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Archive for February, 2016

Change your living environment and feel more in control of your life.

Jane asked me to help with her kitchen. She has too much stuff: Glasses, dishes, plastic containers,potholders, strainers, and cookbooks. Her counter space is taken over by a microwave, a bread machine, a toaster oven, a coffee pot, a radio, and a small television set. Her window sills are filled with figurines and plants. Her walls are covered with baskets of all sorts and sizes. Her kitchen pantry bulges with paper bags, boxes of cereal and half-used opened packages of food, baking dishes, pie plates, cookie sheets, strainers, and small appliances. No wonder she feels overwhelmed and depressed when she goes into her kitchen.

When she moaned to me that she didn’t know where to begin, I wanted to say, “Get those baskets off the wall and throw those dying plants away.” Instead I asked her where she wanted to start. She said, “Maybe my pantry.” I said, “Good, I’ll help.” Three hours later we were laughing and finishing up her pantry. The next day she called to say she had taken down the baskets, put away the bread machine and offered her collection of Precious Moments to her niece. She was on a roll.

What areas of your house need to be organized? Jot down the areas.

If your basement’s a disaster, and many are, what needs to go? Do you really need that old recliner? And what about those old beanbag chairs that keep shedding their fake leather skins, and the coffee table with the broken leg? When your children grow up, they won’t want those things. And you’re never going to use them, right?

How’s the garage? What items need to be discarded? How many years are you going to keep those old ten-speeds and tennis rackets? Will you ever use that tandem bicycle, the four story doll house, and the three old sleds? Are they serving any purpose except making your garage and life more cluttered?

What about your children’s rooms? Perhaps their lives feel more harried and complicated because of all the stuff they have around. How many stuffed animals does your daughter need? Children report having a hard time cleaning their rooms because they don’t know where to go with their toys, games, dolls, books, sports equipment, CDs, and magazines. It’s all too much.

How’s the outside of your house looking? Do you need to do a final leaf-raking? What about those old ladders in the backyard, that extra trash can with the missing lid, and that broken birdbath? Out with them.

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A great way to start the new year — or any season for that matter.
Pulling off Getting Organized

Take an inventory of your house and list which areas need work to unclutter them.

The next step: Call a family meeting and designate a Saturday or Sunday for getting organized. Begin at 8 AM and end with a pizza party. If you can’t come up with a date because everyone is going every which way, look at how too many family activities contribute to disorganization.

If you have parents in town, would they be willing to help babysit your little ones or help haul junk? What about asking your sister and brother-in-law for help or hiring someone to help clear out the paint cans and boxes of National Geographic?

When our boys were young we used to have leaf raking parties. Relatives and friends would come and everyone would rake. (I have great pictures of grinning children sitting in heaps of leaves.) We’d end the day with a big family meal — Hard work but great fun.

Many people don’t get organized because they feel overwhelmed when they think about everything that needs to be done. Instead of going that route, focus on specific areas and ask for help. Making a list, having a family meeting determining who will do what, and setting a date to get organized — You’re halfway there.

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