicine — in this cabinet, and I challenge you when you’re doing this exercise to focus only on medicine. Go through all your cold remedies, prescriptions, pain relievers, and whatever else you have stored and check expiration dates, first and foremost. Then, toss what you have not used in the last year. Yes, even the NyQuil. You may say, “But I could get a cold this year.” Yes, you could, but you also could not. And chances are your local pharmacy will have an updated cold medication if you need it. When it comes to medications, I even get a bit scientific. According to a study at the University of California, many staples that you have in your medicine cabinet, such as nasal sprays, eye drops, and even some lotions, have ingredients that can inhibit mitochondria, which is a bad thing. This can lead to many diseases and even affect fertility. Therefore, you really don’t want to keep more products than you need. It’s hard to determine which products are harmful from ingredient lists, but any ingredient that ends in “ammonium chloride” is best to stay away from if possible. When medication is prescribed, it’s usually for seven to 14 days and should be completed, so in theory you shouldn’t have any left over to declutter. If you don’t finish it and think you can use it the next time you get sick, remember this is very dangerous. Using medication without talking to your doctor first, even if you have taken it before, can lead to misuse, development of antibiotic resistance, and susceptibility to other diseases, plus you may not be getting the right treatment for what you actually have. So, what is the best way to quickly declutter your medications? Taking them back to the pharmacy is the best advice, as pharmacies professionally dispose of them. Don’t flush them down the toilet as this can contaminate our waterways. After you have decluttered your medications, determine whether your medicine cabinet is actually the best place to store the medications that you are going to keep. Most medicine should be stored at room temperature — 68 to 77 degrees — and kept away from moisture. My bathroom does see moisture, especially when I shower, and most bathrooms are prone to higher temperatures and humidity, making them poor places to keep drugs. So, after you declutter, consider moving your medication out of the medicine cabinet or your bathroom in general. And whatever you do, keep the label. You want to avoid the cluttered mess of unidentifiable pills. Toothbrush and essentials I strongly advise that you only keep products you use daily in your bathroom. Separate the stuff that you use each and every day — toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and so on — from the stuff you don’t use daily, such as antibiotic cream and first-aid supplies unless you’re sterilizing cuts and icing bruises daily, in which case you may have bigger problems than a cluttered bathroom. And consider keeping your toothbrushes away from anything that splashes or sprays. Instead, put them in a see-through holder that can be easily cleaned (as pictured in the following figure) and set them in a safe place to avoid dirt and buildup. Set strict timelines for product lifetimes After you go through your dangerous medicine cabinet and determine what is truly essential, set timelines for all your products. Coming up are the guidelines I try to follow. These are just my guidelines — you might disagree completely, which is fine. Some expiration dates are actually set by the FDA, hopefully for safety reasons and not to sell more products. If nothing else, seeing these expiration dates may make you think twice before you buy and store too many multiples. The bottom line is that if you don’t use something in your bathroom, it is clutter and it should go. Another thing to keep in mind is that any products that have been compromised by heat or light can actually expire even faster! The more you focus on only essentials, the less you need to worry about extensive expiration lists! Makeup Following, are my recommendations for how long to keep makeup: Mascara: Three months — yes, that is right. Otherwise, you can be at risk of an eye infection, and I have one friend to whom this has actually happened! Liquid eye liner: One year; again, due to the risk of eye infection. Eyeshadow: Powder forms can last up to three years depending on the quality. Liquid eyeshadow has a shelf life of one year, after which it starts to separate. Lipstick: Up to three years. Lip gloss may start to separate after one year, especially the thin cones. Lip balms can actually last up to five years. Blush: Powders can last up to three years; creams usually one year. Bronzer: Up to three years. Foundation: This is a tough one as it depends on the type. Oil-free foundations usually last only a year, while ones with oil can last up to two years. Follow the supplier’s recommendations. Concealer: Liquid forms last up to one year; powder up to two years. Other powders: Up to two years. Everything else We often forget how long we’ve had miscellaneous bathroom products. Create a system to help you keep track of when your items are expired. Here are some guidelines to follow: Moisturizers: Up to two years; however, check the expiration dates because sometimes products in jars are pretty but not properly packaged, so they expire faster than they should. How manufacturers package moisturizers can make a huge difference in how long they can last. You now see many lotions in darker glass bottles for this very reason. Sunscreen: One year (this is actually federally regulated). Acne products: Any products containing benzoyl peroxide will only work for three months. Anti-aging products: It depends on the ingredients, but anything with vitamin C, retinol, or glycolic acid tends to break down pretty quickly. It’s best to stick with six months. Shampoo: Unopened shampoo should last for three years; however, remember you don’t need to buy a bunch of extras. Once opened, shampoo is good for two years. The same rules apply to conditioners. Deodorant/anti-perspirant: Up to three years, but check expiration dates. Toothpaste: Check the expiration date, since most toothpastes contain fluoride and this ingredient expires. Soap: Usually up to three years; the same applies to body washes. Shaving products: Up to two years. It’s important to note that depilatory and bleaching creams usually only last for up to six months because of their harsh ingredients. Nail polish and remover: Some say that nail polish remover actually never expires, which may be a good thing as it’s one of those things we don’t usually use daily; however, nail polish usually goes bad in under two years. Organic or all-natural products, which I totally recommend if you have the option, actually expire much sooner than conventional products. You really need to watch them, as their ingredients expire very quickly due to the use of less chemicals in their recipes. Even more reason to keep a clutter-free bathroom if you are into organic products. Minimize unwanted products It may seem repetitive to determine your essentials, but now I want you to go a step further, and I am going to help you with four quick questions to help make your bathroom product decluttering easier. Ask yourself these questions: Do I use this? This should be a quick yes or no answer. I did not ask you if you will possibly, maybe use it one day. Is this a duplicate or extra? Of course, you can have a spare for your most-needed supplies, emphasis on most needed. But how many extra lotions do you need? Do you really need to keep that sparkling lip gloss? Remember the timeline of beauty products from the previous sections and think hard about whether you need to keep that extra. Perhaps you can donate it or pass it along to a friend who would love it! Would I buy this right now? Chances are you’re keeping some things because you feel bad about the money you spent on them. Toiletries and beauty supplies can be very expensive. But this question can help you analyze without considering cost. Think hard about your products, the color, the way it works or doesn’t work for your skin type, and whether it’s as effective as you thought it would be. If you wouldn’t buy it again right now, then it is clutter and it’s time for it to go. Is the space worth it? Are the products taking up precious space? Can you transfer them to a different container or make them smaller, remove the packaging? Or declutter extras? The bathroom is often the smallest space, and therefore real estate is very precious. The following sections provide some more simple tips. Cosmetics Go through all of them, keeping in mind the product expiration noted earlier. Then go through the remaining non-expired items and determine whether you actually use them. I know that you have some beautiful colors that look better in the case than they do on you. Keep only what you use and give the rest away to someone it might look great on! Makeup brushes I know that when I buy a complete set, I end up using only one or two brushes. If this is the case for you, discard the remaining ones you don’t use. This is also a great time to clean your makeup brushes, as this often isn’t done consistently. The less you have, the easier it will be to keep to a regular cleaning schedule. Hair accessories Go through these with a fine-tooth comb (don’t mind the pun). Toss hair accessories you don’t use, as giving these away can be tough sometimes (many people can be fussy about hair germs). Skin care Be brutal with skin-care products. Many of you will pick up a product and think, “Oh I wish I used that more” or “If only I used this every day, I wouldn’t have these fine lines." If you haven’t used it consistently, chances are you won’t start. Again, check expiration dates and test products to make sure they still smell right. Appliances/gadgets Sort through your hairdryers, straighteners (do you have two?), shavers, face massagers, nose clippers, or whatever other bathroom gadgets you may have. These are usually items that you hold onto for “someday,” but if you haven’t used something in the last year, what are the chances that you will? I suggest even treating yourself to a treatment instead of buying the equipment. For example, instead of buying a foot bath you use twice a year, why not get a pedicure for the same price? Hair brushes/combs I have a pet peeve about hair and dirt buildup in combs. Sometimes when I see combs that are full of hair or other debris, I get a bit sad. I suggest the less you have, the easier it is to keep these clean. Go through the ones you use and toss the rest, as old hairbrushes are often also not welcome at donation places. Knickknacks Decorative items sometimes make their way into your bathroom, but I suggest taking a hard look at these items and determining whether they are taking up valuable space. Could you replace a purely decorative item with something more functional instead? Trial sizes Be honest about what you use. Often you can donate these if they’re unopened or give them to friends who run an Airbnb, as they love to have travel sizes for their guests! Perfume/cologne Perfumes and colognes are other items that may be better stored outside the bathroom due to temperature fluctuations. I have heard various recommendations on how long you can keep perfume, ranging from one to five years. Review all your bottles and what you actually apply. If you have more than you can use, this is a great item to donate to a friend because everyone loves getting a new scent. Pass along the scent love! Bath accessories/toys Often large bathtubs can be real estate for fancy bath mittens, loofahs, bath bombs, and fancy bath bubbles we rarely, if ever, use. Plus, if you have kids, how many bath toys do they have that line the bathtub walls? Check these items for mold, which can easily happen to things that sit on damp surfaces, and then of course discard what you don’t use. First-aid supplies I don’t actually recommend storing these supplies in the bathroom unless you’re super accident prone and use them daily. Go through your supplies and see what you actually need to restock and what you never use. Chances are you have no Band-Aids but enough alcohol swabs to swab the neighborhood clean. When an emergency does happen, you want a well-stocked first-aid kit. And one you can find, not lingering behind other clutter! Other personal stuff We all have other products we use or think we might use. Go through your entire bathroom and discard as needed, keeping in mind all the tips thus far. It’s easy to re-buy cosmetics, toiletries, and medications. They are readily available and better to re-buy than hold onto because these products can expire or their chemistry can easily be altered. Why risk it? Declutter now and if you do happen to need a similar item one day, trust me, you can get it. What you need versus what you think you 'might' need Getting the right products in your bathroom can take trial and error. Just when you think you have a routine, your favorite product is discontinued, or you need to change based on your skin’s changing needs. It is a balance to find out what works best and what to keep. This figure shows a few simple products, which is what most of us could live with, but we have more. The image above shows coconut oil, which, personally, I find works wonders as a multiple bath product, hair mask, face cream, foot cream, body lotion, and so on. Coconut oil is one of those super products that we have had all along! There is no specific formula or timeframe that can be prescribed to help find the actual products you might need, as our bodies and lives are always changing. So, to help you at least find what you need at this current moment and break free from your current clutter, here are some general tips: Enlist support. Get a friend or even a professional to help you choose the right products for your skin type. Check in twice a year like you do with the dentist, as your skin can change, resulting in the need for different products. Buy smaller sizes. The smaller the bottle, the less chance of expiration and the higher your chance of finishing it. Research. You may spend time researching what you eat because food goes into your body. What you put on your skin also enters into your body, and you should know what is in your products. Trust me, the more you research and find out about the hundreds of chemicals in bathroom products, the more likely you’ll be to make your list of products much smaller.

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How to Optimize Your Closet Space

Article / Updated 03-04-2022

You are probably thinking that a small closet is easier to declutter, but this is not necessarily the case. Larger spaces let you see more of the items inside, which can cause less clutter to build up. On the other hand, larger closets can also be the reason you accumulate so much stuff and feel the need to fill the space. The moral of this paragraph is that closet space alone is not the reason that clutter builds up. If you have a small closet, don’t get discouraged, as there are plenty of ways to streamline and organize the space to make it seem bigger. The first step when maximizing your closet space is to declutter; then with a few products, installations, and decorating tips, tiny closets can be the perfect size. Take inventory Without knowing your inventory of closet items, it is inevitable that you will acquire more clutter or “stuff” than you need. Taking inventory of what’s currently in your closet will automatically help you declutter! Assess each piece. If it’s not even worth keeping track of, it’s not worth keeping at all. Here are a few top ways to take inventory in your closet: Get an app. There are tons of closet apps on the market. It may seem tedious, but trust me, it is a game changer. Not only will you have your entire closet with you when you shop, but it also makes trip planning easier, encourages you to continually declutter, and keeps you conscious of how much you are adding to your closet with every new purchase. Look at the following figure for a glimpse of the Closet+ app in action. Take photos. If technology is not your thing, or if you’re too scared to make the commitment to document every piece of clothing, take photos of each section of your closet. Although less detailed, photos can give an overview of what you have and can be used for basic inventory purposes. Make a list. Old-school methods still work. Using a notebook or an Excel spreadsheet to list your items can be helpful, but it can be a lot of work to sustain and doesn’t give you a visual overview. Review quarterly. I am an advocate of quarterly decluttering regardless, but if all the preceding points don’t work for your lifestyle or you aren’t ready to fully commit to an inventory tracking system, review your closet inventory quarterly and make the best mental notes possible. Evaluate your space While you may dream of 500-square-foot closet spaces, adding closet space is not necessarily the best approach to decluttering. Less space naturally forces you to be more conscious of what you are putting into that space. I recommend evaluating the space to make sure it fits the clothes you want to keep and that your existing clothes have a well-designed home. You want your space to reflect your needs and optimize your efficiency. Evaluate whether you need to add or change the space to make it easier to grab items, or add another section if there is not enough room. There are no guidelines for how much closet space a person typically needs. A small New York city dwelling might have the tiniest closet space, but the person living in it might work in fashion and have more clothing needs than someone living in a larger house with less clothing needs or interests. To properly utilize your space, you may need to create either more hanging or shelving space depending on what is needed for your items. Closet organization is a big business with do-it-yourself packages available at home improvement stores or Ikea and professional consultants and custom builders available to those with a bigger closet budget. Whichever way you go, here are some basic closet organization ideas you can apply to your situation: Organizing a walk-in closet Walk-in closets can vary in shape and size depending on your home’s layout. If you do have the chance to design your closet, it’s a great time to work in your specific lifestyle clothing choices and build around them. This way you will have the appropriate rods and shelves versus too much shelving, which then prompts you to buy more if the shelves look empty. Typical walk-in closet shapes are square, rectangular, and L-shaped. The following figure shows your basic rectangular walk-in closet space. The key is to design a solution around your already decluttered items that fits your current needs and lifestyle. I have seen many large walk-in closets that are clutter-free, and it usually stems from the owner doing thorough planning and also making the space part of their home — something that they are proud to show off with no fear of guests seeing a cluttered mess. Organizing a reach-in closet Reach-in closets (see the following figure) are typically found in smaller bedrooms and apartments. They are usually rectangular and approximately 8 feet long. They are perfect for single users, and with decluttering strategies, I have seen these closets fit most people’s needs. The key to organizing a reach-in closet is to be sure to plan for seasonality, if it applies, as sometimes modifications or extra storage space may be needed for seasonal items. Your goal with the reach-in closet is also to make it part of the home and not be afraid to open it when guests arrive. This is a sign of a peaceful and clutter-free space. What to hang and fold Don’t underestimate the importance of deciding what to hang and what to fold! If you have four shelves full of folded pants, it may be time to reevaluate whether you need them all. If you have no room for your hanging blouses because your pants are taking up all the hanging space, this is another opportunity to reevaluate what to hang and fold. Keep in mind the type of clothes you own and what takes up the most space. Do most of your clothes hang or need to be folded? If you mostly wear sweaters and T-shirts, you need a lot of shelving. If you mostly wear a lot of collared blouses and dresses, you need plenty of hanging space. I don’t want to go into details of what to hang or fold since this book is dedicated to decluttering rather than organizing. So, I suggest you declutter first and then make sure you are properly hanging and folding what is needed. Following are my guidelines to help you get started. What to hang: Pants with a crease (pants without can be folded) Blouses made of any material (iron and button top, middle, and bottom buttons) Jackets Blazers Slippery silks and satins Clothes made of delicate fabric Most dresses Camisoles What to fold: Sweaters Knitwear T-shirts Jeans Sweats Lingerie Special dresses (things that are heavily beaded, or dresses similar to a Herve Leger bandage dress)

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How to Organize Receipts

Article / Updated 01-24-2020

Receipts are annoying, can be tricky to store both physically and digitally, and you likely never know what to keep or don’t remember where they are if you did keep them. It’s not uncommon to be unable to find the one receipt you actually need, which is one of the many reasons you should organize and declutter your receipts. Which receipts to keep I don’t keep the receipts for everyday personal purchases. If you’re budget tracking, then maybe you want to keep them to help stay on track. Or you may want to keep a receipt if you feel like you want to return something (although most stores now also have records of purchases). Give yourself a deadline if you think you might return something. I like giving myself a week to decide whether or not I want to keep a purchase. Sometimes we forget to return things, which adds to our clutter. Even if the store has a policy of 90-day returns, make it a point to give yourself that one-week timeline. I generally keep the receipt for anything valuable or expensive, such as large electronics or jewelry, for insurance purposes. It’s a good idea to keep some receipts for your personal tax return, whether you have a business or not. Different tax laws will dictate what you can add to your personal tax return; for example, healthcare, travel, and anything you had to buy for your job could be deducted. Check with your accountant, as they will be able to tell you what you should keep for your personal tax return. If you have a business, you are likely aware that you need to keep all receipts for your business from restaurant bills to supplies to advertising. You need to keep them to be able to write off purchases, which is important for businesses. From today onwards, start a system. I have a system that categorizes work, personal, and short-term purchases (for anything I might return, which I only keep for one week in my wallet). Under work, I keep all my receipts for business expenses, and under personal, I keep anything of value for insurance purposes. Once you have your system, stick to it. If you want to tackle the receipts before you start this system, carve out 15 minutes a day with the help of a time cube (purchased from my website) until you’re caught up. If I’m being honest, this will be a painful task and will motivate you to never let receipts pile up again. Don’t be nervous to get rid of receipts. Usually, you don’t need them and many retailers store them electronically. The most important thing is to set up a system and stick to it going forward. Also, if you find a receipt that doesn’t fit into any of your categories, you likely don’t need to keep it. How to store receipts You can go old-school and create bins and envelopes and continue to have to deal with your receipt clutter for years, or you can simply go digital. You guessed it: I recommend digital receipt storage. Actually, I say it is a must because these days, if you decide on the old-school method and you actually need to use/find one of the receipts, I guarantee one of two things: You either won’t find it, or when you do, it will be so faded that you won’t be able to read it. Get an app and go digital. Avoid scanning receipts, as this can take hours. Instead, use your phone to take a picture from the app for it to automatically upload to software and be stored in the cloud. I use the NEAT app, which then further connects to my accounting software. If you use the Google receipt app, you get tons of choices. Once you find an app, the key is to create a system and declutter receipts regularly. The following figure depicts how I scan my receipt and then what it transfers to onto the app. The information is automatically populated. You can even have humans verify the information for a small fee. The nearby sidebar lists my favorite receipt apps. Get in the habit of taking the photo with the app and then moving the photos on a weekly basis to the folders you created for your system. Be committed to this system and schedule weekly time in your calendar for this step. Then, when you do your annual taxes, you can quickly delete by month, year, and so on, and they will never build up. Most of the apps keep the receipts in the cloud, so there is no need to keep the physical copy. If you feel safer keeping a copy on your hard drive, that is also an option, but I trust the cloud. Receipt tracking apps There are tons of options for tracking receipts. Here I share my top three from my usage and trials with them: Neat: This was actually the company that used to sell a portable scanner. I saw them all the time in airports. I use NEAT because it is simple to scan with my phone, and it connects to my accounting software, which is QuickBooks. Expensify: This is one of the most popular receipt tracking apps, and I found it very easy to use. Zoho Expense: This app offers many business software solutions, including a CRM that can also be linked to receipt tracking.

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Photo Decluttering Once and For All

Article / Updated 01-24-2020

You are not alone in feeling overwhelmed about photo decluttering. The state of your photo organization, or lack thereof, is nothing to be ashamed of, but not doing anything about it after reading this article is! You may think going through your photos is going be fun, and at times you will smile at the wonderful memories and rejoice in the special moments of your past. It’s also possible that you may never want to take a picture again after you have done a mass digital photo decluttering. All of the emotions you may feel before, during, and after your photo decluttering are normal and okay. The truth is, photo decluttering may be tough, but it’s worth it. Once your photos are decluttered, you’ll have less clutter in the back of your mind regarding your digital photos. And think about it: If you stress one minute per day about the messy state of your photos, you basically will have wasted over 6 hours in a year just over stress! Plus, think about all the time you waste looking for photos! You may miss your best photos or forget you even had them and will never be able to see how great you looked that summer day in 2009. So, take those 6 hours, sort your photos, and never waste time thinking about decluttered photos again. Declutter and modernize printed media Decluttering and modernizing printed media, including slides, photos, and videos, not only frees up physical space but also allows you to organize them in a more accessible way. Modernizing does take time, collaboration, and resources, so therefore, it’s really important that the digital media you are keeping is worth it in the first place. Slides If you don’t know what a slide is, then skip this section or ask your parents, as they may have some boxes in the attic to declutter. I found four huge bankers’ boxes of slides in my parents’ attic, and I found a local camera store (yes, they still exist) and asked them if they convert slides to digital. They did and said it was one of their biggest services, which means lots of people are already modernizing. I brought my slides into the store and two weeks later had a memory stick full of photos, which have brought my parents so much joy to view. They have been looking at these photos constantly over the last two years on their iPad and computers and even committed to decluttering them and making albums so they could find them faster. They made a big print for their bedroom and are happier than ever to have these. If I had not modernized these photos, they would likely not have been able to view them because they don’t have a slide projector and they’d completely forgotten about them. This story is proof that decluttering can bring up wonderful memories that you would have otherwise forgotten. Decluttering can bring more joy than buying new stuff. If you still have slides, I suggest taking them to a professional. Decluttering them can be difficult if you don’t have a slide projector, and you may have to get them all converted and then declutter them after, as my family did. Printed photos This section covers my tried and tested photo decluttering strategies for printed photos. I recommend you take your time and sort your photos with care. For this reason, photo sorting can be a huge time investment. To start, gather all your physical photos in one location, getting them out of storage forever. You will like viewing these photos, and that is what makes this process so emotional and difficult. My advice is much the same for digital photos, but following are a few quick tips to get you started: Get rid of duplicates ASAP. Cull the bad ones. Blurry, out-of-focus, or bad quality images need to go. Create a system. Organize by year, person, or event depending on what the majority of your photos are about. Treat fragile ones with care. Some older photos may be in bad condition, and you can take them to a professional for restoration. Curate and/or display them. You will probably come across some real beauties that you want to display and share. Don’t store them. The ones you are not displaying should be placed in an album. If you know you are never going to get around to this, take them to your local camera shop or send them in online to get them converted to a digital format and give them your selected piles/titles so they can sort them in albums. Videos When decluttering your stored videos, get them into a digital format. You can do this yourself by buying equipment or even taking them to your local Walmart or similar department store. How to manage digital photos One of the questions that I get asked the most is how I store my photos and what organizing strategies I use. Like anyone with a personal brand and business these days, I have a lot of photos that I need access to on all my devices. Creating a digital photo strategy takes time and lots of patience for decluttering. Like I said earlier, it won’t happen overnight, but it’s worth it because photos are one of the best reminders of past memories (that is, if you can find them or remember that you even have them in the first place). Photos on computers, clouds, and mobile devices My biggest piece of advice is to streamline your photo storage to all devices. That can only be done with some sort of cloud storage system. In all honesty, I did not digitize my photos until September 2016. I remember this date so clearly because organizing my digital photos was always on the back of my mind, and I was embarrassed to call myself a professional organizer when I didn’t even have my own photos organized. It was easy for me before the digital age to make pretty albums for each year or occasion, and I still have my perfectly organized albums that I cherish and often look at. When we all had printed photos and film cameras, it was much easier to stay digitally organized. The whole process involved having to physically walk into a camera store, buy Kodak film that usually had about 30–50 photos on it, then take those photos, remove the film, bring it back to the camera store, and return later to pick up your finished products. This was not the era of 100 selfies before heading to meet friends. Long story short, it was easier to be photo decluttered. Even though we are in the digital era, be conscious of how many photos you take because it takes time to declutter them later. When I am snap-happy with my iPhone and take 100 photos of the same latte, I regret it when I’m decluttering later. When I started the photo decluttering process in September 2016, I was decluttering 16 years of photos. I won’t lie to you; it took me nine months. Of course, I decluttered these in stages, but it was a serious commitment. Now I am overjoyed with my photo organizing. The first figure that follows is how I organized my photos before I converted to a cloud system, and the second figure shows my albums organized in the cloud. I also waste no time searching for photos and can easily bring up a trip or memory when I need to. It is a wonderful feeling. The moral of my story and my biggest advice is to make a strategy today to deal with all your current photos and be able to follow through with this strategy forever. You’ll need to adapt. I was diligent from 2000 to 2016 storing the photos on my computer and backing them up on a hard drive, making an album every month. When I was ready to embrace iCloud (which was later than most people), I adapted this strategy to save my photos on all devices and still declutter my photos monthly. To create a photo decluttering strategy, it’s important that you never miss a month. Repeat after me: “I will declutter my photos every month.” Staying consistent is the key to staying decluttered. In 2016 when I decided to declutter my photos, I decided I would declutter two years’ worth of photos every month. For example, I started with the years 2000/2001 and went through all the photos. This figure is an example of my photo decluttering schedule I used to keep me on track. I made an album first for the year and then for each month and then drilled down even further to events. I was faster for the earlier years because I didn’t take as many photos in the early 2000s. The photo decluttering really became tedious when I got to years 2010 and beyond, as there was a shift to taking selfies, many more multiples, and in general more photos for social media. Instagram started in 2010, which helps explain why most people take so many more photos nowadays. Multiples, photo bursts, and live photos To add more complexity to photo decluttering, we often have so many of the exact same photos or almost the exact same photo due to photo bursts and taking live photos. Most people either never create time to declutter them or somehow think they may need that photo with a slightly different angle one day. After you take multiples, pick your favorite immediately. If you don’t do this right away, you probably never will until you get the reminder that your storage is full. Turn off live. Turn off live forever to avoid taking up so much space on your devices. Live photos can be cool as you see a movement and can pick the best from a few seconds, but seriously, when have you ever done that? Once you’ve turned off the live setting, check it every few months because sometimes it will turn back on. How to deal with digital videos I used to keep videos because I thought I’d regret deleting them. But the reality is, I rarely looked at old videos on my laptop or iPhone. Rather, most of the time these videos took up precious space on my devices. I get how much emotion videos can evoke (often more than still images), and you don’t have to delete everything to declutter your videos. However, I do recommend getting realistic with how often you actually look at your videos, creating a system similar to photo decluttering, and ensuring that you stay consistent throughout the process. The main tip to implement is to carve out time on a monthly basis to go through any and all videos you have on your devices and determine what needs to go. Unless you’re a professional video editor, properly editing videos is likely a time-consuming process — or you may not even know how to edit videos. Everything from trimming, to applying filters, to cutting out sections can take ages. Hire someone to help you with the videos you want to keep. If you keep only your best videos, then making them even better quality will aid in the decluttering process. Another idea is to be amalgamate videos from a special occasion and give them to a video editor to take the best parts and make one special video. If you’re wondering where to find freelance video help, I suggest you start with the following two sites, which I have used to find freelancers for so many digital tasks, including video editing: Fiverr Upwork

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10 Reasons to Keep Decluttering

Article / Updated 01-24-2020

Decluttering should become a continual practice that you incorporate into your daily life forever. After it becomes a habit, it will seamlessly fit into your lifestyle. Soon, you won’t even think you are decluttering; it will simply be part of your routine! Decluttering is not going to solve every problem, but the practice of changing your habits and mindset can help you achieve your goals and live better. Smaller and more expensive dwellings Even in Canada, where I am from — which is also one of the largest countries in the world — the houses are getting smaller. This is partly due to the fact that Canada is so cold that most of the population lives sprawled close to the U.S. border. Regardless, there is still lots and lots of space! However, the hottest markets are the big cities, which have less space and expensive real estate. Therefore, dwellings are getting smaller to be more affordable. In a census conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2007, it was noted that Canada has the third largest dwellings in the world after Australia and the United States. This means many countries have smaller dwellings already! In addition, increases in immigration in countries continue to put high demands on housing, and those arriving to countries such as Canada and the U.S. may not have such high demands for space because they’re likely used to smaller dwellings. The shrinking sizes of houses and condos in most major cities in North America will likely continue to be the trend. It’s imperative that you adopt your decluttering habits now, as smaller spaces leave even less room for error when it comes to deciding what to keep and what to discard. Smaller dwellings mean you naturally have to declutter more, but I always say the size of your space should not determine how much stuff you have. Everything you own should be based on your lifestyle. Freelance work lifestyle The rising “gig economy,” as it is often called, is representing a shift in traditional ways of working. Instead of going to an office every day and working for the same employer, people work remotely and can work for various employers on a variety of tasks suited to their skills. The gig economy is more flexible and allows more time for freedom and personal fulfillment while also giving businesses more options to hire people for a variety of tasks. The two largest websites currently promoting freelance workers are Upwork and Fiverr, and I have used both of them extensively with exceptional results: So, what does this new way of working have to do with clutter? You no longer need a big office with massive filing cabinets; you likely only need a computer, Wi-Fi, and a comfortable place to work. You also have to be clear of mental clutter so you can freely focus on several tasks with perhaps several employers versus the traditional role of only working for the same employer doing the same tasks day after day. Freedom of life Freedom is becoming a goal for most people. In my business, I ask people what they want more of in life. The answers are usually more money, more time, and more freedom, in no particular order. And all of those can be achieved by decluttering! Seriously — not joking on this one. Freedom comes from a variety of things, some as small as removing physical clutter from your home daily. This helps give you more time versus wasting hours cleaning and trying to find your items. Mental clutter can also keep you awake at night, causing you to always be tired, unprepared, and never really feeling like you can maximize your days. Freedom in life also can be having more time to spend on the things you love doing versus always cleaning or working so many hours. Trust me: Removing unnecessary clutter both physically and mentally can grant you the freedom you desire. Gain more hours in the day Decluttering helps you save time. And again, when I ask what people want more of, time is usually mentioned. It makes sense that the more stuff you have, the more time you need to clean it, move it, and keep it organized. The less physical and mental clutter you have, the less time you spend thinking about it. The less you think about it, the better you’re able to focus on the important things in your life, increasing your productivity ten-fold. Pause from consumerism Disclaimer: I love shopping. I probably always will, and I still do lots of shopping. The difference today is that I do my shopping on a conscious level, often scheduling trips and knowing what I need before I go out and shop aimlessly. Don’t get me wrong: Sometimes I am still enticed by the latest marketers’ schemes, need a little retail therapy, or simply end up with excess trendy items that I didn’t need to buy. However, these useless shopping trips are always a reminder that unnecessary items quickly become clutter, and I try my best to be aware of these habits and not let them happen again. I have also spent time living in other continents where shopping is much less of a national pastime than it is in North America. Some countries in Europe still close their shops on Sundays and have early closing hours, whereas in the United States you can literally shop 24 hours a day in most cities that have a Walmart. The reasons that people are tempted to buy stuff are different for each person. Most people are aware that happiness is not directly related to things we have and that keeping up with the Jones’s is not a goal we should be striving for. If anyone’s last name is Jones, I feel very sorry for you as it has been used for years to describe keeping up with our neighbors’ and friends’ stuff. In the early 2000s, there were more shopping malls than schools. The ratio was around 2:1 in 2000. Reading this statistic triggered me to do more research on the topic, specifically on the rise of consumerism. Without getting into a history lesson, shopping really began to increase in the United States after World War II. It was the first time that men and women could go into stores and buy exactly what they wanted. The rise of suburbs promoted people to buy homes and then fill those homes with stuff — often trying to find better and more items than their neighbors had. This trend has continued to this day. Many articles referred to various countries’ political systems and leaders to promote spending versus saving to help the economy. Whatever the reason for the rise of consumerism, there is no denying that shopping has become part of our culture. Think about how much we spend on mainstream holidays that have increased across various countries. The need to buy more gifts at Christmas, decorate scarier at Halloween, and purchase more Easter bunny stuffed animals continues to increase. Here are some simple strategies that I used to help curtail my shopping habits: Have a spending plan and track it. This may be more relevant to an article on budgeting, but it makes sense to have a simple budget to help curb poor spending habits and excess shopping. Get support. Shopping is more fun with friends anyways, so why not grab a friend and tell her what you need so that you don’t buy more? Leave it for a day. If you are not sure about a purchase, leave it and see if you even remember it the next day. I use this method a lot, and it had saved me a ton of money (and clutter!). Don’t shop when you’re emotional. Often, you’ll buy more than what you need when you shop for emotional reasons. Save it for when you have a clear mind and stick to practical purchases. Remove temptations. You likely know what clutter you have too much of and what you’re in the habit of purchasing in excess. Don’t go to the stores, read the magazines, or follow the social media accounts that lead to temptation. Minimize these distractions and focus only on what you need. Inspire friends and family My goal for writing this was to inspire everyone to read it and adopt some tips to start and continue decluttering in all facets of their lives. It truly is my hope that that you will also pass along your tips and encourage others to adopt similar strategies. I believe that a decluttered world will lead all of us to be less stressed, happier, and have more time to focus on our valuable contributions to society. This last statement sounds like decluttering could help bring world peace, and on some level, I think that it could! Understand your motivation for decluttering; likely, your friends and family have similar motivations, and this can offer a nice place to start the conversation. Once you feel more in control of your decluttering habits and what you are bringing into your space, you can extend this advice to others. When you can come together to work toward a common goal, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Find a better home for your clutter What to do with your clutter? The obvious answers are donating, selling, repurposing, and, if all else fails, recycling. Check out my top ten destinations for your clutter. Five of those spots are related to donating. The remainder are ideas for selling, giving to friends, and repurposing. Again, my goal is to make decluttering a lifelong practice. Don’t only declutter once, but rather make it a daily habit that helps keep you organized and grounded. Skip ahead if you’d like to find the exact declutter locations, but following is my general advice for most physical items: Donate: Donating should be at the heart of your decluttering mindset. Being able to donate your items to benefit others not only helps your closet but also helps you improve other people’s lives. In our consumerist society, you need to be aware of not only the amounts you are buying, but how you can further your belongings’ sustainability. Donating does not just mean giving away items to your local thrift shop; it can also mean giving items to neighbors, friends, or family. Repurpose: An often-forgotten part of decluttering, a multitude of items can be repurposed. Sell: This advice may sound contradictory to my first point about giving clothing to others who could benefit, but it’s still very valid. There are many apps, online consignment stores, and retail stores that sell lightly used items. I normally sell items I’ve bought brand-new that have little wear and tear, and donate items that are more worn. Toss: At some point, items become no longer usable. But as usual, see if you can repurpose these items first. Pay it forward The more things you give away, the lighter you will feel. Plus, you may feel like your heart is getting bigger due to your newfound generosity in donating items that someone else can use and appreciate. Help others not to accumulate clutter in the first place. With regards to gift giving, birthday presents, and simply showing up with stuff for friends and family, a solution could be to check what they need or give them experiences versus stuff. It is up to all of us to solve even small clutter issues and not add to someone else’s clutter collection. Be cognizant of your own clutter rules and use the same principles when giving gifts or hosting parties. I mean, how many swag bags of stuff do you really want to be getting and/or giving? Pay it forward and don’t clutter someone else’s life. Better the planet Today, you can’t use a plastic straw without thinking of the impact that it has on the environment. From giving up plastic items to save our oceans to not printing paper to save trees, we know the impact that our stuff has on the environment. Think of it this way: What ends up in a landfill is clutter, so don’t accumulate it in the first place. Today, the lesser quality of items seems to call for constant replacing. From our furniture to our electronics, a ton of cheaply made items are on the market that don’t stand the test of time. Most of us look for the best deal instead of the best quality, but this mindset causes us to often accumulate poor-quality items that constantly need replacing, producing more waste. Before you buy an item, think about how long you want it to last and whether the quality of this item reflects this desire. I always suggest quality over quantity for most items, from clothes to furniture to office supplies. Often technology moves so fast that some suggest this may not be the best option, but use this motto where you can. Doing more of what makes you happy can better the planet. Focusing on experiences that bring you joy, such as getting outside, hanging out with good friends, or expressing your creativity, helps you to worry less about the possessions you do or don’t have. Create intentions to consume less and enjoy the simple pleasures of life to mitigate your ecological footprint. Read and learn from Decluttering For Dummies If you bought Decluttering For Dummies for yourself, thank you — I really hope that at least one tip can help make your life easier and clutter-free for the long run. You want to make a change in your decluttering habits. You may be on the verge of applying for the Hoarders show, or you may actually not have any extra stuff lying around, but you want to clear you mental or digital space, which can cause just as much stress. If Decluttering For Dummies was a gift, please don’t be offended. The person bought it as a nice gesture, and everyone on the planet can use some decluttering inspiration. Don’t think that the person who gifted you Decluttering For Dummies thinks you are messy, disorganized, or super cluttered. They may have bought it simply for inspiration or because they needed it themselves and wanted to see you implement the tips first! If you found Decluttering For Dummies in a donation bin, even better! This is a sure sign that its previous owner implemented a decluttering strategy. Whichever way this book landed in your hands, I hope that it will truly make a difference and be one of the reasons that you start decluttering today and for the rest of time. Lastly, remember your Clutter Danger Card. Go back and take a photo and keep it on your phone when you need some extra decluttering motivation.

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10 Ways to Label Anything and Everything

Article / Updated 01-24-2020

Labels are crucial in the decluttering process — even in digital decluttering! Here are some practical tips and ideas about labeling. Don’t label things you don’t use or that don’t add value to your life. It is useless to have beautiful labeled boxes with items in them that you never use — this is just a clutter trap! However, labeling boxes of items that you actually use on a regular basis is a decluttering game-changer. Plus, making the boxes pretty never hurts! Your lifestyle determines what labels you need, how long they will last, and whether they change regularly. Your lifestyle also determines the look of the labels and how fast you need them. You don’t need perfectly color-coordinated labels with your personal branding or business logo on them for everything. Of course, they would look amazing! But when you’re quickly labeling your fridge items or making a temporary label for a work project, speed and functionality take priority over aesthetics. Labels don’t have to be forever. They usually only last for a certain period. I have not had many labels last more than a few years before an update is needed. I recommend updating them frequently and adding this to your regular decluttering routine. The following sections cover different types of labels, ways to make labels, and recommendations for how you can use them. Label maker I love my label maker. I really do. It sits beside me on my computer when I’m working, and I miss it when I’m traveling. I love making labels, and a label maker makes them all perfectly uniform to give my items a polished look. Following is a picture of my label maker, the bigger version that the brand Brother offers. I also have a smaller handheld version that I keep in my Bahamas home, as, of course, I make labels there as well. The next figure shows how I always make sure I have at least two replacement label cassettes, as you don’t want to be in the midst of a labeling project when your cassette runs out! Label makers are great for quick labels and those that need to be changed frequently. My rule of thumb is that if you need to make ten or fewer labels at a time, then a label maker is perfect. This figure shows an example of what a label-maker label looks like. Computer labels When my dad came to me and asked to borrow my label maker, I was ecstatic. I was not ecstatic when I saw him take five minutes to print one label and saw that he wanted to label his entire wall of small nails, screws, and washers. There were more than 100 drawers, which would take him months! I instead suggested he sit down beside me for an hour while I made computer labels using a Microsoft Word document with the Avery labels template in size 1” x 2-5/8” rectangle labels. I printed the labels, and an hour later my dad was happily placing them on all of his drawers. He is now forever able to find all types of screws, nails, or washers whenever he needs them. The reason for this story is that there is a time and place for different labels. If you have to make more than ten labels, I suggest using a computer for faster results. Plus, you will then get to know the standard label sizes you are always reaching for and can keep those on hand. In your Microsoft Word program, under “Tools,” you can choose “Labels.” Then, there is a drop-down menu of many different label sizes and the number it corresponds to from the supplier. Avery is the most standard one. This is the easiest way to create labels on the computer because the template gives you the correct label size. I also use computer labels for mailing items. I rarely handwrite addresses; I use shipping and return labels, as they look more professional. I always keep my most-used Avery labels on hand. The beauty of computer labels is they are fast and can be customized. The downside is that you can’t throw a computer and printer in your purse to make labels on-the-go. I suggest computer labels for anything you need to customize or want to look pretty. And of course, if you have to do ten or more labels, it’s much quicker, providing you have a printer. You can also send them to your local print shop if you don’t have a printer or if you don’t want to make them yourself. Following is an example of my customized computer labels. Handwritten labels I still love handwriting letters and labels, and I do this often. At the moment, I am planning a large lifestyle photo shoot for my business, and I wrote all the labels by hand. It’s quick, and they are only being used for one event, so handwriting these is efficient. The term “label” doesn’t necessarily have to refer to a sticky label. The following shows cardboard labels that can be attached with a string or slip over something, such as a hanger. Permanent labels Sometimes you want to label something permanently. In this case, you want to engrave your items or use labels that are sewn or crazy-glued on, or done with permanent marker. When I think of permanent labels, I think of them on clothing or totes. For example, my luggage has a permanent label on it. However, make sure you only permanently label something when you are absolutely sure the name or letters will never change. Also, many stores do personalization or permanent labeling for you. The store where I bought my suitcase, shown here, offered this service. Washable labels Perhaps you need to write something on a plastic storage container, but you need to change the label whenever a different food item goes in it. Getting a washable marker and keeping it within reach of where you label is a great idea. Then, once you don’t need the label or want to change it, you can simply wash it off. This is also great for events on whiteboards where you need to label directions or entranceways. Prewritten labels You can order labels that already have words on them or make custom ones. My favorite site is Mabel’s Labels, as she has already made a label for practically everything you can imagine needing a label for. Plus, she can give you great ideas and inspiration! This site is especially great for kids’ labels, and if your kids start labeling now, they likely will continue this healthy habit into adulthood. Picture labels Who said that a label has to be written? You can use photos to help identify what is in boxes instead of listing the item(s). Doing this was easier when we had Polaroid cameras; however, it doesn’t take long to print the photos on your printer. Check out the following figure to see how I quickly label my shoeboxes with a photo so I know what’s inside. Label apps A label doesn’t have to be physical. You can make digital labels on your phone using apps like Snupps, which is basically an app to organize anything. If you have a box and don’t have any labels, why not start a shelf or list on your phone of what is inside? The great thing about this is that you can share the information or quickly edit it, and you even save paper. Plus, when you’re away from home, you’ll always know what you have. Food labels Earlier I give an example of washable labels, which are great for food; your food containers’ contents can change so quickly! Labeling freezer items is also very important. If you don’t, you risk your items getting freezer burn. Use a marker or sticker label to simply label what you put in your freezer and the date you put it in. If the package isn’t see-through, for example packaged meat from the butcher, make sure you label what it is and the date. Danger labels If something is dangerous, it needs to be labeled to let people know. This can be for chemicals in spray bottles, medication, or larger hazards such as equipment or even where not to enter. Ensure any hazards around your work and home are labeled to let people know of the dangers. Just because you know something is dangerous doesn’t mean your kids’ babysitter will. Be safe rather than sorry and label anything dangerous. What and when not to label I love labeling, and I know it helps to increase efficiency! But there are some things I don’t label because I don’t want anyone to know what is in them. Here are some items I don’t label or times when not labeling makes sense: Jewelry: Call me crazy, but I have this fear that if someone breaks in and sees a box or drawer labeled “jewelry,” it will be the first thing they steal. Money: I believe in labeling folders for your personal documents, but if you keep a stash of money at home or the office, it’s best not to label the envelope or box for the same reason noted in the preceding bullet. Moving: When you’re moving, of course you need to label! However, if you are having professional movers move the boxes, or if your items might be exposed to the public on the street or during transit, it’s best not to label valuables, such as jewelry (which you shouldn’t have movers move anyway), valuable antiques, and whatever else might be enticing if someone sees the label. Anything super personal: If seeing a label may cause shock or curiosity in a potential guest, it’s best not to label that item. Some things are meant to be kept personal, and if you label them, someone may find them alluring. When you don’t want someone to know your name or address: When I was interviewing parents for this book, I found out that some parents don’t like to put names on items that are seen in public, such as backpacks, towels, or clothes. A hidden label (for example, inside a backpack) is okay to help identify items; however, one mother advised not to label anything obvious because you don’t want your young kids to think that strangers know them.

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10 Ways to Get Rid of Clutter

Article / Updated 01-24-2020

Decluttering requires shifting your mindset and remembering that someone else can benefit from whatever you don’t use, need, or wear. Donating helps someone in need, reduces negative environmental impact, and helps bring value into someone else’s life. When you shift your decluttering mentality to helping others, it becomes much easier to let go of items. I encourage you to try thinking about the people you’re potentially helping each time you are going through your items. I focus mostly on North American locations for donation sites and global locations for consignment options. Donate your items The act of giving not only helps others, but it also helps you feel good. Getting rid of items you no longer use frees them up for someone else who likely can use them. Giving brings others joy and is a great alternative to letting your items collect dust. The act of giving can also be a chance for you to connect with your community and really become more aware of how you can contribute to making the world a better place. Today I see donation bins and cans all over the place. From various Walmart parking lots to strip-mall entrances to schools, donation bins are becoming popular and convenient. One problem that can occur after decluttering is that your stuff sits in your house waiting to be dropped off at the local charity or donation spot. Often, the worst thing possible happens: That stuff designated to give someone else joy stays in your garage for ages, or worse, makes it back into your house. This is terrible because someone else really may have needed your items, and now all the efforts you and your family went through to declutter are wasted. A great option is to pre-arrange a pick-up from a local charity. This forces you to have a deadline and ensures that your items actually get donated. Following are five places in North America that have a pick-up service, but I recommend checking with your local charity, as availability of this service differs by city. Salvation Army: Most cities and small towns have a Salvation Army, so this is always your best bet to try first. This place has been around for over 150 years, so it is safe to say that they know what they’re doing and are skilled at giving your items to others who likely need them more. They accept pretty much anything as long as it is in good condition, such as clothes, kitchen accessories, books, and appliances. If you live in the U.S., you can go to their website and enter your zip code to schedule a pickup. It’s really that easy! In Canada, depending on your location, residential pick-up may be available. Goodwill: Most cities also have a Goodwill. Contact them directly to see if they do pick-ups in your area. AMVETS: These are thrift stores that offer used clothing, household goods, and toys, and the revenue helps veterans’ programs. Habitat for Humanity: This one is big in Canada, and you can even volunteer your time to help build houses for this organization, which I have done to help impact my community. What is great is that they offer furniture pickup, and they can even restore it for re-use. Often furniture is not decluttered because you can’t physically move it out of the house easily, so this is a great option for furniture. Donation Town: This service connects you with a local charity where they come and pick up your items. To keep donating top of mind, keep a box labeled “Donate” in your house. You can buy one from my website. These boxes are prettier and easier to carry than cardboard boxes. See the following figure. Sell your items I resell lots of stuff and am almost always selling something. I have done this since eBay was invented in 1995. I was fascinated that there was a platform to sell and buy items in an auction environment. Now, I use a variety of online platforms to sell my items, from free apps to apps that charge a percentage per sale. I always recommend selling items that are like new and donating items that have more wear. I still bring my items to a store to resell, and on occasion I have still placed something on a street curb, although this is a method I discourage as many streets don’t allow it. Selling direct to consumers Some platforms allow you to sell an item to someone directly. You can use a third-party platform such as eBay to do this and pay a small user fee. Today there are so many sites to sell items that I can’t possibility list them all. There are free sites, such as Craigslist and Kijji, as well as sites that take a small fee for each item that is sold, such as Depop. There is no excuse for not being able to sell your items if they are in good condition, and it’s surprising what people will buy. I once even sold used soap dispensers because it was a reputable brand. It takes only a couple of minutes to make an ad with your smartphone, and you can also ship items. As long as you have Wi-Fi, you can sell your items, no matter where you live. Consigning clothes and other items I consign my designer items and more expensive clothing. Some people ask why I do this instead of selling directly to the consumer. There are many reasons. For me, selling designer items can be tricky for both the buyer and the seller because there are many fakes or look-alikes that are causing problems in the luxury market. I buy lots of pre-loved clothing and accessories, but to be safe, I only buy them from reputable places that offer a designer inspection to make sure they are not fake. That is why you pay more to buy from one of these stores. If you are selling an item at a consignment store, there is a split between what the store takes and what you make. This split can be as high as 50 percent. Following are some pre-loved stores for buying and selling located in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Switzerland. All of them now offer online shopping and consigning: Fashionphile: Their motto is shop, sell, repeat. And if you buy an item you usually get the option to sell it back for a certain price within a few months. It’s like renting something, and it’s a genius idea. Vestiaire Collective: I am a major fan of this site because anything you buy comes with a stamp of quality and an authenticity check by someone on their team. This shop is based in the U.K. but ships and accepts items globally. LXR and Co: I have bought and sold several items from LXR and CO, and now they even sell directly in stores such as the Bay in Canada and Lord & Taylor in the U.S. Turnabout: My favorite physical consignment store in Vancouver, British Columbia, and now they also have online shopping options. LUX Luxury Shops: There is something very special about consignment stores in Europe. If you are ever in Zürich, Switzerland, this stop is a must. Also, in Paris there are many hidden gems. They really bring a new meaning to vintage and offer a European classic touch. And lastly, don’t walk into your local consignment shop with a grungy old brown box. Get one of my decluttering boxes and walk into the store with some serious consignment know-how! The following figure gives you an example. Having one of these pre-labeled baskets will encourage you to sell more and you can keep it alongside your “donate” bin. When it is full simply bring it to your consignment or store of sell them direct. The key is to have the bins as constant reminders. Most people forget that many of their friends or acquaintances within their networks would love their stuff. They may not love all of it, but there are surely a few items that friends may need or can use. Plus, friends are more likely to cherish your items and appreciate them than strangers you sell to. Garage and yard sales are also a great option to sell your items to your community. If your local flea market is a hit, this may also be a great option. Host exchange parties Why not host a party where everyone can bring things to give to someone? If the guest list is shared ahead of time, you will have an idea of who is attending and what their style is. I call this a party because the more you can make donating and decluttering fun, the more likely you and your friends are to make it a habit. One friend I know does not like these parties because she says she gets upset after she decides to part with clothes. She gets even more upset when she sees one of our friends wearing her items, and she usually wants them back. I always remind her that if she didn’t wear an item or didn’t feel comfortable in it, then it is wise to pass it along and be happy to be getting rid of clutter. Bottom line, if you haven’t worn an item of clothing, or if it doesn’t make you feel great, donate it. I guarantee it will look great on someone else, but that doesn’t mean you should take it back. You gave it away for a reason, so stick to that. Plus, if it looks great on someone else and gives them confidence, that should be a great feeling for you, too. Instead of a party, you could also do secret drops of items you know your friends will love at their houses. Facebook also has many selling groups that are becoming increasingly popular, especially among mothers. Repurpose and/or recycle items I am a big fan of repurposing items, and I was encouraged to get creative with repurposing as a child. I grew up in a very rural community in a small town in Canada, and we didn’t have shopping malls that were close and there was no Amazon delivery back then. The only delivery option was the monthly Sears Catalog delivery, and even then, we had to drive to the hardware store 45 minutes away to pick it up. The struggles were real, but I had a lot less clutter! In hindsight this helped to make me more creative and resourceful, and for that I am thankful. If you google “repurpose items,” you will literally be bombarded with hundreds of ideas of things you can make and creative uses for your old stuff. I am not suggesting here that you keep stuff “just in case” you need to repurpose it, but if you can use it for something else, then do. I suggest repurposing what you can immediately rather than keeping it for years because you are going to get to it someday. Do it today, and if not, then it is best to make an alternative plan. My favorite things to repurpose are items for my closet, and I have garnered so many ideas over the years. Here are my three favorites: Ice cube trays: If your ice cube tray is leaking or you don’t need it anymore, it can be used to store small jewelry or pins that you always need for quick fixes. S-hooks or shower curtain rings: These are great for hanging belts, purses, hats, and umbrellas. Seriously, I love a good S-hook. Anything acrylic: If you can see through it, I love it already. Acrylic dividers and boxes are the best, and you can often use them for a multitude of things. If there are no creative uses for your clutter, can you recycle it? As a general rule, if there is some plastic, tin, or glass and it is relatively clean, you should be able to recycle it. If not, you should be able to recycle some parts of it. Here is a quick but not exhaustive list of recycling information to ensure you are taking every last step before something has to end up in the landfill: Plastics/bottles: From food items to storage bins Paper and cardboard: Includes snack and cereal boxes Paperwork: Phone books, magazines, mail, office paper, and newspaper Metals: Tins, aluminum, and steel cans Glass: Food storage and bottles Last resort — the landfill Now, I don’t like sending things to the dump. If at all possible, try to at least recycle. It’s amazing what can be recycled today. If, however, you need to get rid of an item that can’t be donated, sold, exchanged, repurposed, or even recycled, you have no other choice but to simply throw it away. Be sure to reflect on what you are taking to the landfill or throwing in a dumpster. Could you have avoided buying that item in the first place?

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How to Deal Effectively with Clutter

Article / Updated 01-24-2020

The quicker you are at dealing with clutter, the less likely it is to build up. Once you are over the emotional hurdle of clutter, it becomes much easier to deal with. The next big hurdle is the sunk costs associated with the clutter. The value it once had is gone, and in some cases, can be recuperated when you sell that item, but the lesson should be to be more wary of future clutter that may make its way into your home and know how to deal with that. Everything should have a place in your space. If you found a plate in the bedroom, you would immediately return it to its home without a second thought because you know it’s not where it belongs. That should be the case with all of your belongings. If you have trouble deciding where something goes, it may be clutter that you need to let go of — and do it fast. Be proactive versus reactive You’ve probably heard the term “proactive” in business settings and about your health or your studies. By dealing with things proactively, you can achieve higher results than by simply waiting to react when things come to you. This concept relates directly to decluttering as well. Being proactive instead of reactive means that instead of waiting to let clutter build up or until everything is a mess, you take constant steps toward decluttering, especially the bottleneck areas that you identify. I am a big fan of the Franklin Covey group and the late author Dr. Stephen Covey who wrote 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The number-one habit is being proactive. As the book states, “Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do — they have no choice. Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control.” And I know that we are responsible for controlling our own clutter. Keeping a proactive mindset and creating a routine and systems can make decluttering an automatic part of your life. Create a system that you stick to Creating systems and routines that are an organic part of your life makes decluttering not only sustainable but also something you don’t have to think about because it’s just an organic part of your routine. If you’re in an emergency situation or having trouble dealing with clutter, have a look at the following figure to help you get started. Take a photo of the card and keep it on your phone or print and it post it somewhere visible. These simple questions can help you stick to your decluttering goals, and you will soon be asking them of yourself without even looking at the card! Maximize efficiency Regardless of how much you have to declutter, you want to be as efficient as possible when dealing with it. You want to feel in control of the process as much as the result. Here are a few tips to maximize your decluttering efficiency: Start with one area. This is advice that I give everyone who starts on any organizing challenge, especially since at the beginning you will not find decluttering pleasant. You may even find it stressful; therefore, you should start small. Start with one area. It should be your highest priority or the area that causes you the most stress or is the least efficient area of your home or workplace. Give yourself a timeline. As with any goal, you need to have an attainable date to finish so you don’t get frustrated and give up. Plan time. In addition to completion dates, you need to plan the time you will declutter. Shorter time spans actually can increase your chances of tackling the project. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a set 15-minute declutter challenge. It also will feel more like a game or challenge, and all of us usually have a bit of a competitive edge, even when decluttering. Experiment with different amounts of time that work for you and then stay consistent! Use time cubes to keep you on track. Maximizing your time is so important that I sell time cubes on my website to promote efficiency. And I use them every day. Today, we are so distracted by social media, emails, Netflix, kids, and so forth. Our lives are fast and busy, and distractions are always lingering. The following figure is an image of this simple time cube gadget that can help keep you on track for many tasks, including decluttering. The time cube is a very straightforward tool to keep you on task and better than a phone time as you won’t be distracted with texts, emails, or other notifications coming through. The primary task of the time cube is to countdown the time. The cube has the numbers 15, 30, 45, and 60 on it, and when you place the number side up it starts to countdown and blink red. For some reason, when this timer is blinking at you it keeps your mind focused. Like I said, it can take less than 15 minutes a day to declutter. Use a timer to keep focused on only decluttering efficiently, and don’t leave the room or area during that time until the timer goes off. You will be amazed at the results! Have your Donate, Sell, Toss, and Repurpose boxes ready. Buy or repurpose boxes with these labels on them. Yes, I am telling you to get some stuff; these boxes continually will remind you to Donate, Sell, Toss, and Repurpose. They will also aid in creating a decluttering sorting system that you can keep going. See the following figure for an example of boxes are that are beautiful and could remain even in the smallest of dwellings for decluttering purposes. You may think you need big, ugly boxes to sit in your living room to declutter, but I am here to debunk that myth! (These boxes are available for purchase on my website) Get rid of clutter. Do this immediately, because the longer clutter stays in your house, the more it may just work its way back into your home and never leave. Arrange a pickup from a local charity if you’re worried you won’t be able to actually get rid of the items. Remember, getting rid of stuff is difficult for everyone, and you can keep the memories without keeping the stuff. Avoid the all-or-nothing approach The all-or-nothing decluttering approach can be intimidating, overwhelming, and may even make you bitter. Here’s how: Intimidating Choose a point of attack and then start with one item when you enter a room and decide on it as quickly as possible. Then move onto the next item. I know that many of us, myself included, are sometimes intimidated when we even hear the word “decluttering,” and that is what I want to avoid. If you truly think of it in terms of “I have to do it all today,” then, yes, decluttering will be intimidating. To avoid this, be kind to yourself and those around you and start small in sections or categories. Overwhelming Along with being intimidated, feeling overwhelmed is probably the most well-known emotion when we hear the word “decluttering.” And that feeling of being overwhelmed — in many things in life, not only decluttering — is what causes us to not start something. We are overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes to start our own business, so we don’t do it. We are overwhelmed with how hard the newest boot camp exercise class is, so we simply don’t go. And we are overwhelmed just thinking about where to start decluttering, so we don’t. All of these examples are proof that something great could come if you started and were not held back by being overwhelmed. So, again, you don’t have to declutter your life in one day, just as you don’t have to start a business or start with the craziest exercise routines right off the bat. Ease into decluttering the same way you would any of these tasks. Schedule daily and/or weekly decluttering into your calendar to hold yourself accountable and beat the overwhelming feelings. Getting sick of it and feeling bitter I promise you that if you stick to decluttering, you will get better at it, just like you will get in better shape once you start exercising. I always say start small and stick to it, and before you know it you will be decluttering without even thinking about it. And back to the old saying, “Rome was not built in a day.” You can’t lose 20 pounds in one day, and the same is true of decluttering. Small steps and lifestyle adaptions and changes will bring you to your goal. The all-or-nothing approach is not sustainable for most people because it doesn’t actually foster new habits. Busting through the “I might” syndrome Going back to the decluttering mindset, operating with scarcity beliefs not only holds you back from getting rid of clutter, but it also produces lingering stress because it makes you think of what could happen. You may be this type of clutterbug, or a different type, or several, or in an odd case, you may be none and not need any help decluttering. Regardless of your clutter personality, you need to bust through the “I might use it someday” belief today — this very second — because if you have this mentality forever, you will be holding onto unnecessary clutter. I am not going to lie; this is the hardest problem that most of us have when it comes to clutter. And it is often linked with emotional reasons. For example, if you grew up not having a lot of money, perhaps you were conditioned to keep everything. Therefore, you hold onto things that may one day come in handy, even though they never do. No matter how much money you have or don’t have, if you’re not going to use an item in your current lifestyle, then discard it swiftly. Much of this stuff may be unusable anyway: unidentifiable cords, manuals, gadgets that you don’t know what they are for. There is no use holding onto these. Having random items also is touché for this syndrome. Maybe you look at that laminated hand painting an artist got you and think, “I can never buy it again, and what if someday I want to frame it and hang it in my house?” Chances are if you haven’t hung it up yet, you won’t. And that’s not to mention sentimental items, which are also tough as you really may never need them, but you want them to hold on to memories. But think hard about those broken eyeglasses your grandmother wore that bring you memories. Are they worth keeping, or can you look at old photos of the two of you together where she is wearing the glasses instead? So, bust through this and get rid of clutter. Have you used it in a year? Do you have an actual recent memory of the item that brings you so much joy that you want to permanently put the item on display in your home? Ask yourself the difficult questions and then make some decisions. Moms usually are known for having a “someday stash.” If you’re a mom reading this, now is the perfect time to make the change. If you’re looking to help your mom declutter, then use the techniques her to ease her into the idea and help her get over the “I might need it someday” syndrome. Less clutter, less stress.

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10 Tips for Organizing Clutter

Article / Updated 01-24-2020

The first step for organizing your home is removing the clutter and then making an organizing plan that fits your current lifestyle and can also be adapted when your lifestyle changes. Many challenges are experienced with organizing, and it can be overwhelming to even think about it. The good news is that you can get started with ten minutes a day. These top ten tips are general, but if you implement these tips into your daily life, I know you can live a happier and stress-free life. Put things in proper perspective The gradual or instant accumulation of clutter can be stressful and cause daily stress and challenges. However, there are many steps you can take to mitigate this issue. First, you have to get rid of the physical and mental clutter, and then you need to adopt different practices, habits, and mindsets to keep yourself decluttered. It’s important to not let the clutter infringe on your clarity and ability to achieve your goals. But what I really want to stress about decluttering is that it only helps if you buy less and focus on constantly being on top of the physical and mental clutter. Just telling you to buy less stuff or to get rid of that T-shirt you’ve had since fifth grade that you are emotionally attached to won’t automatically solve your problems. I can give you advice, but you need to change your perspective. It’s like going on a diet. If you only temporarily eat better and cut out bad food, the minute you start bingeing again, the weight will come back. What possessions are essential, and what adds value to your life? What possessions are in the way of you achieving your real goals and desires? For organizing the items you want to keep, you also need to have a healthy perspective and prioritize items based on your lifestyle. This means getting really clear on what your current lifestyle is — not someone else’s, and definitely not what you see in magazines. Look at your decluttering goals and how they relate to your life goals. Understand what is important to you and your family in terms of where your time is spent and where you know you are losing time and efficiency. Then, make it a priority to improve those areas of your space. Organize for you, not Instagram My organizing approach gets down to what is really important in life. Look at your main activities. What do you spend time doing at work and at home? Adapt your organizing systems and routines to your lifestyle. I also encourage you to organize because it makes you more efficient. I struggle when people ask me for before-and-after pictures because I find that sometimes the after pictures don’t look perfect but are the most efficient organizing solutions. I disagree with articles and photos where everything has to look ultra-organized. When you have a busy life to sustain, this may be impossible and only cause you more stress. Of course, you may want to have things in nice boxes and match your décor and design, but I encourage you to make it functional first, and then you can focus on the pretty. Tailor your organizing to your clutter personality Understanding what your clutter personality is can help you overcome the clutter hurdles associated with it. Remember that it is common to have multiple clutter personalities. The personalities include the following: The Emotional Clutterbug The “Just-in-Case” Clutterbug The “I’m Not a Clutterbug” Clutterbug The “I’ll Do It Later” Clutterbug The “I Can’t Decide” Clutterbug The “Techie” Clutterbug The Knowledge Clutterbug The Collector Clutterbug The “I Can Use It Someday” Clutterbug One or more of these probably describes your organizing personality as well. When you think about organizing, do you get overwhelmed, procrastinate for another day, or feel like you don’t know where to start or can’t decide how to organize? First, identify what clutter personality you are and then relate this to how you further organize your remaining items. Get real with yourself about why your organizing personality has been stopping you from getting organized and address this issue head on. And here are some tips that can apply to any clutterbug: Commit to regularly evaluating your sentimental items. If you own a box of concert shirts that are tucked away but you never look at them, then why keep them? After regularly committing to evaluating your sentimental items, you may be ready to part with them. Repurpose sentimental items. You could frame your favorite concert shirts so that they can be visible all the time, and discard the rest. This can bring you more joy and reduced clutter! Keep only a small dedicated space for sentimental items. Have a space in your home that is precious real estate and dedicate this space to your sentimental items. This will help you be more conscious of what resides there. Envision the joy of being able to actually enjoy the true sentimental items you do keep. Enough said! Set aside time to declutter AND organize Time. Our most valuable asset. You can have more time if you set up organizing systems that fit your current lifestyle. When you start decluttering, you may need to set a specific time for a few days, weeks, or months to focus on your decluttering goals. Even if it is ten minutes, every day makes a difference. The same goes for organizing. Once your space is ready to be organized, start scheduling time to stay organized. Put in calendar invites at the beginning or end of your days, enlist your family to be involved, and commit to making organizing time part of your routine. Use a time cube to help! See the following figure. You can use the time cube for organizing. Set the timer for 15 minutes and devote that time to nothing but organizing. The time cube is a very straightforward tool to keep you on task and better than a phone time as you won’t be distracted with texts, emails, or other notifications coming through. The primary task of the time cube is to countdown the time. The cube has the numbers 15, 30, 45, and 60 on it, and when you place the number side up it starts to countdown and blink red. For some reason, when this timer is blinking at you it keeps your mind focused. Use boxes, baskets, and other containers I am advocate of keeping boxes, bins, or cans labeled “Donate,” to help encourage daily decluttering. I am also an advocate of keeping labeled bins, baskets, or boxes of the items you do keep to help them stay organized and in good condition. Keep your organizing routines and the system of bins you use or adapt when needed, and you will soon find you are organizing atomically. Just like your decluttering mentality, organizing is also a mentality. Conduct organizing challenges You can have organizing challenges with the people living in your house. Or, like donating something every day, which means that by the end of the year you will have donated 365 items, you can organize something every day. Humans are competitive and usually do things more easily if they are a bit fun or if there is a challenge attached to them. Here are a few tips: Make organizing fun. Use music, friends, champagne, or whatever it takes. Labels, boxes, putting up shelves, and creating organizing spots is always more fun with friends and family. Plus, it will definitely motivate them to get more organized too. Create organizing games. Create small challenges or judging competitions with your household. For example, do a 30-minute bedroom organizing game and pick a winner based on whose room is the most organized. Or do weekly challenges of who can keep their organized systems the longest. It is surprising how simple tricks can help even the most unorganized household turn competitive around this often-mundane task. Make a 15-day organizing task list. Each day focus on organizing a different space in your home and stick to the schedule. For example, day 1 organize the junk drawers, day 2 organize your mudroom, day 3 clean out kitchen utensils. The fun is that the tasks can switch spaces everyday making it more exciting than only organizing your kitchen for days. Switch it up. Hold yourself accountable to staying organized Commitment is key to staying organized and clutter-free, as is making sure that your friends and family are also aware of your goals and mindset. Here are two tips to help you hold yourself accountable: Find an accountability partner. Hopefully, those living directly with you will help and be involved, but also look at how others than can help you achieve your goals! Many people want to get more organized but often don’t know where to start and would welcome the support. Plan an event or party to showcase your newly organized space. It is amazing what happens when the pressure is on! Let friends know you’re having a party to showcase your newly organized closet, and see how motivated you become to get it done. Be kind to your items After you’ve finished decluttering everything that doesn’t serve a purpose, the least you can do for your remaining items is treat them with the utmost respect. Organize not only for efficiency but also for the value you see in the stuff you keep in your spaces. Giving your stuff a spot in your precious real estate of your home, office, or mind should be a privilege. Make sure your stuff has the proper shelves, boxes, and protection and display it when possible. After decluttering, what you keep needs to be front and center in your space because it likely (hopefully) serves an important purpose. Focus your attention on organizing traps Here are the most common clutter traps that we often forget about and that are often the most disorganized spaces in our homes. Entryways and mudrooms These areas can be major clutter traps that we always seem to forget about. The entryway is usually the spot where we enter the house and then typically leave items without giving them a proper home. It’s an easy place to also stow-and-go when you’re in a hurry and racing to the next meeting or appointment. The key to keeping your entryway and mudrooms clutter-free is to ensure that everything and everyone has a designated space. By “everyone,” I don’t mean you have to physically have a place for a human to reside but a spot for each person’s essential entryway stuff, such as hooks for backpacks and jackets, dishes for keys, bins for hats, and so on. It’s important to determine what is needed and then create specific spots for those items. Paper Manage your paper trails because they can often become one of the biggest clutter traps! If you do not use digital organization and do have lots of paper, make sure you have some kind of drawer or basket to put it in. Then when you’re ready, deal with it swiftly. Get rid of flyers and junk mail first and fast. Tear out pieces of things you want to read or catalog items if you need them to avoid keeping what you don’t need. Bills, time-sensitive things, correspondence, invitations, and so forth should be dealt with and then immediately discarded. Take a photo of the invite or add dates to your calendar if you want to get seriously organized. I try to focus on the bills first because you usually want to maintain good relationships with the folks who send these, and you want your services to continue, such as electricity. When you’re done sorting and dealing with the important items, you can move on to the leisure catalogs and items you put aside. Keep in mind that the more catalogs you get, the more stuff you want to get. Same goes for certain types of magazines that are known to make us want to consume the newest gadgets and trends. Alas, I enjoy reading about my passions just as much as you do; just be aware of the potential clutter they can tempt you to buy. Junk drawers You probably know by now that I don’t believe in junk drawers. I believe in what I call an “essentials drawer” for the items that you really need. But simply calling it a junk drawer is something I don’t agree with because then you are more likely to fill it with junk. Get rid of your junk drawer once and for all. Anything that can’t close If your closet drawer is too full and it can’t close, this is a pretty clear sign that it is a clutter trap and you need to deal with it. If you can’t close your desk drawer because it is overflowing, then declutter and reorganize it. Boxes that aren’t see-through It’s important to label any boxes that are not see-through. I love see-through boxes because you can see exactly what is inside them, minimizing the potential for clutter to build up. Labels are the next best thing if you have a bunch of boxes and need to know what is inside. Anything behind closed doors Not only is a door you can’t close a problem, but anything you keep hidden behind even doors that do close properly is probably clutter. There is also unnecessary memory clutter. Your home is not a museum, and, therefore, it is not meant to display or house everything that once created a memory for you. Some people even keep something they don’t like or use because someone gave it to them, making them feel guilty to let it go because it cost so much or is rare. However, it’s completely useless taking up valuable real estate in your home. And if something really is valuable, then you can donate or sell it and make someone else happy! The key card from the first vacation with your husband has no meaning to anyone else. But the rule of thumb should be that if it serves no purpose, it has to go. Don’t accumulate in the future My hope is that after decluttering, you will want to be more careful about the clutter that you could be letting back into your life. I love organizing, but I never want to organize anything that should not be in my space in the first place, so I really try to stick to these tips: Schedule shopping trips. This helps you avoid overbuying. Know what you have. You should be able to keep some sort of inventory of items that you know always end up being clutter. A list, app, or photos can help with your inventory tracking. Envision the rewards of not only how much time you will save in your space but also how much better you will feel with the carefully selected items that remain. A clear space leads to a clear mind!

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