I am a big believer in clearing out clutter in order to manage my life. Having everything in it’s place and organized allows me to concentrate 100% on the rest of my life; my wife, my work, my friends, my hobbies. If I lived in clutter I would never be able to stop thinking about it and it would hinder every aspect of my life. Where are my keys? Where are the bills? Where did I hide my social security card? Some people really thrive on being “cluttered” but it would drive me crazy; call it OCD or whatever but I could not deal! If you are looking for some ways to get organized and to get your stuff in order, here are 10 things that have helped me to get and stay organize. They also help me save money because I do not have to buy products that I already have but cannot find!
1. Have a place for everything – this means your keys, your wallet, your office supplies, etc. If everything has it’s place, it’s pretty hard to lose anything once you learn where that place is. My files are in the file cabinet, my keys hang by the door, and my wallet goes on the little table in the hall. There is no mad scramble to get out the door as I know where everything is!
2. When you bring one thing home, try to send at least one thing out the door. Buy a new shirt? Try to get rid of an old shirt at the same time. If all you do is bring stuff home and you never purge, you will never be able to beat back clutter.
3. Boxes, boxes, boxes – I am a huge fan of storage in the house. Even if you have tons of crap, having it in boxes makes it look and feel more manageable. However, I don’t pay for storage – I use shoe boxes, shipping boxes, etc. Why not use the free stuff instead of spending money on the plastic versions?
4. Craigslist, Ebay and Amazon are your friends – Sell, sell, sell. Books, CD’s, DVD’s, clothes, televisions, you name it – if you have it, someone else is willing to pay for it.
5. Purge twice a year – Make it a point to spend a day or two twice a year doing nothing but purging. Normally I end up doing this myself, but it would go faster if my wife wanted to play along. But then again, I am the one with the “issue” of being so OCD.
6. Put stuff away in storage until you need it. I am not talking about paid storage, which I do not believe in, but rather your garage or some place like that. Your Christmas supplies do not need to be stored in your closet in the house if you do not have the room for it…it’s going to be 11 months before you need them again!
7. Start small. If you have trouble because you are overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” in your home, try doing just 10 minutes a day of purging. This is the system I have my mom on now – she spends a few minutes each day just doing a single pile or filling up 1 trash bag and taking it downstairs. It makes the process way more manageable and less scary.
8. Unsubscribe from magazines, catalogs, etc. – Catalogs you do no need because you can look at any of those products online on the internet, and magazines are available for free from the library. How many times do you read a single magazine? More than likely only once, so why pay for it and then have it hang around your house? If you can get it from the library, it will only be in your house for 2 weeks…and it’s free!
9. When you buy a product, buy a multi-function version. A coffee maker that both grinds the beans and makes the coffee. A remote control that runs your TV and your stereo. A blender that is also a food processor. By combining these type of goods, you can reduce the amount of “stuff” you have to find a place for.
10. Make lists. I have 1 small notebook that I have with me at all times, so I can jot down notes, story ideas, stuff I need to get done at home, etc. If you write it down when you think of it, you are more likely to follow through on whatever it is. So make lists – like what you will accomplish around the house next Tuesday, reminders to go to Goodwill and drop off your clothes, or just to file away or shred the paper in your inbox. Lists are an immense help to anyone having trouble with clutter.
Hopefully these tips will serve as a boost and incentive to get organized. I know it is not directly related to personal finance, but I believe being organized and clutter-free can only help your finances as you will tend to stay on top of the situation a little better. If you have any additional tips to add, be sure to let me know!
photo by hassan abdel-rahman