Clutter Control: Simple Ways to Handle a Household Item Once

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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 handling something once and ridding yourself of the "for now" phrase.

Clutter Control Rule #4: Handle Something Once. Rid Yourself of the "For Now" Phrase.

This rule is necessary because of the excuse "for now." For example, "I will put this jacket here for now," or " I will put this stack of papers here for now." This phrase is forbidden to a known clutterer.

Once you say "for now," you are admitting that you are going to handle whatever it is more than once. That seemingly innocuous decision increases clutter and at least doubles your work load. What you're really doing when you utter those forbidden words is putting off making a decision about it right then and there. Don't be lazy. That decision won't go away just because you put it off, and it won't be any easier to make later on. So make your decisions about things right then and there.

Here's one way to apply this rule: When mail arrives, don't just idly sort through it looking for something interesting. Instead, stand next to a recycling bin or trash can as you sort. Toss the appropriate pieces then and there. This exercise is a very liberating thing to do. Put bills in the "Bills" file of your cabinet. Put interesting catalogs or ads with the newspaper and look at them after you read the paper. Then file them as needed or recycle them with the newspaper.

We met a woman who stood at the trash can as her kids brought home paperwork from school. She looked at each paper, made the appropriate comments directly to her kids, and tossed it into the trash. If the paper was special in some way and merited saving, she had a special place for it in her filing cabinet.

My mother's repair drawer was a great example of the lengths to which the "for now" philosophy could be carried. Putting something in that drawer was exactly the same as throwing it away, because nothing ever emerged from it. We just kept more and bigger repair drawers to hold all that stuff. When the opportunity arises, or whenever you feel the words "for now" starting to form on your lips, remind yourself to handle the item once. Don't leave it in some temporary holding area instead of where it ultimately belongs.

How many times do you normally handle an item in your home before deciding whether or not to store it or toss it?

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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