Another Attic to Unclutter

cluttered attic

Have you done the deed and uncluttered your attic?  Perhaps, you have more items stored in a family or friend’s attic that need to be dealt with and removed.

About 25 years ago when I was a potter, I moved from a large apartment to a much smaller one, and needed somewhere to store excess items. Cousins of mine had room in their attic and agreed to let me store my old four poster bed and mattress/box spring,  invoices, slides & photos from my former pottery business, along with some other things. My retired cousins are now un-cluttering their own household, and asked me to remove my stuff from their attic.

judy with curly hairSo, last Saturday I paid a social visit to my cousins. After visiting for a while, I climbed the narrow stairs up to their dusty attic space and began sorting through my things. How fun! I found some photos of myself from over 25 years ago (one with a curly hair perm!), a vintage school desk I used as a child in my play-school room back home, plus some memorabilia from the past.

Some of the downsizing decisions I made were easy, and some difficult. I filled four bags with papers to be recycled, one bag with trash, and brought home some very outdated documents to be shredded. I lasted about 1.5 hours up in their attic sorting and purging. Several more un-cluttering visits will have to be made before it gets too cold in their un-insulated attic.

If you have a long time cluttered attic and haven’t yet tackled it, schedule an hour or two of your time when it’s convenient. Begin by labeling some empty bags or boxes with “shred, recycle, throw & give away, donate, keep”.  Dress in comfortable old clothes, put on your work gloves and be prepared to deal with things that will bring back old memories (good & not so good). If you feel overwhelmed or stressed, ask a friend or family member who will not be judgmental about your ‘letting go and keeping’ decisions, to be there as your ‘body double’. (Someone to sit with you and keep you company while you un-clutter).

After your one or two hours of purging, decision making and bringing the full bags & boxes down from the attic to distribute as appropriate, reward yourself with a nice treat – a hot bubble bath, a walk in nature, a nap, or a do a happy dance singing ‘I did it, I started tackling my cluttered attic!”

Then schedule a few more one to two hour sessions for the near future to once again tackle your attic stuff.

Let me know when you begin this task, and how you feel as you progress with the ‘letting go’ of attic stuff.

Make Files Not Piles!

Are you wondering where that piece of paper is that you are looking for?  You are sure it’s on your work desk. But where? Are your papers/documents filed where you can find them easily? Or, are they in lots of piles right now on your desk?

There are two ways of thinking about this. Filing vs. Piling. You either File or you Pile. ‘Pilers’ will say that they know just where everything is. (I’d be surprised if they did). Piles are not a method of organization. Sometimes, I let papers cover my desktop. When I notice this happening, I immediately sort through them and put them where they belong. My office work becomes much more stream-lined and I get more accomplished.

If you’d like to find an important document quickly, File it! Otherwise, you will shuffle through those piles and make more of a mess.

Do you think that keeping papers filed is complex & finding them takes too long? It shouldn’t. Once you’ve got everything filed into a filing cabinet, or moveable filing box, you will save time and increase your productivity.

Below, I’ve listed Seven Simple Steps to ‘Stop Piling and Start Filing’ your papers.

  1. Decrease the Paper – Keep the incoming papers to a minimum and unsubscribe from magazines, catalogs and newsletters you don’t need and never look at.
  2. Use a Desk – Top File Sorter – As soon as inbound papers such as bills, notices, statements, etc.. arrive, organize them by category into a desk-top file sorter. Stacking papers on top of one another in an inbox can lead to piles. (See cluttered desk image above)
  3. Throw it Out if in Doubt – (Recycle is really what I mean) Of all the papers you keep, you most likely need only 99% of them. If this information is available on-line or elsewhere, there’s no need to keep it. You can always look it up.
  4. Shred and Recycle – Shred those important documents that contain pertinent personal information, and recycle the rest.
  5. Photograph Reference Items – If you are holding onto an item for reference, use your smartphone/iPhone/digital camera to take a photo of these  documents, printer cartridges, used up pens, etc… Recycling these items will get rid of some of your desk clutter.
  6. Get a Scanner – Your printer may already have a scanner as one of its features. If not, purchase a small portable scanner for your desktop, or even use your iPhone for scanning. Save these documents as PDF’s on your computer or laptop.
  7. Paper Management – Process your papers regularly, or they will ultimately become piles again; sooner than you think!  Schedule  a consistent time, such as every Friday at 9:00 AM for 30 minutes to do your filing.

Do you File or Pile your papers?

NOTE: I will be teaching a ‘Free Yourself from Paper Clutter’ class on Thursday, November 5th at 7:00 pm, via Arlington Community Education at the Arlington High School at 869 Massachusetts Avenue.

To register: http://register.asapconnected.com/courses.aspx?coursegroupid=6373

 

Six Things to Throw Out Now!

Hazardous waste containers

Like myself, you most likely have some or a lot of items you can throw out or recycle now.

Here is a list of six of these things.

1. Empty Boxes: So many of us hold on to boxes once we take out the items inside. And, where do we put these empty boxes? In a closet, spare room, the basement, the attic, the garage where they pile up and take up space, plus become a fire hazard. After the item is opened and you’ve used it for a month, you probably won’t be returning it. Recently, I was going through my attic attacking clothing moths that had never been a problem before, and while moving stuff around, I found an empty computer box from a computer that I no longer have! I tell my clients to recycle these types of empty boxes rather than keep them. I am guilty as charged! Time for me to put it in the recycle bin.

2. Reusable Shopping Bags: The environmentally correct thing to do these days is to use reusable shopping bags. Your local supermarket, hardware store, big box store either sell them or give them away. But, how many of these bags do we really need? And, are they cluttering up your space? I have two bags full of plastic & canvas bags from various charity’s and stores that I am taking to Good Will for a client who was willing to let go of them. She kept only about ten bags that she liked the most.

3. Magazines and Newspapers: Old magazines & newspapers! I save garden magazines and catalogs thinking I will use some of their information someday. I usually don’t do this, so periodically, I sort and recycle most of them.

4. Electronic Cords and Attachments: So many of the cables from old electronics (land lines, Smart phones, ipads, computers, etc,) we purchased in the past have been stored away in our drawers, boxes, closets because we might need them someday. Take a look, and you will probably find some that you don’t even remember what they were for!

5. Outdated Electronics: Old computers, ancient cell phones, broken paper shredders, toasters, hair dryers, you name it, pile up. Your town’s DPW usually has a dumping area for this kind of electronic stuff, or a couple of recycling days a year when they do a pick up at your home. I have an old Dell printer (doesn’t have a scan feature) that has been in my attic for a long time as backup if my newer printer breaks. I am going to put it out on the street as a Freebee, and if no one takes it, I’ll bring it to the local DPW.

6. Old paint and Hazardous Waste: Once the paint in latex paint cans has dried completely, you can throw it in your trash because it is not considered hazardous waste. But, how many empty or partially full cans of paint thinner, bug spray, cleaning products, shellac, and more… pile up because you don’t know what to do with them. Your town should have a couple days a year where you can drop off hazardous waste to the DPW grounds.

Do you have things on this list that you need to get rid of, or recycle? Let me know how you are doing with your letting go.

To learn more about how Judy can help you de-clutter your home, email her at:

ClutterClearerCoach@comcast.net

ADULT ED CLASS – ‘Free Yourself from Paper Clutter’

What it is about the junk mail, notes to self, catalogs and piles of papers that can so easily take over our lives and overwhelm us?

This workshop will provide you with loads of tips and tricks to help you conquer paper clutter in your home or office so you can feel freer and more in control of your life. There will be time for all your questions.

Presenter: Judy Eisenberg, Professional Organizer – Clutter Clearer Coach

May 28, 2015               TIME: 7:00 – 8:30 pm                FEE: $20.00

Arlington Community Education
869 Mass. Ave., Arlington, MA
(enter through the front door with white pillars)

ONLINE registration: http://ArlingtonCommunityEd.org/
CALL: 781-316-3568 to register by phone

Or for more information:
Contact Judy Eisenberg @ clutterclearercoach@comcast.net

Crummy weather? Attack Magazine Clutter!

Too many magazines!

Too many magazines!

Ugh! It’s been raining for several days straight now. I can’t go outside to garden, or take a walk in the woods. But, I can do something useful. Like, attack all of my magazine clutter!

So, on this yucky, rainy, cold day, I plan to sort through the many gardening magazines and catalogs I’ve been holding on to. (YES, I have some clutter) In fact, I just looked under the table next to my couch, and in addition to the magazine rack in my living room that’s in plain site, I saw a magazine rack I’d forgotten was there! My goal for today is to recycle some, and give some away. And, to only keep a few of the most relevant magazines and up-to-date catalogs.

You can do the same on any bad weather day. Gather up all the magazine subscriptions you currently receive. Pull together all of those catalogs that have been laying around taking up space. Do you truly enjoy all of them? Are they a good use of your time? Or, do you let them pile up thinking you’ll read them when you have the time, but never do.

If not, call the magazine’s subscription office today to cancel any magazines you no longer want.

To cancel your catalogs: http://www.catalogchoice.org/

For each current issue you receive in the mail, toss old issues.

I think you’ll feel a bit lighter when you do this. Let me know the progress you’ve made on letting go.

Spring Cleaning/Clearing – Go Green and Re-use!

Reuse tiny boxes for storing jewelry

When spring de-cluttering and purging, re-use what you already have in a new way!

Re-use  tiny cardboard boxes (you know, the ones you can’t bear to give away because they are so cute and maybe you’ll use them someday?), old ice cube trays, or empty egg cartons for storing jewelry or other small items.

Or, instead of putting a used plastic flower pot into the recycle bin, clean it up and use it as a pen and pencil holder. Checkbook boxes can be used as drawer dividers. And, if you have items you don’t want anymore but are usable, giving them to a charity of your choice helps support the charity, and will be useful for the next owners.

Look around your home or apartment to see what  you can use in a different way. Let me know some of the green choices you’ve made!