As we are well into the new year and spring cleaning is on our minds, this is a great time to think about how we can incorporate new routines to reduce excess and prevent clutter build up. Just as tax season acts as a natural trigger to cull and purge our paper and files, there are other things you can be doing through the year to build purging into your lifestyle. These life ‘triggers’ can easily be woven into your daily, weekly, monthly and annual routines. Life triggers are common occurrences and/or periodic seasons we all face in a given year.
Always keep a donation box at hand and fill it as you come across things you no longer want or love.
When you have a short downtime, like when you're on hold on the phone, clean out an office desk drawer or kitchen drawer. Try to hit these small "collection areas" once a year at least.
Same idea goes for the car when waiting for someone at a doctor appointment or waiting on kids to get out of an activity; look around you and gather the trash, check expired coupons, check miles against needed car maintenance, or gather items that simply need to be carried back into the house.
Clean out office files after each yearend when you’re starting to work on taxes. When you purge or archive the prior year papers, set up any new files needed for the current year. What piles of papers do you find on your desk without a home? Can some things be stored electronically rather than paper? Is there information you need to be gathering during the year for tax preparation? Take this opportunity to streamline your processes.
Another trigger to clean out a file cabinet is when you cannot pull the drawer open or you cannot comfortably put new files into the drawer. Choose the 3 or 4 of the oldest files in the drawer and review them. With old files, you can usually make decisions quickly and this breeds empowerment.
Use the start of a new school year and the start of spring as a trigger to re-evaluate clothes. As kids grow, these are perfect times to address what they have outgrown.
Birthdays and holidays are a great time to go through toys to make room for new ones kids receive.
Carefully review your holiday items and decorations before storing them. Take this opportunity to purge old and tattered decorations or decorations you have kept out of obligation.
When you buy something to replace something else, get rid of the replaced item right away. If you really want to purge, do a ‘one in’ and ‘two out'--get rid of two things for every new item purchased.
These ideas are nothing magical, but easy things that you can adopt into your life. You will find that building these little routines into your year will keep the large purging sessions to a minimum.