Ten Things You Can Get Rid of NOW
As I’ve discussed, the first step in being organized is to look at your reasons for doing so. What will your home/office/schedule/life look like without all the clutter? If you can visualize it, with some effort and time, you most likely can create it.
The next step is to remove from your home/office/schedule/life everything that does not belong to the vision you are beginning to create. Here are ten things you can remove right now to get a jumpstart on your new, more organized life:
- Outdated food. Put on those rubber gloves, open the refrigerator, and go excavating. Start with the doors, then go to the very back corners and move forward. Yes, that four-year-old gourmet peach jam was expensive. How many different types of mustard might you need? Anything you cannot identify, or that is unnaturally green, or which you’re definitely never going to eat can and should be tossed immediately. The most common offenders? Packets of soy sauce from Chinese take-out. Limp produce. Half-eaten jars of cocktail onions from that party back in … when? Check the dates on every item. Let safety be your guide. The axiom “when in doubt throw it out” was made for leftovers. Now go tackle your pantry or cabinets the same way.
- Cosmetics, toiletries, and medicines past the expiration date. Eye makeup has a safe shelf life of three months; lipstick one year. While some expired toiletries may simply be ineffective, old medicine and makeup can be dangerous to your health. Unwanted or leftover prescription drugs can be dropped off at your local pharmacy and at many police stations, keeping them both out of the water supply and others’ hands.
- Catalogs and magazines more than two issues old, unless perhaps you wrote the article or are in a featured story. Print newspapers older than one day; maybe two days for the Sunday paper. In spite of your good intentions, you aren’t likely to find time to read them after that. If you’re afraid that you’re going to miss the “one tip/story that will change my life,” trust me – if it’s worth writing about, publishers will be certain to cover it again. A new issue will arrive tomorrow/next month in the mail – and most now can be found online if you prefer reading that way.
- Anything that is torn, tattered, stained, broken beyond repair, has been broken for more than a month or so, doesn’t fit you, or doesn’t fit the life you want to lead. Unless the item in question is an actual family heirloom – in which case, you may want to invest in having it expertly repaired – chances are that it simply can be discarded, or, if necessary, replaced. Your possessions have a language of their own. When you sit down to frayed placemats at breakfast, you start your day with the message, “I’m not worthy of better.” Own fewer things, and make sure they all are beautiful and/or useful.
- Containers, aluminum pie plates, plastic food storage bowls missing their tops, extra vases from floral deliveries, rubber bands, plastic bags, bread twist ties. Sure, a few might come in handy. Why are you keeping the rest?
- Bad (or duplicate) photographs – both print and digital. “Bad” can mean either “poor quality” – out of focus, blurry, faded – as well as those you don’t find flattering, or those of people, places, or events you’d rather forget. You either can throw them away, or give them to the friend or family member who might appreciate them.
- Gifts you never actually liked. Receiving a gift does not obligate you to use it, keep it, or display it when the donor visits. If it’s a family “hand-me-down,” chances are good that the giver didn’t like it either, and that’s why you have it now.
- Activities you might once have enjoyed, but which you now dread. Start removing these from your life by not taking on any new obligations. Then, over time, complete your current commitments, renewing only those that meet your most important goals.
- People who drain, rather than energize, you. In addition to your familial responsibilities for children and elders, you may choose to help a friend who is ill or in need. Over time, your relationships should be more or less in balance. That is, you give and you get in about equal amounts (though not always at the same time, or even in the same year). If there is a person in your life who consistently demands your time, attention, or money; who does not stand up for you in front of others; who makes you feel small; or who puts you down privately or publicly – ask yourself why that individual is in your life.
- Habits that are not aligned with your vision and your goals. Do you have a vision for what you want your life to be? Or are you flying by the seat of your pants? What “time drains” can you give up in order to spend more time on what nourishes you?
Just remember – you are responsible for taking care of everything you own. How much time and energy do you want to devote to taking care of them?