According to a recent study, “Get Organized” is second, only behind “Lose Weight”, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.  Whether you make resolutions or not, if you’re ready to lose pounds of fat or pounds of “stuff” you need to commit and make a conscious decision to do things differently.

When it comes to clutter, one of the biggest contributors (be it paper, clothes, or kid’s toys) is your inability to make a decision.  Why does the mail keep piling up?  Because you are too busy to go through it or you have not made the time to deal with it, so you keep delaying the process.  Why are there piles of toys sitting in your living room?  Because you have not decided on the proper home for them or you have more than you need and it’s difficult for you to get rid of things.  All your “I need to’s” and “I have to’s” are cluttering your mind and stressing you out because you have not decided how to handle them.  This is why the clutter is there, because you could not make a decision.  Make a decision now and watch those piles disappear!

Don’t Put Off Your Decisions – “Clutter is Postponed Decisions™,” so decide now not later.  When you bring something into your home or office, make a decision about where it’s going to live, and put it there.  When you’re finished with a project or task, clean up instead of rushing off to the next task.  The longer something sits, the less likely you’ll come back to it.  And usually what starts as a small clean up job becomes a much bigger one.  Make it easier and act now, not later.

Eliminate The Excess – The only way to get rid of your piles is to dive in and sort into keep or toss (which includes recycle, shred, or donate).  Get rid of the obvious trash– the broken items, the papers that are no longer relevant, the toys your kids outgrew long ago, etc.  Once the excess is eliminated it’s much easier to decide what you are going to do with the items you keep.

Containerize – Keeping like items together makes it easier to find something when you need and it.  When you use bins for toys, baskets for school or medical supplies, or dedicated drawers with dividers for tools and household hardware, etc. it’s less like that those items will spread and get out of control.  The same goes for paper clutter; in-trays, magazine holders, desktop file holders, and file cabinets are ideal for keeping paper piles from cluttering all the horizontal surfaces in your home or office.

Involve Your Family – In any home, there is usually one person who sets up the systems (I don’t want to generalize here, but it’s usually the woman:-).  If you want your home to stay organized, you need to involve your entire family in the process.  Show them the bins you set up, label containers so they know where to find things and where to return them, make it easy for them to access the most commonly used items so they can easily return them when not in use.  Things won’t always be perfect, but you can quickly recover when everything has a home and everyone knows where things go.

Dedicate a Space – If you truly want to reduce the clutter that surrounds you, everything needs a home.  Every item should have a dedicated place to live.  The items used more frequently should be easily accessible, while items used less often should be in a garage, attic, or hard to reach cabinet.  Look around your home and decide the purpose of every closet, cabinet, drawer, or storage bin.  Create a space for the items that belong there, and when they are not in use, that is where those items need to live.

Enjoy Your Success – When the piles are gone and you’re space is lighter from all the trash you took away, you want to celebrate.  Treat yourself to an activity you enjoy, invest in a storage piece you’ve always wanted, or relish in the serenity of your newly organized space.  You deserve a reward for hard work and a job well done!

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