Killing Clutter Quickly

In my earlier post “Is Clutter Killing Your Career, You?” I talked about the toll clutter can take on careers and writers’ bodies.  Clutter causes chaotic time sucks and allows writers to put off important things like exercise while causing stress in all areas. Today I’ve got a few quick tips to getting things under control.

Hire a professional organizer.

Yes, they do exist. If you can get paid to sit at home in your underwear and blog about cats, these professional can get paid to get dressed, leave the house and come organize yours. A professional organizer is a cheerleader/drill sargent that will help you organize the good stuff and finally get rid of those freakin Vanilla Ice posters. No, they will not be worth millions someday. They will also help you figure out what kind of organizing style works for you. I’m a visual organizer. If I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist so clear bins and open shelves work better for me.

Speed sort.

Before you head off to the store to buy massive gray bins, speed sort your junk, um, stuff. Sort things into the keep, toss or share/donate pile. No lingering! If you can’t decide toss it. You’ll quickly learn about what you really can live without.

Hit the paper trail.

Writers hoard a lot of paper. Clips, research, old publications, receipts from twelve years ago. Here’s where it gets tricky. You have to sort the paper, according to how you categorize items. Be ruthless. Remember, you’re clearing out clutter, not moving clutter from one spot to the next. If you don’t need it, kick it to the curb.

Make everyday life easier.

  • Drop junk mail into a bin by the front door. It can be decorative certainly, but it’s at the door so it can take be taken out with the rest of the recycling.
  • Put your keys in the same place everyday. Hana Haatainen Caye uses a basket at the front door. A hook is useful or a small table. Whatever it is, pick the spot and stick with it.
  • Misti Sandefur uses a file cabinet for her papers, however, a horizontal filing system may work better for you, the key is to have a place and category for every piece of paper. No fair using one gigantic misc. file!
  • Make tidying a regular routine Misti also advises.

Here are a few websites I found that have some office, home & life tips:

18 Five-Minute Decluttering Tips to Start Conquering Your Mess

And what’s a declutter conversation without a tip from an Oprah guru? Peter Walsh’s Ten Ways to Declutter Your Home

Clearing out clutter is about keeping what’s important, creating a place and space for everything and being consistent with your organization. Clutter happens to everyone, take your time and start small. Each space that is freed is another victory to a clutter free (mostly) life. Just think about what you can do with all the time you save NOT looking for paper clips!

Got more clutter tips? Share them!


4 responses
  1. Debra Stang Avatar

    After letting clutter get out of control a couple of times, I finally found a way to stop it for good. Now I sort my mail and pay my bills as soon as I get home from work. Then I start writing. About two hours into my writing session, I take a five minute break and clear away any clutter that’s sprung up. I take five minutes at the end of my writing session and do the same thing. So far, it’s worked really well.

  2. Noemi Twigg Avatar
    Noemi Twigg

    Here’s a nifty site that might help:

  3. Phil Avatar

    Desk Apprentice helps. So does scanning in items. And touch items as few times as possible. Handle mail immediately (or at a specific time of day), tossing junk, scanning in invoices, paying bills (you can easlity post-date through most online payment systems).

    Other times, I just spend a cuple of hours working through clutter, typically very early am or on weekend so it doesn’t get too out of hand.

  4. LexC Avatar

    Don’t I know about a clutter, been struggling with it for years. As evidence I even blogged about it a couple years ago, But I’ve realized that my clutter isn’t always just physical junk. Many times it’s the simple things in my mind that I can’t clear away when it’s time to write.

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