Embrace Living Clutter-Free
Before we can really talk about how to live clutter-free, let’s talk about what means clutter for a minute: it has the power to make us feel as if we’re drowning, suffocating, powerless or burdened. One definition of clutter is “a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.”
Merrian-Webster.com defines clutter as “to fill or cover with scattered or discarded things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.” Doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture, does it? Here’s what one professional organizer said about clutter:
“It means anything that stands between you and the vision you have for your best life. It could be a pile of inherited furniture or a jumble of kids toys all over your living room. But it could also be the constant self-doubt that creeps into your decision-making, anger about how you’re treated at work, shame about your weight or looks, or a tendency to respond defensively and critically when your spouse challenges you.”
WHOA!!! The last part is a bit deep…something definitely worth pondering…but for the purpose of this article, we’ll just tackle the tangible clutter, and leave the mental issues for the therapists. Fair enough?
With a lot, more people working from home – either as a Virtual Assistant, IT Consultant, or Customer Service Representative, or being self-employed – whether it’s an entire room or just an area, having a clear and clutter-free office is essential in maintaining one’s sanity. As a side note, there are some companies that require applicants for virtual jobs, to send pictures of their office space.
In other instances, a company representative will visit the home of the applicant, to make sure that the applicant’s office space is in compliance with company policy. EEK!!! But even if your office space wasn’t subject to review, wouldn’t you want your place to be orderly? Unless you really enjoy looking for that Post-it that has your username and password to your bank account…So let’s jump right in, and talk about ways to organize your home office, get rid of the clutter fast, and embrace clutter-free living!
Where does it live?
I’ve said it once…I’ll say it again: every item must have a “home”. Yes…every item! So all those push pins, rubber bands, paper clips…all of it…they need a home. And just to clarify, I don’t mean that they should be cohabiting, so clips stay with clips, rubber bands stay with rubber bands, pins with pins, etc.
There are all shapes, sizes, and colors of containers…use them! If space is limited, opt for the stackable kind. For the more creative, you can use pill bottles, decorative boxes or baskets, or maybe even decorate cardboard egg cartons. Whatever you decide, just make sure each item has a separate place to lay its head.
File Cabinets Don’t Have to be Archaic
Yes, there are probably quite a number of offices that still use those dreadful, chunky, puke-like beige colored cabinets (I’m obviously not a fan). But there’s great news: the options are endless! If you’re dealing with a heavy load of papers, a sturdy metal filing may work best for you; for others, a simple 2-drawer heavy-duty plastic cabinet may suffice. One of my favorite brands is Sterilite (review will follow in the near future).
Fun File Folders
Now that you’ve gotten yourself a nice file cabinet, you need to fill it with…yep…you guessed it: file folders! Whether you decided on the basic manila folders, or prefer neon colors, I want to share a tip with you that is very important: DO NOT have a folder marked “miscellaneous”. Nope…don’t do it! I know…you have so many…ah…miscellaneous papers.
Give each item its’ own folder. This is a tip a friend shared with me years ago, that I still follow to this day. I know…I know…there are just so many papers…even still, each folder should represent separate categories.
So, if you have bills and notes from doctor ABC, they should go into one folder; if you find that you have 5 different bills, that just have a bill with no additional notes, they should each get their own folder. Yes, you’ll have to use more folders, but in the long run, it’ll save you a great deal of time.
Speaking of Folders...
Post-it, another favorite of mine – that’s an understatement, I couldn’t survive without them – make folders as well, but these folders stick to the wall! All you have to do is peel off the paper from the adhesive tape, and stick! These are perfect for smaller spaces! The uses are endless: get 4 for each week of the month to sort bills; hold receipts for those miscellaneous receipts like the watch or shoe repair, dry cleaners, coupons, etc. (in this instance, you can put those miscellaneous receipts together; brochures of restaurants or tourist places you want to visit).
Walls are not just there to create borders for a room, they can be used to add space or to keep it more organized. Outside of the Post-it folders, you can choose a modern-day cork board: a pegboard. What’s great about peg boards is that, unlike cork boards, peg boards can be painted to match the color of your room. The style may differ, but the concept is the same: instead of a million little receipts, notes and other items that don’t have a home, they can go up on your board. Pegboards tend to be a lot sturdier than cork boards, so feel free to hang items from them as well, like small pictures or mirrors.
Even with the popularity of Kindle and other apps that allow you to read books from your device of choice, many old timers (like me) still like to have the physical books. But there’s an issue…they take up space. Just before the new year, I decided to give my personal library a detox; I love my books, but it was getting to be too overwhelming. Luckily, I was able to donate the ones I wanted to give away, to my neighborhood library. To give your own personal library a detox, you’ll need to make 3 piles: Keep, Donate Now, Donate Later.
For those books you haven’t read in a while, give yourself a time frame; if that time has passed, and you still haven’t read the book, give it away, whether to a friend or to charity, just let it go. But when you’re going through this, make sure you keep in mind the number of books in question. So, in other words, if you have 40 books in the “donate later” pile, don’t expect to read all 40 books in 6 months, unless you have absolutely nothing else to do with your time. If you should buy a book, then let one go; remember, the idea is to remove the clutter, not add to it.
Keep It Cute
Granted, this may not be a formal step to removing clutter, but if your space is more attractive, you may be a lot more inclined to keep it neat. Just as you would when dressing, make sure your room/space reflects your style. I’m a huge fan of free things, but I’m not going to keep something if it doesn’t reflect my style. If you work from home, you’ll be your office for several hours each day, so make it a place that’s conducive to work. You also don’t need to go for broke when looking to decorate; see what you already have, and if you need to buy something, make sure the quality is good so that it lasts.
So that’s all folks! Remember, keep it clean, because life is too short for clutter!
I would love to hear from you, so feel free to leave your comments below.
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