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Tips for Selling Unwanted Clutter, Garage Sales, Part 2


You have been busy decluttering your house. It looks great! You saved some of the clutter that you thought that you could resell for a garage sale. The time has come for the big day. You have been pricing, have advertised your sale at least a week ahead of time, and are ready for your sale to take place. Here are some ideas for preparing the last days before the sale and the day of the garage sale itself.

The Day before the Sale

If at all possible, set out your garage sale the evening before the sale. You will have enough to do the day of the sale. Finish any pricing of items that you might have missed. You can set items up in some sort of order, or just set them out. Clothing should be folded neatly or hung for better viewing and sales. Books can be put in cardboard boxes in only one layer, so your potential customers can easily see what you have. If you have a set of dishes, put all of them in one box and price the box. Make sure that your customers can see what you have without digging through layers of miscellaneous junk.

One important aspect of the physical area of your garage sale is to make sure that your customers have room to walk without tripping. This is one of the major reasons that you put your items on some sort of shelf or table instead of leaving it on the floor of your garage or on the ground. No matter how careful you are in setting your garage sale up, if items are on the ground, people can trip over them. Be sure that your items are sitting securely on their shelf or table, to avoid breaking the item.  While the garage sale is in progress, look around and fill in empty spots by moving items into more visible spots. Moving items around helps them sell, as any retailer will tell you.

Be sure you have money to make change for your customers. Get this money from the bank the day before, so you are set up and ready to sell your items right away the next day. Depending on the size of your garage sale, you may need to have a box to store your money. And if you have a reliable friend or neighbor helps you watch the garage sale and the money box, you will be able to keep your earnings safe. Unfortunately, people steal from garage sales as well as from retail stores. To avoid loosing your garage sale merchandise to thieves, keep the more valuable items next to the person making change and watching the money.

All of those empty grocery store plastic bags will come in handy for your garage sale customers. You might also want to have a few boxes around for your customer’s convenience.

Set a reasonable time to start your garage sale. If you want your sale to start at 8:00 a.m., be sure your advertising states that fact. There always seem to be some shoppers that try to come early. Decide whether or not you will sell to these people. If you don’t want anyone at your sale before the stated time in the newspaper ad, merely state that “early shoppers pay double.” Some people may actually come early and be willing to pay twice the marked price for an item. Take the money with a smile and wish the buyer a good day.

Toward the end of the sale, start slashing the prices of your garage sale treasures. Remember, these are things that you have sorted out of your house, and don’t want to take back into your house. Any money that you can get for this stuff is better than having that clutter in the house again. Bag sales are also a great way to get rid of those last few lingering items. Charge a dollar or two per bag, and get rid of a few more of those plastic grocery bags, as well.

Talk to your customers. Watch how they react to certain items. Make a deal with them if they appear to have a hard time deciding on whether or not to buy an item. Answer their questions and be friendly with them. Enjoy the process of selling your unneeded items. You will be decluttering and making some money at the same time.

If you have anything left when your garage sale is done, you have one final sort to do. Box up the items you think a thrift store or shelter could really use. Be honest with yourself about this, because these establishments become overwhelmed with clutter, too. Then throw the rest away. You decluttered your house, gave the neighbors an opportunity to buy a bargain, and donated to the needy. You might be tired, but you should also be proud of your accomplishments.

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Desk Decluttering


Desk Decluttering

Decluttering your personal desk at home can be a big task. It is an important one, however, because a person’s desk usually is the storage area for some of their most important paperwork.  You can get away with decluttering your home a couple of times per year, but your desk really needs to be done more often than that. This is especially true if you pay your bills at your desk. If you don’t keep it organized or decluttered in some way, you are likely to end up with some grouchy bill collectors wondering where your payments are. So let’s get that desk organized.

Starting to Organize Desk Declutter

First, get a large box. Clear off the tops of surfaces and put these items in the box. Then dump each of the drawers in the box, contents and all. Do you have any other shelves or cupboards in your desk? Dump those items in the box as well. There should be nothing left on your desk when you’re done, with the possible exception of your computer.

Next, pick up each part of your computer and look under it. Wipe or dust under and around each section of your computer. Dust the computer and screen as recommended by the computer’s manufacturer. It can be surprising what you will find under parts of your computer!

Categorizing Drawers

Then clean each shelf, drawer, and any other part of the desk until all surfaces are shiny and clean. You will then need a garbage bag and a box for stuff that needs filing. Then start at the top of the box and start sorting. Decide what category of items will go in each drawer. When you decide to keep something, put it back in the drawer.

Pens, pencils and other writing tools can go in one drawer. This drawer also can contain liquid erasing fluid, staples, and paper clips and other related items. When you decide to keep something, put it back in the drawer. If you are like most people, you will have duplicates of some things. Decide if you really need 5 packages of pens. You can store the extra pens for later use, but if you have LOTS of extras, either donate them or toss them. Put them in a drawer. Perhaps you already have an area in your desk drawer to store pens and pencils. If not, be creative.

You can run out and buy a couple of plastic storage containers especially meant for office desk drawers. But small boxes work well, also. Check book boxes are perfect for storing pens and pencils, and keep them from rolling all over the desk drawer. Another good place to store pens and pencils is in a container on top of the desk. Anything shaped like a vase or a jar works to store pens, pencils and other similar items on top of your desk.  And if you have the time and money, you can buy office drawer organizing units to keep all of those little items like erasers and rubber bands organized in your desk drawers, as well.

Stationary and paper can go in another drawer. Anything related to stationary or paper products can go in that drawer, as well. Computer paper, labels, envelopes and other such items can go in this drawer. This drawer should only be for paper items that haven’t been used yet, or for paper that you plan to recycle.

Bills should go in another drawer. Categorize bills by the order in which they need to be paid. Then put paid bills in another area of the drawer. Filing folders can come in handy for this drawer. You can also sort bills by month, if that makes it easier for you.

The point is to know where your bills are and whether or not they have been paid or not. Some people like to keep their bills in an inbox and outbox organizer. That type of organization is fine, as well. But if you don’t want your bills on top of the desk for anyone to see, sort them into a drawer. Set a specific day of the month to pay bills, so you won’t forget to pay them. Or pay your bills on line, using paperless bills and payments to avoid the clutter of bill statements as much as possible. That way, you’ll have less paper to keep under control.

An inbox and outbox on top of your desk will keep you organized. After you sort your mail, put the items that need to be sorted into your individual desk drawers and files in the inbox. Use your outbox for outgoing mail and bills that need to be sent. Correspondence and letters can go in your outbox, as well. Using an in and out box is no substitute for routine sorting and filing, however.

Take time routinely to clean off and declutter your desk. Before you know it, a clean desk and organized workspace will become a happy habit.

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Tips for Selling Unwanted Clutter, Garage Sales, Part 1


Garage Sales

You have done a wonderful job of sorting, tossing, and decluttering. You used two boxes and a trash bag to help you sort and make decisions. There are, however, items that you very well may be able to sell, earning back some money that may have been wasted on unneeded or unwanted household items. You may as well try to sell these items. One way that you may be able to make a little money is by having a garage sale.

If you have to take a long period of time to declutter due to the large quantity of clutter you have amassed, you probably want to try to sell some of your excess goods. But you need to figure out how to deal with all of that stuff until you can actually hold the garage sale. If you have boxes, especially the plastic storage type of boxes, you are set to gather your items to try to sell. Those plastic tubs and boxes are great for storage. They are also great containers to store items that you want to use for a garage sale.

Find an out of the way spot to store your future garage sale items. If you can store your items in the garage, you have lots less work to do later. All of the items you think might potentially sell will be right there, stored and safe, until the day for your garage sale comes. You also have a nice shelter to hold your garage sale, and a good place to keep your items while you are pricing them. If your neighborhood is in an area where the summers are short, you can spend the colder weather finding potential garage sale items.  Store these items in the garage or basement until nicer weather comes along. By the time summer hits, you will be ready for an excellent garage sale with lots of great items to tempt your neighbors.

Preparing for Garage Sale Day

Move your stored garage sale items to the garage, patio, yard, or wherever you plan to have your sale. Set up some tables. If you don’t have card tables or other types of tables you can invent something that will pass. For instance, if you have saw horses, you can put a door or scrap wood on top of two saw horses and have a table. Or the containers themselves can be the props for a chunk of scrap wood or cardboard that can suffice as a table for now. Churches and clubs may loan you tables for a day or two. And you can put your garage sale items on the ground or floor of the garage.

But the lower an item is, the harder it is for potential customers to see. The closer you can put your garage sale items to eye level, the more items people will see, and the  more items will sell.  You may even have garage sale items that you can put other garage sale items on. The key here is to get as much stuff as you can to the garage or yard, get it marked, and get it sold.

Pricing

If you don’t go to garage sales routinely, you may want to go to a few in your area to see what the going prices are for several types of garage sale goodies.  But, be ware! Don’t buy stuff to take home from other people’s garage sales. You worked too hard to declutter to bring more stuff into your home.

You can price each individual item. Or you can have items on tables that go for a specific price. What that means is that you might have a table where everything on it sells for a dollar, twenty-five cents, and so on. Clothing and books are more easily priced this way, especially if you have lots of both of these items. You might also have some items that you may put a price on, but be willing to negotiate over the price. Garage sale lovers are notorious negotiators.  If they think they can get a lower price, they will try.

Don’t be offended if the price is ridiculous-just say no, thanks. And you may be totally unwilling to negotiate on the prices of some of your items. In that case, write the word “firm” next to the price. Someone might still try to talk you down on the price. But they will have been warned that you are not willing to lower the price for that item. Just make sure your item’s prices are large and obvious for people to see. Most people who go to garage sales are not shy about asking prices. But you don’t want to risk losing that sale due to invisible or hard to find prices.

Marketing Your Garage Sale

Choose a day that is convenient for you. Also, make sure that you have time before hand to set your garage sale up and price your items. If you’d like a couple of friends to join you in the sale, great! You can slit up the work and keep a better watch on your garage sale if you have help.

Advertise your garage sale in the local newspaper. Weekends are usually the best days for garage sales. Lots of people hunt for treasures on Saturday mornings at their local garage sales.  Pick the first Saturday of the month. More people will just have been paid, and have money to spend. You may also want to have your garage sale for more than one day. In that case, choose a Friday and Saturday for your sale.

If you can put signs up around the neighborhood, do so.

Put a nice large sign on the next nearest busy street. Be sure you have signs in your front yard, so people can find your sale easily.  Garage sale fans often find a sale by accident by looking at signs posted. Be careful, because many towns have laws against posting garage sale signs on public spots like light posts and telephone poles. Instead, use a large empty box with the garage sale information to place on the side of the road.  Or put your sign on some sort of wooden stake. Be sure your sign has the address, date, and times of your garage sale. And don’t forget to be a good neighbor and remove your garage sale signs when the sale is done.

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Decluttering the Kitchen


Kitchen decluttering is a huge job. The kitchen is the center and heart of the home.  Everyone congregates there. Families hang out in the kitchen and guests are entertained there. Because of this, the kitchen has a lot more traffic than many areas of the house. And more traffic often means more clutter in the kitchen.

First, clear off and clean the surfaces of the kitchen, such as counter and stove tops. You will probably need to put stuff on the kitchen floor until it has been sorted. Kitchen gadgets have been popular gifts for the last few decades.

Every year new kitchen gadgets come out, and one or two of them might have ended up under your Christmas tree, and then on your countertops. Choose the kitchen gadgets you need or use the most, then donate or throw out the rest. This is one type of item your local thrift store loves to receive for a donation. If you decide to keep a kitchen gadget, you must have a place for it in a cupboard, drawer, or stored somewhere else out of sight.

Your goal is to keep the countertop clear of gadgets and other types of clutter. The only things that should be on your countertops are a can opener and coffee pot. Everything else can be stored behind closed doors.

This is a room that really needs to have cupboards and shelves cleaned out routinely. Empty out the cupboard or cabinet you are going to clean.  Wipe off and sanitize the cupboard. Choose carefully what you are going to put back into the cupboard. If the item is broken, or there is only a little food left in the box, throw the utensil or food box away. Also, decide whether or not you use that utensil enough to make it worthwhile storing. If the answer is no, donate it to a local shelter or thrift store.

When you start to put kitchen utensils and small appliances away, put them closest to where they will be needed. For instance, put pots and pans next to the oven. Put cups and glasses in a cupboard next to the sink. Put cleaners under the sing. Then put dishes and utensils as close to the cups and glasses as you can. Store heaver items in lower cupboards and lighter items up higher, to make them easier to take out and use.

Put canned foods together in neighboring cupboards and keep baking ingredients together as well. Have a place for kitchen linens like dishtowels and pot holders. These should be close to the sink if possible. Cookbooks work nicely on that shelf or in that cupboard about the stove, if you have one.

As you are checking each item over before you put it away, check that each utensil works. Also check each food item’s expiration date before you put it back on that shelf. Foods can spoil and be dangerous. Spices also lose their scent and flavor over time. Use a black marker to write the expiration date on spices, so they are easier to see. Throw out foods, spices, or cleaning chemicals whose dates have expired. Then restock your kitchen cupboards with the remaining food items. Be sure you put those with the closest expiration date toward the front of the shelf, so you will remember to use it first.

Also, don’t forget to clean out the refrigerator. This should really be done at least once per week. And check the freezer for old frozen food or frozen food that might have extensive freezer burn. Once you have removed everything from the fridge, clean the surface of it according to the manufacturer’s suggestions. Usually soapy water or water with baking soda cleans the refrigerator and makes it smell sweet as well. Leaving an open container of baking soda in the fridge keeps it smelling clean as well.

Finally, pick up any clutter or items you have left on the floor and sort through them. Find a place to put your special, extra large roaster for that Thanksgiving turkey, and for the crock pot. By the time you scrub the floor, you will have a clean, fresh, organized kitchen that is clutter free.

Thrift stores and shelters really love to get donations from your kitchen. They can get too many donations of clothing, but usually don’t get too many donations of kitchen utensils. And people just starting out on their own love the bargains they can find at a thrift store. So box those unused utensils up and give them away.

Your kitchen will be more organized and you will feel good about your contribution to a good cause.

Decluttering the kitchen is a big job, but it will make your life easier in the long run. You will have fresh products to make delicious meals with, and fresh chemicals to clean with because you organized and decluttered your kitchen. Meals will be easier to prepare because your ingredients are organized and easy to find. And you will waste less time looking for utensils in your newly decluttered kitchen.

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Decluttering the Bedroom


If you have not been using under bed storage, now is a good time to take your storage boxes out and look at them. Do you have any that will fit under the bed? If so, clean out under the bed, and put your plainly labeled storage items there. Storing items under the bed gives you more room for storage that will be unseen by others. Just be sure that you use either clear storage containers or label the containers well, so you can retrieve your stored items quickly.

Closets

Cleaning out the bedroom closet is usually the hardest part of decluttering the bedroom. There is another entire article on decluttering and cleaning closets, so see that article if you want more details. Here is the short version of that article. Empty out your closet. Put back only the clothes that you are comfortable in, that are in season, and that fit well.

Donate or discard the rest of the clothes. Sort your shoes in much the same way. And process through the rest of the stuff that has managed to accumulate in the closet carefully.  Try to get rid of one item for each item you keep in the closet. Last, keep out of season clothing stored somewhere until the proper season comes around. One perfect place to store your out of season clothing is under the bed.

Under the Bed Storage

If you are already using the area under your bed for storage, good for you! Storing items under your bed is a wonderful way to use unused space. There are two advantages to storing items under your bed.  First, if your bed has neatly organized storage containers under it, socks, shoes, and other miscellaneous items will not be able to collect under your bed. Second, if you are very short of storage space, using the area under your bed for storage will give you some badly needed storage space. Under the bed is really the perfect place to store your out of season clothing, as well.

If the area under the bed is limited, you can buy lifts to rise up your bed a few more inches. You can gain a larger area in which to put larger storage boxes in that way.

Next, you will need storage boxes that fit under the bed. One way to get boxes free is to reuse old cardboard boxes, especially the type of gift boxes that come from the department store. The biggest problem with these recycled boxes is that you cannot see through them. For that reason, you will need to carefully label storage boxes that you can’t see through. Another type of under the bed storage box you can use is the see-through plastic type of box. These boxes should still be labeled, but it is still easier to tell what is in the boxes, since you can see through them. Be sure to measure the area under your bed before you buy under bed storage containers, to make sure they will fit under the bed.

If you have already been using under the bed storage, now is a good time to go through those stored items and articles of clothing. Sort, donate and toss any items you find under the bed. Have your trash bags and donation boxes near you, just in case you need them.

Drawers

The next big job is to go through your dresser drawers. Dresser drawers are famous places for hiding and storing personal items. Not only will you find underwear in bedroom dresser drawers, but you may also find other interesting items that you might not expect.

One example of this is that some people like to store tokens and letters from previous romances. If you are decluttering for someone other than yourself, you may very well need to leave their bedroom dresser drawers alone. Or be sure to get the person’s permission before you start to go through the drawers.

People really should go through their own drawers, but we all know that doesn’t always happen. If you have a really stubborn person in your household who doesn’t want their drawers cleaned out, give them a certain amount of time. If the dresser drawers haven’t been cleaned out by then, you will do it for them. That condition seems to motivate even the most stubborn messy person into action.

First, take the drawer out and dump it either on the floor or on the bed. Have your trash bag and donation box handy. Any item that doesn’t fit goes either to the donation box or in the garbage. If you are sorting lingerie or other types of underwear, many of these items do not qualify for donations for health and hygiene reasons. Unless they are new, most underwear that you no longer want will need to be thrown away. Now is the time to either find the mate to that single sock or throw it away. Some people like to use single socks for dusting rags, and then throw the sock away. And sometimes while you are sorting, you actually find the sock’s long lost mate.

Go through the rest of your dresser drawers the same way. Dump the drawer, clean it out, and put back only the items that you need or that fit. If you have stuff in the drawers that really doesn’t belong in the bedroom, move it to the appropriate room of the house and put it away. Once you’ve cleaned the closets, drawers and under the bed you should be able to finish the rest of the bedroom quickly. Nobody sees these areas much, but you know the clutter is there. You will be able to find your clothing more quickly if you are uncluttered, organized, and know where things are in your bedroom.

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Organizing Photographs


While you are decluttering around your house, you will undoubtedly find photos that have been stuck in some unexpected places. Photographs are one of the many items that end up out of place when our house becomes cluttered.  But unlike many other types of clutter, photographs are undoubtedly more valuable than most types of clutter that you will need to deal with while decluttering.

History’s Mysteries

Have you ever looked through Granny’s photo album? If she didn’t label her photographs, she might not be able to remember who is in the picture, or what the special event was that prompted the photograph to be taken in the first place. Or if Granny has passed away, you may have a collection of photographs of people you don’t know. How unfortunate! Be sure you don’t leave mysteries for your children to wonder about. Organize your pictures and label them in some way. In that way, your children and grandchildren will know what their ancestors looked like way back when.

Get it Together

The great thing about decluttering is that you find treasures that you thought were lost forever. One unexpected thing that makes decluttering worth while is when you find one or two of those treasures. You can find money, jewelry, that lost sock you have been looking for, but one of the best of the treasures you can find is a photograph that you thought was gone forever.

While you are decluttering, be sure to have a box, basket or drawer for the stray pictures you might happen to find. Eventually you will have decluttered the entire house, and will have found all of your pictures. There are few treasures that compare to this! Think what fun you will have going through those pictures and putting them in order. And while you were decluttering, you may even have found a couple of unused or partially used photo albums.

You may also find small photo albums lying around the house, especially if you are a proud grandparent. Put these together with your loose pictures. Eventually you will decide what to do with all of those pictures, but for right now, just find them all and get them in one place.

Photo Storage

Now you have all of your pictures together. Your next job is to go through each picture put as much information on the back of it as you can. Put the date, place, occasion, and all of the names you remember or know on the back of the picture. Then decide how you are going to organize your pictures. Lots of people like to put their pictures in an album in chronological order, much like a family history in pictures. Other people like to have a scrap book or photo album for each person. These are only two of the ways that people organize pictures. You may be able to come up with your own unique way of picture organization. Let your creative juices flow.

This is one of those fun sorting jobs for a rainy or snowy day, or for a day that you need to rest from other more strenuous types of decluttering. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, put on that extra long movie you haven’t seen for a while, relax, enjoy, and sort pictures.

Next stack your pictures in the order you’d like them to appear in your photo albums. You could spread them around on a table, but stacking them in order keeps them neat in case you suddenly have to leave your project for some reason. Have a couple of those hundreds of rubber bands, you found handy to keep the stacks of photos together. Round up your photo albums and start putting your pictures in.

Another fun thing to do while you are sorting your pictures and placing them in an album is to put some sort of label under the pictures. You probably don’t need to label every single picture, but labeling lots of the pictures will keep you from taking the photos in and out of the album, and risking tearing or damaging the photo. You may have found some extra labels you can use while you were decluttering. Or you can use other types of paper, like index cards that you cut and paste into the album, instead of using store bought labels.

Even if you have hundreds of pictures that need to be put into an album, you can do this organizational job quickly and enjoyably. If you think you will need several sessions to complete your photo organization project, put all of your materials in a box next to your favorite TV viewing chair. Then you can work on it every time you watch TV. Before you know it, your photos will be organized and safely in an album. When your children and grandchildren view the pictures in years to come, they will know who is in the pictures, when they were taken, and what the event was. Not only are photograph albums a gift you give yourself, but the people you love will enjoy and appreciate them long after you are gone.

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Top Ten Items to Keep Your Home Organized


Even the most frugal person I know will occasionally splurge on an item that will help her keep more organized.

Here are some of my favorite organizational tools for the home.

1)  Lazy Susan

Thanks to the soul who invented this little item!  They’re cheap, and help keep spices, bottles, and condiments neatly arranged and at your fingertips.  Use them in the pantry, in cabinets, on the kitchen table – they’re absolutely life savers when it comes to staying organized.

2)  Plastic Basket for Lids

Plastic containers – a double edged sword!  One the one hand they keep me organized and save tons of time in the kitchen, especially.  But searching through ten thousand lids that don’t fit can drive a person nutty.  I use a plastic basket for all my lids so they’re in one spot when I go looking.

3)  A Triple Swing-out Towel Holder

Put these under your kitchen and bathroom sinks to save space and keep your sink area uncluttered.  Use it to hold towels, cleaning rags, trash bags, etc.

4)  Place a few strong adhesive hooks in the laundry room – these can be used for hanging coats, clothes, etc.  Hooks are great to hang up mops, brooms and other cleaning supplies, too.

5)  Plastic Baggies with Zipper Locks

How did our ancestors survive without them?  Baggies are perfect to store small toys, puzzle pieces, and any little items that go together in one spot.  The  two-gallon sized ones are my favorite.

6)  A Labeler

These don’t have to be expensive to work.  And having containers and shelf spaces labeled is a great way to help children keep their items organized, as well as yourself.  Do yourself a favor – use a labeler for a week, and you’ll wonder hoe you ever lived without one.

7)  A Compartment Tray for Your Junk Drawer

Occasionally, I actually open my junk drawer to search for something!  Having miscellaneous items in little compartments of the tray will save you time and frustration when you go searching.

8)  A TV Remote Holder

How much time have you wasted looking for this little item?  Make or purchase a holder for your remote, or put velcro on the back and stick it someplace near the couch.

9)  Laundry Sorting Bin

Less than ten bucks, these bins help keep your dirty laundry organized, so that when you’re ready to wash the whites, they’re all in the same spot.  No more digging through a giant hamper to find the right clothes!  This makes laundry time so much simpler!

10)  Two-tiered Spice Racks

These cabinet organizers save time and hassle in the kitchen.  How many times have you searched for the oregano – behind the cinnamon, no – the nutmeg…Wait -where was the nutmeg?  You get the idea.

These items are by no means all the great organizing tools out there, but they’re my choices for time saving and hassle free living!

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Paper Clutter


Paper Clutter

Every day it might seem like you are acquiring more paper that you really don’t want or need.  Examples of this type of paper clutter are old magazines, bags, wrappers, mail, and newspapers. Unwanted items come into your house whether you ask for them or not.

If you get enough unwanted paper clutter in your home, you won’t be able to find things that you need. If this type of clutter really piles up, you eventually won’t be able to tell the good paper you need to pay attention to from the paper that needs to be thrown away.

That frustrated feeling of being out of control will around to h back to haunt you. Even worse, you may miss a bill or important notice of some sort if you don’t keep the paper entering your house under control. So take control of your paper problem. Here are some pointers to declutter papers.

Mail

Have you ever missed paying a bill, or paid a bill late, because you lost it? If so, this article is for you. Let’s face it; there is a ton of junk mail that can come to your mailbox each day. There can be so much junk mail that it takes a while to sort it properly. So, you may be tempted to stick it in a pile and wait until later. But don’t! Pick up the mail and sort it immediately, preferably on your way to the garbage can. By the time you get to the garbage can, you will probably have sorted through the mail. You’ll have a nice pile of mail that you need to deal with. And you’ll have an even nicer pile of junk mail to toss.

Some people even sort their junk mail at the garbage can before it even comes inside the house. This method works well, too.

If you really don’t have time to even look at the mail properly, put the pile of mail in an obvious place for sorting later. This way, you will be sure not to throw an important message away. You will also be mildly annoyed by where you put the mail, and hopefully get back to sorting and processing the mail as soon as you can.

One problem with this method is what to do with the mail that you are not sure about. If you have mail that you don’t know for sure is junk mail, put it in with the necessary mail you plan to keep. Then, when you go through the mail, you will be able to determine whether that letter or notice needs to be kept or tossed.

You may have mail in your hand that is not for you. If you are sure the mail is junk mail, throw it away anyway. If in doubt, you’d better keep that letter or notice, because it could be important. Set up some sort of system with the people in your home. For instance, put the mail that you think is important on that person’s desk. If they haven’t dealt with it within a certain amount of time, toss it. But be sure to let the person know how long they have before the mail gets thrown away.

If you have accumulated a large pile of mail, or just haven’t had time to sort mail, you can still get it easily under control. Use a recycled plastic grocery bag for a garbage bag. Dump all of your old mail on the kitchen table, and start sorting. Junk mail and other mail that you are sure you don’t need to open can go right in the plastic bag to be tossed. Be sure to organize the bills in some way, so they can get paid without being lost or forgotten.

Magazines

Another type of paper clutter is magazines. Magazines can be fun and entertaining, as well as educational. But what will you do with those old magazines when you’ve looked at them several times? You have a couple of choices to make. You can either limit the number of magazines that enter your house, or you can store preferred magazines neatly.

If you have read the magazines that you have, several times, toss them. If the magazine is more than 2 months old, toss it. You might have found the perfect recipe or article in that magazine. If you haven’t clipped the coupon, recipe or article within 2 months, you probably never will. So either clip and save those magazine articles or toss the magazine. You will enjoy the extra space you will find when you do.

Some types of magazines were meant to be read and enjoyed, then thrown away. Others were intended to teach or aid someone in researching a subject. If you have professional journals or magazines that come to your home, you might want to save them for the articles. That’s fine. But where will you keep the magazines? You will need to buy folder and magazine holders to keep magazines from getting shelf worn. You will also need to come up with some sort of filing system, so you can remember what is in each magazine for easy reference. . If you don’t get control over magazine clutter, it will soon control you.

Other Types of Paper Clutter

Lots of other types of paper clutter exist. You can get flyers in the mail, advertisements tucked into your front door, church bulletins, and all kinds of newsletters from many different places. Unless these pieces of paper have important and necessary purposes for your life, read them, and then throw them away. If you can get out of newsletter and other mail subscriptions, you will have that much left to sort through. Cancel the subscriptions and newsletters you really don’t read. You will have more money and less clutter if you do. And lots of newsletters and newspapers are online now, so you don’t have to deal with paper clutter at all.

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Lifestyles of the Clean and Tidy


Building New Habits

Clutter does not have to become a way of life. Some basic lifestyle changes will help you keep your house from getting out of hand. These changes aren’t too hard. They are also good candidates for a New Years’ resolution, if you need one. But you don’t have to wait till the New Year to start. Any Monday is a good time, just like Monday is a good time to start a diet. The point is to start. Here is a new routine that should help keep the clutter down in your home.

To get into a new habit takes a while. If you are trying to break a bad habit, it helps to replace that bad habit with a good habit. You have to do a new activity or action for 40 days consistently before it starts to feel natural. That’s why some people try to give up a bad habit during the 40 days of Lent. By the time that season is over, an old habit has less of a hold on you. You don’t need to make decluttering a part of your religion, however. Just choose a length of time to really stick to your new habits. One month is a good beginning. And hopefully a new habit has taken its place.

Reward yourself for sticking to your new routine by doing something nice for yourself when you are successful. You don’t really have to be 100% successful for the entire 40 days before you get a reward, also. And you don’t have to be perfect in your new routine to get a reward. You only have to do better.

Rewards can be something as tiny as a cookie and a cup of coffee during a break, or something as big as that new piece of furniture you’ve wanted at the end of a successful 40 days of following this routine. But if you buy something to bring into your house, be sure you have a space for it. Shelves and cabinets of some sort are a great reward, and help to keep you clutter-free, as well.

A new routine

The rule to your new routine is to put things away, right after you use them. Sounds simple, doesn’t it. But if it was simple, you would have been doing it all along, and the clutter wouldn’t have built up in your house.

The first thing to do each day is make your bed. If your bed is made, the majority of your bedroom will look cleaned and tidied. I know you don’t want to, but do it anyway. You’ll be happier with the way your house looks in the long run. And remember, it takes a while to build new habits. Next, pile those dirty clothes lying on the bedroom floor into you laundry hamper. Yes, they are supposed to be in the hamper already, but they just don’t always make it there. Not to worry. Just take your filled laundry hamper with its dirty clothing into your laundry room or area, start a load, and shut the door. Your floor in the bedroom is probably clear now. If not, finish putting shoes, etc. in the closet and shut that door, as well. If this sounds like to much to deal with first thing in the morning, put your clothes in the hamper at night before bed, and put your shoes in the closet, as well. This whole activity doesn’t really take that long, and your bedroom looks clean as a result.

The next rooms a person tends to go to is the bathroom. Once you are done with your daily hygiene routine, take a minute or two to put those items back where they belong. Makeup can go back in the drawer, and other hygiene items back in the medicine cabinet.

Next, grab those dirty clothes and towels and put them in the hamper.  Your next decision will be about whether or not you have time to wipe surfaces down and/or wipe off the mirror. Those disinfecting wipes you can buy at the local grocery store are great for this. You now have clean, disinfected surfaces in the bathroom. You might need to save cleaning the mirror for later. But definitely be sure there is not left over toothpaste spit into your sink. It sets up like concrete and is much harder to clean later. But for now, you have a clear floor and the surfaces of your bathroom are uncluttered. Close the shower door or curtain to hide any issues there.

Kitchen Clutter

First, get that cup of coffee or tea started. While it brews, make your breakfast. Once you are done eating, clean up after yourself. Do it right away, don’t put it off. Dishes go in the dishwasher. You can put dishes in the sink only if you don’t have a dishwasher.  Rinse them off first, of course. Take a moment to clear counter surfaces of any clutter that might have accumulated. Take a moment to put breakfast items away, coffee containers up, and cereal away. Any other dirty dishes you’ve made or found can go in the dishwasher, as well. If you don’t have a dishwasher, wash the dishes you created right away. Leave them in the sink in a drainer to dry. By this point, most of us will need to be on our way to work or school. Be proud, because you haven’t let daily household clutter win today.

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Why is my house cluttered?


Why is my house cluttered?

Some people are naturally neat people. They have a place for everything, and everything automatically goes back to its rightful place. Some people seem to have been born organized. Most of us, however, need a little help in the organizational department.

Sometimes we can keep things looking nice. But other times our houses, offices, and lives in general get disorganized. We take on one too many projects, and soon we are unable to keep our lives and homes in order. We wake up one morning, and the house is piled with clutter.

Okay, so the clutter didn’t really happen overnight. And maybe we just got busy, and didn’t keep up with our cleaning. On the other hand, clutter can be a sign of other problems in a person’s life. You really can judge how your life is going by how your home looks.  If you have piles of junk everywhere in your home, something is wrong.

Here are some of the basic issues that can cause clutter, and some quick suggestions on how to deal with the issue.

Too Much Stuff

Other people may have been sick or incapacitated for a period of time. They really couldn’t clean and control clutter as well as they would have liked to. As soon as they are feeling better, they will regain control of their clutter problem. And their clutter problem will probably stay under control as long as they are healthy enough to deal with it.

Some people are extremely busy, and have a hard time finding the time during the day to clean and declutter. Not only is their home disorganized, but there is a good chance their schedule is overly full and disorganized as well. These people need to get organized and stay organized. They may need to give up an activity or two, at least until they get organized at home. They also need to monitor what they bring into their homes once they are organized, so the whole cycle of clutter doesn’t start over again. These folks will need to be extremely vigilant by putting their things away immediately, and finding a routine where decluttering is a regular part of their day

Most people have a cluttered home or office because they just plain have too much stuff for their home. If your home is small, you’ll need to be careful what you bring into it, because it will fill up fast. But some people seem to have clutter no matter the size of their house. These people need to be more careful about what they bring into their home. They also need to get organized in the first place. They may be able to do this on their own, but might need help cleaning and sorting. They may also need some extra discipline and a routine of decluttering to keep their lives from becoming cluttered once they declutter.

For a few people, clutter is a sign of mental illness. Depression manifests itself by the inability to function in many areas of life. Clutter and a general lack of cleanliness are often one of the signs that these people aren’t doing well mentally. This is nothing to be embarrassed about. For lots of people, medication and therapy help them gain control of their physical space and helps them feel better mentally, as well.

For another very few people, clutter can be a form of obsessive compulsive disorder. These folks are commonly called “hoarders.” Perhaps your neighborhood had a hoarder. They have newspapers and magazines piled up to the ceiling. They never throw anything away. They have “collections” of junk that make it nearly impossible to walk through their houses. Usually there is a path from room to room, but not much else for floor space or living area. This is a big problem that needs to be addressed by medication and therapy. Hoarders have created a dangerous living space, because usually their homes are unsanitary and have lots of fuel for a house fire. These folks need some serious help, because the problem they have goes way beyond mere clutter.

For most of us, however, clutter problems are more about disorganization and lack of discipline. Hard work and some good advice on decluttering are all that is needed to get us organized, and get our clutter problem under control.

Lots of people with cluttered houses are perfectionist. They would love to clean and organize, but can’t do it until they can make their home perfectly organized. Since there seems never to be enough time or energy to make their home perfectly organized, they don’t organize at all. These folks need to realize that organization is a process that happens over a period of time. They need to pick an area of their home to organize, and just get started. Soon, their house will look tidy and be organized. They will know where their possessions are, and feel good about the way their house looks.

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