I woke up this morning and it began again. I will face this battle until I go to sleep at night. It is a lifelong struggle that worsened when I had children. I am riddled with piles. Piles everywhere - some small, some huge, some hidden and some open for all to see. Piles of clutter. If I don't take control of it, it will take over our lives - we will be buried in it. I may even die from it .
OK, I am being melodramatic, perhaps even a touch of obsessive compulsive, but there are some days when the piles of clutter really get to me. I've tried to organize, I've tried to show people where things go, but it's a fruitless battle. Know what I mean? Once my medical studies resume, the clutter pile grows huge again until a break' comes when I can finally sort it out.
My day begins with finding clothes from my pile (a longer story, for later). My kids grab shoes and school bags from the shoe pile by the door. We have a shoe rack but I am the only one who puts things in it. Sometimes I come by and some goblin has emptied the entire rack all over the floor. During the day, when cupboards are opened I usually retrieve things from another pile. Freshly laundered clothes are left on a chair in a pile ready to be put away. Dirty laundry sits nearby in another HUGE pile.
Our local waste disposal has become rather rigid about the environment and we are now sorting our trash far more diligently. On principle I totally agree, but this seems to have added to my sense of being overwhelmed. For example, food waste now has a separate container, plastic, paper, cans, bottles and regular trash must be sorted. All recycling should be washed, so I have to wash it before it will be taken. There are different piles of 'trash' everywhere. Arghhh!
Don't get me wrong, I am actually quite clean and tidy. I've become adept at hiding piles. Of our six dining room chairs, two have permanent piles. No one puts books on the shelf after reading them, they are simply left wherever to build up into another pile. Paperwork, bills, mail and so on, there are several piles for those. Then there is the kids stuff - oh dear. Toys, drawings, handmade crafts, you name it. For fear of hurting feelings, I allow these to build up until I can take no more. They think the vacuum sucks up everything of any size. So every now and there the vacuum is coming out' threat works wonders for seeing clean up. Well, a sort-of clean up, merely a pile moved from here to there.
Now I don't have a professional organizer, or a cleaner, but over the next two weeks I am going to sort this out once and for all. Well, perhaps only until it mysteriously builds up again.
I've gathered some tips for sorting out piles. I will try my best to use them.
- Know where your essential items are- bills, keys and so on, should always have a single designated space. An in-tray and an out-tray works wonders. Pop your keys on a key hook.
- Give it away or return it. Have you got too many things? Clothes that don't fit, things you never wear. A glamorous friend has a policy - if she doesn't look fabulous in an item of clothing she won't buy it or wear it. She has less clothes as a result but always looks amazing. With things that you've borrowed, give them back to the original owner or donate to charity. You can do all this sorting in a day and get rid of things. There's something oddly satisfying about clearing clutter and seeing how many bags you've filled.
- Items of sentimental value. Some people are more ruthless than I, but I do have lots of things of sentimental value. I still try and purge them, by asking myself if this was lost, how would I feel? If I wouldn't really mind, I get rid of it.
- Kids stuff - I've got several wicker baskets, I ask them to put things in there. When they become overflowing we sort them out together. Throw away broken toys, donate to charity and so on. Only keep toys that are age appropriate. Their bedrooms are allowed to get super messy. My friend once said, kids room's that's their domain, let them get messy, they are supposed to be messy'. This is the only room that they control (to a point). No food is allowed, and eventually when things become too much, we go in together and sort it out.
- Annoying junk - put a sign up outside tell them not to drop free flyers, newspapers and so on on your doorstep. Sign up with one of the services that allows you to take your name off direct mailing lists. I also took this one step further recently with a friend, infact someone who I haven't seen for 6 years. She sends me joke emails all the time - drove me crazy. After 8 years of this, and not wanting to hurt her feelings, I finally had enough. I sent one email - "take me off your joke email list". It worked!!! Yippeee. So go on, be brave.
- Magazines, medicines, food and other gear! You'll be amazed how many out-of-date medicines and foods can accumulate in a short space of time. When cooking a meal at my mother-in-laws once, I asked for some basil. I picked up the jar displayed on a nice looking spice rack. Hmmm, 1977 was the date imprinted. No thanks. Set aside 15 minutes and go through it all, safely dispose of any items. Magazines can also build up and have a life of their own at times. Take some time, tear out recipes etc. that you want to keep and put them in a file. Then of course, recycle them!
eBay - gotta love it. Sell anything that you don't want to part with for free. You'll be surprised how many people want your old clutter in their homes!
Now, if only I could do these things myself!
Join us in our become clutter free discussion!