“For Where Your Treasure Is, There Your Heart Will Be Also”
My mother was a neat-nik. When she turned 70, she spent the year purging her files and storing only her and my father’s important documents in a safe deposit box and in a filing cabinet at home. Years later, when I needed to quickly find my father’s discharge papers from the military service or a copy of the cemetery deed, I knew exactly where to find them. As I look around my own office, I feel sorry for my children if something were to suddenly happen to me.
Are your parents thinking about downsizing or perhaps a move into assisted living or a retirement community? Do they intend to remain in their home but could benefit from de-cluttering and organizing? It often will seem daunting and almost impossible to clear out decades of memories. Recently, I met Laura Moore, founder of Clutter Clarity. As a professional organizer and coach, Laura helps people de-clutter and organize their homes, schedules, and lives. She teaches people how to think about it all so the physical work of holding on and letting go is liberating instead of overwhelming. Laura makes a very necessary and sensible distinction between clutter and treasures, helping me to see that the plastic wall plaque that hung above my mother’s kitchen sink for decades is one of my treasures, more valuable to me than an antique chandelier collecting dust in the attic. Laura’s blog and tweets are full of unique, helpful ideas about how to change our relationship to our belongings and get organized. She offers 21 ClutterClarity Tips on her website. My top five favorites are:
- Is It or Is It Not Clutter? Ask Yourself: Do I love it now? (not like a lot); Do I use it now? (within a year); Does it comfortably fit into my home? (if not, what can I let go of to make room?); Does it fit into my current lifestyle? (family, work, friends, hobbies, etc.).
- Get a Timer: Pick a project you can finish in 15, 30, or 60 minutes-a drawer, a corner, or a box.
- Buy a Shredder: Set it up at waist level so you don’t have to bend over so much. Shred for a short period of time so you don’t get bored.
- Find a Clutter-Clearing Companion: Instead of working with someone you live with, find a good friend who will not judge you.
- Pick a Non-Profit: Choose organizations that do work that you care about. Sometimes they’ll even pick up your stuff for you.
I personally follow all of these tips, although occasionally I do get carried away. Just ask my teenage daughter; I shredded her driving permit and she had to wait three weeks to replace it. Donating to non-profits that will use items no longer needed or worn by your family is very satisfying and may be what helps your parents part with some of their treasures.
Consider passing Laura’s wisdom on to others. If you have trouble knowing what personal financial, legal, and medical documents to save or to shred, I recommend her 21 page publication “Paper Clarity at a Glance.” I keep a copy at home as a reference guide for my own paperwork. As always, I do not have any financial arrangement with Laura or her business; I simply think the services of a professional organizer can be invaluable.
How do you and your parents deal with clutter?
©Circle of Life Partners™