Health Net, based out of Los Angeles, presents solid evidence that being organized is good for you. My definition of clutter: Once important “stuff” that you haven’t used, finished or even started. The exercise equipment that is now used as a hanger; clothes you’re hoping to fit into again or simply haven’t worn in two years; a book that sits on you end table and never gets read; a recipe that’s been in your cookbook for 40 years and was never used. These are all reminders of failure. Re-purpose clothing or alter to fit your need, find a book you’re really interested in or just read a chapter and put the book back on the shelf, throw out unused recipes and don’t look back! Clutter gives a negative influence on our ability to focus and process information. Do you keep things out of guilt and shame, afraid of hurting someone’s feelings? Like a 1940’s electric saw your grandfather gave you when you bought your first home; 20 year old magazines with good (but outdated!) info in them; jewelry, clothes and furniture that people gave you or handed down to you, but that you just don’t like? Keep in mind, STUFF that makes you feel guilty and shameful, keeps you from moving forward. Keep things that inspire or motivate you. My theory: LESS IS MORE. Have a garage sale and enjoy seeing your clutter becoming someone else’s treasure and use the internet instead of outdated magazines!

The other kinds of clutter that rob us of time. These are some of the time wasters in our lives: losing personal items at home or at work; trying to find something in a cluttered space like in a cabinet, drawer, closet or garage; looking for important messages/bills in your email; trying multiple passwords or sending a “forget your password?” message, of which I am guilty! So, I decided upon writing this news note that I would change that, right now! Did you know that two minutes are wasted on each lost item you’re looking for? IF it’s only one thing each day, that adds up to 730 minutes a year or approximately 12 hours wasted IF you only had to look for one misplaced item/password a day!

There is no excuse for living in a disorganized mess when websites have all kinds of simple organizational solutions. Specialty stores have trained people to help you customize your closets, garage, drawer space and cabinets. Pick from the list below where you need organizing and Cut the Clutter:

  • Email overload from stores or special interests. Unsubscribe to the junk mail or mail that just takes up too much of your time reading. Use email files to store important information.
  • Stacks of important papers. File in a file cabinet and label
  • Catalogs and magazines scattered around the house. Stack on a bookshelf or discard and use google instead!
  • A ‘junk’ drawer. Add different shaped containers for various things that are in this drawer
  • Can’t find a blouse or sweater? Organize clothes by color
  • Messy dresser drawer? Use drawer dividers
  • Basement that has paper boxes on the floor that could attract mice and bugs. Go plastic and stack or put items up on shelving
  • Kitchen: hard to reach or hard to find appliances or pots and pans, where you’d rather not even try to get it at all! Use shallow over-the-counter top cabinets for storing bowls and small baking dishes instead of under the cabinets where it’s deep and appliances/mixing bowls get pushed to the back and annoying to get out or even get forgotten  
  • Fridge: Throw away old condiments and food that you’ll never eat. Arrange shelving spaced far apart from the next shelf (i.e. not close together) and stack food containers instead of letting them get pushed to the back where you can’t see them and by the time you do see them, the food has spoiled
  • Momentous items that are in various places around the house. Gather them and place in a clear plastic containers. Have individual containers and label for each person. I gave each one of my children their “Keepsakes” when they moved out of the house and had a home of their own
  • Seasonal decorations: get plastic bins in the colors of the season. Red/green for Christmas, orange for fall, etc.
  • Entrance way: coats hung on a banister or chair and shoes/boots scattered around. Purchase a coat rack. You can also get a coat rack with a shoe stand, all in one
  • Clothes stacked or crammed in a closet for later seasonal use: Use large storage baggies you can place under bed or hang
  • Lady’s tools (light weight hammer, 12 ft. tape measure, thin nails, glue gun, tape, etc.) that are in the ‘junk’ drawer. Place them in a small plastic bin or decorative box with lid and store in a cabinet or on a shelf
  • Pictures of non-family members. If you’re like me, it’s not in you to throw them out. So I bought a 50 sheet picture album and cram them in. And when I look at them from time to time, I pray for the people. Hope that doesn’t sound too hyper-spiritual, but after all, they gave you the pictures so you would think of them! Mine filled-up in 15 years. I’ll be looking for another inexpensive album of the same color and tape #2 album on the side
  • Toy box: Discard the toy box (no more than a glorified junk box!) and use for other larger storage items. For toys, buy a sturdy plastic 3-4 drawer bin of different size drawers. Use the smaller drawer for smaller toys like hot wheels or doll house items. A great learning tool to teach your children how to be organized!
  • Stuff that you can’t use now but is still useful. Buy large, deep bins and limit yourself to 2-4. This way, if someone needs an item that you’re not using, you know where to find it

ORGANIZING IS A LIFELONG CHALLENGE as our lives continually change from a single person, married, one baby, then 4 pre-teenagers involved in music and sports. Also, the rooms in our homes are used for dual purposes: a kitchen that is also used for studying or paying bills; a family room that is doubled for a playroom during the daytime; an unoccupied bedroom is for an overnight guest, in addition to a storage room, a game room or a pet’s room. All this takes some organizing and planning to keep things in order so life can run smoothly. My theory: if you can’t go horizontal than go vertical. Go up with shelving to keep things off the floor and for easy access, rather than having to lift boxes to get to the bottom one; overhead storage in garages; wire or cloth, over-the-door hanging storage on the back of a bedroom/bathroom/pantry door can be used for multi-purposes. A large, cloth pocket, over-the-door storage hanger is perfect for storing gloves, scarves and hats in an entrance closet. Websites have all kinds of ideas to help spark your imagination!

This is the thing… a disorganized, cluttered house or cluttered brain can frustrate you and even bring your weight loss efforts to a halt. Life is already complicated, why not simplify it by having a place for everything and everything in its place; that means you know where to find something in an instant, and you know where to put it back without a second thought       Gerri Gatto, author of The nofad Weight Loss program