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1. Start with your own stuff and don’t tell anyone what you are doing. Be a LeadHer by example.
2. If you don’t feel you can do it alone, invite a friend to join you. As my mother always said, “More hands make lighter work.” Offer to do the same for her. You may even have a child who is naturally organized, and would love the opportunity.
3. Decide whether it would easier for you to do a little at a time – or set aside a larger block of time for sorting. Either works!
4. Identify places that would appreciate having what you don’t need. Our county has a non-profit that helps victims of domestic violence.
5. Before you begin, get a trash bag, for those things no one needs, and paper and marking pens.
6. For every hour of organizing, allow ten minutes for “clean-up.” Set a timer as a reminder!
7. Go through the area you have identified and ask, “Does this ______ help me accomplish my work or enjoy my life?” If your answer is “Not really,” you have an opportunity for a blessing.
8. If you’re still not sure whether to keep something, ask “What’s the worst possible thing that would happen if I got rid of this, and I was wrong?” If you can live with your answer, let it go. If you’re still not sure, don’t stop – just go on to something else, and keep asking.
9. If you find something that belongs somewhere else, don’t go there – just put it in a pile to take when you are finished. Make a sign to indicate destination.
10. Before you go to your next activity, make a date with yourself to tackle the next cluttered area. Once you have gone through all the areas in your home, you can sustain your success by making it an annual event.
Drawing by Myers Taylor
This week I was planning a luncheon for my husband’s cousin’s 86th birthday. All of the attendees are women who enjoy food, and especially trying something new — not a thrill for my husband whose philosophy is “Why mess with a good thing?” I thought of all the recipes in my recipe box that I hadn’t tried for years — decades in some cases, so I decided this was a good opportunity to take a look at what I was saving. As I began browsing through the recipe box, I realized that the majority of the recipes I would never make again. A few I could toss easily, but others were more difficult — not because I would use them, but because of the memories…
I frequently tell my clients that I teach what I have learned, or in many cases, am still learning. I realized the recipe box was another great place to apply the principles of Less Clutter More Life. I didn’t actually do the math, but I’m sure it was a great illustration of “80% of what we keep we never use.” I decided to do what I recommend: start by doing what is easy. The first ones to go were the those made with Jello — a popular ingredient of recipes when I was growing up on the farm, but not something I would do today. Then there were the ones I would never make now because I can buy them from the store 10 minutes away, probably for less than it would cost me to make them. (Quite different from the farm where the nearest grocery store was 20 minutes away and not open 24 hours!)
The box is less than half full now. I’m sure there are many that I’ll never use, but I’m not ready to let go yet. I think of my own advice: “You can keep everything you want if you’re willing to pay the price: time, space, money and energy.” And for now, I am. I’m sure that at some point in the future, I’ll be ready to let go of more. In the meantime, I found the recipe for “Summer Corn Casserole” made with fresh kernals of corn, radishes, and scallions. Everyone loved it.
The director of a non-profit organization told me that one of her challenges is that donations given to the center are carefully stored by her staff for just the “right” recipient – which creates a storage problem, and eliminates the opportunity for other donors to “fill the vacuum” which results when there is a real need.
In my first marriage, my in-laws has beautiful gold-rimmed china given to my father-in-law in exchange for legal services. I was told the only other set like it was in the White House. The china was carefully tucked away in a cupboard and never used, because it was too “precious” – but my mother-in-law never purchased any “good” china for special occasions, because “we already have some.”
What are you keeping – but not enjoying?