This post submitted by Tim Eyre, from Extra Space Storage, a provider of self-storage with locations across the United States.
Ever wonder how the simple task of getting rid of things can be so overwhelming? Well, you're not alone. Just the thought of tackling all those mounds of clutter scattered throughout the house is enough to drive even the best of us crazy. So how does a person combat an enemy like this? Well, I'll tell you what worked for me. I decided to face the problem the same way that event planners, airlines, and sports leagues do it---by making a schedule!
I began by thinking about when would be the best times of year to get rid of certain things. Pretty soon, something resembling a schedule slowly started taking shape. And in short order I had what looked like a workable plan of action sitting in front of me. I knew right away it wasn't perfect but it didn't take me long to realize that it doesn't have to be. Just having a written plan made me feel organized and did wonders for my confidence. That piece of paper in my hand became a new weapon in the war on clutter that rendered the enemy much less intimidating.
The first thing you need to realize about my plan is that it is not rocket science. It's really just common sense cleverly disguised as a yearly calendar that tells me when are the most sensible dates to go about doing various forms of decluttering. The second thing to realize is that it doesn't have to be followed exactly---or even loosely, for that matter. In plain fact, there is never a bad time to declutter. Very often the best time to do it appears unannounced--- you may be looking for something and you suddenly feel so fed up with being unable to find what you need that you have a sudden burst of inspiration to undergo a full scale purge. If this should happen, then by all means act on that impulse and begin to slice and dice immediately!
OK, so all that being said, here is what my "clutter calendar" looks like:
January: The beginning of the year signals the end of the holidays. Translation: You can get rid of stuff but this is not the time you want to sell any of it. People just spent several weeks shopping for holiday gifts and the last thing they want to do in January is more buying. Not only that, but they have plenty of new stuff to fool around with so they are not looking for more. So save your serious purging for later. The best things to get rid of in January are Christmas decorations. You have to put them away anyhow, so what better time to get rid of those you don't need?
February/March: It's winter time and you are stuck indoors. What better time to clean out those drawers and cabinets? Tackle them one at a time. In fact, remove a different drawer and bring it with you as you settle in to watch TV each night. Go through the items, organize them neatly, and get rid of the unneeded ones. Then simply slide the drawer back in place.
April/May: OK, now it's time to start getting serious. You heard the term "spring cleaning"? Well, spring is the best time to roll up your sleeves and significantly lighten your load. This means furniture, appliances, junk in the basement and anything else you can think of. Put stuff out on the street. Better still, think about having a yard sale. In fact, do it early in the spring when everyone has cabin fever. If you wait till later in the summer, yard sales will be old news to most folks.
June/July: Got any items that keep people cool? Now is a great time to sell them! Things like pool toys, air conditioning units, or portable fans will fetch top dollar at this time of year, when people are starting to focus on outside activities.
August: School will be starting soon so this is a good time to get rid of old books. In fact, it's a good time to purge any items that can be useful to students. At worst, you'll be throwing out stuff you don't need and as a bonus you might find yourself some eager buyers.
September: What are you doing with last year's Halloween costumes? If you no longer need them, now is the time to find someone to take them off your hands.
October: This is the best time of year to begin tackling those closets. The weather is changing and you need to clear space for seasonal stuff. Be ruthless when deciding what to keep and what to throw out. Ask yourself how long it has been since you actually used your old clothing, item by item. If it's been more than a year, then strongly consider ditching it. But save all these clothes in large bags or boxes. You can donate them!
November: Now go through the rest of the house, room by room. Clean up each room by discarding what you no longer need. If it is useable, then add it to the donation boxes. Remember that the holidays are rapidly approaching and for many of us, that means we will be having guests in our home. What better time to make the house look neat? Not only that but you will be prepared for the onslaught of new stuff that will arrive at Christmas time.
December: Relax and enjoy the holidays. But don't forget to drop off all those bags and boxes you are donating before the end of the year so that you can claim credit on your tax return next April!
Remember that the dates are not really that important. Feel free to change them around and you may have a schedule that works better for you. What is important is having a roadmap to guide you through that jungle of clutter and lead you to a more organized life.
Tim Eyre helps residential and business customers who use self storage when they don't have enough storage space on their own property. Tim's employer - Extra Space Storage - has locations from coast to coast, including self storage units in Miami and a location providing Chicago self storage units.