Other articles I've
The following article "De-Junk
Your Home; De-Junk Your Life"
won won seventh place
in the 73rd
Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition
Clutter is everywhere in your home; clutter is
everywhere in your life, keeping you from finding what you need and
what you want. I can’t promise that getting rid of the clutter in
your home will help you get rid of the clutter in your life, but
de-junking a little of both can certainly help. This article will
help you de-junk your home, which hopefully will give you a springboard
on the life part.
I set aside a recent Saturday for a desperately
needed de-junking and organizing of my home office. I went from
total mess to an organized room in one day.
First, I collected the tools I needed to
organize: several boxes and storage containers (think Rubbermaid
in varying sizes, other specialty organizers such as boxes for photos
or magazine holders, and a trash bag or two or three... Then I
took a picture of the mess
wanted photographic evidence of the transformation.
I used the multi-box method of de-junking:
- To Deal With When I’m Done Cleaning
- To Put Away in This Room
- To Put Away in Another Room
- To Put into Storage (because I can’t let go – as little as
- To Donate or Sell
- To Trash (most of the “stuff”)
I also added two boxes for the unique challenge of
my home office:
- To File
- Crafting/Sewing Materials
My best friend during the de-junking process was the
trash bag. I had items that have been sitting around for years
without being used or even handled. I’m not talking about old tax
records or other items that must be kept, I’m talking about
“stuff”: old magazines and newspapers, greeting cards from
friends and family, junk mail that looked interesting when first
opened, knickknacks, etc. Well, I gave myself permission to throw
that stuff away. I put it in the To Donate or Sell box it if it
was still in good condition, but I had to be rid of it. Most of
the items I touched that day went straight into the trash. When in doubt, throw it out!
Amy Rehkemper, a professional organizer and founder
of A Place For Everything
), created the following list of questions to
help rid the
clutter in homes:
To Keep or Not To Keep
- Love it?
- Need it?
- Live without it?
- Last used it?
- Worst-case scenario?
- Would you buy it?
- Is it expired?
- Out of style?
I began de-junking my home office with the table I
use as a desk. Using the multi-box method, I had the table that
once overflowed with clutter cleared in five minutes! I
picked an item, put it into its appropriate box, and moved on to the
next item. No hemming and hawing, no second guessing. Then
I did the computer desk, the storage desk, the floor, the wardrobe,
etc. until everything was in one of the boxes or in the trash bag.
I took out the trash out right away. I did not
look through it again. Anything in it, I let go. The few
items in the To Be Put in Storage were placed in a Rubbermaid® bin
and moved to the attic. I set aside the To Put Away in Another
Room and To Donate or Sell boxes because I use these for all the rooms
in my house that I’m organizing.
Next, I found a home for all the items in the To Put
Away in This Room box. I do have several Rubbermaid® storage
containers in varying sizes, so organizing my crafting supplies and
gifts and, yes, some knickknacks was easy. I put photographs that
had been collecting for years into a nice box designed solely for this
purpose. I used magazine holders for the magazines I decided to
keep–mostly my copies of Woman’s
. I even used the newly-cleared bottom of the wardrobe to
store items. Finally, the To Deal With When I’m Done Cleaning
box: I put these items into a milk crate file and deal with a few
The filing I left for another day; that’s a
whole other article unto itself.
When all was said and done, I took the after picture
with my digital camera. I
proudly showed the images to my colleagues the following Monday.
When you decide to de-junk and organize your space,
remember these tips:
- Only do one room, or even one small area, at a time so you don’t
- Your best friend is the trash bag; when in doubt, throw it
- Use boxes to sort items, so you don’t have to find a home for
everything as you de-junk.
- Be quick and decisive when sorting; remember Amy's "To Keep or Not To Keep" list.
- It is okay to leave emptying the boxes to another day. You
cannot do everything at once no matter how hard you try.
In the future, whenever you’re tempted to buy
something new, think not only if you can afford it, but where will you
put it in your home. Hopefully this will prevent the clutter from
coming back into your home and back into your life.
Very Helpful Resources:
*I do not endorse these commercial websites. I simply found
their products to be useful, so I provide a link to them to help you
meet your organizational needs. -L.
Copyright © 2008 by Lori Ann Curley (including pictures, but
not the Rehkemper "To Keep or Not To Keep" list).
Do not reprint or use any part of the above without permission. To request permission for the article, send me an e-mail
. For permission for
the "To Keep or Not To Keep"
list, contact Amy Rehkemper
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