e-Wise Woman: Health tips for women on the go | Issue 1 | Spring 2011

Conquering the Black Holes

That piece of plastic you know belongs to something but can't figure out what. That eye shadow you got at a cosmetics party and haven't opened. That gift jar of olive paté. That dress you bought for New Year's Eve Y2K and haven't worn since. Are these things and more residing in the "black holes" of your living space … closets, medicine cabinets, pantry, junk drawer? Michaeline Raczka, R.D., a Commerce-based Certified Life Coach and motivational speaker of clutterbustingcoach.com shares some tips on how to manage them.

Your Medicine Cabinet

  • Toss expired items.
  • Purge. Toss things that are gnarly, gunky or smell funky -- and anything you haven't used in months.
  • Swap. If you don't want that gift basket of hair or bath products, somebody at your workplace might.
  • Pare first aid items to what you really need.
  • Put like things together, figure out how to sort them.
  • When disposing of medications, refer to Food and Drug Administrations guidelines for the best way to do it safely.

 Your Closet

  • Decide how you want to tackle it -- working one section at a time or taking everything out.
  • Toss tattered or damaged items. If you decide you're going to fix something, put the date on your calendar.
  • Keeping things that don't fit, i.e. your "big size" and "small size," sets you up for going back and forth weight-wise. If you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it.
  • If you're keeping clothing for sentimental reasons, keep a photo instead. It takes up less space, and somebody who really needs the item can use it. Take it to your local consignment shop or donate it.
  • Organize by skirts, pants, tops, jackets. It's easier if you can use the same type of hangers. Color coordinate.

Your Files

  • Sort your paper piles into categories. You will begin to see a pattern.
  • Decide how to label your files, i.e. household, personal, financial, auto, legal, health/medical, business.
    • Sub-categories can be helpful, i.e. Health/Medical: Bob, Health/Medical: Sue.
    •  Use prime space for your most frequently consulted files, such as your desk file drawer. Locate other active files near your desk -- in no more than two or three drawers. Anything else can be put in long-term storage, in a space outside your office, such as the basement.
    • Schedule time to do weekly filing and periodic purging. Keep in mind that 80 percent of what we file, we never look at again.

"To get to the bottom of it, you need to stay on top of it," says Michaeline. "Create a regular maintenance system that works for you. Stick to your system -- otherwise it can be overwhelming. You don't have to start with a daylong project. Get one thing done, whether it's one drawer, or one curio cabinet."

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