Guest Blog – Wacky Ways to Part with Paper and Clear Your Counters

Guest Blogger: Darla DeMorrow, Certified Professional Organizer ®.


Photo credit: HeartWork Organizing

What are some wacky, perhaps even extreme ways to really get a handle on paper clutter? Sure, a match is the quickest way to getting rid of it, but maybe not what you had in mind.

Get a PO box. Really. If you have a PO box and check it only once or twice a month, then it’s a lot easier to get rid of the junk mail and trash all at once. No one ever said that just because the mail is delivered every day means you have to look at it every day.

Get on every do not mail list there is:

Stop data mining. Contact each of the 3 credit bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian) and block your records. You can request that they NOT provide your information to general inquiries, which is where most of those credit card offers come from. How many of those do you get each week?

Stop filing by category. Simplify filing down to JUST TWO boxes. Odd year. Even Year. Put the lid on the box for the year you aren’t in, and put it under the current year box (odd year for 2015). Keep the lid off the top box, and throw receipts and paid bills in the Odd year box for 2015. At the end of the year, put the lid on the top box (Odd year), switch it with the bottom box (now EVEN year for 2016), and start piling information into that box. You are still filing, and the only one you’re cheating is the clock.

Who cares that it’s not traditional? Stats show that 80% of what we put into a file cabinet never see the light of day ever again. Don’t spend time meticulously filing the 80% if you hate filing.

Stop moving paper around. Where does all the paper end up? In the kitchen. Make record keeping easier by retrofitting an existing kitchen drawer with one of my favorite products, a fitted file frame . File right where you spend your time and where the paper lands anyway. If you don’t have a drawer you can retrofit, use an attractive file box, like this sea grass file box, right on your counter.

Stop clutter before it starts. If you aren’t opening up your bank statements anyway because you look at them online, then contact your bank and have them stop the paper statements. It’s silly to receive, shuffle, file and store an unopened envelope that you never wanted anyway.

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Guest Blog – Go Ahead. Break the Dishes

Guest Blogger: Darla DeMorrow, Certified Professional Organizer ®.


Photo credit: HeartWork Organizing

Do you know what one of the highest causes of clutter is? Caution.

We are afraid we won’t be prepared, so we keep extra gifts “just in case.”

We are afraid the new toaster might break, so we keep the old one in the basement.

We are afraid we will run out of paper goods, so we buy more, and can’t find the first batch.

We have closets full of clothes, tags still on, saved for the right occasion, that are outgrown or outdated.

We are afraid the “good toys” might get broken, so we don’t let the kids play with the pretty ceramic tea set.

Just recently, a client with young kids was working on getting the mudroom organized. She had a batch of toys in her mudroom that she was “saving” for the kids. She was afraid the little pottery tea set was going to get broken. But kids grow so fast, there was a very, very good chance that she would hide the tea set too long, and they would outgrow it before she found it again.

Most of us are truly blessed with abundance, and in this time of easy access to goods, there is very little reason to be overly cautious with our stuff. We would be much better off if, instead of being overly cautious with our goods, we made them work hard for us every day.

Use the good china even on a regular day. Give away the gifts. Use the pretty napkins.

And let the kids play with the ceramic tea set. Sure, they are bound to break it. Kids break things, after all. But it’s better to have the happy memories of fancy tea parties, than to have clutter in the mudroom, or wherever else you store the “good stuff”.

What have you been saving that has turned into clutter? Can you start using and enjoying it today?

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Guest Blog – Love Your Stuff: Break Up With Your Clutter

Guest Blogger: Darla DeMorrow, Certified Professional Organizer ®.


Photo credit: HeartWork Organizing

We talk a lot about decluttering, but some people get absolutely stuck on the emotional side of letting go. Just the idea of removing your things from your home or office might give you the jitters. Did you know that there are some physiological reasons that decluttering is harder for some people than others? Your brain and your body play a big part in what your heart is telling you about your clutter. Fortunately, we have a lot of strategies we can use to help you break up with your clutter.

1. Always start your decluttering when you are well-rested, well-fed, well-hydrated, and not already stressed. You’ll make better and easier decisions about decluttering when your brain is feeling fine.

2. Just start. The IDEA can be overwhelming, but working on just one area or file at a time is do-able. Like exercise or learning any new skill, just getting started is usually the hardest part.

3. Find homes for things you can move on, but be careful not to search for the absolute one-and-only best and perfect home. You are not in the thrift business, but thrift companies are. They can find the person who needs it the most or the person who is willing to pay for it. If you do want to give something to a particular friend, make sure they want it, and then make an appointment to get it in the mail or deliver it to your friend. Find a “good enough” home.

4. Let others have a say, and respect their say. If an adult child is ready to part with some of their early artwork, it’s healthy to respect their wishes.

5. Don’t fall into the “it could be valuable” trap. Research actual value on public auction sites like eBay or consignment sites, and compare it against your time and effort to sell it (clean it up, photograph it, write the description, list it, watch the listing, collect the funds, move the funds to your bank account, mail the item, and deal with complaints or returns). Compare that against the actual cash value that you’ll get on taxes for charitable donations (bag it up, drop it off). Read more about how donating even your good stuff can bring you more value than you thought in The Economics of Purging .

6. Hire a professional organizer. You’ve probably tried some of these strategies, think some sound silly, and maybe don’t believe that some of them will work for you. A professional organizer has the experience, the training, the tools, and the physical stamina to help you get through the physical part of your project, and gently work through the emotional aspects as well. Rather than wanting you to throw things out, what we want you to do is find and make space for stuff you love. And through repeating the process and repeatedly using these strategies, we can not only help you be more successful with the project, we can help you be happier with the results. Visit NAPO to find a professional organizer near you.

These are just a few strategies that can help you break up with your clutter. Click here for at least 14 more decluttering strategies.

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