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Simple steps for reducing clutter

Clutter seems to have a mind of its own. No matter how many times we say we’re going to get things organized and keep them that way, a few days later we might look around and find that clutter is already starting to accumulate again.

If you can gradually start to incorporate the four techniques we’ve listed here, the clutter in your house may just start to look manageable after all.

  • 1. Try not to add to it. Maybe you have eight months’ worth of magazines piled on the coffee table. But that’s no reason to make it nine. When you’ve finished the magazine you’re reading, toss it. When your child finishes his science project, throw out the leftover Popsicle sticks. Did you buy a new saucepan to replace the one that burned? You know what to do. “No new clutter” is your new mantra.
  • 2. Open your mail every day. Toss anything that’s junk immediately. Put the things that need your attention in a manila folder. Now, pick a time (right after dinner?) and every day, at that same time, go through the folder and respond to anything that needs a reply.
  • 3. Instead of putting it down, put it away. That goes for your coat, the groceries, and the new ream of paper you just bought for your printer. Perhaps you feel that when you walk in your front door, you’re already exhausted from the work or errands you’ve done. But by investing just a little bit more energy, you gain something important for yourself—space that’s unclogged with clutter. That’s a big return on a relatively small investment.
  • 4. Resist filing under “miscellaneous.” The temptation to use it as a catchall may be too much to resist. When you find yourself with a piece of paper in your hand, take that extra minute and decide to act on it or toss it. If it’s genuinely something you might be interested in at some point in the future—say, insurance information—put it in a file that lets you know what’s inside, in this case, “Insurance.”
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