A Place for Everything

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Low-Maintenance Living

One of the keys to clutter control is to have a place for every thing. This can be difficult when clutter has usurped nearly every available space, creating an unending mass of confusion.

Caught hopelessly in the middle of the muddle, the bewildered owner/ perpetrator can barely begin to figure out where to start, much less find a place for everything. These guidelines should help you get along, then figure out what belongs where.

1. First, commit to organizing the clutter in one complete area without stopping (such as a room or a closet), knowing that you may have to spend a significant amount of time on your project.

Either set aside a half day (minimum) or tell yourself that you won’t stop until two closets or the garage or the bathrooms are done.

2. Set up large cardboard cartons labeled CHARITY, TOSS, and ELSEWHERE. That way, when you come across some thing that goes in another room, you can put it in the ELSEWHERE box, and put those things in the proper room at the end of the day. Otherwise you’ll end up running all over the house, interrupting yourself over and over as you transfer items to other rooms.

3. Next, empty the target area of all clutter. Pull it out into another area (the hall or onto the bed) sorting as you go.

4. If you’re not sure where something belongs, think about keeping items as close to their point of first use as possible.

Dishes should be in cabinets near the sink or dishwasher, pens and paper belong near the telephones and in the desk, and videotapes or DVDs should be kept near the VCR or DVD player. (Also keep duplicate items where it would make sense.

Keeping scissors in the bathroom and on the desk can eliminate searching for and moving the scissors every time you need to clip something.)

5. What’s left stays in that room’s closet. Remember to group like items together and keep them in clutter containers (i.e., all of the underwear goes in the same area with drawer dividers to keep it separated, and all of the bobby pins and hair clips go together in containers in one area).

6. When you are finished, take the contents of the TOSS box out to the trash. Bag it tightly so that no one in the family can dig through it to retrieve items. Put the CHARITY box in the car, and the next time you go out, drop it off. Put the box marked ELSEWHERE into the hail to be sorted and carried to other rooms.

7. Reward yourself when you are done, and keep repeating this process until you have licked all of the clutter in your life. The reward system is limited only by your desires and imagination. Some possible rewards that you can give your self are:

  • Lunch at an expensive restaurant
  • A massage
  • A gigantic ice cream sundae
  • An afternoon movie
  • A round of golf
  • A facial
  • A manicure and /or pedicure
  • A day at the beach or park with a good book
  • An evening out at a concert or a play

8. In the future, when clutter starts to get out of control, stop and take twenty minutes to pick up the room. Put every thing in the right room—you can put it away within that room later. Toys go in the kids’ room or the playroom, dirty clothes and towels go in the hamper or laundry room, dirty dishes go in the dishwasher, papers and magazines go in a reading stack, and jackets go in the coat closet. Later, when you have more time, you can put things away more specifically (toys in toy chest, unread newspapers in trash, etc.).

9. Always be looking for ways to make effective and creative use of clutter storage containers, boxes, racks, and bins. Trunks and functional furniture that can hold items and also be used as furniture can help you designate specific places for clutter. For instance, games can be stored in a trunk that can also be used as a game table for children by placing a table top on the trunk.

10. Make an ongoing effort to get rid of things you never use, so that those things don’t pile up into clutter mounds that you keep moving from place to place. A CHARITY box should always be on hand to hold those items. The minute it gets full, bag the items and get them out of the house and down to the charity’s location. Let them deal with the clutter you don’t need.

Follow these guidelines and , believe it or not, you too will find yourself with a place for everything, and everything in its place.
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