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Published May 23, 2012, 02:00 PM

Areavoices: Ms. Simplicity asks, 'How much of your stuff do you really use?'

Imagine a file cabinet with four drawers, jammed with papers and miscellaneous items. Then look at the picture of five file folders – that is all that remained after we sorted out one client’s file cabinet.

By: Melissa Schmalenberger, Areavoices blogger, INFORUM

Imagine a file cabinet with four drawers, jammed with papers and miscellaneous items. Now look at the picture of the five file folders, that is all that remained after the we sorted out a client’s file cabinet. This is an example of what is left when a client is ready to get rid of clutter. Remember Pareto’s principal of we use 80% of our stuff 20% of the time? This is a visual reminder of that principal. Here is a way to test this principal in your life.

Closets: Turn all of your hangers backwards with the intention of only turning them around the proper way after you wear the item. Do this in all of your closets….kids closets….entry closets….off season closets.

Kitchens: Put all of the kitchen gadgets in a box and put in another room and only take out what you need when you need it. Give yourself a period of time and what you haven’t used during that period place in your donation area.

Bathrooms: Put all of your makeup, toiletries in a box and place in another room and as you need it, then bring it back into the bathroom. Anything that you haven’t used in a given period of time, have it leave your home.

Papers: Schedule time to sort your papers and figure our what you really need to keep. Unless you are self employed you do not need to keep as many things as you think you do. Contact your tax professional for up to date retention information. Fearful of throwing away bank documents because of someday you may need them. Simply call your bank and find out how easy it is to get that needed information.

The best piece of advice is to just start. Take 5 minutes here and there….but just start. Sometimes the hardest step in the journey is the first step.