Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer Success

The South Brunswick De-Clutter Club will be taking a few months off from meeting, but don’t take time off from freeing your life of the things that are holding you back! Take time this summer to start to whittle down the piles or clear the aisles! Start with whatever bugs you the most but go easy on yourself. Allow yourself 15-30 minutes a day and then relax the remainder of the time. Get rid of the guilt with the clutter. If you make a plan, and don’t over schedule yourself, and stick to the plan, you are half way to your goal!

I just got through reading yet another “Clear the Clutter” column that appears in every magazine at least once a year. This time, however, I actually read a few things that I had not heard before! I thought I would share some of those insights with you today.

In her article, “Julie Morgenstern Sorts out all of your Stuff,” found in the April 2010 issue of Redbook, Julie Morgenstern, author, professional organizer and columnist for many popular magazines, tells us that “most people only use 20% [or one fifth] of what they own in any category.” WOW! That means that you could throw away up to 80% of what you have in your home and never break with your standard routine!! Imagine that! You could downsize your house and your housing expenses by that same amount if only you really could (and would) clear away that much stuff! The reality is that there are things that you aren’t going to throw away. This would mean that if you had china and flatware for 10 (one category of stuff), you could throw away 8 of the 10 plates, cups, bowls, forks, etc. And if you live alone, the only furniture (another category of stuff) you would need would be one chair, one bed, one small table, and one lamp. Of course that doesn’t make sense because these items are bought and kept for the eventuality that you will need them when you entertain. I suppose there was a time in colonial days when people carried their own eating utensils and if they gathered to share food, everyone would come with their own implements, but we don’t live like that anymore. It is a sign of our wealth and prosperity that we have the luxury of having more of any one thing than we need at one time. But certainly, there are items where this is not applicable and there must be a point at which we say, “enough.” For instance, we don’t keep extra shoes so that we can share them with our guests and we certainly wouldn’t share our paperwork with others (although that would be one solution to decluttering.) So for the things that we have that are not kept for sharing, we can start to apply the 80% out rule!!

Julie suggests to look around a room and imagine that everything in that room was suddenly gone. Think about what items you would truly miss if this were to happen. She says that chances are there would only be a few items and she calls these “our treasures.” She suggests that you keep these items in mind as you begin to clear out the clutter – if it is not a “treasure” – let it go. If you lose sight of the goal, refer back to your “keep-or-toss test” results. And does 80% sound like an unachievable goal? Well, to paraphrase a popular quote: "Reach for the moon. Even if you don't reach your goal, you will land among the stars or be farther along than if you didn't reach at all."

I will share more of Julie Morgenstern’s advice in this blog next week. Until then, keep up the good work and enjoy your summer.

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