"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
- Mark Twain
You've spent six weeks decking the halls - now it's time to clear the decks and get rid of some family clutter. You can't get a jump start on your New Year's goals if you can't find the cables. Here are some tips that will give you the physical and mental space you need to accomplish your goals.
Clear Clutter. Pretend you're moving. According to organizational expert Sally Allen, the 80/20 rule probably applies to most of our "stuff." In each room, create three piles: save, toss, give away. Once you've identified beloved and needed items, remove the remaining items accordingly to clear some family clutter.
Contain it. Buy containers for whatever you choose to keep or can't keep track of and get rid of the rest of the family clutter. If you're tired of looking for invitations, take out menus or the remote, make a room by room assessment of your storage needs and determine the products that will best meet your needs. Ideas abound as well as baskets, containers and hooks of all shapes and sizes in catalogs like Hold Everything or on line at www.thecontainerstore.com and www.themut.com.
Name that room. Every room in your house has a purpose. Determine the tools the room needs to fulfill its purpose and move the family clutter there. The goal is to keep like-minded items together and where they are most likely to be used.
Empower the kids. Simplify toy storage into large categories and bins to organize the family clutter, e.g.: dress-up, sports equipment, art supplies, blocks. Your children will be able to toss and clean.
Postpone Procrastination. Identify your pattern. Under what circumstances do you procrastinate? How do you do it? What excuses do you use? Once you know your procrastination M.O., set specific goals to break the pattern and remove the distractions and clear the family clutter. Start small and reward your progress. Use a timer. Set it to signal both the starting and ending times of your task. Determine ahead of time how you'll reward yourself for sticking to the task within the allotted time.
Limit your time. If starting a task seems too difficult, tedious or unpleasant, give yourself 15 minutes to do a portion of it. Most of us can stand anything for a short amount of time, even when it deals with clearing family clutter.
Get Organized. Avoid over-scheduling. Rather than fill your schedule with the cleaning family clutter tasks, commit your scheduling "musts" to a calendar first and then see how much open time you really have. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in those open blocks.
Just do it! Take stock of what you've accomplished at the end of each day and reprioritize tasks for the next day or the rest of the week. Subconsciously, your mind starts to organize your approach for the next day. Streamline files for your family clutter. Close to 90% of the paper we file is never looked at again, which makes accessing the 10% we do need that much more difficult. Move documents needed for the long term out of everyday access files and store them elsewhere.
Create contact lists. If you're often searching for passwords or phone numbers for takeout, the florist or the bakery, create a contact list of frequently used service providers to minimize family clutter.
Having children shrinks the time you have to accomplish personal goals. By conquering family clutter and creating organizational systems, you can expand your time to accomplish whatever goals you've set for yourself.