Unclutter your home

Published 2:23 pm Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Phyllis Diller wrote in her Housekeeping Hints, If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet him with, Who could have done this? We have no enemies! That may be amusing once or twice. In the long run, though, it might be better to get organized.

When organizing your home, a good place to start is to walk around with a pad and pencil. Ask yourself: What is the purpose of this room? After deciding each rooms role, remove items that do not belong. Perhaps you want your bedroom to be a place of tranquility, using it only for sleeping and dressing. If so, move out the television and the telephone. Other rooms can be centers for multiple activities. The family room can have the television, the stereo, the telephone, the bookcases, the storage for giftwrap. . . .

Also, it pays to have a system to handle everyday clutter. How do you deal with mail? How do you manage recyclables? How many stuffed animals or plastic toys does a child need? How many objects do you need on your kitchen counter tops? How many clocks do you want to reset when electrical power goes out?

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For mail, sort it immediately, making stacks such as bills to pay, newspaper or magazines to read, letters and advertisements to consider, envelopes and other paper to recycle.

Recycling is easy these days. Keep handy reusable bins for paper and cardboard, plastic and glass bottles or aluminum cans. Learn what materials can be recycled at your local landfill and sort accordingly.

Too many toys or electric gadgets may be indicators of a homeowner with more money than sense. Know when enough is enough.

If you feel as if youre drowning in stuff, edit! Pretend you are moving across the country. Would you really want to take this item with you? Make four piles: one to keep, one to repair, one to donate to a worthy cause, one to trash. Its a good opportunity to get rid of no-longer-worn clothes; chipped dishes; unused small appliances, baby equipment, sporting goods, and childrens playthings. Go through the repair pile a second time. Is that article really worth your effort or money? Some of it may need to go into the trash pile, too.

Okay, youve purposed your rooms and youve edited their contents. Now rethink storage. Even if you have lots of closets, you may want to add shelves. Containers such as covered boxes, bins, hampers, baskets, bags, even, jars and other dishware can help you organize necessary stuff. Hooks can be helpful too for towels, robes, jackets, scarves, umbrellas, hats, aprons. . . .

If there is more than one person living in the same space, its a good idea to have agreed-upon places for essentials. The hammer may be stored in the toolbox. The emergency flashlight might be in the hall closet. Scissors will be found in the miscellaneous drawer. Designated places can save everyone a lot of time and frustration almost every day.

Editors Note: Mara & Ford Smiths non-fiction books are available at The Book Shelf. This article and earlier ones can be found on their website at www.livesimplywithstyle.com/tdb.htm.