So, You’re committed to cleaning up the clutter. Maybe you have even gathered it up into a big pile, a box, a large hamper, or several of the above. Now you think: “I can get this over fast. I’ll just toss all of this and then it is done.”
While this is tempting and many “neat” people ascribe to this method, you can’t do it. Clean your home will be, but organized you are not. Um, yes. Sort you must. (Says your Clutter Yoda.)
Things that have Gone with the Trash include, but are not limited to, checks for thousands of dollars, records of first hand research to support a Master’s Project, government issued ID, tax documents and other critical and sensitive financial records, family pictures, gifts from deceased friends and relatives. You will have to go through everything and make a decision about what it is and whether it needs to be kept—and if so where it goes. Which means sorting through clutter is a good exercise in decisionmaking. Move quickly, and with stealth.
I would suggest a Time Budget rather than a Deadline. Tell yourself this task will get so many hours a week, so many evenings or Saturday mornings a month, etc. And then just chip away. Like you chip away at any other unending task. Maybe it takes a few weeks, maybe a few months, maybe it takes a year or more. Just keep going, track the forward progress to keep yourself motivated and feeling like you are doing a good job. Also, learn your lesson as you go along, and try not to add to the pile any more than necessary: Sort, sift, decide, dispose of, store, file or place immediately. Don’t let the new stuff pile up.
It will probably be harder and easier than you think. What I can guarantee is that it will never end. You will deal with this your whole life, right up until the very end. Not even the most highly placed get away from it. There are always gifts coming in, deals, offers, new information and possibilities. Maybe it is more singular and sophisticated than coupons from the neighborhood grocery or the nearby strip mall, but it is all the same. We all have to make decisions every day and decide what is us and what is not.
So, Suck It up, Buttercup, and start sorting.