Clutter & Organizing

Blackberry Ballet

by Barbara George

People often ask me "how do I get organized?" There are several things I can say to them. One is "Well, remember the old story about how to eat an elephant? It is pretty much the same with getting organized. One bite at a time." You are asking yourself, I am sure, what in the world does any of that have to do with BLACKBERRIES? Let me tell you…

Last spring, I decided to eliminate about 2 acres of overgrown blackberries on our property. Anyone out there ever tried to do this (without chemicals)? NOT fun. Just like the elephant story – you stand at the edge, you chip away at a bit, you gather it up, get rid of it and go a bit further. If you stand in one place too long, I swear the blackberry vines grow around your feet!

Some of these vines were 60-70 feet long reaching high into the trees. Some of the walls of vines were 3 and 4 feet deep! Well, before you ask what funny farm I ended up at — let me tell you! I did get through about 1-1⁄2 acres. The Blackberry Ballet goes like this: Cut, pull, rake, move and burn! Over and over and over. Then the hard part came. Some very large tree stumps had to be moved — not my job. A wonderful guy came in with a backhoe and tractor and did that bunch. It took me 6 weeks to accomplish my part (he was here 2 days).

My reasons for doing this job the way I did were two-fold:
A) I really didn’t know any other way. B) I had a feeling … deep into what seemed to be walls of just blackberries … were patches of natural wonders left from generations ago. Huge boulders with moss and ferns waiting for sunlight to reach them. Dogwood trees, not seen in years. Wild Iris. An old logging road leading to a small creek. These are all things I ‘found’on my journey to the "Blackberry Ballet." These were my "pay-offs."

Organizing can be much like the Blackberry Ballet. Whether it be a stack of papers or 3 years of laundry. You chip away at it bit by bit. Once cleared, you find what needs to be put back and make it better than it was. Does it ever need attention again? Yes. Just as the blackberries need attention — so does the clutter. You have to stay on top of it or your ‘pay-off’ disappears. And, when you ‘hit the stump’ of an old tree, and you need back-up, you can call in a person to assist you!

Written by Barbara George, All rights reserved. Professional Organizer and President of Clean Slate Organizational Consulting _www.cleanslateconsulting.com_

Discovering Bonus Storage Space — Right In Your Own Home

by Lois Breneman

All of us have probably said how we need more storage space in our homes. First of all, getting rid of all those things we really don’t need will cut way down on the needed storage space. Then how about investigating every available space in your home and putting it to good use if you are still in need of more storage space? In many cases it is available and just waiting to be found! Here are some clues as to where you can discover extra bonus space right in your own home!

Hang a clear vinyl pocket organizer inside the linen closet to hold bandaids, small tubes of medications, a thermometer, ball syringes, etc. Everything will be easy to see and locate quickly when needed.

Hang another clear vinyl pocket organizer inside the coat closet for sunglasses, gloves, scarves, fold up umbrellas, etc.

Hang more clear vinyl pocket organizers inside your children’s closet doors, unless the doors are louvered. I’m sure you will agree that small things stored in these pockets are so much better than scattered all around their rooms! And everything will all be visible through the clear vinyl!

If you are in the process of building or remodeling your home, you may want to consider adding one built-in locker for each family member – near the door, all in a row. I have seen this plan carried out in the home of a friend and the mother raved how they all loved the convenience of keeping each person’s coat, boots, gloves, school books, backpack, etc. right by the door. The mother also loved how each person was responsible for his or her own personal locker! A great idea!

If you have a deep closet or pantry where things seem to get lost, store items on trays that can be pulled out, so you have full access to everything and are able to find what you need.

Small round wooden tables that can be purchased for as little as $5 (on sale) can provide lovely hidden storage! With a round tablecloth draped down to the floor, no one will ever know what you have hidden there and it provides a nice decorative touch to a bedroom, living room, family room, great room, dining room or sunroom. A round piece of glass can be purchased to set on top of the tablecloth for protection from spills. A large round lacy doily or a smaller square piece of contrasting fabric placed over the tablecloth can change the whole appearance.

Use empty decorative ceramic containers for storage, as well as decoration. Examples: Pretty ginger jars, covered ceramic dishes, vases or teapots. Painted milk cans can hold umbrellas.

In the bathroom install shelves to set on or above the tank of the commode for additional space. Every bathroom can use more storage and this is an excellent space to use.

Use a hanging shelf that slips over the shower head to hold shampoo, conditioner and razors.

A shallow overhead shelf or two up high at the end of the bathtub is another possibility.

Slide under-the-bed boxes — where else but under the beds! I’m sure you can think of something to store in those (gifts, out-of-season shoes or clothing, etc.).

Have you thought of storing things under sofas and chairs with skirts? Yes, even there!

A shallow cabinet (about one or two inches deep) would be sufficient to hold necklaces and bracelets with cup hooks or even push pins to hold them. Hang it behind a bedroom door where it would be protected by a rubber door stop. A beautiful painting could even be attached to the front. Or use the space in the back of your bedroom closet to hang necklaces and bracelets. Many closets have wooden strips around the wall for the shelves. Insert push pins into the wood to hang necklaces and bracelets. This works great and keeps them out of sight.

Hang bookshelves along the wall above a desk or computer to make good use of
that unused space.

In many homes it would work to enclose the area under the stairs for storage, with a door. It’s amazing how much can be stored there.

Inside a closet door, attach lightweight plastic-covered wire shelves designed to slip over the back of a door or fastened onto the inside of the door. This will hold so much and keep all the contents right at your fingertips.

If a closet has too much empty space between the shelves, add another shelf or two for more organized storage and better use of the space.

Look carefully at each closet and find a way to use all the available space. By using baskets, square plastic tubs or plastic shoe boxes (with lids) on closet shelves, they can be stacked to maximize the available space. Be sure to label all containers to make it easy to locate various items.

Under-the-shelf storage can be purchased in plastic-coated wire to be slipped on a shelf to make use of that unused space under the shelf.

Building shelves directly above your washer and dryer is a great idea, because that is normally wasted space. Use either open shelves or enclosed cabinets for laundry supplies and many other items.

Stacking makes use of extra space. At least three six drawer organizers (without the wheels attached, of course) can be stacked to provide organized storage for papers, audio tapes, office supplies, scrapbooking supplies, rubber stamping supplies, sewing supplies, crafts, etc.

Add an extra shelf to the floor of a closet, simply raising the shelf up with two bricks on each end. This will provide extra storage space for shoes. Use a board that you stained, painted to match the room or covered with matching contact paper.

In a child’s room, stuffed animals could be stored and displayed in mesh, hanging from the ceiling in a corner of the room. You can find fish netting in stores for this purpose.

Shelves built around one or more walls about 12 to 18 inches below the ceiling of a child or teen’s room provide not only storage, but decoration as well. The personality and interests of your child can be displayed for your enjoyment and theirs.

Continue looking for unused space in your home. Hopefully these ideas of finding bonus storage space in your home will help us all to be more organized.

The purpose of the Heart to Heart Newsletter is to bring practical encouragement to women through creative ideas for the Christian familyˆ regarding homemaking, marriage, children and so much more. Receive this bimonthly newsletter by e-mailing [email protected] You will then be asked to send your name, city, state, and the name of the person who referred you.

Used by Permission – © 2004 – Revised 2005 – From The Heart to Heart Newsletter

Systematize and Simplify

By: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore
Article courtesy of MediaPeak,

During thirty years as a Time Management speaker and consultant, I have learned and shared a lot of simple practices that help my audiences to increase their daily results. A lot of time is wasted because we don’t have a system in place for many of the repetitive tasks we do so that we have to pay over and over again, with our time, for the same results.

So here’s one neat tip: systematize. (I don’t think this is really a word, but hey, if no one invents new words, how will our language grow?) Systematize is the simple procedure of creating a routine way of responding to a myriad of tasks that will free our time for more important things. We can systematize in all areas of our life. Here are a few places you may wish to begin.

1. Standard text documents. I have dozens of documents in "My Documents" section of my computer. These include a lot of the articles that people request through our website and standard letters I send out for business and personal contacts, and standard information documents (like directions to our office). Most of the information I need to send to respond to my emails is there or easily modified and tailored so that I don’t have to type out a lot of repetitive information.

2. A single calendaring system. Some people use as many as a dozen ways of tracking their appointments and scheduled events and their "To Do" list items. There’s a calendar for work and one for personal things. There’s stuff lying out on the desk reminding us what needs to be done. The dentist appointment card is on the bathroom mirror and the dry cleaner claim slip is hanging from the visor in the car. The softball schedule is on the refrigerator and we have several other commitments in our heads. Boil this all down to a single system. I use Daytimer products, but whatever product you feel comfortable with is fine. Just make it a simple, singular, master system from which you take control of appointments and scheduled events and your "To Do" list items.

3. Clean up the messy desk or work area. Studies have shown that the person who works with a messy desk spends, on average, one and a half hours per day looking for things or being distracted by things. That’s seven and a half hours per week! ("Out of sight, out of mind." And the reverse of that is true too, "In sight, in mind".) And, it’s not a solid block of an hour and a half, but a minute here and a minute there, and like a leaky hot water faucet, drip, drip, drip, it doesn’t seem like a major loss, but at the end of the day, we’re dumping gallons of hot water down the drain that we are paying to heat. If you have ever visited the office of a top manager, typically, that person is working with a clean desk environment. Many would attribute this result to that person’s access to other staff members. While there may be some truth in that conclusion, in most cases, if we went back some years in that person’s career, they probably were working with a clean desk back then which gave them the focus they needed to become promoted to where they are today.

4. Have adequate supplies. Some people spend a lot of their productive time looking for a pen or a pad of paper or staples for their stapler. Have enough pens, pencils, yellow markers, "sticky notes", writing pads, fax paper, printer cartridges, updated telephone directories, staples, "Wite Out", report forms, index cards, paper clips, rolls of adding machine tapes, etc.

5. Make your physical surroundings workable. Move the fax machine closer (or further away!) from your desk. Have the most frequently used and needed files within arms reach and the less frequently required items further out. Have adequate space at your desk to do what you need to do. Remove some unnecessary items, if necessary, to make room.

6. Set up a functional briefcase. I travel a lot and am out of my office at seminars or meetings with clients requiring that I tote along a briefcase. In addition to the stuff I need for where I am going, I have my briefcase stocked with a lot of neat things like a calculator, a pocket map of the United States, basic office supplies (writing pads, pens, yellow markers, small stapler, paper clips, stamps and a few envelopes), blank checks, a few deposit slips, a paperback book I have been intending to read, and at least one project I can work on if I get stuck in traffic or am waiting for the meeting to begin. It gives me more choices.

7. Schedule maintenance. The equipment you use, your car, stuff around the house, and oh yeah, you. You know your car needs to be serviced. Why wait for a breakdown to get it done and spend more time on what could have been accomplished in less time? (You still need a tune-up, but now you have to wait for the tow truck to arrive.) Regular medical and dental checkups save huge amounts of time in our future by fixing small conditions before they become major costly issues.

8. Catalog contacts. Develop and maintain your contacts list so that networking can enhance your future with the contacts you make. A computer-based program such as ACT is excellent, but even a simple 3×5 card system will work. Keep track of a growing list of contacts, help them at every turn and they will be there to help you.

Dr. Donald E. Wetmore is a Professional Speaker.
Visit his Productivity Institute website.

Letting Go of Clutter In Your Office

by Angie Dixon

Some people would say I’m the last person in the world to be writing about clearing out clutter; I seem to accumulate so much of it. But I also get rid of it, when it reaches the point of bothering me.

That’s the first thing about clearing out clutter. Everyone has a threshold at which the clutter starts to bother them. My husband’s threshold is much lower than mine, and when he starts clearing out, I jump in and help him. But in my office, things go to my threshold and no further—usually. Recognizing your threshold and working within it is the first key to letting go of clutter. If it’s really not bothering you, and you can find everything you need, it’s not essential to tackle it right away.

The second key to letting go of clutter is to bring the recycle bin (for paper without staples) and the large kitchen trash can (for everything else) into your office and put them beside the desk, which is clutter central in most offices. Get a box of manila file folders, a box of hanging file folders, and a plastic file box, the kind with a handle that you can get for about ten bucks at a big office supply store. And a pen.

Pick up every piece of paper off your desk, one sheet or sheaf at a time. Start with paper because there’s usually more of it than anything else. Don’t touch anything twice. When you pick it up either put it in the recycle bin (remove staples first), put it in the trash if it can’t go in the recycle, or put it in a folder, label the folder, and put the folder, inside a hanging folder, in the plastic file box. Don’t worry about organizing the files. Just get everything out of site and off your desk. Get two or three boxes if you need them. They stack nicely out of the way against the wall.

Once the paper is off your desk, you should be able to see the surface, which will probably be littered with books, pens, soda cans, memo pads, and CDs, if it looks anything like my desk. Take one category at a time, like CDs, and put all of them away. Then books, and so on.

The rest of your office may be cluttered in the same way as your desk, with stacks of papers and books scattered around. Use the same method. Start with the paper, don’t touch anything twice, and declutter by category—CDs, books, etc. after the paper.

De-cluttering doesn’t have to mean deep-cleaning, though you may get motivated and do that. Really it just means getting the clutter out of the way so you can work. Letting go of it is as simple as realizing you don’t need it where it is right this minute, and putting it somewhere else—even if that somewhere else is the recycle bin.

A good rule of thumb is, if you can get that piece of paper again, especially by printing it off your computer, you don’t need to keep it. Now, you might, if it’s important. But just use this as a rule of thumb.

Happy clearing!

About The Author
Angie Dixon helps small business owners get their acts together. She is a personal development coach specializing in helping people integrate their home and work lives so they feel less stretched and more balanced. Get her FREE EBOOK on balance. For questions or to discover how coaching can change your life, contact Angie at mailto:[email protected]

You are free to use this article in ezines, web sites and print publications. If you do use it, please send a quick email to mailto:[email protected] Thank you.

Opt-Out of Junk Mail and Marketing Calls

Much of the junk mail we get comes from mailing lists sold by credit card companies. They want you to charge more! You can get off of these mailing lists for a period of five years or permananently by visiting the website below.

How about all those phone calls? The Direct Marketing Association maintains phone and mailing lists also, so be sure to visit that link below too.

We did this about a year ago and it really works! It’s amazing how little mail we get now and as far as phone calls. Maybe once a month .. and they are non-profits which I understand can’t be blocked from calling.

Be sure to do each person in your family! That makes a difference.

Credit Card Companies

The Direct Marketing Association

  Organizing Paperwork

Q.  I would like to get some tips on how to better organize my bills, coupons, mail, magazines, newspaper ads, receipts, etc. I have a file but it is overloaded with old paperwork from last year.

Take all of last years paperwork and box it up and mark it with the year. I do this on New Years day every year. Fred B.

I used to be a "stacker". My life was secretly unorganized because I managed to keep my messes "stacked". A pile of papers on my desk, a pile of papers on my dining room table, a pile of mail in my kitchen. Then I read a great book…"How Not To Be A Messie". I bought a rolling file container from Target, and keep it under my sink. Things that consistently causing the messies…mail, bills to pay, things to file (in my bigger cabinet in the basement), school info, things to read…everything has a file in my rolling cabinet. Every month (you could do it weekly…) I file the Things to File in my bigger cabinet, pay the bills and start over again. I also had to RETRAIN myself and no longer open every piece of mail I receive. I bought a shredder at Wal*Mart and now used shredded YOU’RE PRE-APPROVED mail and such to line the hamster cage, mail packages and store breakables in the basement. Denise E.

I keep my coupons near my grocery list and I have one of the little coupon wallets I take to the grocery.  I clean out my files every year at income tax time.  Important paper work goes in a firm box in the attic marked with the year.  During the year I keep files established dividing everything from writing tablets, bank statements, prescription receipts, small appliance and large appliance instructions, and all correspondence.  Sometimes my filing may get a few months behind but if you will file each piece of paper as it comes in; it keeps the clutter down.  I kept my files for years in a grocer’s milk cardboard box (it held 6 gallons milk).  It held a set of hanging file folders and was very portable to where ever I need to work. I have a pending paper work drawer where I keep bills to be paid, bank statement to be reconciled, letters to be answered, etc.  I keep ups code ‘proof-of-purchase’ on products I am saving up for rebates in small sandwich zip lock bags together by product. Joe/Jeanie

I clean last years papers out every year (January 1) , after getting all my income tax info, I box them up and put them in the attic with the year written on the side of the box.  Warranties and books for appliances, etc, I make a separate file for and keep those in the drawer.  This makes bill paying easy and I can always go right to anything I need. Gary/Goldie

Get several shoe boxes & Xerox/computer paper boxes. You can get them free at shoe stores & the Xerox/pc boxes free at any business that uses those supplies. Get a large brown paper bag.  The shoe boxes are for the bills & coupons. Buy at a dollar store or on somewhere cheap or cut down old unused file folders to make subject dividers. Divide according to bill type, coupon type, etc. Once A MONTH or more (no less) go thru & clean out expired coupons, old bills..etc..Put newest bills in the front on the file. Only keep bills longer than a year if they are needed for tax records or are in dispute. Add new ones as soon as they come in. When you add one, toss one.  You might want a separate box for unanswered  mail/unpaid bills. Shred the bills & use the  paper as compost!  Use the brown paper bag to toss the coupons,  articles, etc. you no longer need & send this bag to the mixed-paper recycler when filled.  Sort  your incoming mail over this bag daily & you can easily toss junk mail, catalogues, envelopes & junk inserts from bills,etc. Magazines can go in the larger boxes, a year or two in one box, depending on size. Old jumbo cereal boxes can be cut down to make magazine holders.  You can decorate/paint/decoupage all the above  boxes if appearance matters to you.  Donate old magazines to nursing homes, library sales, clinics, etc. Elementary school kids often need them to cut-up for art or other projects.  Hope this helps.  Alekscat 

The best organization method I have for bills is using Quicken.  I have all my bills listed in the scheduled transaction list and I can "project" my bill due dates 3 months in advance.  (You can use any length of time.)  So I know NOW if my bills are going to total more than my income at any point in those 3 months and I can plan to cut here and there before that point to make up the difference.   I have used about every method known to man before I got Quicken and nothing else comes close.  God bless the creator of Quicken!   –Meg in NC

Why Such a Fuss Over Junk Mail?

(From the New American Dream)

The world’s forests are feeling the strain of unsustainable demand for wood and paper. The United States consumed 99 million tons of paper in 1997, or about 740 pounds per American. The U.S., with 5% of the world’s population, consumes 30% of the world’s paper.

By weight, paper products comprise nearly one-third of all waste going into American landfills. Bulk mail, a substantial chunk of our paper waste, is especially troubling because it is often unsolicited and thus leaves citizens to dispose of materials they did not choose to consume.

Catalogs and other direct mailings account for 5.2 million tons of waste each year and are recycled at a paltry rate of 19%, leaving over 4 million tons to clog landfills. That’s 340,000 garbage trucks filled to the brim with nothing but bulk mail!

This is a problem not only because of the waste disposal issue but also because it forces more paper to be made from trees, a very resource intensive process. Producing a ton of virgin paper requires 17 more trees, 7000 more gallons of water, and substantially greater energy input than a ton of 100% recycled paper.

Furthermore, chlorine is often used in the bleaching process, releasing the carcinogenic chemical dioxin and other toxins.

Use a simple online form to get rid of junk mail. Visit this site .

Treasured Keepsakes or Clutter?
A Look at Memorabilia

by Christine Sutton

Handwritten notes, children’s artwork, report cards, ticket stubs . . . little tidbits of our lives. What’s worth keeping? What should be released? Only you can decide which items hold most meaning and importance for you.

As you decide which items to keep, we do offer a word of advice. Keep those items that truly stir your heart or capture important events, and allow yourself to release the rest. In her book, The Gift of the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh compares our lives to the process of collecting seashells. Imagine that you are exploring the beach, gathering shells along the way. Each time you uncover a shell, you carefully consider its beauty and uniqueness. You decide whether or not it is worth keeping. By carefully choosing which shells to keep, you end up with a small collection of beautiful shells that bring you joy. If you had insisted on keeping every shell, then your beautiful shells would be lost in the mass of other shells.

The same can be said for your memorabilia. If you insist on keeping every item that is attached to a memory of an event or special person in your life, then you will soon be overwhelmed, and your truly precious keepsakes will be lost among the masses.

If you need more convincing, then just remember the major side benefit of purging. Your task of organizing your memorabilia will be so much easier!

Once you decide which items to keep, you can make the secondary decision on how to store or display the items. Whichever method you choose, you should be sure to protect your keepsakes from acid, lignin and PVC. Here’s a quick explanation of these hazards:

* Acid: A chemical substance that can weaken paper and cloth, causing it to brown and become brittle.

* Lignin: An organic substance that is present in wood pulp. It becomes more and more acidic as it deteriorates. (The yellowing effect of a newspaper is an example of lignin.)

* PVC: (also known as polyvinyl chloride) A chemically active plastic that, when combined with moisture in the air can emit hydrochloric acid.

This may sound complicated, but you don’t need to worry about remembering the details.

Just remember that acid, lignin and PVC will damage photographs and memorabilia! For ultimate protection of your precious keepsakes, be sure that all of your storage and display materials are acid-free, lignin-free, and PVC free.

If you would like to include your memorabilia in a scrapbook album, you have several options:

1. Test the item. A pH-testing pen will allow you to determine the level of acidity in your item. It might be acid-free, in which case you can put it directly into your album. pH pens are very simple to use; most have a color and pH chart on the outside of the pen. You simply mark your item in an inconspicuous place and check the color against the chart.

2. Use a de-acidification spray to remove the acid from your items. If you choose this method, then please be aware that you may need to retreat items after a length of time.

3. Color photocopy your memorabilia on to acid-free paper.

4. Take photographs of your child’s artwork. You can keep the reminder and get rid of the bulk. By the way, this is a great way to use up those last few pictures on a roll of film.

5. Use polypropylene memorabilia pockets to safely encapsulate and display small items such as ticket stubs, hospital tags or locks of hair.

6. Create a pocket page in your scrapbook album to hold awards, greeting cards, report cards or children’s artwork. To do this you’ll need two pieces of acid-free cardstock sized to fit your album. Cut the top off of one piece so that it is three to four inches shorter than the other piece (leaving the width as is). Place acid-free adhesive on the bottom and the two sides and adhere the shorter piece directly on top of the full-size piece of cardstock. This will provide you with a pocket to hold your assorted memorabilia, and you can embellish the front of the pocket as you choose.

Be sure to use acid-free adhesives when mounting memorabilia directly onto your album pages. You can use self-adhesive photo corners or a corner slot punch for those items that you don’t want to permanently mount.

To safeguard your precious keepsakes, practice these “Don’ts”:

Do not use rubber cement, tape or glue, which may contain acid and harmful chemicals that will destroy your photos and memorabilia.

Do not laminate memorabilia. Laminating with common heat-sealing laminating machines permanently traps dust and contaminants in a closed environment. Laminating machines that use heat subject your memorabilia to high heat and strong pressure that can cause it to age more quickly. And, laminating with a heat-sealing laminating machine means that the lamination is irreversible.

Never put newspaper directly into your scrapbook albums. Newspaper is a cheap paper that contains lignin. Have you ever noticed how quickly a newspaper yellows especially if it exposed to sunlight? The yellowing effect is the result of lignin. Newspaper also contains acid. Storing photographs and memorabilia with newspaper creates a damaging environment for your keepsakes, as the acid will migrate from the newspaper.

If you do not want to create a scrapbook album, you can still enjoy your items in the future, by ensuring their safety with the use of archival-quality storage supplies such as: acid-free file folders, archival boxes or polypropylene enclosures. (Remember: All supplies for storing and displaying photos or memorabilia should be acid-free, lignin-free, and PVC free!)

If you’ve been feeling guilty because you haven’t organized and protected your family’s keepsakes, then take heart. This accomplishment pales in comparison to the significance of the journey you embark on each day — creating joyful memories with the people you cherish most in your life.

Copyright 2003-2004, by The Sentimental Playground. Article may be reprinted with permission. Please contact [email protected]

About The Author
Christine Sutton and her business partner, Tracey DuBois, have helped countless people organize, protect, and enjoy their precious photographs. They co-founded, a website that offers a fun approach to photo safety, organizing solutions, a FREE Photo Organizing Idea Kit and more! [email protected]

Clutter & Organization

by Donna L. Watkins

Having a home free of clutter is a step-by-step process, and consistent principles of organization are the key. Establishing clutter-free zones and give the responsiblity to manage that space to an individual within the home.

If you have the room where people enter your home always clutter-free, you will feel a lot better about having people drop by and you will have at least one room as a retreat. This is usually the living room. When you buy furniture, always make sure it has drawers and cabinets so there are plenty of places to organize things.

Paper clutter is sometimes the worst obstacle in home organization. People keep paper thinking they will need it later. Even if you have a good filing system, you can keep adding more files because you are keeping things that do not need to be kept. Fear of "I may need it later" is the motivating factor to keep too much paper.

Let me guarantee you that you probably won’t need 80% of what you keep. We’ve been in business since 1982 and we still have only one four-drawer filing cabinet. I simply stated that there was no need for more than that! I regularly go through and remove what is not needed. Knowing that I have to do that, I really evaluate what I want to put in it at all.

Something that has helped many is to have a recycling box for paper. You may feel more comfortable about dumping it there instead of keeping it because it will still be around a few weeks later if you truly do need something. Personally, it’s a rare event that we have to dig something out of recycle, but it does happen a few times a year.

Taking action is the first step and that’s why you are here. Plan it, do it, and stick with it. Make and keep your home a sanctuary.

Clutter’s Side Effects
How the State of Your Home Affects Your Life

by Stephanie Roberts

Each area of your home has a symbolic meaning with which you resonate on a subconscious level. Clutter and untidiness within each of these areas causes constriction and inertia in the corresponding aspects of your life.

The kitchen has been called the "heart of the home," and with good reason. Here we are nourished and provided for, even if we are dining on a frozen entrée zapped in the microwave rather than a homemade meal lovingly presented by Mom. An untidy and disorganized kitchen makes it hard to nourish yourself and others, on both physical and metaphysical levels. How you care for your kitchen is a clue about whether you are giving proper attention to your own nourishment and sources of abundance. Cleaning up and de-cluttering your kitchen opens up space for you to receive the support and comfort that you need in life.

These are spaces where you mingle with and honor your relationships with family and friends. Here you engage with the world while being at home through watching television, reading the paper, or arguing politics with old friends over dinner. Clutter can turn these social spaces into dens of isolation, especially if the mess is so bad that it has been years since you’ve invited people over. Look around your living and dining rooms to see what they say about your relationship with the rest of the world. Are you hiding your true self from others, burying it in clutter, or putting it on display here?

Hallways are the arteries and highways of your home. Think of clutter in your hallways as a traffic jam that prevents important connections between different areas of your home and your life. Look at your hallways to see how you feel about your life’s path: are they well lit and easily navigable, or do they trip you up? If you feel a disconnect between work and family, self and others, what you need and your obligations, it may be time to give your hallways a good clearing out.

Bathing and anointing the body is a preparatory ritual for many religious rites both ancient and contemporary. On a daily basis we use this space to prepare ourselves to meet the world. Clutter in the bathroom can indicate a devaluation of self-worth, a lack of attention to self that goes beyond the physical. A clean, well-decorated bathroom can become a tranquil sanctuary for rejuvenation and self-care. Scented soaps, attractive accessories, and fragrant candles have a place here. Beautifying your bathroom by eliminating clutter and disorder and transforming it into a place of refuge will bring a sense of the sacred into your morning and evening personal-care rituals.

Adults’ bedrooms are for sleeping and intimacy, and they should function as places of renewal for self and relationships. Clutter in the bedroom is enervating without being restful. If you feel "wired and tired," creating order out of chaos in this most personal space can help you relax and let go of the stress of the day. Then you can get a good night’s sleep or enjoy some special time with your partner.

Closets represent things that are hidden, unknown, or unrecognized. When we fill our closets with clutter, we stifle our ability to be intuitive and insightful. Cluttered closets can indicate problems that you may not be consciously aware of but which impede your progress through life, work, and relationships nonetheless. Keeping the closet door closed is not an effective solution.

A cluttered attic creates a feeling of being under pressure. It’s hard to feel optimistic about the future when there’s so much stuff "hanging over your head." Ancestor issues reside up there, along with all those boxes and chests holding the detritus of generations. And the basement and other below-ground storage areas are considered abodes of the subconscious, so watch your step and get that clutter cleaned up!

Think of your car as a symbol of your mobility, independence, and ability to be self-directed in life. If there’s so much stuff piled up in your garage that you can barely fit the car in there, you may be hampered or overly cautious moving forward in life as well.

Stop thinking of clutter-clearing as a tremendous chore, and start thinking of it as one of the most effective self-improvement tactics available to you. Every magazine and piece of paper you recycle, every book you give to the library, every knick-knack and item of clothing you release to a new owner creates space in your life for new insight, energy, joy, and experiences to come in!

© 2003 Stephanie Roberts
[excerpted from "Clutter-Free Forever!", Lotus Pond Press, 2003]

About The Author
GOT CLUTTER?!? Clearing out clutter is the most important and powerful way to dramatically improve the feng shui of your home. Stephanie Roberts’ "CLUTTER-FR*EE FOREVER!" Home Coaching Program provides all the insight, motivation, and step-by-step guidance you need in an in-depth ebook and 6 weekly lessons. Plus, you can join our Affiliate Program and earn a commission on every referral sale. Find out more at [email protected]