Throwaway lines

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 June, 2006, 12:00am

Take a clutter tour: Start by doing a clutter tour of your house/office. Take a good look at those places that bother you or appear cluttered. Think about what you want to achieve and decide what your comfort zone is. If that means you're comfortable with a book case heaving with books, then that's OK. If not, it's time to declutter.

Start small: Don't be too ambitious at first. Don't attempt something big like emptying the loft, says Sue Kay, author of No More Clutter. 'I've known people do that, leave it all and go to the pub - and then that's the way it has stayed for the next few years.' Try cleaning out one drawer at a time or sorting out one file a day. It may not seem to make a difference at first, but think where you'll be in a month.

Kristin Lowe, of Hong Kong's Organising Solutions, says to start by setting up systems for handling what's happening in your life now. Stay on top of new information and work landing in your inbox each day, rather than trying to clear the backlog that has built up over the years.

Try the smile test: Sentimental things can be the most difficult to sort out. Kay suggests approaching these tricky items with what she calls the smile test. Look at the item, hold it, and ask yourself how it makes you feel.

Be honest: Ask yourself if you use it. Have you used it in the past year? Do you enjoy using it? If it's clothing, do you feel good wearing it? Also, consider your storage space. You may have 50 nice cups but space for only 20, which means anything above that is clutter.

Create a memory box: Be selective. Go through Christmas and birthday cards and letters and keep only the ones with special messages. Keep a select few of your child's drawings.

Make it worthwhile: One person's clutter is another's treasure. You don't have to throw out your clutter. You can try recycling. Consider donating to charity or try selling.

Keep it up: Don't let clutter build up once you've cleared it, says Lowe. Keep it moving with a clearly defined system. Questions such as: 'What's the next thing I'm going to do with this?' 'When will that be?' and 'What's the worst thing that could happen if I didn't have this?' are powerful keys to decision-making.

One tactic Kay suggests is the 'one in: one out' strategy. 'If you buy a new shirt, then you must clear out one of the old ones,' she says. 'My husband likes this one. He thinks he's getting a good deal.'