As the saying goes, “Spring springs eternal”. As long as the winter seems, spring will always come! The winter around Chicago has not been particularly onerous this year (unlike other parts of the country) but we are definitely looking forward to some warmer weather.
My husband and I have lived in a four-bedroom bungalow in Chicago since 1986. You don’t realize just how much stuff you accumulate over time! We have embarked upon a year-long journey to downsize. We plan to move to a small ranch house closer to our grandchildren in the northwest suburbs. This week, we’ll talk about some tips for de-cluttering. I’m sure your job is not quite as large as mine, but the lessons work whether your clutter is an entire house or just a few rooms.
First, make a plan. Even if your job is only a small seasonal clean-up, it will go better if you have a plan. Don’t try to do everything in one day. If you’re like me, your life is busy, and you really don’t have a lot of spare time. My team and I use a weekly schedule to arrange our busy lives. Carve out an hour or two to devote to de-cluttering. If I know I’m only going to work in a room for an hour, I’m more likely to start. Before you know it, it’s two hours later and I’m still at it. Concentrate on one room at a time.
Be ruthless when deciding what stays and what goes. Have you used the item in the last year? If not, it needs to go. Many of us are clothing hoarders. I went through a closet recently and found clothes I couldn’t remember even buying, let alone wearing. We also keep clothing in sizes we will never fit into again. Donate these items! Professional wear is always needed for less fortunate men and women getting into the work world.
For seasonal items like winter clothing and furnishings, now is a good time to go through them. Are they getting old and worn? Throw them out! Always wash or dry clean any items for summer storage. Use those large bags that you suck the air out of for items like throws and blankets. These are also good for sweaters, quilted coats, and pants. They keep everything clean and fresh. The shoe collection is another area we can work on. We can use the one year rule here too! There are a lot of great storage options for shoes. I like to utilize the space under beds for storage as well.
Our offices can get crazy cluttered too. It seems that more paper is created all the time, even though we’re trying to reduce our paper use. You need to be ruthless here also. Most records and paperwork that need to be saved can be done so electronically. Scan important papers and then discard. Always shred anything with personal information. Too much to shred? Many municipalities offer secure shredding throughout the year. Check with your village or city hall. Google “secure shredding” if it’s not offered in your area.
Kitchens are another area that just collect too much. In a recent clean out, I found three electric knives and one was broken. Why do I need three? Much less one that’s broken! Well of course, I kept one, donated one, and threw one out. Pots and pans? Decide what you need, keep a few extra, and donate the rest. You might have younger friends or family members just starting out that could use some kitchen items.
So, have a plan and start small. Before you know it, summer will be here and you will be happy to have a clutter free house so you can enjoy the season!
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH AND DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO