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Getting Rid of Clutter

Garage Full of Boxes and Clutter
Clutter can add up around the house faster then you thought possible. Keeping clutter down in your home helps your home be more organized and clean. This is a guide about getting rid of clutter.
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March 2, 2016

At our house, it only takes a few days for things to get out of place. I have figured out an easy and quick way to get things back in order.

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I take my big plastic dish pan and starting with the dining room table, as that is where most of the clutter begins, I put everything that's out of place into the pan.

I walk around the room and place what stays in that room where it belongs and anything else that does not belong in that room, I put it into the pan.

I go from room to room and in just a few minutes, I have everything back where it belongs and have saved myself lots of steps.

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By 10 found this helpful
November 7, 2011

I hate clutter; probably because I dislike dirt. Clutter makes it far harder to just keep up, and to find things. I have even read that it can cause stress. For me, clutter means I can't find what I'm looking for, or hiding something I forgot I have. Whichever the case it may be time to get rid of a few things.

I like everything in my kitchen tidy; the cans facing all the same way, plates stacked neatly, pans where I can use them, etc. What happens is you get in a hurry, and everything get in disarray fast. I have discovered doing it right the first time saves time in the long run.

I live alone, so I have to check dates on canned foods, things in fridge and freezer to make sure they are still good. The best way to do this, is have all of your cans stacked in order neatly. For example: I have soups in one row or area, and vegetables in another. Keeping them separate makes it easier to rotate these items; making sure nothing goes to waste.

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Keeping food in boxes take up a lot of space and can allow bugs. Unless you eat it up fast, I have found it best to take the contents out of the box, and store it in same-sized plastic lock containers. Having these containers keep everything fresher longer, and make everything easy to see. I have organic cereal which I don't eat a lot of, and it has been fresh for months. So in the kitchen, toss out the boxes. You can find these containers on sale, and even at thrift stores in great condition.

What I eat more of, I try to get on sale in bulk and freeze. If it's in the right container, it saves space and saves the food from freezer burn. Living thrifty means buying on sale. These containers are great for soups, and things that you make ahead of time and freeze. Bread is great to freeze. Make sure you put it into another bag (even plastic store bag helps), to prevent freezer burn. Date it, and don't put where it could be damaged before it freezes. Once it's frozen, depending on space, you can stack it.

Before you go out to the big sales, un-clutter. Examine the food you have and clean out freezer before buying more. It will save you money not to let what you may have forgotten go to waste. I weekly go through the inside the refrigerator to see what I may have forgotten. I check the dates on condiments, and make sure milk or other dairy products are good before buying other things. This saves money and time, and makes meals so much easier. Once a week, I plan my meals, and eat what's there or clean out what may not be good.

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Take a minute to put away dishes, pots and pans neatly. The cabinets will have more room, and later you will get to what you need faster. If you have things you don't use donate it. Chances are if you haven't used it in 6 months you probably aren't going to. If you use the 6 month rule on most things (except china or holiday things) and rid yourself of it, you'll have more space and time.

I have very little drawer space. My towels, fiber cloths are neatly stacked in a basket in cabinet next to the sink. Having them in a nice basket helps me keep them looking nice and neat. It's OK to throw away or use for rags, the old holey dish towels. You can find them at dollar store, 2 for $1.00. Take inventory, and rotate so you aren't using same one over and over. They all will get equal use this way.

Sometimes being thrifty, we feel bad about buying anything extra. I loved the way my baskets looked when I bought new dish towels. A few years later they still look nice. Throw out the old rags, and make new rags with old towels.

In the kitchen I also got rid of the mixed silverware, and old plastic containers that I didn't need. It's surprising how fast saving used plastic containers stack up and are forgotten. In my tableware drawers, I got rid of what I didn't use, got the right dividers, and put them away correctly. It stays neat.

I don't eat out, but my son loved fast food. When he was here, he kept all of the plastic spoons and forks. They were everywhere. I didn't throw them away of course, they are in plastic bags. They are great for on the go (grab a yogurt). Those plastic containers I told you about are great for straws, plastic forks. Don't throw it the drawers.

Clutter can be anywhere, with anything. My answer is the 6 month rule, and having the right containers. Buying all of the right plastic container helped so much in every area of the kitchen. Being organized will take so much stress out of your life. It is just easier when everything has its place. Donate it, have a garage sale, or toss it if it's not good. I have found everything is better when everything is neat, orderly, clean, and less money is wasted.

Source: Life. I was always a clean nut. But until my son left, I had no idea what he had in the back of my cabinets, closets, drawers, etc. I learned that less is usually best for me.

By Luana M. from San Diego, CA

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By 2 found this helpful
March 24, 2009

Americans spend billions of dollars a year on storage containers! Recent data indicated that we spent $1.4 billion on food storage containers in 2003 alone! I am a pack rat by nature and I save everything: Broken jewelry and bits of china, ribbon pieces to be used in future craft projects; clothing that is a decade out of style but just too nice to throw away. It is a compulsion and a bad habit that with some practice can be reformed.
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The first stop is to change your mindset: This is not easy. You have to choose to be ruthless. If you just cannot bear to throw or give your stuff away cold turkey, place it in a box and seal the box and label with a date 6 months in the future. If you have not broken the seal on the box to retrieve an item in 6 months it is safe to donate to your favorite local charity.

Think of the free time you'll gain by not having to clean your stuff or look for it in piles of junk. Get creative when trying to clean out your items. Set a timer and allow yourself only 15 minutes to clean out a closet. Have boxes handy for throw away, donate and put in their rightful place. Do you really want your loved ones to find all the ____ (Fill in the blank) if you were to die unexpectedly? We laugh and say my husband will kill me when he finds all the fabric, yarn and craft supplies in the basement if I were to die suddenly!

Cleaning Out:

Toys, Etc.:

Consider recycling your used sporting good equipment, camping gear and last years cleats to a used sporting good consignment store. Many children' consignment stores accept toys, books, CDs and DVDs too. Many cities now have consignment stores for your used musical instruments as well.

Books:

Some cities have stores which buy your used books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs. You get a store credit to purchase new and slightly used items in my home town.

Clothing:

Turn all your hangers backwards; as you wear an item, turn the hanger to face the correct way. At the end of the season dispose of all the clothing you have not worn. Consign it, donate it or e-bay it. Be ruthless - this is not easy!

Resist purchasing clothing just because it is on sale and a good bargain. Many of these items end up being discarded with the tags still on them.

Recycle your clothing: Turn kids t-shirts or all your racing shirts in to a lap blanket or a quilt. These make nice gifts. I made one for my daughter when she went to college. I have even heard of recycling deceased loved ones garments into a blanket or stuffed animals. Old ties can be made into skirts or messenger bags. Recycle buttons into bracelets or for future sewing projects.

Host a PROM dress exchange at your local high school or contact an inner city school about hosting a free PROM dress shopping day in their gym.

Host a yard sale, a FREE give away (instead of a sale), donate to your local churches Mission, allow the DAV or Veterans organization pickup, post on Craigslist, etc.

In The Kitchen:

I knew my life was one of shameless excess when I counted 10 wooden spoons in my utensil drawer. Clean out baking pans, cookware, storage containers and utensils that you have not used in a year. If you can't identify the purpose of the kitchen gadget you need to get rid of it. If you dread using that food processor, grill or waffle iron because it so hard to clean, just get rid of it!

In The Bathroom:

Discard all expired medications on an annual basis. Use your birthday or holiday as the annual date. Discard those half used tubes of lipstick. E-bay the freebies you don't use that you get when you purchase high end cosmetics.

In the Attic, Basement and Garage:

Don't purchase craft items until immediately prior to beginning your craft. I have wasted mega-bucks on projects I wanted to try only to have the supplies accumulate but never get used. Donate leftovers to your church resource room, schools after school daycare program or the local preschool.

Don't open that box from your last move 4 years ago. Take it directly to the Goodwill! Trust me, you will NEVER miss it! Discard all the "parts" of broken items you were planning on repairing. You are NEVER going to get around to doing it if it has been there for more than 3 months.

In Conclusion:

Some people are forced to do this when downsizing to a smaller house. I am a lot happier to see uncluttered counters and the basement floor. There have even been studies that indicate that clutter increases your stress. Do yourself a favor and start de-cluttering today!

Source: I finally got serious about de-clutterng and it worked for me!

By Diana from Prospect, KY

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November 28, 2008

Since so many of us have a lot of time off for Thanksgiving, it's a good time to go through stuff and see all you've been blessed with.

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By 6 found this helpful
September 26, 2011

To get rid of clutter, I usually start on a small project. If I start with a small junk drawer and get it all cleaned out, I feel a sense of accomplishment that makes me want to do more.

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By 6 found this helpful
September 27, 2011

Clearing up clutter is a step by step process. I have learned that I can accomplish anything if I break it up into 15 minute increments.

Clutter in a skeleton closet.

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By 2 found this helpful
April 23, 2012

I moved to a smaller house and had so many things that wouldn't fit into the new house. After I had stored a lot of it in boxes for a year, I went through it all again and found that these things no longer had as much sentimental "pull".

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September 14, 20042 found this helpful

One way to keep clutter down is to provide dedicated space/containers, baskets, shelf space, plastic tubs, hangers, and hooks, for items which tend to accumulate.

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Kelly Ann Butterbaugh0 found this helpful
February 19, 2007

It's always a good idea to inventory and evaluate. There are items which are priceless, earning their keep over and over again. Then, there are those which only weigh us down with debt. How many items do you have which are earning their keep, and how many do you own which are weighing you down?

Gas Tank With Cash Stuffed in it

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By 1 found this helpful
August 21, 2008

What works for me is to take control the minute clutter comes in the door, in any form. When the mail is brought in, sort it right then.

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May 22, 20170 found this helpful

Having a cluttered house can be very stressful. This is a guide about get rid of clutter in 30 days.

Get Rid of Clutter in 30 Days

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By 0 found this helpful
April 9, 2012

Spring is here and so comes the traditional spring cleaning. This year, due to my retirement, I really have the time to do a thorough cleaning of closets and cupboards. I've been discovering long lost "treasures" and duplicate grocery items.

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June 29, 20050 found this helpful

Ok now, Just admit it. You don't have everything you want, but you have everything you NEED. Use a grocery list and stick to it. Sell what you don't need, either in an ad, yard sale or over the net. Bartering is fun and a lot of people are anxious to do it.

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April 30, 20050 found this helpful

To avoid clutter do what I do, whenever I buy something new, I have to get rid of one of my old ones. It's a deal I had to make with my husband to keep him from griping.

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March 22, 20170 found this helpful

Often times you can acquire things you need via barter or trade from friends and neighbors, rather than buying new. Planning a bartering event is perfect way to help people get things they need and for others to get rid of things they don't. This is a guide about plan a bring and barter event.

colorful homemade soap

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February 8, 20060 found this helpful

When it comes to clutter and being organized I have a rule: When going through old things every year, when I find an item that someone just had to have for christmas, birthday, etc. If that item or items is sitting and not being used...

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

August 14, 20040 found this helpful

Clutter control tips from our readers. Post your ideas!

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August 15, 20040 found this helpful
Best Answer

Yup, that's me. I'm a 53 YO male packrat from a long line of packrats (on my Mom's side). This fact of course results in a lot of clutter. There are a lot of great tips here but one just occured to me and I intend to start today. The plan is this: set aside a certain period of time every day to methodically sort, store, donate, or toss the stuff.

The best place to start would seem to be the storage areas themselves; closets, the basement, attic, garage, shelves and pantry, etc. You can't put anything 'up' unless 'up' has room for it. Then perhaps by starting at one corner of one room and working out from there, my paths will expand until they're not paths anymore, but large areas of open space.

I'll probably start with an hour a day and see how that works out. Since there is no one here but my cat and me, blaming it on the kids (or getting them to help clean up) is not an option. However, an advantage to this is that it doesn't matter how long it takes to do it. Nobody suffers from my clutter but me (and the cat, who doesn't seem to care).

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 18, 20040 found this helpful
Best Answer

Turn your "clutter" into cash by selling clothes, collectibles, etc on ebay! Too much trouble? Set a goal of a major garage sale at least once a year and donate remainder to charity. I make a LOT of money selling "junk" each year.

When shopping, live by the mantra "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without".

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August 19, 20041 found this helpful
Best Answer

Egg cartons, tops cut off, make good organizers in drawers for little things. Earrings, safety pins, jewelry, keys, etc. For larger things, entirely fill a drawer with cut-off cereal or other boxes. Makes nice compartments and you can customize them to whatever you plan to put in them. Underwear drawer--just cut cardboard "dividers" fit to size. The clothing will keep them upright. Also you can use bowls from the thrift store for the "junk" drawer. One for keys, one for bread ties, one for popsicle sticks, whatever you save for later use.

Zip-lock baggies make nice organizers for your purse, suitcase, briefcase. Baskets are nice too, for catch-alls in the bathroom or on your dresser, such things as hair barrettes, small bottles of cosmetics, clippers, things like that. I keep a plastic desk drawer organizer on TOP of my desk. A little slot for paperclips, staple puller, note paper, calculator, etc. On the countertop, a large vase holds your most-used utensils. Only keep the ones you use frequently in here, the rest go into the drawer, so they don't just sit around and get dirty. I built a little shelf, VERY simple, top & 2 sides, to give myself more room over my kitchen countertop. Now there's 2 layers there with more workspace.

Some of your stuff looks good organized into a "collection". This way you get to show it off and enjoy it instead of considering it clutter. For instance, a pile of books on a coffee table. Keep them dusted. Maybe tie them with a ribbon and a silk flower on top. Baskets of yarn are especially nice to look at. Seashells too. Green or blue glass. and you can store smaller things in jars and make an arrangement. Hang shoe pocket organizers on the backs of bedroom doors, or make some out of fabric like old jeans, they're not hard to make. Boxes, shoe boxes especially, can fit into the most amazing places, like under the bed or behind the couch. Label everything if you do this. Mostly, just go around your house and see what's causing you the grief, then figure out what it would fit into, and whether you need to hide it or not. Now go have some fun, you have lots of work to do! LOL.

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By 0 found this helpful
June 30, 2008

I am trying to clean up my condo. I have done really well. I am cleaning as I pick up, put away and straighten. There are repairs that need to be done and I can't do them. I have asked and am going to put up a sign at church asking for help. As I put stuff away I know it doesn't go in that place but I don't have room in the place where it should go.

I have the dining room set for sale in a local paper. The table still has stuff on it. I take stuff off and I just don't know what to do with the mess that is still there. What do I do? I also have stuff I would like to sell at a yard sale. I really need the money to pay some Dr.'s bills. That stuff is in the living room.

Sandy from Halethorpe

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June 30, 20080 found this helpful

Organize by putting yard sale items in boxes and labeling them. Any loose papers you have collected; go through and discard what is no longer needed and file the rest. If "STUFF" left on your table means saleable items or things you want to keep then find a good place to sit them even if it means buying a curio or china cabinet. Perhaps a trunk might serve a purpose for storing away those things you just can't part with or put them in the yard sale boxes. The goal is to be able to see the tabletop.

I am downsizing things in my livingroom and making ready for carpet to be layed. I do not intend on putting all that "stuff" back in place, but making the room more spacious with less clutter and maintenance. It's a time for reflection on separating those things that really have a meaning to me or bought on a whim.

Thoroughly cleaning is a good time to pass on items to family and friends or have a garage sale with the unnecessary or give something away what you think would be of special interest to some charity. Good luck!

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 1, 20080 found this helpful

Depending on where you live you can offer items up in exchange for services you need in your home check. Beg barter and steal or you can bring your unused items to an auction or ask around church or neighbor hood for help in exchange for items and of course you can donate items and use as tax write off.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 1, 20080 found this helpful

First, locate some FREE sturdy boxes, ones that either have lids or still have the flaps attached. My grocery store gives away apple, tomato and banana boxes for the asking. They all have separate lids, making them wonderful for this project!

Get 4 sheets of paper (doesn't matter what size, as long as it will work for you). On the 1st paper, write TRASH. On the 2nd paper, write PUT AWAY. On the 3rd paper, write GIVE AWAY. On the 4th paper, write SHRED. Tape these to the boxes. You don't need the lids for the boxes right now, so put them some place where you won't lose them, and they won't get destroyed.

Now, decide where you are going to put the boxes that are labeled GIVE AWAY and PUT AWAY. You might want to put all the PUT AWAY boxes against one wall in your bedroom. All the GIVE AWAY boxes could go against one wall in your living room. Find a place for the SHRED boxes, too. Whatever works for you. But you need to know where they are going to go as you fill up the boxes. If you need to clear a bit of space for the boxes, do it before you start filling boxes.

Now, starting at your front door, work your way around the room from left to right. Don't jump around from place to place in the room or in your home. Work from left to right, top to bottom, back to front. Let's say you have an entertainment center to the left of your front door. Have your 3 labeled boxes right there by you. Starting at the top left part of the entertainment center, go through everything up there. Start at the back of the shelf and work your way forward. If it's trash, put it in the TRASH box. If you aren't going to be keeping it, but it's still usable, put it in the GIVE AWAY box. If it belongs in another room, put it in the PUT AWAY box. If it belongs in the same room, but in a different place than where you found it, put it where it should go, then get right back to where you left off.

When you've finished the top shelf, move down to the next shelf and work your way through that. Then tackle the next shelf down and so on. When you reach the bottom shelf or drawer, move on to the top of the next section of the entertainment center.

When you finish with the EC, move to the right. If there's something on the floor, put it into the right box and move along to the next thing. Continue working your way around the room. Work for 30 minutes, then take a 10 minute break. Then back to work again for 30 more minutes before taking another break.

When a box gets full, stop to empty it. If it's the PUT AWAY box, take the label off of the box and attach it to a new, empty box, put the lid on the full box, and take the box to wherever it is you decided to store PUT AWAY boxes until you have finished sorting through everything in your home. Same with the GIVE AWAY box.

The TRASH box needs to be emptied directly into the outdoor trash receptacle or into a disposable trash bag that is outside your door to be hauled to the trash later in the day after you have stopped sorting for the day. Don't let the trash bag get too heavy to handle!!

Go through your home room by room, following this procedure. When you have sorted everything into the appropriate boxes, first, shred the contents of the SHRED box. If you don't have a shredder of your own, sometimes your boss will allow you to use the shredder or shredder service where you work. If you don't have access to a shredder, contact a shredder service, or maybe you can burn the documents instead.

Next, give away the GIVE AWAY boxes. Don't have a yard sale if you can avoid it. Take the boxes to a thrift store donation box, or contact a charity to come pick them up. Avoid using Freecycle unless you are going to devote a single day to people coming to get the stuff. Anything not picked up goes to a donation box. If you do decide to have a yard sale, at the end of the sale, box up any unsold items and take them to a donation drop box immediately. Get that stuff out of your living space as quickly as possible!! You need the room!

Now you can work on the PUT AWAY items. Take the first box from the stack of boxes you've collected, and put away every single item in its proper place. If you can't put everything in it away because you need something to put the item in, then make a list of needed items to help you get better organized, such as "4 shelf bookshelf." Then keep an eye out for a way to make or find what you need. Put items that would belong on/in that bookshelf all together in a box bearing a taped on sign that reads BOOKSHELF ITEMS. Then move along to the next box, adding to your list of things to procure to improve your home organization project.

Once everything is in its proper place, you can easily clean your living space, and more importantly, you will have the items you need at your fingertips.

When you use something, put it away. If it's trash, throw it away. If it's something you want to give away, put it in a designated place and get it out of your home every week when you run your errands. If it's something that needs to be shredded, do it right away and don't let it pile up. (Voice of experience here . . . BAD mistake to let it pile up!!)

Hope this helps you out some. Best wishes!

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 2, 20080 found this helpful

Go to www.flylady.net. This is a cool website that can help you get organized. It has helped me, although I haven't done everything like I should! If you sign up for it (it's free), you'll get e-mail reminders every day. Pretty neat! You ought to check it out.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 2, 20080 found this helpful

I feel your pain! One thing that helped me was to set a timer (I typically did 30 mins) and work for just that amount of time and walk away. Get a couple boxes. Separate out things for yard sale, pricing them as you go, vs. things that you really, really want to keep but don't have room to keep sitting out. When a box is full, close it up and stack it in the corner. When it looks like you have enough for a decent sale, go ahead and have it, even if you haven't gotten through everything in the house. You can always have another sale later. After the sale, this is very important, put everything back in the box and take it straight to good will or arrange ahead of time for a charity to pick the items up later that same day. If you take it back into your house, it may never leave.

As far as the paperwork goes, get yourself some binders and a hole punch. I have a binder for medical bills for each year, one for other bills for each year, one for owners manuals, one for insurance paperwork, one for car repair/maintenece, and one for house repair/maintence, and one for miscellaneous important receipts. You may not need as many, but start separating your papers into piles of stuff that goes together and a binder system that would work for you should emerge. Binders are good because they can sit on shelves. I have a basket with a lid that all important papers go into until I have time to file them correctly. I file 1 to 2 times per week. Before anything goes into the basket, I open it and decide if it's imporant or junk mail that I can throw away.

If you have magazines, catalogs, newsletters etc, try to just tear out anything extra special and pitch the rest. If you have an overwhelming number, you may just want to pictch them all and in the future start the tear out sysytem. Almost anything in those magazines can be found on line if you really need it and if they're not organized, the information is no good to you anyway because you'll never find it when you need it. Again, things you tear out should go in binders by subject so you can actually find them when you need them.

When the binder system was recommended to me, I thought it was too much work. I won't lie, it is a lot of work in the beginning, but once you get into it, keeping it up is very simple. The bonus is you can always find the important suff quickly!

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 2, 20080 found this helpful

All the advice has been good thus far...also, there is Freecycle you can list stuff you want to just give away. Check freecycle.org for a group in your area...they are international and it is free to join! Then...after you get rid of everything...have you tried Fen Shui? Sometimes something as simple as re-arranging the furniture in the room with your table will help it to become and stay un-cluttered. You would be amazed! Just do a google search and you will come up with endless information! Good luck!

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 2, 20080 found this helpful

I also recommend www.flylady.net. She gives you plans about how to cope with clutter and housework.

You can use three cardboard boxes for clutter and not buy her package. For me, h er method was much quicker. I think shes labeled them Keep, Sell, and Throw Away, but you should check at her site.

Dont be discouraged. This didnt happen in one day and its not going to be solved in one day. You can do it.

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July 3, 20080 found this helpful

Thank you all for your tips. Flylady really bogged me down. I have joined 2 different times. I get bogged in the emails and couldn't keep up with that. That really was making me go in the other direction. I have some men coming to fix some stuff next week. I have had that in my head so I seem to be working better just knowing someone is coming.

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 13, 20090 found this helpful

I am in the SAME situation but possibly worse. Free boxes help, and if no storage area, try to find a wall you can stack the labeled boxes on and up. Cover with a sheet or cloth or tarp so it looks tidy. Unless you have basement or garage which I don't.

I do go backwards often so understand it isn't easy. I think tabletops are a pile catcher and a real problem for many of us. Sort mail as fast as you can: trash, bills, to read. Date the to read and if a month old throw it out because another month of things is waiting to be read then.

List on your church bulletin board anything you want to give away or free will donation.

ALSO if you have a friend that will come over and help you, that would be great. I don't, all are too busy. But it would be easier with someone to talk to.

Don't be married to any of your stuff. Losing the detachment of it will help you get rid of it.

Best of luck to you.

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February 28, 20090 found this helpful

The best thing I did to get rid of stuff was to join a Yahoo group called freecycle in my area. The group is open to individuals who want to help keep usable items out of the landfills, continue to put it to good use, feel good about helping others. It is rare that I have posted anything on that group that someone hasn't wanted. I believe there is a freecycle group in most areas. Search "freecycle" or "recycle" for your area in Yahoo.

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