9 ways to cut the clutter

A common resolution at New Year’s — and throughout the year — is getting organized and cutting the clutter in our lives. It’s at the top of my list for 2013, and here are some tips we can all use:

Go paperless
There’s a wealth of technology to help you organize important documents, photos, etc. Scan and store files on your computer, replace pen and paper with a mobile device for note taking, and use apps like Key Ring, Slice, and Shoeboxed to store membership cards information, track purchases, and file receipts.

Stay ahead of the game
My mother, who kept a very neat house, always said pick up as you go, rather than wait for a major cleaning. She was right — it’s easier to stay ahead of the game than to play catch up.

Ask eBay
Have an old item that might be valuable? Check eBay. I often find that things I’ve been holding because of their perceived value are only worth a few dollars.

Focus on their mission
It’s easier to part with items if they’re going to a worthy cause, such as Goodwill or Salvation Army, which help people in your community.

One in, one out
Whenever I bring a new item into the house, I try to take one out. If I buy a new sweater, for example, the one stuffed in the back of the closet goes to Goodwill.

Throw a party
Having guests is perhaps the best motivator to clean and declutter.

Start small
Rather than tackle everything at once, start with a room, desk drawer, or shelf, then move to other areas when you’re done. This keeps your tasks manageable.

Phone a friend
If the task of decluttering seems overwhelming, ask a friend to lend a hand for an hour. They’ll bring an objective view (“Those pants need to go…”), and the companionship makes the time go by faster.

Get into the mood
I do my best cleaning when I’m in a bad mood. Perhaps I’m less attached emotionally to items, but regardless, it’s much easier to part with things when I’m grumpy. On the other hand, some do their best work when accompanied by upbeat, lively music. Find what works best for you.

Your turn. How do you manage your clutter?

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