Many studies have shown that there are health benefits of being organized including less stress, improved energy and improvement in overall health. The clutter of every day living means we have more and more things to organize. Removing the clutter and having some handy tricks will help make it easier to reduce our stress levels and get us well on our way to having time to enjoy this beautiful season.
When we meditate we try and clear our minds of all of the clutter and thoughts so that we can quiet and calm the mind and body. Frank Petter referred to Gassho, one of the 3 pillars of Reiki, as a way to bring ourselves to a meditative state; “We clean the house before the company comes.” Here are a few tips for helping you literally clean the house, de-clutter and get things more organized.
1) Start small!
Cleaning a organizing is a lot like meditation. It is difficult to go from 70,000 thoughts a day to none. It takes some practice. Don’t plan on cleaning and organizing all of the house at once and in only a few hours. Like meditation you start small and do a little bit every day. If you try and do too much at once you will run the risk of getting discouraged and quitting all together.
Go through a minimum of one drawer each day. Sure it takes longer to do the whole house but it will help you get into the habit of sorting and weeding through the unnecessary things. Let it take time as it starts to become second nature to evaluate the true need and use of things before you even put it in the drawer in the first place.
2) Attitude is Everything.
Our outlook of the task and our emotional tie to this “stuff” can play a big role in how we undertake the task or organizing and purging and how well we do. Here are a few suggestions that that you can say to yourself to help keep you in the right frame of mind.
a) “If haven’t worn it or used it in a year I am sure there is someone else who can make better use if it.
b) “Do I really need 2 things that can accomplish the same task? “
Which one do you grab for most often?
c) “If I give this away and find I really need it how much would it cost to get another one? “
You may be able to easily find the same item on Kijiji, Craig’s List or even a garage sale?
d) “If I had to downsize would these be things I would take with me?”
3) Clothes – The Math does not Compute. What we use does not equal what we need.
Some of the articles I have read state that we tend to wear 20% of our things 80% of the time. How do we figure out what we really use and what do we do with the rest?
a) Hang all of your clothes in the closet facing the opposite direction to the way you normally would hang them. After you have worn something (trying it on does not count!) hang the item facing the way you normally would. After a period of time you will have a visual assessment of what you are using what you don’t use.
b) Try putting things you are not sure you will need on the top shelf and the things you think you really need on the bottom shelf.
- Reaching for something serves as a little reminder to assess if you really need that item or is there something on the bottom shelf that will work.
- Eventually pulling too many items from the top shelf means you will run out of room on the bottom shelf. Be disciplined and do not start using the top shelves for everyday use.
- Review what is on the bottom shelf and move those least used items to the top. By the mid point of the season you now have a really good idea of what you are using.
- Get rid of what you don’t use. Donate to charity or add to your garage sale pile.
c) Similarly you can do the same with drawers. Put the items you are sure you will use in the top drawers and those you are not sure about in the bottom drawers. If you find the top drawers getting too full then review and move those least worn items to the bottom drawers.
By mid season you can easily figure out what things you have not used and can get rid of them. It only takes a few minutes because they are all neatly located in the same place.
d) Try putting your summer clothes away in the winter and vice verse. It helps to keep down the clutter but is also encourages reviewing to see what items are not needed. You will find it interesting to see which will go on the top shelf or in the top drawer this year and which will go on the bottom.
e) Exception to the rule: As with everything I think there is a place for the odd exception.
- Although you may not have worn that pretty black evening dress this season because there was not opportunity you may need to have it next year. Try to ensure that it is a classic that will be in fashion again next year or the following year. Make sure you don’t have too many of these types of things in your closet. If you didn’t need it this year what are the odds that you will need 5 of these types of outfits next year?
- Handmade items such as sweaters are often difficult to give away because of sentimental value. We know how much work someone put into making the item yet we may not have worn it. What about giving the item to someone who knows the person who made it and who will make use of the item.
3) Toys, Toys, Toys
My children are in their twenties now but I can still vividly recall the clutter of toys. Putting them in boxes and cupboards may have de-cluttered the room but it did not reduce the volume of toys that seemed to be in endless supply. I finally found a way to get the children to agree to get rid of some.
I would round up the toys and art supplies that the children were not using on a regular basis and I would put them in a box in the crawl space. When the church rummage sale or a charity called for items I would pull the boxes down to give the things away. “Out of Sight Out of Mind. If the children saw them they would make a fuss until I reminded them that they had not missed them for the entire time they were in the crawl space. They never once asked for them. I would then let them take one item out of the box and keep it. It worked like a charm and they were pleased to know that the toys were going to go to a charity. Sometimes we sold the toys at the garage sale and gave the money directly to the charity of their choice.
Using this little trick worked for the kids and now I am using it for myself. I put those really difficult things away. Those things that I really like but am not really using or ready to give up. Rather than leaving them out in full sight I put them away to see how I get along without them. Most often I find that I don’t really miss these things. Sometimes I do need something or really miss it and I will go and get it. If all of the effort of crawling around the crawl space and risking hitting my head on the beam is worth it then I go and get the item.
When the yearly rummage sale comes around I open the box and if I am really tempted I try and limit myself to only 1 item like I would do with the children. It seems to make it easier.
It can be so difficult to give up some things but it can be done.
- Children’s art work and special treasures.
I heard of a great idea about how to keep the memories of your little Picasso’s artwork. Take a picture of your children’s artwork instead of keeping all of it. Even better – take a picture of your child with their artwork. With digit cameras and digital picture frames it is easy to store, organize and display these wonderful memories and it takes very little space!
- Family Heirlooms
We have some family heirlooms that we have just acquired. Instead of trying to cram them into the cupboards and display unit we are looking at what we could move out and how we can use these items to replace older or unused items within the house.
6) Breaking the cycle of accumulating more “stuff.”
a) “Out with the old and in with the New.” As we often find, these old saying hold a lot of wisdom. If you bring something new in, have it replace something and not just add to the collection. What old thing will you put out?
b) Think about the cost relative to the number of hours you would need to work to pay for the item. For even more effect, use your after tax hourly wage which gives a more accurate accounting. This approach is a good gauge as to your level of desire for the item.
c) Will the item have multiple uses? Think of it as packing for a trip or camping. With so little space you need to limit yourself to items that you need and that can be used for more than one thing.
The scary thing is that even with trying to use these methods my house is relatively full. I have learned that I can’t expect miracles over night. By being conscious of my decisions and making it a daily practice to do a bit each day I am making new habits and I am already seeing the fruits of my labour.
Reducing our clutter and ridding ourselves of stuff is like the practice of meditation. It takes time and practice but it is well worth it.
p.s. You will note that I did not mention workshops or garages. These are my husband’s domains. I sure hope he reads this newsletter and tries putting some of these tips to good use. 😀