Time for a clear out

If you missed ‘national clear your clutter day’ don’t worry – there is still plenty of time to make a difference.  With a nod to the allegedly diminishing practice of spring cleaning, clear your clutter day on 11th March 2017 was billed as a chance to clear unwanted items either for profit or a sense of positive change.

The day’s organisers recommended using a simple four box sorting system as a way of identifying which items could be sold, upcycled, swapped or recycled. And the message wasn’t just aimed at decluttering households, businesses too were urged to join in and have a good sort out and tidy.

There were also some handy hints for those of us who may find the notion of a mass tidy-out a little intimidating.  These included breaking down the area to be tidied into manageable chunks, either by room or even by cupboard or drawer. If even that seems insurmountable, the organisers suggest getting into the habit of clearing one item per day. It may not seem much but over the course of the year that makes 365 unwanted items cleared out of the home or business and into a charity shop or recycling facility.

Interestingly the clear your clutter campaigners don’t stop at suggesting we declutter only physical items.  Finances and even the contents of our in boxes also come under scrutiny. For example, we may not have much control over the inward flow of e-mails but do we really need to keep all of those sent ones which merely say ‘thanks’ or ‘have a happy birthday’?  And then there is the delete box. If we have already identified an e-mail as no longer required why leave it lingering and taking up space in the delete folder?  There may be a good business reason why some e-mails need to be kept but identifying which ones we really need helps us to rethink our business priorities as we clear.

Other suggestions include sitting down with all that paperwork which is cluttering up the office or home and having a good sort out.  Whilst there is some paperwork which needs to be kept in physical form (property deeds or passport come to mind here) there is much which could be scanned and filed electronically.  Not only does that declutter the office, by making use of a good indexing system it becomes much easier to find documents quickly when needed.

This is a practice which health professionals are increasingly adopting for patient records.  Electronic filing is safe and secure and not only allows for instant retrieval it also helps to speed up treatment in cases where records may need to be shared across different specialists.

When it comes to decluttering finances, there are a few simple things which you can do which can make a measurable difference.  Here again having paperwork and outstanding invoices lying around can add to stress levels so moving to electronic system could make a difference to the way in which finances are approached. Keeping a simple spreadsheet will help individuals to identify when key bills are due whilst for businesses moving to a form of electronic payment can smooth cash flow.

For example, healthcare providers such as physiotherapists or chiropractors may wish to consider taking card details at the time of appointment booking. Not only does this help to smooth cash flow; having provided card details patients are less likely to miss an appointment, particularly if a no-show fee is clearly highlighted on the appointment terms and conditions.

Busy lives make it all too easy to let clutter build up. We may intend to clear this when we’ve done that but then something else comes up and the clearing never gets done.  Taking time to step back and re-evaluate can force us to stop and not only clear but also plan a less cluttered future.