For many people, spring is the time for cleaning. However, have you ever stopped to wonder if fall is the optimal time? Just think, for some people in colder climates the winter months are the perfect time to de-clutter your home! You’re about to be spending a lot of time inside, so why look at all that old junk the whole time? This could do wonders for your mood, stress, and anxiety levels. First, we’ll start with three basic rules.
- The number one question to ask yourself when de-cluttering is, “Would anything bad actually happen if I get rid of this?”
- If you start to get overwhelmed, make sure to take a break!
- Always consider whether something you’re getting rid of can be donated, recycled, or thrown in the trash.
We will start by going through living space specific tasks. Then we will get into some tips for de-cluttering your mind.
Start small with the bathroom. Go through your medications including eye drops and ear drops. Anything that has expired has to go! Make sure you know the proper disposal method for each item. Some can be thrown away, some flushed, and others can be discarded at a drug take-back location which you can find online for your community. Make sure to remove or scratch out any personal information on bottles before disposing of or recycling. Next, go through your other bathroom items. Can anything be condensed into one container such as shampoo, conditioner, soaps, or cleaning products? If you have any unused or unopened items that you will not use, see if there is a place in or near your community where you may be able to donate them. Take the items that you will not be getting rid of, and organize them in a safe storage space. Make sure all medications and cleaning products are out of reach from children or others you may be worried about coming into contact with them.
The next place on your list may be your main living space. Do you tend to hold on to magazines, old mail, or newspapers for way too long? Maybe there was one article in the magazine or newspaper that you liked, so that’s why you’re keeping it. You can always rip out the page you wish to keep and put it in a folder to organize without taking up as much space. Then, make sure to recycle all that paper! Do you have any furniture you don’t particularly care for that is just taking up space? Donate it! If it is broken or dirty, and cannot be fixed or cleaned, so you no longer want it, then don’t be afraid to get rid of it all-together! Do you find yourself or your family piling coat after coat onto that one chair? You know what chair I’m talking about. Consider putting hooks by the door to designate a place for those coats while they’re not in use, so you can finally sit in that comfy chair again.
This next living area is a tough one… It’s the kitchen. You may not realize right now that you don’t necessarily need five pizza cutters and three of the same slotted spoon. Once you realize you’ll have less items to pile in your sink and subsequently have to wash, you’ll probably be digging through your cabinets looking for things to get rid of. If you have anything that just doesn’t work anymore, then why are you keeping it in the first place? Don’t be afraid to toss it! If you have anything that is still in good shape, you can always donate it. After you’ve gone through your kitchen objects, head for the fridge and cabinets. Get rid of anything that’s expired, basically empty, stale, or that you just don’t like. It will be liberating to have all that extra space and be able to actually see what you have hiding in there that you can use. Any unopened, non-perishable food items can also be donated to your local food pantry!
Finally, I know most dread it, but go through your closet. If you’re even unsure about an item initially, you probably don’t want it anyways. Donate, donate, donate! Get rid of things that don’t fit, you have not worn in ages, or you just don’t really like. Get rid of old shoes as well as pairs that you don’t see yourself wearing again. Any linens, towels, or blankets would be greatly appreciated by any animal shelter as a donation to use as bedding for the pets.
If you have other areas of your house that need to be de-cluttered, just follow those three steps mentioned above. Once you’ve gone through everything, it will be much easier to organize. If you end up storing anything in boxes or bins, don’t forget to label them! You don’t even need a label maker, a simple piece of duct tape and a sharpie will work just fine.
Now, it’s time for you to get organized. Consider investing in a planner notebook, a desk sized calendar, and even a journal. You can keep important dates, reminders, and even passwords in a planner notebook. Just keep passwords on one of the “notes” pages. Some even include address books in the front. A desk sized calendar is great for being able to see dates and events all laid out in front of you at the same time. You may be wondering why a journal was listed as well. It can be useful to keep a journal to keep track of your day-to-day thoughts, feelings, and impromptu to-do lists. You can also use it to make lists for yourself. This is useful for reflecting or even just getting your things out of your head, and onto paper. All of these items can be found fairly inexpensively at office supply stores or online.
If those tips do not help put your mind at ease, don’t wait to reach out for counseling. This can be a great way to work through stress, anxiety, and a cluttered mind as well. For those in the NW Indiana and Chicago area, you can call Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. We are located in Tinley Park, and can be reached at (708) 633-8000. For those elsewhere, call your states’ professional associations for referrals to local counselors.
Written By: Emma at Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc.