Managing Common Household Clutter
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Joe of JoeTaxpayer.
In Sherri’s three part series on eliminating clutter, she discussed how to attack it and get it under control. Today, I’d like to add my own thoughts that may help you avoid clutter issues in a few areas in your home. I refer to homeowners, but renters or apartment dwellers can certainly benefit from these strategies as well.
Sherri discussed the three costs of clutter: time, money, and health. I had been thinking about how clutter can waste valuable space in your home as well. Getting rid of clutter, from your basement as an example, can open up an area allowing it to be used for something more enjoyable. Here are some of my tips for managing some common household clutter.
Managing clutter from product packaging
When you buy a small appliance, a VCR, a coffee pot, etc, you bring three things home with you in addition to the product: the receipt, the manual, and the box. The box is only useful to return the item to the store but rarely needed even if the item needs a repair under warranty, so reuse or recycle it.
I suggest stapling the receipt to the inside cover of the manual and filing all manuals by room. I use large envelopes to hold the manuals and they are labeled on the outside with the corresponding room name. There’s one for outdoor items (including garage), kitchen, living room, basement and bedrooms. My garage door opener failed recently. In two minutes I had the manual and all the details I needed to replace the faulty part. This saved me the cost of a service call.
Editor’s note: I love this idea! It’s so obvious once it’s pointed out to you. I’ve always stored receipts in one folder and manuals in another…but staple the receipt TO the manual…brilliant!
Managing paint clutter
I have friends whose basement shelves contain paint cans, way too many to count. My solution is simple, and requires a sharpie (permanent) marker. On the top of the can write the room in which the paint was used as well as the date. If there is no label with the exact color name and mix code, add those as well. Next time you decorate, if you change colors, the old can gets tossed. Odds are that paint will be too old to use for anything else.
Most towns don’t want you to throw out paint while it’s a liquid. You may want to leave the lid off to let the paint dry out, outside if it’s oil based.
Managing power supply clutter
Electronic devices are getting smaller and lighter and most of them come with the little “brick” power supplies. My laptop, iPod, router and printer all have a brick and there’s no way easy way to differentiate between them. Out comes the white or silver sharpie. Write the name of the device to which it belongs. You’ll reduce the likelihood of plugging your device into the wrong power supply.
Managing mail clutter
Lastly, I’d like to talk about one of my biggest sources of clutter, the mail. I finally got it under control with a simple process. All bills to pay are put in a box labeled “bills to pay”. Nearly all bills can wait until the weekend to be taken care of, especially if you bank on line. Choose a process that works for you and make sure it doesn’t risk a late payment.
Magazines get put into the magazine bin and all junk mail gets thrown out right at the front door. Statements, bank and brokerage documents, etc, all get opened and put in a box labeled “to be filed”. Anything that has a level of urgency goes in the “bills to pay” box as well, don’t bury it with magazines you may get to one day.
As with any new process, you should work at making these part of a daily routine and stick with them. You’ll find from these ideas, as well as those from Sherri’s earlier posts, that being organized can help you gain more free time. By getting ahead of the clutter and eliminating it before it starts you’ll soon wonder how you ever tolerated the mess you used to have. I wish you well on your journey to a clutter-free life.
On The Concept Of Friction
Eliminate Clutter Part 1: The Cost Of Clutter And Where Does It Come From?
7 Tips For Cleaning Your Kitchen As You Go
Purge Just 7 Things – A Weekend Challenge
Photos courtesy of: JoeTaxpayer