Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I’m not one to do that because I feel that if something needs to change, why wait for a new year – just get going with it!  Perhaps many of you have thought about having a cleaner office or home in 2012.

Do you find yourself postponing opening mail or organizing small stacks of paper and then the small stacks get larger and soon you’re avoiding the stack and hoping it’ll all resolve itself? Here are a few tips and suggestions that seem to help me.

A Paper Gathering place my husband uses:

  • Set aside a block of time to take action. A block of time can be 5 minutes. In fact, if you dread facing the piles, telling yourself 5 minutes might make it seem more bearable and you may end up wanting to go just a few more minutes.
  • Pick up each piece of paper and handle it – you have three choices, trash/recycle, file/for future reference or handle it right away. This may mean there’s a bill to pay, an entry to make on a calendar, a phone call, etc. Don’t put it back on the pile!
  • Put like things together. If you have receipts scattered about, collect them together. Then decide if they need to be archived, recorded or otherwise handled. You’re feeling better already, aren’t you?
  • Do you have a reading stack? Most of us do – a stack of “I really want to go through this material – someday’. If your some day stack has been there for over a month, it’s time to toss it, it’s probably not going to happen. You probably won’t be missing that much and it probably won’t matter much. If it was truly important, you’d have read it by now.
  • Sentimental items – your kid’s artwork, an old stuffed animal, an aware from long ago—what to do with them? Recently, I blogged about how I started handling this. I took photos of the art work and other mementos and took pictures of them, put them into Windows Movie Maker and then narrated the video using Jing. Then I put all the artwork and misc. into a bag and put it in the trash. Now I admit, I still have one bag that hasn’t made it to the trash yet, but perhaps this article will motivate me to follow my advice!
  • Remember the 6-month rule? It really makes sense. If you think you have to keep something because you’ll ‘need it some day’, but it in a box, label it with the date and go back to it 6 months later and look in it. If it wasn’t needed, it probably won’t be. Unless it’s a tax or otherwise related item, give it away, take a picture of it and get it out of your office//house

These are a few of the methods I use and although I’m not always clutter free, I do make time for a couple de-cluttering sessions every week. My reward is seeing clean counter-tops and desktops in my house and office.

What are some of your tips and recommendations?

(This originally was published on my blog at http://extremevirtualsupport.com on January 13, 2012)

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