Person to Person: Cleaning Up Clutter Can Make Time For Relationships

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) People good at de-cluttering their homes and offices say that too much “stuff” can bog down your life. Below are a few tips to begin the journey of reclaiming your space.

Tribune News Service

Do you feel sad because there are people you don’t have time for?

Maybe they include your aunts and uncles, whom you’ve not visited in five years. Or, maybe you haven’t seen your old college pals since 2005.

As you look at your schedule, you might scratch your head trying to figure everything out. Why don’t you ever get around to penciling in activities with people you really miss?

One good reason is that anyone who is not well-organized will end up wasting a lot of time.

Cleaning up your life, quite literally, will open up mental energy and help you focus and work faster. You can then use this time to plan activities with those who matter to you.

People good at de-cluttering their homes and offices say that too much “stuff” can bog down your life.

“This bogged down feeling of having too much to do, with no energy to get organized, forces us to crawl through life at the slowest speed,” says a friend of ours who teaches classes on getting organized. We’ll call her Marian.

Marian says she’s worked with clients who haven’t really cleaned up their homes in a decade. “This is a dangerous way to live,” Marion insists. “Piles of stuff make you feel you’re way too far behind to enjoy seeing your friends on the weekend.”

She goes on to say that many of her clients, who receive five weeks of coaching on how to de-clutter, are too ashamed to invite anyone over to their houses.

Here are some tips for starting to de-clutter your home:

-Work in two-hour time blocks at first. It’s hard to make any progress in less time. Don’t turn on the TV and don’t pick up the phone. Stick with getting organized.

-Take one small space at a time. For instance, organize just one drawer, one small closet or your briefcase.

-Invest four hours total the first week. In this length of time, you can begin to experience some progress. Stick to four hours a week, until you can trim the time to one hour a couple of days a week.

Marian says that it helps to sort your items into four piles. The first pile is the sacred stuff you don’t want to store, such as pictures, your favorite purse, or cookbooks you use a lot. The second pile is stuff you want to store out of sight: nice dishes, clothes for another season, or your high school memorabilia. The third pile is for the “trash” items, and the fourth pile is the “I don’t know what to do with this” type of items.

Marian advises that you get the trash stuff into the trunk of your car quickly. It never comes back into the house. The sacred stuff must then be put in place. And next, the items you want to store should be placed in closets or drawers.

“The pile that you don’t what to do with is the only one that will require sorting,” says Marian.
She advises dealing with living areas, bathrooms, and the kitchen first. This way, you can begin to open up space to invite friends over.

“Get your whole family in on the act,” Marian advises. “Train your kids and spouse to de-clutter. You’ll feel more positive vibes in your home.”

The three of us decided to use Marian’s system. It works. After just one month of de-cluttering, we were amazed.
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe, Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)

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