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Getting rid of clutter takes a dedicated plan of action

Library offers some solutions

POSTED: January 27, 2011 11:00 p.m.
MICHELLE BOAEN-JAMESON/The Times

Keep office clutter, like this, to a minimum. Arrange your office so you can reach the phone, keyboard, printer and wastebasket without getting up. Organize drawers with like items, and keep pens, paperclips and jump drives in designated containers.

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Clutter — it's spilling out of your closet, hiding in your office and lurking in your kitchen.

It starts out as a small stack of mail that you'll get to later, and the next thing you know it's turned into a cascading pile of nothings that have merged into a giant something of a mess.

If calling in the professionals isn't an option, getting organized can be a do-it-yourself project if you know where to go for the resources.

One place you may want to start your research is your local library. The Gainesville Branch of the Hall County Library System recently offered a class on the topic.

"There are so many different systems you can use to get organized — there isn't a cookie-cutter system that works for everybody," said Marion Hunter, adult services librarian.

"When you're trying to get organized, the main thing to remember is that you don't have to do it all in one day. If you try to do that, it can be overwhelming. And if you're overwhelmed you can get discouraged and if you get discouraged, you might stop."

While some people prefer the annual "spring cleaning" method, there are different organizing systems out there for folks who prefer to complete little tasks each day and for folks that prefer focusing on a different part of their problem area each week.

"Decluttering is about making your life simpler. It helps you to enjoy your life more," Hunter said.

"If you aren't enjoying life, you can get depressed and that can stop you from doing other things that you really want to do."

In addition to a class on organizing, the library has a number of books that can help lead you down the path to a more streamlined life.

One of the books — "The One-Minute Organizer Plain and Simple" by Donna Smallin — offers tips on how to get organized and how to stay that way.

Among other things, Smallin suggests that people use the "1 in/1 out" rule. For every item that you bring into your home, another one has to go. This rule applies to everything from clothing to household goods. The goal is to help reduce the amount of things that can accumulate inside your home, which can eventually turn into clutter.

To reduce clutter, Smallin suggests that people establish a monthly purging day that focuses solely on one type of item. For instance, January can be devoted to purging unnecessary files, while June could be used to purge winter clothing.

During the purging process, items should be sorted into five piles — keep, sell, give away, put away in a different location and throw away.

"One of the hardest things to decide is what to keep and what to get rid of," Hunter said.

Before you begin the purging process, Smallin suggests establishing a guideline for when you are willing to part with something that you aren't using. It could be after six months or a year of inactivity. The key is to stick with it once you set it. Establishing a rule, makes it easier to part with items, Smallin says.

Another idea for determining if an item is worth keeping or getting rid of is to pretend like you're moving. You should ask yourself if the item is worth packing, carrying to the moving truck and unloading at your new place.

If it's worth that effort, keep it. But if you'd rather not go through that hassle, get rid of it by donating it, selling it or throwing it away if it couldn't be used by anyone else.



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