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HomeHomes
Published: Thursday, 5/25/2006

Clutter-Free Living

One of the best ways to control stress in your life is to control your environment. Look around your home. Do the rooms appear overly busy? Is every flat surface covered? Can you see the floor in your closet? If you get tense just walking through your house, then you are probably bothered by clutter. Not everyone is bothered by clutter. I am. I can live with it for only so long. Then I have to do something about it. It seems to go in cycles. Clutter no clutter clutter. I just can t seem to get into the routine of living a clutter-free existence for any length of time. If you have the same problem, here are some suggestions for getting on track and staying clutter-free.

The first rule of thumb is to put things away as soon as you are finished with them. Don t set them down with the intention of putting them away later. You ll have to handle them twice that way and it will take time away from something else you could be doing. To eliminate the clutter in your home, tackle one room at a time. Divide the room into sections, and start with the floor. A messy floor instantly gives a room a sloppy appearance and people can get hurt stepping on items that don t belong on the floor. Tell everyone in the household the new rule: Everything must be put in its place after use. No exceptions! You must be the one to set an example, so you will have to be persistent.

After the floor, move to all flat surfaces. Tabletops, the top of the television and piano, and even the width of a windowsill will collect objects of clutter, like toys and VCR tapes. Don t allow them to remain there. They should have a permanent home somewhere else. Make one if necessary out of sight. As you pick up the clutter, look at it carefully and ask yourself if you can live without it. If the answer is yes, then put it in a give away or trash pile. If the answer is no, decide where that item belongs and put it there. Do this with everything you consider clutter. Consider lower wall space, too. When every inch of lower wall space is covered by furniture, the room looks crowded. Remove a table or bookcase to open up the space and give a more relaxed feeling to the room.

As you move from room to room, you should open every drawer and cabinet and examine their contents. Throw out old pens, broken crayons and markers that no longer write. Don t hoard things. We often hang on to things because we think we will need them some day. All too often that day never comes. And when it does and we don t have the items needed, a solution generally surfaces. Each of us can be very resourceful when we have to be, so don t hang on to excessive amounts of anything. It takes up space that could be used in better ways.

If you have children, help them get their rooms organized. Provide them with lots of see-through containers to organize toys. Stackable ones take up less space. Help them put their toys away in the correct places when they are finished with them. They will enjoy spending time in their own space if it is comfortable and they can find their favorite toys easily. You might consider shelving for the walls or even over the doorways or windows if space is at a premium. These out-of-the-way places are great for seldom used items or a collection of things your child has built himself, like model cars or Lego creations. Teach your child to keep like items together, such as books in one place and stuffed animals in another place.

If your children are of school age, provide a place of study that is free of clutter and distractions. A desk is ideal, but the dining room table works just as well. It is important that they study in the same place and at the same time every day. Create an accessible craft center, a bookcase or cabinet that holds coloring books, markers, craft paper, glue and scissors for those special school projects. The kids will know exactly where to look for the items they need, and more importantly, they will know where to put them when they are finished. For young children, the dining room serves as a great location for both study and the craft center. That way, Mom can keep an eye on things.

Bedroom closets are notorious for getting out of control. Do you have too many pairs of shoes? Try them all on and discard any that no longer fit. Our feet continue to grow as we get older and you d be surprised how many shoes don t fit from one year to the next. So get rid of the old and make room for the new.

In the bathroom, empty the medicine cabinet and throw away old makeup and prescriptions. Keep a moderate supply of towels, soaps and cleaning supplies on hand; anything else that isn t absolutely necessary should be kept elsewhere.

Often the center of the home, kitchens tend to collect the most clutter. Train your family to take their belongings with them when they leave the kitchen and you won t have so much to pick up. There are all kinds of containers you can purchase to organize cabinets, pantries and drawers. Shop around and find items that work for your lifestyle.

Once you have made the decision to live clutter-free, your life will be less stressful. But you must be persistent and unfailing in your attempts. It s not easy. As a matter of fact, it s downright hard in the beginning. But if you stay with it, you ll be into a routine before you know it and won t think twice about putting something away as soon as you are finished with it. You will come to love those empty, flat surfaces and the way they make your rooms look larger.



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