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    Where To Begin?

    Piles and stacks are inevitable signs of good living…partially read books with their markers hanging out; clothes that are too small or too large; the corner of the couch that holds items to give-away or take to family and friends.  Recipes, papers to read or grade, mail, curlers, jewelry, tools, photo albums, magazines.  We all have more ‘stuff’ than we have places to hold them.  Our basement has become the receptacle for keepsakes, mementos, and the ‘just can’t bear to part with it’ tub.  Over the years, we have managed to tub most of it, or at least organize like items on the same shelf.  I remember saying more than once that keeping all the treasures from our past will leave no room for present or future treasures.

    There comes a time in our rich, abundantly blessed lives that we have to examine our piles and stacks.  It cannot all stay.  Piles must be reduced and stacks (even neat ones) must be depleted.  So let’s first make the decision to pare down our lives.  Make some room to grow, and lighten it all up a little.  Parting with a past treasure does not devalue the memory of that treasure in the least.  We can’t hold everything we love in our hands at one time.  And we are surely not going to take it all with us “when we go”.  Saving family heirlooms for our children and grandchildren is great.  Especially those items that have an interesting story, are a part of history, or that we know were highly esteemed by our ancestor.  But, where do we keep it?  How do we manage our current space and keep up with collectables and day-to-day life?

    It sounds simplistic, but you must first pick up one item and make a decision.  Pick up the next item and create a space for it, or move it on out.  If you stand in the doorway of your designated room-to-be-organized, and turn to your right, what is the first thing you see?  Or, what is the first piece of furniture to be gone through with a fine-toothed comb?  Whichever it is, a single item, or a dresser, choose.  Keep it, give it away, or throw it away (which includes recycling).  Even if your space is a disaster, a piled up mess, you can get it done.  So, have three tubs, or bags, or boxes.  Ideally, it would be permanent storage containers for like items, a garbage and/or recycling bag, and a box or bag for donations or give-aways.  If you like to have yard sales at  your home, then this is the perfect opportunity to pick up some extra grocery money.  The give-away or donation box could be a yard sale box.  Please don’t give away, donate, or try to make money from dirty, broken, torn, mismatched, or rundown items.  Unless it is truly ‘gently used’, it’s trash.

    Whatever you decide to keep must eventually have its own place.  Keep that in mind.  It does no good to make a decision to keep something, then end up placing it right back in the same piled up mess in which you found it.  Countertops, tabletops, drawers, closets, cabinets, storage buildings, bins, boxes, bags (sounds like a Dr. Seuss book) must all be pilfered.

    • If you haven’t worn it in a year or so, move it out
    • If you forgot you had it, you don’t need it
    • If you use it, but only occasionally, it doesn’t need to take up prominent storage space
    • If it’s an heirloom, or a collectable, display it or store it out of the way.  In other words, it does not need to be rolling around in the silverware drawer.
    • If it’s one of those “I might need it someday” items, examine your motivation for keeping it
    • If it was a gift that you’ve never used, or never really wanted in the first place - someone else would probably love to have it
    • If you’ve read it once, and don’t ever plan to do so again, let someone else have a turn
    • If it’s a keeper, set it aside for storing and organizing
    • Etc and etc

    Where to begin?  Right in the doorway.  With the first thing that falls to your right, or your left.  Pick it up.  Think carefully and rationally.  Decide.  Most cleaning-out projects are not short order propositions.  Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time.  Take a week, or one, whole, beautiful, spring month.  We’ll pick up next time with how to store and organize your keepers!