How to Use This Guide

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Low-Maintenance Living

If you survived the quiz, it’s a good bet that you’re ready to commit yourself to your own clutter countdown. Rather than flip ping a coin to determine where to start, you’ll want to glance back at the results of the quiz.

Then flip to the category of clutter that's giving you the most trouble. All of the categories are listed alphabetically, so if you’ve got mountains of magazines, for example, go to the M’s.

Most clutter categories are noted with a see also. These cross-references will direct you to another category of clutter that you might be having trouble with. For example, under Magazines, you’ll find see also Desk, Mail, and National Geographic.

Many people who have trouble with magazine clutter also have trouble with desk clutter and mail clutter, and , for National Geographic subscribers, there’s a category of clutter for that magazine all its own. So check the “see also’s” to see if another clutter hot spot of yours is noted.

If it is, you can turn to that section for more information on how to tackle that area of clutter as well.

Since clutter tends to spread from one area and category to another, the chances are good that you’ll be flipping to more than a few see also cross-references.

Some of the principles are repeated throughout the guide; this is because overlapping areas of clutter often benefit from the same clutter control techniques (i.e., Mail and Papers).

As you work on weeding out and eliminating your clutter, refer to the Storage: Clutter Containers section, where you’ll find descriptions of lots of inexpensive storage ideas to help you contain your must-keep clutter. To determine whether or not you should store something, refer to the section in the titled To Store or Not to Store. For help in how to give away or recycle your clutter, see Recycling Your Clutter Cast-offs. And the Resource Helpline section gives you the names and addresses of organizing professionals and manufacturers of organizational products and systems. You’ll be able to turn to these resources as you start reorganizing and storing the clutter that you can’t bear to part with.

Finally, after you’ve used this reference guide to conquer your clutter problem areas, you can use the section Clutterbusters to Live By to keep the remaining clutter, along with any incoming clutter, under control.

It couldn’t be simpler, really. Just read what you need when you need it. An application of the principles and tips in this guide, along with some determination and consistent effort on your part, could mean a new you. Once you’ve become organized and have a clutter-free environment, you’ll have lots of time to put your best foot forward without tripping over the clutter. So what are you waiting for? On your mark, get set, go!

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