Forgotten tips for de-cluttering

Mass media often misses the two most essential ingredients when they provide organizing advice to home owners in northwest B.C.

Organizing is often a hype in the media this time of year

Without fail, women’s magazines can be counted on to fill their January and February issues with articles advising how to lose weight or clear household clutter.

Which topic is dealt with in January, which in February, may differ but it’s bound to be one or the other.

And though both topics have been exhaustively written about for decades, magazine editors trust they will be supplying new tips to a fresh crop of readers.

Their advice for clearing clutter often begins with a trip to the nearest dime store for a trunk load of plastic bins, followed by inexpensive shelving chosen more for utility than decorating qualities.

Rarely do they mention duct tape or felt tip markers; both are essential to happy de-cluttering if you hope to find things months later.

Even if you’re not moving from one address to another or have a possible move on your radar, rolls of duct tape in several colours, several black felt tip markers, and clear plastic bags size 32 x 41 inches should be staples around the house like sugar and flour in the kitchen.

Plastic bags protect soft goods like quilts, while keeping contents visible. Duct tape will cling to the bags tenaciously as a shy toddler to Mom’s leg.

These suggestions  were reinforced for me this morning when I got carried away after lugging a two-week collection of recycling to the curb.

For weeks I had put off tidying up an accumulation of stuff that required shirtsleeve temperature to tackle.

With the electric heater warming the room to keep my compost worms and houseplants from undue chilling, I picked up an Olfa knife and set about collapsing sundry empty cardboard boxes from dog biscuits and dental chews, transferring crumpled Christmas wrapping paper to the recycling can, and re-hanging hand tools on their wall hooks, tools I’d been too lazy to hang up when I completed some small fix-it.

An hour after I started the ping-pong sized table was clear except for a spider plant that needed to be potted, and I had an unobstructed path to the room corner where boxes of items had been stored in a haphazard pile taking up acres of floor space.

The day most of the boxes arrived we were in the midst of a snowstorm.

I didn’t fuss about labelling, taping boxes closed, or much else.

I thought more of getting the boxes in and closing the door against the swirling snow.

Over intervening months more boxes had been added, some had been removed, and many a search had gone on hunting for some item without having a clue or memory of which box it might be in.

In addition, I had walked miles around the heap to reach a tool on the wall behind it.

Today I’d tame this untidy mess into a compact tower freeing maximum floor space.

I quickly learned the value of marking each box the way van lines do with the name of the contents’ owner, the room it came from or a general term for its contents such as clothing, videos, or books.

Cardboard boxes hold together best if supported by duct tape along all seams.

Stack boxes so upper ones don’t cave in the tops of the boxes beneath.

And label, label, label. On top. On one side. On one end so a label is visible from almost any view.

This will slow packing, but save time and aggravation later.

Instead of opening and checking most of the boxes on successive searches, you’ll be able to stand back and scan the labels for the carton you need.

Claudette Sandecki efficiently organizes her life from her home in Thornhill, B.C.

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