First, you will need four cardboard boxes and a large trash can. Label the boxes as follows:
- Put Away
- Set Free
Set an alarm clock to go off in one to two hours. You don’t want to overdo things! Open the closet or junk drawer and select the first object. Now we will use the four definitions of clutter to help us decide what goes in the trash can or which box to use for each item.
The trash can. You will find plenty of stuff that is absolutely unusable. Be ruthless.
The “Put Away” box. Anything goes in here that is out of place and would be better off in a more convenient location. As soon as the alarm clock goes off you will take ten minutes or so to put all the items in this box where they really belong.
The “Fix” box. If the item is damaged or missing a part, but you are certain you would use it regularly if repaired, put it in this box. Objects can only reside in the fix box for one week before they have to change residence! If you do not repair the item by week’s end it must go into the “Set Free” box.
The “Set Free” box. This box will hold items that you dislike, things you haven’t used in more than a year, orphaned gifts from friends and family (when you said, “Oh, you really shouldn’t have!”), things that still have some good use in them, things that will surely fit again “someday.” This box will go in the trunk of the car. You will take the box to a local resale store or to a charity center. Many charities will even pick up this stuff at your front door—what convenience! You will be doing a good thing, since someone will be getting some good out of these items right now.
The “Mementos” box. This one can be a bit tricky. It’s for things that have true sentimental or family heirloom value. You will want to invest in a cedar chest or other similar sized permanent storage unit. The items from this box will go into that permanent storage. But remember, that cedar heirloom chest will fill up rapidly if you are too casual about “what’s an heirloom.” Consider passing on some of these things to extended family members right now—don’t wait 20 years!
Now you are one closet closer to having a serene, uncluttered home! Next week take this same process and tackle another corner of the house!