Thursday, October 30, 2008

Conquering Clutter: Oprah Style

I'm pretty good at this- ask my friends. I try to not be too weird about it- my secret obsession- how much better I feel when things are "tight"- but I can't ignore those itchy, uncomfortable feelings I get in places where they don't follow Peter's rules. ( I have been known to clear, clean up and toss clutter in strange environs, and the houses of good friends. Even better when they invite me to do so. Hello, Kari?)

It's just something I grew up appreciating and something my family supports- we are anti-clutter around here. And the feng shui is good, my people. Very very good.
so, I give you: ( my notes in red)

How to Keep Your House Clutter-Free
Peter Walsh
  • Tackle messes one room at a time. may want to do one room a week to get used to the goodness
  • When you buy something new, practice the "in-out rule:" For every one new item, get rid of an old one. this is HUGE. Nothing wrecks clutter-free like over-purchasing. We donate clothing monthly and bring boxes of books to trade at the used book store.
  • Create intimacy in the master bedroom. Remember that improvements in one room can spread to the rest of the house. No TV in master bedroom. Super fine linens. Think sexy hotel. This is your refuge. Oh. And make your bed EVERYDAY.
  • Make cleaning up fun for your kids. Timers, people. And loud rock and roll.
  • Create a vision for the room you're cleaning. Each room in the house represents something- if you know feng shui- or someone, if you're just into life. walk through your rooms like stranger and take note of what you see first, what impressions are strongest. Hopefully classy or creative reads louder than sloppy or lazy.
  • Teach your kids how to sort. Another big one. I say, do you need this? Do you wear/use this? And lastly, Do you WANT this? Usually if I have to ask, it gets pitched.
  • Use a hanger system to determine which clothes you wear most. this has to do with summer and winter clothes. You turn the hanger around on an item after you wear it, then at the end of the season, all the same facing hangers are items you never wore- they go to charity. Personally I have a year round closet. With a sweater box under the bed. I haven't done a seasonal closet change in 25 years.
  • Ask yourself if you really need something. If you hesitate, you don't. LOVE THIS.
  • Establish a "magic triangle" in your kitchen between the stove, refrigerator and the sink. Keep the items you use most in that area. Good point, but not kitchens are set up this way. I do like to pitch "fad" items like rice cookers and ice cream makers and specialty blenders and juicers and slicers and tiny choppers and garlic cookers and...
  • Identify useful utensils with the cardboard box test. ( see below)
If you want to see what utensils you're really using, Peter recommends the cardboard box test. "Take all the utensils out of your drawers, put them in a cardboard box," he says. "For the next month, whenever you use one of these utensils, put it back in the drawer. If after four weeks it's still in the box, you don't need it."

I'm wondering if the cardboard box test will work for other areas of my life....
anybody got any REALLY big cardboard boxes?
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