Clutter Control: Picking and Assigning a Number to the Items in Your Home

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Clutter Control—As part of this clutter control series, we’ll be discussing ways to free yourself from a cluttered home and uncover simple organization tips that you can follow to live in a more organized and functional home. Today’s rule is all about picking a number and sticking with it.

Clutter Control Rule #6: Pick a number and stick with it.

If you really do use an empty mayonnaise jar for storing fat drippings, go ahead and save one. But if you use one mayonnaise jar every six months for drippings, and you purchase mayonnaise approximately once a month for consumption, you only need to save one jar to have a sufficient supply. One. Uno. One more than zero. Don't save any more jars until you use the one you've saved.

If you intend on saving boxes for packaging future gifts, pick a number and stick with it. If you're convinced that you must save a box for each of the different potential size gifts, you really ought to call a spade a spade and just open a store, because that's what you'll have with so many boxes. Limit your collection to four boxes of various sizes stored inside the largest one. That should be all you ever need at any one time, or at least until you have a chance to replenish your supply. When you reach your number, don't save another box until you use one from your supply. If you do come across another irresistible box, then toss one when you add the new one to your collection.

Whatever you do, don't exceed the chosen number. Pick a number for other things around the house that contribute to overall clutter. For example, decide to keep two week's worth of Newsweek or Time. Each week, throw away the issue that's three weeks old when the new one arrives.

If you have a passion for purchasing, this rule is for you. Purses are prime examples. Once again, pick a sensible number of purses to keep, and stick with it. If you decide on seven, this means that other purses are clutter. Rank your top seven purses, give the others to charity, and don't buy a new one until you're willing to let one go.

Use this rule with shoes, socks, porcelain frogs, mustards in the fridge, or packages of paper towels in the cupboard. Also work clothes. Two sets are enough. Any more than that and you're just trying to get around giving away you old clothes. Junk drawer? Yes, you can keep it, but only one per household—not one per person or one per room.

When it comes to items in your home, how do you manage the number of items you have of one thing? Moving forward, how will you pick a number to reduce the amount of clutter?

To follow along in this series, please be sure to check out the previous clutter control tips and tricks:

Debbie Sardone

Debbie Sardone is the founder of Cleaning For a Reason which provides free cleaning services to women who are touched by cancer.  She also owns a Dallas cleaning service.

Her long-time passion for teaching cleaning and organizational has lead her to continue the legacy of Speed Cleaning and the use of green cleaning products.

She can be followed as @DebbieSardone on Twitter.

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