Relying on Significant Dates to Help You Declutter
Written by Lisa Montanaro | September 22, 2011

By Guest Blogger, Tim Eyre

After years of struggling to find the time to get organized, I finally decided to make it part of my normal routine.  Along with regular meetings and appointments penciled in on my calendar, I now schedule organizational sessions to help keep my household in order.  The following is a description of my basic strategy, which can easily be customized for any lifestyle.

First Day of Each Month.  The first day of each month is an ideal time to conduct a survey of perishable items in your kitchen.  I know way too many people who procrastinate in disposing of expired foods.  First, tackle the refrigerator.  Go shelf by shelf, looking at expiration dates on packaged foods and dispose of anything that’s already out of date.  Also, inspect other food items and get rid of anything that’s moldy or smelly.  Even if rotting food appears to be safely stored in containers, you don’t want those things sitting next to the food that you and your family plan to eat.

Next, focus your attention on the kitchen pantry, using the same basic strategy.  Pre-packaged foods should be discarded if the expiration date has passed (or, if you don’t anticipate using an item anytime soon, purge it if the expiration date is approaching).

After disposing of food items in the refrigerator and pantry, it’s time to carefully clean those spaces.  Wipe down shelves and organize the food in a logical manner so it’s easy to locate in order to minimize waste.

Anniversary of Move-in Date.  I always recommend that people identify a particular day or week during the year to concentrate on some heavy duty cleaning and organization.  “Spring cleaning” seems to be the approach many families take, but I think using the anniversary of the day you moved in your home is a great substitute.  First, it’s a date that most people can easily remember and it will also get you on a regular schedule that you can follow for years to come.

Around the anniversary of your move-in date, closets are a good place to start.  A common rule of thumb is to remove clothing from your closet if you haven’t worn it in the last year.  Special garments may merit exceptions to that rule, but the goal is to eliminate clutter caused by clothing doesn’t get worn.  After working through your own closet, move on to the closets in the kids’ rooms.  A thorough sweep through children’s closets is particularly important, as they tend to grow out of clothing rapidly.  Items that no longer fit should be removed and stored away if they can be passed down to younger siblings or gathered together for donation to a charitable organization.  And don’t forget the coat closets.  Outerwear often gets overlooked, leading to jam-packed conditions in coat closets.

Five Year Anniversary of Move-in Date.  Every fifth year on the anniversary of your move-in date, it’s time to address areas of the house that don’t warrant as much attention as the kitchen and closets.  For example, comb through the tools and other items stored in the garage and remove things that don’t work or that don’t get used anymore.  Although “organization” isn’t a term commonly associated with attics or basements, if you can’t easily locate the items stored in those areas, you’re not doing yourself any favors.  Therefore, going through those spaces about every five years and donating items that you don’t anticipate using again will help reduce clutter and keep things organized.

Major Holidays.  Following major holidays, assessing your stock of festive décor is important.  I’ve seen families lease separate storage units just to hold Christmas decorations.  Unless you have a sprawling estate that can handle that amount of holiday cheer, chances are it’s time to conduct a major organizational overhaul of these seasonal decorations.  As with closets, a common rule of thumb is to purge ornaments or decorations that haven’t been used in one or two years.

Ten Year Wedding Anniversary.  From household appliances to fancy dinnerware, the amount of “stuff” many couples amass through wedding and shower gifts is mind-blowing.  However, some couples find that those items they thought would be treasured keepsakes actually have little utility.  And others realize that the elegant dinner party they envisioned probably will never happen, making cabinets full of silver and crystal useless.  While there’s nothing wrong with holding on to sentimental items like these, I know some couples who decided to sell such items to make some extra cash and make more room for useful household storage.

Graduation.  Once children reach a certain age, it’s time to start parting with those stuffed animals we couldn’t let go of years ago and those boxes full of juvenile artistic artwork.  There’s no rule that you have to purge all your children’s memories, but you should expect for them to take some role in storing and organizing their own things.  Upon graduation from high school or college, or whenever your children start moving away from home, you can send some of these things with them.

In his role in the self storage industry, Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits facilities including a self storage facility in Peoria. He was also recently meeting customers and staff at the Chicago self storage center.

Meet the Author

Helping others be the best versions of themselves gets me jazzed!

I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime—often at the same time—while enjoying fulfilling careers. I’ve been a performer, teacher, sign language instructor, lawyer, career counselor, law professor, coach, consultant, mediator, entrepreneur, speaker, trainer, writer, and author. 

I’m an eternal optimist and life-long learner, constantly researching ways to improve personal and professional effectiveness. And it brings me great joy to then pass on the results of that persistent curiosity to my clients and audiences. 

Of all the career hats I’ve been privileged to wear, my favorite is owner of this business since 2002. Why? Because it provides me the opportunity to work with wonderful organizational and individual clients. On any given day, I get to connect deeply with audiences, work with dedicated teams, improve workplaces, watch clients have a-ha moments, and know I’ve made a difference in their lives and careers. And that is very satisfying.