I have no problem throwing things away. I can - and often am - ruthless. Toss. Toss. Toss. The problem is that I cannot stem the flow of incoming items. How do you handle this problem?
I know that schoolwork is a major clutter-er in our house. I *try* to toss junk mail when we get it, but the mail that needs filing or attention seems to take on a life of its own. DH has some inexplicable need to bring home every free newspaper in our city, and apparently there are dozens. I know that my biggest problem is buying a lot of "cute" and/or "really good deal" items. When DH lost his job this year, we obviously cut back a lot. We moved with a small U-Haul trailer & my car, and everything we brought had to fit. Yet somehow I'm still sitting here - a mere 6 months later - staring at a landscape of junk in our living room. What are your rules or guidelines? Help!
You sound like me!! For the record, the Dollar Spot at Target was my Achilles' Heel! Here are some of the solutions I have found for my issues:
-if I check the mail, I immediately toss all junk into the outdoor recycling bin on the side of the house - never enters the house; if the kids check the mail, as soon as they bring it to me, I go through everything. I make a stack of filing stuff and usually once a week I will go to the desk in the basement and file away (we do not get too much that needs filing, so not too big of a pile)
-we just started homeschooling this year, so with a 15-mo old, 6-yr old, and 8-yr old, I neither have the time nor the patience to shop...it has reduced our bills and clutter SO MUCH!
-I try to regularly go through clothes, knick-knacks, etc. and weed out those things we have not used in 6 months to a year. I seek opportunities to find great homes for these things (i.e., local fire this week left several families without anything, so it was the perfect time to go through, find clothes, housewares, etc. that could be better used elsewhere)
-with schoolwork (when both kiddos were in traditional school especially), I would keep the tests, essays, projects, pictures, etc. that showed progress, that were special, or that I felt drawn to keeping. I still kept a ton, so at the end of each semester, I would weed things out again, and by the end of the year, it was much easier with perspective to keep things that would be special down the road. I had a clear, portable file box in which to store it all, then at the end of each year, added the "keep" pile to a manilla folder (one per child) that now sits in my files. Not the best, but it got the tons of papers out of my junk drawer and off the kitchen island
Try to go paperless on your bills. A lot of places will do email notifications when your statement is ready.
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- my blog on small town homesteading.
Try www.catalogchoice.org as a one-stop place to unsubscribe from catalogs and other mailings. As much as I love browsing through catalogs, it's too tempting, and they stack up. I also unsubscribed from all junkmail.. most of those packs have fine print with either a website or address.. it may take you 5 minutes, but it saves a headache in the end. Sometimes we go days without mail now. And as pp said, do online bills... All our recurring bills are paid by autodebit, so no only are we not getting paper statements, but we don't have to worry about the action of paying.
Try to just focus on one portion of your living room to start. A whole room can be daunting and it'll take a while to see progress, but if you have one corner that is clear and peaceful, you'll have a focal point and a place to sit and enjoy. If kitchen counters are covered, pick a particular portion and make sure it stays clear. you may still have piles elsewhere to deal with, but having a glimpse of what you're aiming for is great motivation.
For your husband's newspaper obsession, if it really makes him happy, then give him a designated space- a filebox or something- and they have to fit in there. Make it very clear to him that they're cluttering up the home and any that are not where they belong will be recycled.
Katie, sahm to two wild and crazy guys (8/07) and (3/10) and their sweet new baby sister (4-1-13)
1. Don´t put mail on any surface. Open it directly and throw away everything unneeded.
2. Write the Mail Preference Service and ask that your name not be sold to any mailing list companies.
3. Stop bringing home excess freebee papers. Leave your church program at church, the concert program at the concert, the museum map at the museum etc.
4. Don´t go to Dollar Stores or similar unless you have a specific need which you wrote down firsthand.
Only take enough money to buy what you wrote down and buy only this.
DO NOT make any exception.
5. Ask yourself with every item you want to buy or are given where you will store it.
If you absolutely love it, bring it home, toss an old one of the same category and find it a place.
We call the constant urge to bring things home the "hunter-gatherer reflex", and I've tried to adjust our household digestive processes so that the good things get assimilated, and the crap gets passed on. I have become a lot pickier about what I bring home.
Also, I have an "inbox", along with a small upright container (about the size of a cereal box) for paper recycling and a file box and a garbage can and supplies for writing letters and paying bills, all clustered together. So most of the papers and little homeless things get routed through there. After the end of the year, I sort through the file box and transfer the year's papers to the big file cabinet. I do have to keep an eye on my husband's pile of papers, and cull it frequently.
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