Weekend Rewind: Passive Productivity

I hope everyone had a nice weekend! I felt like this was the first time since the holidays that I haven’t had something to do, someone visiting, a party to host or a game to catch (though we watched tons of college basketball on Saturday). It was nice. I was lazy. Well, in a sense. In another sense, I was VERY productive:

clutterAnd it felt damn good. That’s a bag of trash, a bag of recycling and a bag of donation items. (And technically there was more trash—this was my second trip!) I really try to keep my clutter, especially paper clutter, under control, and I’ve definitely improved over the years, though I’m far from perfect. I get so many magazines and catalogs that it’s hard to keep up! But here’s a few things I’ve learned:

1. Purge twice a year—at least. Dedicate an entire day to it. I usually do it in January (you know, you’re feeling ambitious with all those New Year resolutions) and August (that’s when my lease is up, summer is nearing it’s end and fall is kind of feels like a fresh start in its own right).

2. Give yourself five minutes every day. I’m a morning person so I actually like to tidy up in the morning. That way when I come home from a full day of work, I don’t feel guilty for sitting on the couch and getting sucked into the Biggest Loser for an hour.

3. Don’t keep things just because they’re sentimental. The great thing about the digital era is that you can take a picture of the item, and then let it go. Sure, there’s some things that are significant enough to save (you can frame that bib from your first marathon), but the t-shirt you got on move-in day at your freshman year dorm… it’s time to go. Same goes for old photos and paperwork: Scan it. (Just don’t forget to back-up the laptop where you’ll upload everything!)

4a. Keep an “outbox.” I like to keep a cardboard box around that I can put things in to donate to my favorite thrift store. (In the picture it’s a bag instead of a box… I used the box to reorganize my Christmas decorations in the storage unit.) It’s especially useful if you’re unsure if you want to keep something or donate it. Put it in the outbox for a few weeks, and if you haven’t used it, it’s a sign: Donate it. There’s no use in keeping things you “might” use. (Think about those cords piling up from past laptop or camera purchases… what are those even for?!)

4b. In the same vein, keep an “inbox” as well. Sometimes you get mail that isn’t junk mail necessary (that goes straight to the recycling bin, obvi), but it requires some attention. Say it’s a receipt for a doctor’s visit—it doesn’t need your immediate attention because, say, your insurance company picked it up, but it should probably be filed somewhere for now. Put it in the inbox, and then when you have an extra hour (instead of just five minutes), go through and put each item in it’s designated place. It’s more of a holding area than anything.

5. This last one is SUPER important: Understand the limitations of your situation. I’m still struggling with this. When I moved into this apartment, it was just me, and it was perfect. Honest. But now it’s me, the boy and his cat. We’re crunched. So as Slow Your Home says, this isn’t technically a decluttering tip, but it’s important to keep in mind that you can only do so much with what you have. “Rather than battling every day, do what you can to minimize the problem, keep it from getting out of hand and then let it go.”

The next thing I want to try is the reverse hanger trick: You hang all your clothes with the hanger in the reverse direction, and when you wear an item, you hang it back in the closet the correct way—whatever is left hanging the wrong way after six months, you get rid of!

What do you do to keep your home clutter-free? I’d love to hear your tips!

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