Clutter can be an enemy to personal and professional effectiveness.
That is why I have taken the time to shed light on clutter. In my article, “The 411 on Clutter,” I explored exactly what clutter is. Then in my article, “Where Does Clutter Come From,” I revealed the various sources which can create clutter. Now, let’s look at why clutter lingers and how to get rid of clutter.
Nanci McGraw, author of Organized for Success! 95 Tips for Taking Control of Your Time, Your Space, and Your Life shares that “clutter stays because you:
- Don’t know where to file it or put it away;
- Are overwhelmed by the thought of hauling it out and sorting through it;
- Might need it again soon;
- Think someone else will need it;
- Were interrupted and never got back to it;
- Don’t have any other place for it;
- Remember when you couldn’t afford it;
- Have gotten use to it and don’t even notice it anymore;
- Haven’t decided what to do with it; and
- Might have a use for it someday.”
Seeing these reasons as to why clutter lingers hits home for me.
What about for you?
For me, I feel as if I have a better understanding as to why I haven’t been as successful in clearing out clutter from my living and office spaces lately. Having words for what I couldn’t explain makes me feel better – in a way.
When I see the reasons, “don’t know where to file it or put it away; don’t have any other place for it; might need it again soon; or are overwhelmed by the thought of hauling it out and sorting through it,” I think, “Yes, that’s me!”
Is that you?
Do any of these reasons explain why clutter has lingered in your home and/or office space?
Do you feel as if you now have more clarity as to why you haven’t been able to get rid of your clutter?
I know I do.
Clutter can accumulate – fast.
Then, with the passing of time, before you realize it, you have years and years and years’ worth of clutter you must sort through and get rid of.
In my quest to de-clutter, I look to an example I once had who knew how to consistently de-clutter. I consider her to be my role model for de-cluttering.
A former boss, she demonstrated that de-cluttering had to be a consist process of living.
I remember how my de-cluttering role model implemented a plan where the staff de-cluttered at the end of the year to prepare for the new year.
Her philosophy was our department only had the space we had. We couldn’t add anymore filing cabinets, bookshelves, or storage units. We couldn’t adjust a cubicle wall to make additional space for our department.
She encouraged us not to hold onto any unnecessary files, documents, or items. We kept essential files and got rid of anything which was no longer needed.
She reminded us that we only had the space we had, and we couldn’t get anymore. Therefore, we had to maximize the use of our space by minimizing our departmental clutter.
For me, this was a different way of thinking because I thought I needed to keep EVERYTHING!
I learned from my de-cluttering role model that it’s not necessary to keep EVERYTHING. You keep the essentials, but you get rid of the unnecessary.
In thinking back to how my de-cluttering role model had us to remove clutter as a staff, here are five techniques we used to stop clutter from taking over our lives:
TECHNIQUE #1: Get rid of it
If you can get it from somewhere else or from someone else, you can get rid of it.
That’s easier said than done, isn’t it?
As a department, we had shared drives and files in which we saved essential information. We also made sure we knew who the originator of information was – just in case we needed to get access to something later. In that environment, it was easier to get rid of it.
Now, especially in my home environment, with my personal clutter, I must remind myself to get rid of it. Perhaps, in that case, it’s not because I can get it from someone else or from somewhere else which lets me get rid of it. Maybe I can get rid of it simply because I don’t need it anymore. That reason should help me to get rid of some of my clutter.
How about for you? What can you get rid of?
TECHNIQUE #2: Store it
Many times, we have clutter because we don’t have the appropriate way in which to keep items. Determine the best container, shelf or storage unit to use for storing the items you want to keep.
But be careful. You can end up with storage unit upon storage unit which will then create more clutter!
I did that a few years ago. I bought bins for shoes. A storage unit for winter clothes. Filing units for my books, training materials, and business paperwork. Before I knew it, I had more clutter taking up my living space.
This time, however, I have a limited number of storage units. I am constantly accessing what I put in those units. When it appears, the unit is running out of space, I review what I can take out by giving it away, filing it away somewhere else, if needed, or throwing it away altogether.
This way, I can efficiently use the storage units I have without creating more clutter by adding more storage units.
How about you? Do you have an efficient way to store what you must keep?
TECHNIQUE #3: Organize it
Put items away where they belong. Make sure the items have a home.
When books can go on a shelf; dirty clothes in a hamper; coats on a rack; buttons in a case; or files in a cabinet, you have a better chance of minimizing clutter.
Where can you organize the clutter lingering in your space right now?
TECHNIQUE #4: Cancel it
Subscriptions can be cancelled if you’re looking at piles of magazines more than you’re reading a magazine.
That goes for e-zines, blogs, etc.
If the message is cluttering your inbox or being sent to a special folder without being read, cancel the subscription.
Which subscriptions must you cancel?
TECHNIQUE #5: Plan it
Set aside some time each day to get rid of clutter.
If each day does not work for your schedule, pick a certain day in the week. Sunday or Wednesday can be a target day to focus on de-cluttering.
You can even target a certain month to focus on de-cluttering. March or April are usually the target months for de-cluttering thanks to “Spring Cleaning.” Or, December can be selected as the month to de-clutter. This was the month my de-cluttering role model had us use because it paved the way for the new year.
For you, it can be any time you choose. The key is to plan a specific time to de-clutter.
As I said, these were the primary techniques my department used to de-clutter.
I was good at using these techniques then. I must become comfortable using these techniques now.
How about you? Will these techniques help you to stop clutter from taking over your life?