I strive for self-improvement every day. I make promises to myself to sleep longer, work out more, eat better, waste less time...
However the biggest hurdle I have is organization. No matter how well I sleep, how much I work out, or how much time I spend in a productive manner, attempting to function in a cluttered environment is a huge problem for me.
This is a self-created problem, driven in part by ADHD-PI. Basically, I have the attention span of a goldfish, and the result is that I start 1000 projects, rarely complete any of them, and leave the "in-progress" parts of those projects scattered across every surface in the house.
Thankfully I dislike clutter, so the main areas of the house where we live get cleared up every few days. Unfortunately the basement is an area that we don't often use, and it becomes a dumping zone for all the clutter that I don't want in the rest of the house:
This is perfectly fine, I swear.
Sadly this presents other problems. When I need to find something important, I now have to hunt through a room that looks like it was hit by a hurricane. As a result, every few months I decide it's become too chaotic and I go through a cleanup/purge of my junk.
1 - Put It Away!
For most people with a clutter problem, the biggest issue is simply a failure to put things away once they're done with them.
- Camping gear from last summer? I won't need that again for at least 5 months.
- Christmas tree stand? 10 months.
- Tools? I haven't worked on renovations in over 2 months.
Really these should have been put away months ago - But better late than never. Putting away stuff that you still have a use for will clear out a lot of the clutter and make it much easier to sort through the remainder.
2 - Give It Away / Sell It!
- Wire shelving
- An old phone
- An old IPod
- A toaster
These are things that someone out there can probably use, but I have either stopped using them, or replaced them with newer ones.
For cheaper items, it's often not worth the hassle. Fortunately there's plenty of other ways to pass along useful stuff.
- Useful furniture, hardware and building materials can be dropped off to Habitat For Humanity Restore
- General household items can be donated to The Salvation Army Store, Value Village, or other thrift shops.
- If you don't like how thrift shops operate, consider posting your stuff for free on a group like The Freecycle Network or similar group that tries to repurpose used items.
3 - Throw It Out!
Why do I still have these?
- Old broken blinds
- Straps off of an old backpack
- Energy ratings on the washer/dryer that we bought two years ago
Sometimes I'm baffled as to why I keep some things. Maybe I had an awesome idea for how to re-purpose this. Or maybe I just forgot to throw it out.
In any event, if it's old broken junk that most people would never use, or if it's old papers that you will never need to look at again, it's probably trash.
4 - Figure it out!
It's easy to identify the things that you're definitely going to use again, or never going to use again. The hard part is identifying whether the rest of the stuff is useful.
Figure Out What To Do With Items That "Might Be" Useful
Sometimes I hold on to something because I believe it's still useful, but I haven't gotten around to checking:
- DVDs cases, not sure if I still own the DVDs
- Old batteries, not sure if they're still good
Menial tasks like these are easy to put off, but eventually they need to be addressed in order to get rid of the clutter. I can easily spend a few minutes looking for those DVDs and checking if those batteries work in order to determine if this stuff is still worth saving or if it should be thrown out.
Choose Your "Future Projects"
I tend to store a lot of things, anticipating future use:
- I plan on building a new computer some day, so I might need a spare monitor, mouse and keyboard.
- I might goof around with small electronics someday, so I'll hang on to this soldering iron and box or wires/motors just in case.
Unfortunately if you're like me, you have hundreds of project ideas in mind and there's no way you could possibly complete them all. I know that the likelihood of my building a new computer is pretty high, and the cost of a monitor and keyboard probably makes it worthwhile. On the other hand, I'm not very likely to ever use those small electronics, and it would probably only run me a few dollars to replace this stuff if I decide I need it someday. The open space I'll gain by de-cluttering will be much more valuable to me than potentially having this stuff available for future use.
De-cluttering isn't a one-time thing. It's an ongoing battle, especially if you're the sort of person who has trouble with organization. I still have shelves full of unfinished projects, and probably way more stuff than I need taking up space in my house.
Once in a while I recognize that it has gotten out of hand and I work to reduce it, but for the most-part my clutter and I manage to coexist in peace.
Thanks for reading,
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