Not to get too metaphorical, but getting rid of physical messes can also mean tackling mental and emotional clutter and letting go of the past. Some health experts say getting rid of junk can be genuinely refreshing. A newly cleaned room feels peaceful and spacious — not to mention fully functional, now that the 15-year-old treadmill-turned-clothes-rack has been trashed.
Set aside about 20 minutes every day to clean. That way you don’t have to worry about the clothes closet swallowing you whole or starting a job you’ll never finish.
Ask yourself: Are you keeping this item because it makes you happy? Or because you think you should keep it? If it’s the latter, throw that broken Tamagotchi in the trash.
When going through items to give away, make a pile of items you “might” need and hide them somewhere for a month. If over the course of that month you find you don’t need them even once, they’re probably not essential enough to keep.
They’re in your mind. It’s hard to give away sentimental items like a great-grandparent’s dish set, but it doesn’t mean you’re forgetting about the great-grandparents. Keep this in mind when going through your daily clean up.
If you haven’t already read them, you probably won’t; if you’ve read them already, you’re unlikely to browse them again. Make a folder of favorite magazine clippings and donate the rest of the collection to a local library.
Try this trick: Turn all your hangers so they face right. After you wear an item once, turn its hanger around to face left. Once the season’s over, keep only the clothes on the hangers pointing left. (So long, Spice Girls costume from Halloween ’98!)
Chances are there are some expired medicines and old makeup hiding in the bathroom cabinet. Go through your cabinets and avoid an accidental dose of 20-year-old Tylenol - throw that stuff away. (Follow these guidelines for safe disposal.)
Go through and throw away old receipts you don’t need for tax day or for items you’re not returning. Then scan the rest of the receipts, bills, and other financial papers, and store them in cyberspace.
That old blender sitting in the attic could quickly turn into a $50 bill. Go through you’re your shelves and try selling unused items online instead of just dumping them in the trash.
You might use that pancake spatula at some point in the next century, but there’s probably someone who needs it right now. Don’t wait for the holidays to do a good deed: Check out this list of charities that accept used books, athletic equipment, and musical instruments and either book pickups or schedule a time to make a drop off.
Getting help from a cleanup pro can be costly, but if clutter is a serious issue, it might be worth it. If this is something you need, sit down and work out how much you have to spend and contact a few professionals to get quotes.
Going forward, try to deal with clutter on a regular basis, getting rid of old shopping bags, used batteries, and ugly gifts right away. Donate a bunch of unwanted stuff every month, or even every week. And keep your bedroom from overflowing: Every time you buy a new item, get rid of one old one. Make sure you set up a system that you can keep to and implement it from now on!