Divine declutter...

by - Monday, January 25, 2016

A place for everything, everything in its place. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Ask any of my former schoolmates or coworkers and one thing they will agree upon is my neatness. In grammar school, receiving a nod from the teacher, the rest of  the class was to observe my perfect desk, brown paper bag-covered text books stacked underneath, graduating in size. The example encouraged to follow.

Yeah, I was that kid.

Being neat at a young age has only helped in adulthood. Habits established continue to mature. Anyone can form a new habit at any time, it all has to do with routine. If you choose to make adjustments in your personal pattern this year, let it be declutter and dispose. Even the smallest change will yield a big return. It's about practicing mindfulness, attention to the present sans procrastination. The result will simplify your life. It makes a big difference, believe me. You will ultimately have more time without having to play catch-up later. You'll feel more efficient and less drained.

Now many of these you might have already heard about, but allow me another testament to the magic of time well spent...

1) Keep to a routine. Everyday. Yes, it is a pain sometimes, especially when so tired, but I promise you'll be glad you spent a couple minutes filing the day's mail each night instead of dumping it in a pile on the counter losing an hour sorting it over the weekend. 

2) Establish a place for everything, from bills to magazines to extra paper towels. Store like with like. Keep your keys in one place. Organize your cords in a simple charging station on the counter with a power strip. Get a cheap file cabinet from a thrift store and stick it in a closet. We have three second-hand ones in our office and established hanging folders for everything from utility bills to personal credit card statements.

3) Combat paper clutter before it starts. As you obtain daily mail, separate the important stuff and dump the junk. My system is to slip all the incoming bills into the checkbook right away. I set aside twenty minutes every Sunday to write checks for current expenses. They are signed and sealed, stamped and ready to be mailed Monday morning. With tax time a couple of months away, I label a plastic envelope and when important tax documents arrive, they go right into that folder to be taken to the accountant.

4) Clean up after you finish a task. In my home office, when a project is completed, the desk is cleared. All utencils used to achieve the goal, whether it be hot gluing a wall decoration or cooking dinner, are put back in their place. Same for the kitchen. Do you really want to wake up to dirty pots from dinner or snack bowls in the sink? Wash and dry, or park it in the dishwasher, making sure your sink is free of clutter. Tomorrow you will be in a good mood just from surveying the neatness, eager to start on cooking lasagna or painting the bathroom, it's up to you.

5) More in the kitchen... Before cooking, gather all you need, use it, and clean up as you go along. I have cooked for numerous parties, making three or more entrees in succession, using the same skillet each time. I clean it after each use to start fresh. It cuts down on mess. Dealing with a pile of crusty pots and pans before I sit down to eat diminishes my appetite.

6) Sort food containers often. If you are like us, one night of Chinese food take-out results in a whole new collection of storage tubs. Who needs Tupperware! But while these are great to have when my husband takes lunch to work, the corner lazy susan gets jammed and that's when stuff has to go. We don't need ten round plastic meal containers. Keep some and dump the rest in the recyclable bin or donate them to a food pantry.

7) Make effective lists. Pick a task to tackle every week. I have a calendar book and make little sticky notes of projects that need to get done, this way I can move them from one day to the next until finished. It's okay if they get moved to the next week too. That's why I put them on sticky notes.

8) Go through your house once a month and get rid of things that no longer bring you joy or are useful. Again, it's about being mindful and decluttering. I finally gave myself permission to dislike that glass picture frame from my godmother. It was a wedding gift. It was huge, heavy, and extraneous, kept in the living room out of obligation. Louise will understand. Good Will is one of my best friends. It's okay to throw out the old make-up and nail polish too.

9) Before buying anything, will it replace something or will it be an exciting addition?  I must confess, my days of impulse buying are long gone, whether dressing or decor. Once an item of clothing wears out, it either a) goes into my PJ drawer for a last yahoo, b) goes into a bag for Good Will, or c) gets dumped if threadbare. A necessity should be replaced (there are only so many white t-shirts you can recycle). If  I see a decorative piece I LOVE, it needs a home, NOT in the garage for SOMEDAY. It will replace something we already have NOW, evicting the singleton. By doing this over the course of many years, thoughtful treasures have been curated. Each tells a story... the ceramics from our honeymoon in Spain on the kitchen wall, Charlie Chaplin art prints scored with my mom at Two Guys back in the 80's, that pretty bone china heart from an artisan at the Verona craft fair.

10) Once I'm done running around for the day and ready for my comfy clothes, I strip and put my duds wherever they need to be - either the laundry or back in the closet. Kiss of death is to take your stuff off and throw them on the chair or the floor to deal with later. Deal with it now, later you'll want to get other stuff done, and the laundry will already be in one place for sorting. 

11) Last but not least, make your bed. Everyday. Enough said.

Divine declutter... A mindful change for life... xoxo-Sonya

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