On Getting Organized

By Mary Hunt

May 25, 2020 5 min read

Think you might tend to be slightly unorganized? Let's take this little quiz to find out!

Have you ever:

— Not answered your phone because you couldn't find it?

— Thrown away an entire Tupperware container because the contents had been in the back of the fridge so long that replacing it seemed preferable to cleaning it?

— While searching for the Valentine's Day centerpiece, stumbled over the Christmas wrap purchased at the 50% off after-holiday sale two years ago?

— Discovered that you have a warehouse quantity of partially full peanut butter jars in the pantry?

— Written a phone message on the wall? With an eyebrow pencil?

— Held to the philosophy that a gritty bathtub is much safer than a sparkling clean, slippery one?

— Ended up giving a brand-new shirt to the Goodwill because you lost the sales receipt and just never got around to taking it back to exchange it?

— Gone out to dinner for the sole reason that there wasn't one clean dish in the house?

Getting organized is like dieting. Everyone knows how, has several favorite methods and is pretty crazy about the results. The problem is just getting around to doing it and maintaining the results!

Face it. If you don't have enough closet, drawer and storage space to comfortably handle your possessions, you probably own too many things. Give things away. Pare down. Let your rooms, closets and drawers appear serene, controlled and well kept. Eliminate. Concentrate.

Where to start? Getting rid of clutter is a good place. There's an old adage: "A place for everything, and everything in its place." No doubt about it — getting rid of things you own involves risk. Here's a promise: You won't ever get rid of something that's absolutely essential to your life. As you assess each overstuffed area, consider selling your excess or donating to a charity.

You might like to try what I call the "grocery bag method" for instant results, taught to me by a very clever friend. This works best at about 8 p.m. when you are at your wit's end over the endless clutter and chaotic appearance of your home.

Take one (or more, as necessary) large grocery bag or cardboard box, and fill it with all of the stacks of extraneous papers, magazines and mail — your basic clutter. The purpose here is not to throw anything away but to get it out of visual range until you have time to go through and separate, sort and file. (At least, this is what you tell yourself!)

Now, if within 48 hours or so (give or take a month), no one in the family has mentioned missing something of importance, it is probably safe to go ahead and throw the whole thing out. This is not a highly recommended method, but it sure does work!

A much-preferred way to get organized is the "salami method." You wouldn't think of eating an entire salami at one sitting, would you? You would eat it in slices over some period of time. Just start with one thing — one room, one closet. Tomorrow is another day — another drawer, another attic. Soon, you'll be in control.

As we gain control of our things, we're going to feel more in control of our lives, and that will be reflected in our attitudes. Just think of all the ways your life is affected by your attitude!

It's spring! And the earth is renewing itself with fresh, clean life. There couldn't be a better time to start than now. Take a risk; get organized!

Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

Photo credit: sdnet01 at Pixabay

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