Clearing Out the Clutter

On: August 7, 2017

by Jen Patterson, Facilities Manager 

We all do it.  We put things in a pile, to look at later.  We put items in the closet in case we need them.  We put stuff in the basement or attic for next year, for a yard sale, for when family visits, etc.  The list could go on and on, of all our special places to put objects away for later.   Clutter piles up around us without any effort and it can build up quickly!  The trick is figuring out what to keep, where to keep it, and how long we should let our items sit before we do something with them. 

Let’s start with the mail we receive every day:

  • Notices or reminders for services or appointments – Mark it down on your calendar and if you want, paperclip the reminder to the top or side of your calendar.
  • Bills – Open and keep them until payment is made. Put them in a bin or a box near your checkbook or computer so you have the bills for easy access.  Don’t stash them in a drawer where they can be forgotten.  This can cause problems down the road. After they are paid, utility bills can be shredded right away but healthcare bills, credit card bills, etc. should be filed away and saved for one year.
  • Newspapers and magazines – Keep a basket near your favorite reading spot and drop the periodicals in there until you can read them. After you have read them recycle them!
  • Catalogs and Advertisements – If you don’t currently need anything, put them straight in the recycle bin!  If you are shopping for something, put the catalogs or advertisements in your reading basket for later.
  • Junk Mail – For the most part, these items can go straight into the recycle bin. The exception would be items containing any personal information.  If you have a shredder, use it.  Otherwise, just tear them up and put them in the trashcan or recycling bin.

From here we can move to our closets.  The best piece of advice I have received was to turn your hangers around and hook them on the rod from the back.  Each time you select a piece of clothing, turn the hanger around the right way.  If after 12 months you haven’t turned a hanger around, then it’s probably time to remove that piece of clothing from your wardrobe.

Helpful hints for organizing your closet:       

  • Don’t waste your closet space on items that have not been worn, no longer fit, or are uncomfortable. Donate them to Goodwill, Green Drop, or Salvation Army.  If you can’t get out, contact Purple Heart and they will come pick up bagged clothing.
  • Keep your closet clear to see all your items. If you shove that box to the back of the shelf or hang things in the back of the closet, chances are you will forget they are there and will not use them. 
  • Try using bins on closet shelves to sort things into smaller more manageable piles.
  • Use an organizer on the inside of the closet door for shoes, belts, scarves, hats, and gloves. You can also store batteries and light bulbs there!
  • In the medicine cabinet and kitchen pantry, throw away items that pass the expiration date. Buying items in bulk may seem like a savings, but if you end up throwing most of it away, it’s like you are throwing away the money you saved! 
  • If you find you are not using certain items in your kitchen pantry and don’t want them to go to waste, ask friends or relatives if they can use the products before disposing of them. You can also donate nonperishable items to a community food pantry.

Last, but definitely not least, is the basement and attic.  We store our holiday decorations there, our outgrown and unused items we set aside for a yard sale, the kids old toys that they may want for their children someday, etc. These areas may take a little more time to organize.

Sort items into the following piles:  Keep, Trash, Recycle, Donate, and Yard Sale/Consignment.  Here are some sorting tips:

  • Make 1 bin or box for each child. Keep only what fits in those bins.
  • If an item is broken, unless you are handy and can fix it, recycle the item or put it out for trash.
  • You only need 1 of each tool. Consider going through the tool box and removing duplicate items.
  • If you haven’t used an item in the past year, see if anyone you know can use it. If no one can, donate it!  Contact the Salvation Army or Purple Heart about small household items they will pick up.

Doing just a little bit every day will help to minimize the clutter, leaving you in a safer and more spacious living area.  Hopefully, some of your items will go on to be useful to others!

Published in the Daily Local News, August 7, 2017