With the advent of spring there has been a lot of discussion and focus on spring cleaning and getting rid of things. The extremists believe that you should get rid of just about everything which will simplify your life. Others take a more moderate approach to minimizing things. Everywhere you turn there is information on getting organized. If you’ve been looking at sale ads you have been seeing storage containers to organize your clutter. So what really works? That will be unique to each person. Personally I use the recycling model “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” to determine what to do.
- Reduce: Get rid of the things that no longer are needed, clothes that don’t fit or you don’t where, household items that you haven’t used in in the last year, paperwork that is out of date (old tax returns, receipts, bills). Make sure you keep what you need for tax purposes and shred the older items.
- Reuse: When you clean out the old paperwork, save the file folders in good shape to use later. Can you find new uses for items you no longer use for their original purpose? Old kitchen storage containers make good holders for office supplies like paper/ binder clips. How can something be reused?
- Recycle: Give you old clothes to a charity, you may get a tax deduction and others will get affordable clothing. Non-sensitive paperwork can be recycled. Cleaning out the garage you may find scrap metal which can be sold to a metal recycler. We’ve used sensitive paperwork to create fire starters for our camping trips.
Once you clean up the unused things it’s time to figure out how to store the things you are keeping. Figure out what works for you. I’ve seen people who use labeled storage containers for everything and it’s all perfectly organized on shelves, etc. For me that would not work at all, it requires too much maintenance long term. I use containers for some things, baskets for others, and keep things on shelves in some cases. There is no one system that is perfect for everyone in every situation. Look at different systems to understand what they offer and take the pieces that work for you.
Spring is a time of new beginnings and is a great time to clean your house. Use the ritual of spring cleaning to refresh your personal organizational system. The idea of minimizing what is in your life can be liberating. Go as far as is comfortable for you, what you can live with and be happy. Simplicity looks different for all of us, so find you own.
The key is to create a system in your life that becomes natural and easy to maintain. If it feels like work to do everyday it will not work longterm.