Do you ever waste time looking for things because you didn't put them away where they belong? Is your closet overflowing, but you can't find the item you want? Have you missed paying a bill on time because you lost it? Clutter can easily get out of control and waste space, time and energy.
Clutter often accumulates because we don't have a place to store things. Or, maybe we have too many things. Controlling clutter requires that we make some decisions and get organized.
Here are some tips to help you get started. These tips are taken from a public program presented by Joy Purkeypile, Linn County Family and Consumer Sciences agent, last January in Bourbon County.
When you're ready to attack the clutter, start at one spot in each room and work clockwise until you reach your starting point. Use the box approach to sort the clutter. Sort items into boxes labeled Keep, Store, Give Away/Sell, and Throw Away. If you're indecisive, you can use a fifth box labeled Maybe.
The Keep Box. Into this box go items that need to be returned to their proper places. It will help if like items are stored together. Create "centers" for work, such as cleaning, desk/office, cooking, baking, makeup, tools, studying, hobbies and games, etc.
The Storage Box is for items which will be used at another time.
The Give Away/Sell Box could be the beginning of your next yard sale or be taken to a consignment shop to earn some money from your unwanted items. You could also give these items to a secondhand store or charity. This would include items to be recycled.
The Throw Away Box will hold anything that is broken, ripped, worn or stained. This box could also be the trash can or trash bag.
The Maybe Box gives you one last chance to sort items into the other boxes.
To keep your clothes closet from becoming cluttered with too many items which are never worn, here's a tip. Turn all the hangers in the closet backward. Then, as you wear an item, hang it back the right way. After a period of time, clear out all the clothes with hangers still backward.
Once all the clutter has been eliminated and things you want to keep are organized, here are tips to prevent clutter from accumulating again.
* Deal with things when they are in your hand (throw them away or put them away) or keep a basket handy to hold things that need to go to another room. Do not put them in a pile.
* Spend a few minutes every day on a quick pick-up. Take a basket and go through the house quickly, picking up and dropping things off where they belong. Do not use this time to do heavy cleaning or you'll get bogged down.
* Set limits on things to keep. How many margarine tubs do you need? How many old magazines will you read again? Give away or recycle the extras.
* Keep a shopping bag in every closet for items that you are ready to get rid of. When the bag starts to get full, recycle, discard, sell or give away the items.
* If some items need to be taken up or down stairs to store, do not let them pile up at the top or bottom of the stairs. Put a box or basket near the stairs for temporary storage and take the items with you when you go up or down.
* When you leave a room, take a quick look around to see if there are items that should be taken with you --an empty glass back to the kitchen, a magazine or toy to be stored elsewhere.
Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Bourbon County. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or email@example.com.