Some thoughts today to spur you on to keep ahead of the clutter! 101 Ways to Clean Out the Clutter by Emilie Barnes
The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule is one of the greatest principles you can use to figure out your top priorities. If all of the items on your to-do list are arranged in order of value, 80 percent of the value comes from only 20 percent of the items. The remaining 20 percent of the value comes from 80 percent of the items.
Sometimes a little more and sometimes a little less. The 80/20 rule suggests that in a list of ten projects, finishing two of them will yield 80 percent of the value.
So don’t be overwhelmed by a large list. Remember the top 20 percent of the list gives 80 percent of the value. What’s left undone today can go on the list for tomorrow. Rearrange your to-do list so that it is in order of priority and keep the 80/20 rule in mind.
Accordion Files Fit the Bill
One item that makes great use of space and effort is an accordion file. Go to your local stationery store and purchase one or a few. Accordion files are wonderful and oh, so versatile.
You can use them to store bills for future payment, to keep track of important papers, and to gather greeting and thank-you cards for those special occasions. Set the files up with labels. For example, your bills folder could have pockets labeled “Pay,” “Read,” “Answer,” “Pending,” and “Hold.”
Designate a shelf for a row of accordion files. You’ll be able to store many of your most needed paper items in these. And because accordion files are portable, you can take them with you to meetings so your records are handy or to the kitchen table when it’s time to pay bills.
Don’t forget to purge them occasionally. The files won’t serve you well if they are full of outdated or unneeded items.
Managing the Mail
Now, let’s talk about the mail. The key to managing this area of our lives is doing it daily. If it can’t be done when it arrives, assign a specific time each day to process it.
One area of your home should be designated for this purpose—a desk, table, or a section of the kitchen counter. If you use the kitchen counter, be careful that it doesn’t become a catchall area.
Remember the rule about paper: Don’t put it down, put it away. It only takes a minute to sort the mail when it arrives, even if you can’t process it at that moment.
A simple file system can help you do this. You could use one file for letters you want to read. If you have older children, each might have his or her own folder to check when arriving home from school.
There needs to be a file for bills, another for things you need to discuss with someone in the family, one for mail that needs to be answered, and maybe another for those that require a phone call.
Juggling the Junk Mail
Don’t hesitate when junk mail and unwanted catalogs arrive. Don’t worry about what you might be missing because the same items will be listed again in the next catalog—due to arrive in a couple of weeks.
In fact, if you can get in the habit of instantly tossing junk mail, you’ll get rid of at least 30 to 50 percent of your daily mail.
When your favorite catalogs and magazines arrive, be sure to read them and then put them in the recycle bin or pass them along to a friend.
If you begin receiving too many catalogs and they are not ones that suit your lifestyle, call to cancel them and request that your name be removed from their mailing lists. Some catalogs are available online. You might consider receiving the email version of your favorite store’s publication or an organization’s email newsletter.
Break It Up
To accomplish a big task, break it into a few smaller parts—these become “instant tasks” that you can easily handle. It’s the big items that throw us and leave us in a panic.
Think of one project that you have put off because it seemed too big to take on after a busy day or in the middle of a hectic one.
For example, let’s choose cleaning out the refrigerator as your dreaded project. Can you give it 15 minutes? Even the craziest of days usually have a few breaks in them that could be put to good use.
Set a timer and work like mad for those 15 minutes evaluating leftovers, checking expiration dates, and wiping off shelves.
Tomorrow, set the timer and toss out old vegetables, refresh the ice trays, and rinse the meat and produce bins.
In a day or two you’ll have invested two or three 15-minute sessions and completed the larger task of cleaning your refrigerator.