The New Year is a great time to start a handy new habit – hunting for hidden clutter! In my previous post How to Follow Through on Your New Year’s Resolution to Get Organized, I proposed that making several small goals to reach a big goal is better than making a New Year’s resolution. A small goal I keep year-round is to keep my house clutter-free of papers and miscellaneous trash, what I call clutter-trash or hidden clutter.
I don’t know how it accumulates so quickly, but there is never a shortage of this type of clutter in my house. I enjoy doing this activity because it makes such a big difference and only takes about five to ten minutes. The first time will take longer and you may need to set aside a few hours to conquer it all. The most common response to clutter-trash is to throw out the obvious trash such as empty plastic water bottles or wrappers and to stack everything else. Its the everything else that is creating the cluttered, unpolished look you are trying to avoid. Don’t stack – if you don’t use it or need it, toss it! If it belongs somewhere else, take it there!
To tackle your clutter-trash go on a hidden clutter hunt. When you are done you may feel like you’ve found a treasure! This can be especially fun for kids and is a great way to teach them how to keep their rooms and other spaces in the home clutter-free.
To get started, gather up every bit of trash in your home – you know, the scraps of paper, old magazines that will never be read, mail that is stacked all over, old fliers, kids paperwork that is no longer relevant, and so on. Check every room, dressers, counter tops, coffee table, desks, entryway, dining table, and anywhere else the clutter-trash may be hiding.
As you go, carry one bag for trash and another for items that will need to be shred. If you aren’t sure about an item, set it aside with any others and evaluate it further when you are done. You may be surprised by the amount of trash and paper you end up with in your bags! Once you are finished, throw out the bag of trash and then shred the items in the other bag. This is a habit that should take place at least once per week but daily is even better. It is a great feeling to go to bed every night knowing the clutter-trash is cleared out.
When it comes to shredding papers, I have found that most people keep a stack or a box or a file of items that need to be shred. In the past, I also used this method. But let’s be realistic, unless you have hundreds of items to shred per day, there is no need to keep them around. I discovered this when my pile of shredding grew so large I had no choice but to deal with it. It took a full day of shredding, waiting for the shredder to cool down, and shredding by hand as well. By the end of the day it was all done and I decided that I would never let it get to that point again! I created a new system for myself that has worked well. Every night I go through my purse for receipts and then gather any mail or papers around the house. I look through each one, keep any that I may need and hand shred the rest. Yes, hand shred. I have found that I do a better job than the shredder and I am able to make sure all important information is completely destroyed.
The first time I completed the hunt for hidden clutter exercise I was amazed by how much I collected! I couldn’t believe that so much trash was sitting out around my house! Sometimes, when items such as trash and paper sit for a while they just become part of the scene and we begin to look past them. Take a look around your home with fresh eyes to see what you can find.
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