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January 2007: New Year's Resolutions

It’s that time of year again; time for New Year’s resolutions! If you have decided that 2007 is the year that you are going to lose that clutter and get organized, I can help. I have noticed a trend where people because of their busy lives don’t take the time to sift through their stuff. The end result after a week, a month, a year is that they are totally overwhelmed and don’t want to just throw things out because they may be tossing something useful. But because they don’t take time to deal with the piles they cannot find things and the piles keep growing. It’s a vicious circle.

The first thing you need to do is map out some time. Schedule a de-cluttering session into your day. Do this regularly (15 minutes a day or an hour a week). Spend this time going through your stuff. I like Sunday mornings when everyone in my house is asleep. I get up and make myself a cup of coffee and I sort through all the papers I have accumulated throughout the week (mail, school notices etc.) I make an action pile, a recycling pile, a pile to be shredded, and finally a “to file” pile. Once I have completed my task, I immediately deal with these piles by putting them where they belong. This takes me about 30 – 45 minutes depending on how much stuff I have. I have certain rules around using this method. Every single piece of mail that comes into my house is opened immediately and scanned. Then it is put into the pile if it is something I need to read. If it is a bill to be paid, it is immediately put in my “Pay bills” file.

Two things I can almost guarantee when you don’t open your mail regularly: you will miss opportunities and deadlines! So often, people don’t open their mail thinking they will deal with it later and it becomes buried under a mountain of other paper. When they do finally open it, they realize they have missed a party, or an important deadline. I recommend always opening your mail even if you are 100% sure it’s your monthly bank statement. You never know when there may be discrepancies and you have a limited time to address the issue (often 30 days).

One thing I notice when people de-clutter is that they always find money! I’m not kidding. I cannot remember being at a client’s house when they didn’t find a check or some money they didn’t know they had.

I recommend taking the time to go through things before chucking them out. I know a lot of you minimalist will not agree but then again you cannot understand why we packrats go into this mess in the first place. We need the satisfaction and peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything we: donated, recycled or threw out was something that we did not need. I don’t suggest you spend years sorting through old stuff but I do recommend that you at least look through each and every box and bag to make sure that you are not throwing away something truly valuable. Value is in the eyes of the beholder. I say that if something is truly meaningful to you, then treat it with respect and give it a place of honour in your home. If something is collecting dust and mould in your basement or attic then maybe it’s time to give it the old heave ho!

Start scheduling your de-cluttering sessions now and before you know it you will be done and you will have the space and time that you have been longing for!