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Ten Minute Makeover
Sorting Clutter – The Traffic Light Method
Choose one room in your home that is in desperate need of a clear out. Take three boxes and mark them red, yellow and green. These traffic light colours will help you decide how to proceed with every item – stay, wait or go.
RED – stay or keep These are the things you use regularly. They are important to you and must be given a permanent home where you can find them easily.
YELLOW – wait These are the things you instinctively want to keep, but actually haven’t used for over a year. These things need to be repaired, returned, finished or new homes found for them.
GREEN – go or recycle This is stuff you haven’t used in over two years. Anything broken that will never be repaired, anything you don’t like, and anything you will probably never use again.
Empty every surface or cupboard you declutter into the three categories. Put anything that is obviously rubbish into bin bags. Once the space is clear, vacuum it and wipe it clean. Line drawers and cupboard shelves with attractive paper, which will make them easier to clean in future.
• Examine the red/keep items. These are the things you use regularly and must hang on to. Group everything associated with the same activity together: jewellery, stationery, photography, travel, sports, etc. Create a permanent home for each of these groups. Once you have each group assembled, edit it again, removing any duplication for sale or recycling.
• Now the yellow/wait items. This is probably a large and daunting collection of things that grew rapidly. Start with the broken items. If you’re unlikely to ever get round to fixing them, put them into the rubbish or recycling. Next make plans to return anything borrowed. Set a deadline for all half-finished projects, for example by the end of next week, and put a tag on them with the date. If you miss the deadline, promise you’ll definitely get rid of it next time you declutter.
• Finally the green/recycle items. It’s time for these things to go. You might have decided to raise some cash from your clutter. Work out where to sell each item, for how much, and set a deadline for its disposal. If you haven’t managed to sell everything by, say, the end of the month, you can then consider giving away what’s left to a charity shop. Anything that isn’t saleable can be recycled. All local authorities operate recycling centres that are free to use and are a good way to avoid simply putting everything into household rubbish, which mainly ends up as environmentally damaging landfill.
Staying on top of clutter forever
Once you’ve spent time sorting out your clutter you’ll want to try and keep everything in its place. Most of us are constantly acquiring new objects so an ongoing routine keeps things under control. Put articles away as you use them or at the end of the day to stay on top of clutter.