With Christmas and New Year’s Day fast approaching, now is the perfect time to reset your life! Get rid of all the stressful, messy clutter, both mental and physical and begin the year with a clean, fresh, orderly existence.
Just like with computers, sometimes we have so much stuff in our lives that mere existence becomes slow and sluggish. When that happens, we need to reset everything. Get rid of the extra unused apps and restore ourselves to factory settings.
I began this process myself about a week ago, and I can already tell a great difference in every area of my life. It’s much easier now to decide what to prepare for dinner, to make out a grocery list, to choose what to wear, and to just find what I’m looking for without having to tear the house apart. I've even managed to discover great Christmas presents for family and friends without having to spend a penny. And on top of that, I've made extra money to use for other Christmas presents by selling some of my things that, quite frankly, haven’t seen the light of day in years. (Christmas time is definitely the best time to employ this system.) But best of all is the incredible feeling of freedom and relief that came from removing the unnecessary mess that other people didn't notice, but that I knew was there.
Naturally, there are varying degrees of involvement in a plan like this, so I’m going to list the steps I took, and you can decide which of them will work best for you. If you can, you may even want to get everyone else out of the house for a day and just tackle it all at once. If you can’t do that, try one area a day. If you can’t do that, take 5 minutes out of every 30 for a day. If you can’t do that, remove one thing from every area every time you enter that space. See, no excuses. Just remember: stay strong, keep your goal in mind, and don’t be wishy-washy! You CAN do this!
Disposal of Items – Decide on the methods of disposal you will wish to employ. For me, I divided mine into: donate to family/friends, donate to resale stores/charities, sell on eBay (you need a backup plan for items that don’t sell. Otherwise, you run the risk of them ending back up in your closets), sell at consignment shops, put in keepsake box. (For me, this keepsake box is a cedar chest. I’ve allowed myself to keep as many memories as I can fit in that chest. Once the chest is full, I have to take something out before I can add anything new.)
Clothes – (This was a two-step process for me.)
1. Go through and pull out everything that you haven’t worn in a while or that you don’t like. Remember, you’re trying to lighten your load, so be brutal! Be decisive! Keep your goal in mind!
2. After you do that, turn all of your clothes hanger hooks the opposite way. (If this is done correctly, you’ll have to remove the hanger from the bar towards the back instead of the front.) When you wear something and rehang it (after washing, of course), hang it back the right way. Now, next year, when you do this again, you can get rid of anything that is on a backwards hanging hanger because you’ll know that you haven’t worn it in a year. (I did this with my shoes as well. I turned the toes to face the wall, and when I wear them, I turn the toes out.)
Jewelry – Don’t forget these items. You can go through them the same way you did your clothes, and if you have room, hang or place all of them you want to keep in a separate location, so that you can move the ones you use and know, next year, which ones you can get eliminate from your space. If you have nice jewelry that you don’t wear, but you don’t want to get rid of because they’re nice, either give them away as Christmas presents or take them to a jewelry store that does consignment. Or, if you’re an EBayer, sell them that way.
Toys – repeat the previous steps. If after you get rid of all of the toys that your children don’t play with, you still have too many for the space, try putting half of them in a plastic container and storing them in an attic or basement. In six months, bring those back out and store the other half. Your kids will enjoy seeing their old toys again. They’ll almost seem new.
Food – This one was very enlightening. I never realized just how long I've been holding on to some food items that “last forever.” I discovered the truth one day when I opened a pouch of cheese to make shells and cheese for supper. It didn't take much to realize that the cheese packet had expired. One look at the greasy, gooey mess told me all I needed to know. That led to an examination of my pantry. I went through and began throwing away expired boxes and cans left and right. From there, I tackled the condiment shelf in my refrigerator. (Apparently ketchup isn't immortal either.) From the refrigerator, I progressed to the spice cabinet. About an hour and two full trash bags later, I paused to lament over the amount of food I’d wasted by “having something else to eat instead” so often.
Recipes – Surely, I’m not the only one who has a drawer, box, cabinet, or bookshelf full of cookbooks and/or recipes that I can’t get rid of because “I might want to try them someday.” I decided to tackle those as well. After all, I don’t think I've gotten more than 5 new recipes in as many years. (Not counting the Pinterest ones on my computer, of course.) That means that all of the ones I currently possess have been sitting there for longer than that. If I haven’t prepared them by now, most likely, I wouldn't Soooo, the unused ones had to go. (If you aren't sure about some that you really do want to try someday, consider putting them on your computer, so they don’t take up room in the house. This also works when you have a few recipes you like in a cookbook. Put them on the computer and get rid of the big cookbook.) I must admit that I was a little surprised at just how old some of my recipes were. I've copied my favorite below. (It must have been from my old high school home ec. days.)
2 pieces of white bread
2 tsp. of table fat
Toast bread on both sides. Spread table fat evenly on both sides. Serves 2.
Yummm!!! Table fat. ;)
Finally, Step 7
The Junk Drawer – Admit it; you have one. Don’t we all? That drawer in the kitchen where you throw everything that doesn't have a specific place of its own: twisty ties, stray tacks, pencils, the odd bendy straw, “to do” notepads, clothes pins for potato chip bags, and bunches and bunches of random stray papers with everything from phone numbers to reminder notes jotted down on them. Clean it out! Put the important phone numbers, notes, etc. in your smart phone or on your computer, get an organizing tray to put in the drawer and separate the twisty ties, pencils, etc. that you actually use. Throw everything else away.
Some other areas you might want to tackle: desk and paperwork, cookware and dinnerware, bathroom make-up drawer/spa-like indulgences,
When you finish, and this is very important to the process, get a glass of your favorite drink, hot chocolate is good this time of year, and sip on it slowly as you walk through your house admiring the clean and organized new space. Don’t worry if you feel an upwelling of satisfaction surge through you. This is normal, as is the huge grin that will appear on your face. Just enjoy the sensation. You deserve it!