Thursday, March 18, 2010

Time To Tidy Up

Spring is a perfect time to get rid of the clutter in your home. I never want to accumulate so much stuff that it makes my living space uncomfortable, unmanageable or unsightly. Regardless of monetary value, no material thing is worth having if you have no use or space for it. Even though I'm not an impulse buyer -- like many people -- I must be vigilant about not bringing too many things into my apartment.

Here are my rules for keeping my home free of clutter:

1) If you haven't worn or used something in two years, get rid of it. Donate mistakes and things that are too big and too small to charity.

2) Discard summer clothes at the end of summer and winter clothes at the end of winter, but never out of season when your judgment isn't as good. On a hot August night, a pile of wool sweaters may not carry the same value as they do on a frigid, snowy day. Trust me, I speak from experience.

3) If something comes in, take something out. Without fail, if I bring new shoes in, an old pair goes out. When new pots and pans come in, the old standbys go out. This strategy saves me money also; if I'm still attached to what I already own and can't part with it, I don't need a new one. Period.

4) Buy for the present day. With few exceptions, nothing should sit around collecting dust waiting for another event to happen. Buy furniture because you have a place for it now, clothes because they fit you now, a yoga mat because you plan to take up yoga now ... and for no other reason. Not as the motivation for losing 15 pounds, or because you have a weakness for beautiful, but impractical things that don't fit your present lifestyle.

5) It's easier to part with things if they are going to a good home. Certainly, it would bother me to throw away good stuff, but I actually feel good about giving useful things to family and friends who can use them, or a charity. Housing Works, Goodwill and The Salvation Army are places where I like to take items in good condition. It's amazing how helping someone else gives you a buzz too.

6) Don't buy things for emotional reasons. When you're feeling stressed, bored or blue, make yourself feel better by exercising, or cleaning your house. Activity will improve your mood, give you a sense of accomplishment and prevent you from accumulating clutter.

7) Look for merchants who offer liberal return policies, so you're not stuck with goods that don't work out.

8) Rent movies and borrow books and music from the library when possible.

9) Trade books you've read with other readers. On websites like Swipetree and PaperBackSwap exchanging books is free. Check out Swapacd also.

10) Throw out old newspapers and magazines. If you don't have time to read a magazine the month you receive it, are you really going to find the time to read multiple issues down the line? You'll want to read what is current.

Whether it's a closet or a room, having fewer, but carefully selected things is a great way to simplify your life. Less is more.

You may also like:
Treat Yourself To One Nice Thing
Combine Gift Certificates With Seasonal Sales
You Can't Always Get What You Want
Celebrate Earth Day

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