A. My home is cluttered with many things. For years I’ve clipped articles with interesting ideas. I’ve also clipped recipes and saved magazines. And my closets are bulging with clothes. I have trouble letting go of things because I think I may find a use for them later. I want to simplify my life. I make stabs at this but never seem to get very far. Can you give me a plan for simplifying my life?
A. Many of us realize that we need to simplify our lives yet we never seem to get around to it. One reason for this is that it takes time to simplify. It takes time to get rid of clutter. We’re busy people with many interests and little spare time. To accomplish our goal we must make decluttering a priority.
We also get bogged down by the enormity of the task. We tackle one closet but never even finish this as other priorities interrupt our decluttering attempt. We need to develop a plan and a system and make it work.
H. Norman Wright, in his book Simplify Your Life, describes the 80/20 principle which says that 80 percent of the value of things is usually concentrated in only 20 percent of the items. “If 80 percent of the space is taken up by stuff that’s used only 20 percent of the time, is it necessary?” This principle can help you declutter.
Begin by doing a survey of each room in your home. What objects or possessions in this room complicate your life or are never used? Everything we own takes some of our time to clean, sort, or store. When many objects, (books, clippings, files, clothing, or furniture) are jammed into a small space we waste time trying to find the items we need.
After you have done the survey begin decluttering by working on one room at a time. Start with the room that is most used and most cluttered or disorganized. Decluttering just this room will make life much easier for you. The other rooms can wait.
Plan to work for at least a half hour a day decluttering this room. If you have time to watch TV or to play computer games you have time for this. Think about what will help you find the items you need in this room. Simply rearranging things for more convenience can make a difference.
Start small getting rid of things. Try to eliminate 10% of the things accumulated. If you find this difficult - and most of us do - realize you are clinging to your past. You will enjoy the present more without all these “things.” If you still can’t let go of 10% of the items put them away for a while and see if you miss them.
Think of the people who could use the items you're hanging on to. Our material goods drown us when they could be helping someone else. Let go of your stuff and enjoy giving it away to those in need.
You should hang onto items of personal interest such as scrapbooks or photo albums and things you want to pass on to your children. What items need to go?
• Catalogs and magazines more than a month old
• Legal documents and receipts that are over fifteen years old
• books you’ll never read again, cookbooks, record albums, cassette tapes and videos that you don’t use, furniture and kitchen items you don’t use
•Old textbooks and encyclopedias
•Clothes that don’t fit; clothes you haven’t worn in a year
•Papers sitting on top of furniture in plain sight should be filed or thrown out.
Wright’s book will give you many more ideas to help you simplify your life.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth or rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matt. 6:19-21