One of the biggest contributors to stress in our society is our never ending to-do lists. It’s hard to relax and just enjoy life when we feel guilty about all the things we haven’t got done. One of the reasons we have too many things to-do is because we have too many things. Part of being organized is getting things done, but with the amount of possessions we have to take care of, the list just keeps growing. How, you may ask?
- Decide whether to keep it. A lot of purchases are made with the thought that you can return it if you don't like it. But, that means you need to keep track of the box it came in, the receipt, the manual and the item itself. I can't tell you how many people I work with who want to return something, but they can't find one of the above listed items. The more stuff you are thinking of returning, the more clutter you accumulate, and the longer your to-do list.
- Ok - so you've decided to keep the item. Now you need to figure out how to use it. What percent of functionality do you actually use with all your gadgets? Figuring out how to use everything we own eats up our time.
- Store the manual, receipt and box. Although manuals can be found online, and you shouldn't need the box after you decide to keep the item, many people still keep all packaging, just in case it breaks.
- Take care of it. You need to dust it, buy replacement parts and perform regular maintenance. And if it breaks then you need to fix it. How many things on your to-do list start with the word "Fix"?
So, how do you reduce the amount of things to take care of? Here are a few suggestions:
- If there is any chance you might return something, don’t buy it! Buying with the intention of returning is a huge waste of time. So many things never get returned and just add to the clutter in your house. Reducing the amount of things you buy is a huge step to reducing clutter.
- Think before you buy they newest version of everything. All the messages we receive today is that we need the newest TV, phone, software, etc. But, is taking the time to set up the new one and dispose of the old one really contributing more to your life? Think about it before your next purchase.
- Recycle all those darn boxes! I recommend cutting out the UPC code from the box, and stapling to the receipt if you are concerned about proof of purchase. Store these in a binder with the manuals and get rid of the “box clutter”. You’d be surprised at how much room empty boxes take up!
- Set a time each week for decluttering. If you have a lot of stuff, it may seem overwhelming to try and get rid of it all at once. I recommend setting aside the same day and time each week for decluttering. Use a timer and set it for 15 or 30 minutes. Have a garbage bag ready and a box for donations. Focus on one room at a time and pick out things that you just don’t need anymore. After the timer goes off, take the garbage out, and put your box of donations in the car to be driven to your favorite charity. You can make a difference even with a short amount of time each week.