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Tuesday Tip: How to Make Clutter Management an Easy Part of Your Daily Life

Oh, hey there! Happy 2019!

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I’m winding down from a week of almost daily celebrations and very irregular sleep patterns, and I have a glorious head cold to show for it. But, in the name of New Year’s resolutions, I have mustered up the energy to write up a quick Tuesday Tip about one way I plan to stay organized in 2019.

By a show of hands, who else has a house bursting at the seams with clutter? OK, put your hands down…I can’t see you anyway. Just nod to yourself in agreement.

If you’re like me, December brought with it more than just Christmas cheer and a few extra pounds.

Look around you. If you had to walk to the refrigerator right now, how many things would you have to move out of the way in order to get there safely? I don’t even want to answer that question.

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My daughter’s birthday is just a few weeks before Christmas, so our home has been inundated with fun new toys as of late. What better time to do a clutter purge of older, well-loved play things?

I’ve been sitting on this idea for a while, but I can procrastinate no longer.

For my own mental clarity, I need to wipe the slate clean and start the new year with a solid plan for managing the near-constant clutter in my home.

Enter, the Clutter Crusher system. Yes, more alliteration. It’s just my brain’s default setting, and I’ve learned to embrace it.

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The Clutter Crusher system is a way to make dealing with clutter an easy and sustainable part of my daily routine. Maybe it’ll work for you too!

So to get me started with this process, I’ve designated four receptacles for sorting outgoing clutter. It doesn’t matter what kind you choose, be it box, bin, or bag. What matters is that you have a place.

As you can see here, I’ve chosen small, plastic, stack-able bins from the dollar store. But you could use garbage bags (labeled!), cardboard boxes, or even a laundry basket subdivided using recycled shopping bags. Now, I understand that these smaller bins will not stand up to the massive clutter purges my husband and I do from time to time. But that’s not what they’re designed for. As the title of this post suggests, this system is supposed to help me manage small, daily clutter. Before it becomes a mountain.

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Once you’ve chosen your containers, label them. If you hadn’t noticed, I’m a little bit….extra when it comes to organizing, so I made pretty labels for my baskets. Do you have to do this too? Heck to the no! Grab a sharpie, scribble a label on your bag/box/bin, and call it a day.

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Here are my 4 outgoing clutter categories:

  • Donate
  • Share
  • Consign
    • Side Note: Looking for a way to make a few extra bucks to contribute toward debt (every dollar counts!!)? Or to fund your morning coffee run? Consigning is a great way to make some passive income. All you have to do is drop off your stuff, and the store does the rest! Sure, you only get a portion of the profit, but it’s super easy, and that has to count for something.
  • Recycle
    • e.g. outdated electronics – does anyone else hold onto ALL of their old phones and laptops?! (For the record, I won’t be storing these in my car, because old electronics often have sensitive information on them. Also, if you’re aiming to recycle them for parts, they should not be exposed to extreme temperatures.)

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Helpful Hint #1: Assign sub-categories to make your clutter management even more effective.

Within the larger categories identified above, I may break down the contents into even smaller groupings. This is simply to help my future self remain organized and sane by not having to re-sort the items later on.

For instance, when I consign items, I typically bring my daughter’s clothes and toys to Once Upon a Child, while my belongings go to a consignment store geared more toward women’s clothing. Therefore, when I put items into the consignment bin, I generally separate them by store using a recycled bag.

When I offer things to friends or family, I typically have specific individuals in mind. One of my nieces is just shy of a year old, so I typically pass on my daughter’s outgrown clothing and shoes to her. For this reason, it’s been helpful for me to have extra bags on hand to separate items by individual while still keeping like items corralled in the same area.

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The key to making this system work is to make it as effortless as possible. Keep extra grocery or shopping bags right next to your containers to sub-organize as you go! That way, when you’re ready to deliver the items to their new home, the sorting has already been done!

Helpful Hint #2: Assign bins a home that makes sense.

The next step is to keep these items in a location where they will actually reach their ultimate destination, rather than becoming another permanent, dusty fixture in our already cluttered houses. I have chosen to keep mine in the trunk of my car so that I can easily get them where they need to go by combining trips with other errands in the same geographic location.

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For example, there’s a Goodwill donation center just down the road from my preferred grocery store, so I sometimes combine these errands while I’m out. Likewise, Once Upon a Child, as well as my favorite women’s consignment store, are both a bit of a hike from my house, so I don’t often make the drive with the explicit purpose of going to those stores. Instead, I often find myself in those areas and think, “Oh! I might as well pop in and drop off X, Y, and Z.”

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How does this system play out in my day to day life you ask? Well, when I come across an item that I no longer want, I set it by the front door. Then on my next trip out to the car, I bring it with me and drop it in the appropriate bin (before today, I would have simply let my bags roll around the backseat all loose-y goose-y until they were too jumbled for me to remember where, or to whom, they were supposed to go). When it’s convenient, I simply take the contents out of the bin and bring them where they need to go. What’s easier than that?

You may decide that it makes more sense to keep your containers in a different area. Whatever works!

The important thing is that we don’t let our homes and minds become bogged down by all the “stuff” around us. We have other, more important things to give our attention to.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go snuggle up with a box of tissues and a hot cup of tea and nurse myself back to health.

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But before you go, I’d love to hear from you! How do you manage clutter in your home? Drop a line in the comments below.

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