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De-Clutter on Your Day Off

Other than the massive snowstorm that hit much of the east coast in January, the 2015-2016 winter has been fairly mild. But February often feels like the longest month because of the way winter weather tends to return again and again. If we have another winter storm that shuts down businesses, or just a dreary day that keeps you captive indoors, consider doing a little de-cluttering.

“Life happens to all of us. We get busy and let papers, boxes, knick knacks and more pile up in nooks and crannies,” explained Katie Hamann, co-founder of Door to Door Solutions. “If you’ve been in your home for a while and may be moving in the near future, you could be in for an unexpected surprise when it comes to dealing with your excess stuff.”

Hamann recommends everyone take a day to de-clutter once a year to keep stuff under control. “Not only will this work help when you move, you’ll also feel better when you open a closet and can see the floor, or some empty space” she said. “A snow day is a great time to de-clutter because you’re already stuck at home, and perhaps nothing will make you feel as productive as a good winter cleaning. Plus, open space in the home opens space in your mind and life.”

With this in mind, here are three approaches to de-cluttering on your next free day, be it a snow day or just an earmarked Saturday:

1. Conquer the paper clutter
Old papers and boxes are some of the prime offenders for clutter. Newspapers, FedEx deliveries, old bills, magazines printouts, receipts, to-do lists: despite the proliferation of electronic communications, we are still very much a “paper” society.

Too often, people tend to set papers out of sight—in a desk drawer, say, or in an unused corner or closet—only to discover an unwieldy mess after several months or years. Paper trash can be organized into three general buckets: stuff to throw away immediately, stuff that can be recycled, and stuff that needs to be shredded. Most paper, cardboard and magazines can be recycled.

If you are a saver of information to read later, purge things that are not current. For example, if you have a stack of magazines, purge anything that is older than 2016, or anything older than 2015. Face it, if you haven’t read it yet, recycle it. There is always more information coming in.

Sensitive documents such as bank statements should be shredded. If you don’t have a shredder or have a number of old documents that need to be shredded, Door to Door Solutions offers this service, whether you are planning a move or simply need to clean house.

2. Clear out the closets
Because closets have doors, we tend to stow things away and forget about them. That cooler your in-laws brought over last summer? Camping gear from your one trip to the Shenandoah? Paint samples from when you repainted the bedroom? You never know what you might find in the floor of a random closet.

The best way to clean out a closet is to pull everything out. You’ll be amazed at how much stuff you were able to store in a tiny closet, and how much space it takes up when spread out on the floor of a larger room. But by pulling everything out, you’ll be forced to consider every object as you put it back into the closet.

Now, sort by category. All the black pants together. All the white blouses together. This is how we accurately assess what we actually have. Once you have an entire category together, sort it. Only put back what fits and what feels good.

If you haven’t used something in a long time—or if you forgot you even owned it—go ahead and throw it away or donate it.

3. Empty the pantry
We seldom think about clutter in the pantry, but food products, particularly dry goods, tend to pile up. A typical household usually has a few old cans and a few duplicate products (such as multiple boxes of baking soda) in the back of the pantry, plus a few frozen meals in the back of the freezer.

Take extra food to the nearest food bank. Or, get creative and make Snow Soup with everything in your freezer, and then share with friends and neighbors.

Staying home for a several snow days may force you to dig into the back of your pantry or freezer for sustenance, but even without a snow day, it’s a good idea to try to thin out your excess food supply on occasion—if only to give you more space.

“Along with the immense psychological benefit of de-cluttering your excess stuff, doing a little bit every year will give you a tremendous advantage next time you have to move,” said Hamann. “We all find stuff to throw away when we move, but minimizing the time you have to spend sorting through your things allows you to focus on setting up your new home just the way you want it.”

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