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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Declutter your home – and keep it that way

Wina Sturgeon Tribune News Service

One of the drawbacks of getting older is that time brings an increasing accumulation of things. These things litter all kinds of spare space – drawers, shelves, closets and spare rooms. Nearly all of it is clutter. It’s not stuff you really want, but it’s hard to figure out what do to with it.

I finally got rid of my vast collection of clutter by hiring a professional organizer. Organizers are very expensive, but they’re worth it. At the very least, an organizer can help you get into a rhythm of clearing away the clutter that’s taking up space in your home. You’ll learn a different way of thinking about your collection of “stuff.”

For example, my organizer saw a faded stoneware cookie jar hidden on a shelf in my basement and asked, “Why are you keeping that?” I explained that I wanted it after my mother died as a reminder of all the childhood treats it once held. She said, “If you love it, don’t hide it away. Find a way to use and display it.” The cookie jar is now a flour container, displayed on a kitchen counter. I get to see it every day.

My paid organizer served as my expert. She helped me set up a daily 15-minute schedule, with the goal of filling at least half of a grocery bag with stuff to be tossed or donated. At the end of each daily session, the bag of discards was immediately placed outside my door. The trick is, don’t just put stuff somewhere else. Get it outside your home immediately so it’s sorted and gone.

Many folks need time to make up their mind about what to throw out, especially when it comes to stuffed closets. Here’s a great tip to find out what clothing should no longer be hanging around:

Start by making up about 50 paper tabs, about the size of a credit card, containing the day’s date. Go through all your clothing closets. Take out every hanging garment and string one of the dated tags on the hanger by poking a hole in it with the hanger hook. When you wear any of these garments, remove and toss the tab.

One year later, look for all the clothing with hangers that still have dated tags. It will have been a year. Are you ever going to wear these items again? Be realistic about everything. If you haven’t worn it in a year, sell or donate it.

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