Column 18 – Your Bag Lady Days are Numbered by The FlyLady, Marla Cilley

If you have been having problems getting rid of your clutter, it could be because you have a disease known as the Bag Lady Syndrome. When we start out housekeeping, we have the cute filing cabinets that hold our important papers. It does not take long to fill those paper consuming monsters with every scrap of paper that we think is important. Soon with those drawers bulging, we start piling those “important papers” on every flat surface in our home.

When our flat surfaces become Hot Spots our homes look messy. We pride ourselves in knowing where everything is. That is until we have to find one of those important pieces of paper. Those piles and drawers explode while you frantically searching for the document you need.

Just let me tell you what has happen to your lost car title? You didn’t have room for it in your filing cabinet so you put it on your kitchen counter till you could make room in your filing cabinet. You had many other items that needed to be filed in the same place and the pile on your counter kept growing taller by the day. Then you got the call that your in-laws were coming to stay for a week.

In a panic you cleared off every flat surface in your home by bagging them up in used grocery bags or trash bags and placing them in one of several hiding spots you have created for yourself. Is your favorite stash and dash hiding place between the wall and your side of the bed? Oh it could be on top of your shoes in your closets. The worst place is in the garage because those bags of paper and other things could actually be mistaken for trash and placed in the garbage can.

This is one of the reasons that we don’t want anyone to help us get rid of our clutter. We are afraid that something is going to be thrown out that you really really want to keep! Everything that was in those piles was an item that you deemed important at the time. But was it really?

When we excavate those bags that have been stashed under your bed, we will find that 95% of the stuff is trash! You will discover other things like too; like garments with their tags still on them and cute pictures that your children have drawn. You will be shocked at the items you find exiled to those bags. It will be things you have been looking for, for many years. You can actually look in the bag and remember why you stuffed everything in there.

It was because you were in a hurry to get your home presentable for your visitor or so you could leave the house in good order while you were gone to take care of your parents. Getting in a hurry only turns your piles into a mountain of bags.

Many of you are determined to get organized and you think this means going out and buying lots of plastic tubs, pretty boxes and more filing cabinets. If the truth be told, all you really need to do is get rid of the clutter that you have hermetically sealed in those bags and buried under the lids of those bins. God help us all when we start looking for something. Those bags and bins throw up all over our house.

Quit being a Bag Lady and decide to stop this vicious cycle. Clutter is taking you away from your family. Right now go pluck one of those bags from its hiding place and take it to a clear flat surface. You will need a camera, an actual trash bag, a give-away box, and a put away box. Set your timer for 15 minutes and work as fast as you can. Do not talk yourself out of throwing the trash away. If it is something precious like a picture that was drawn for you, take a photo of it.

As soon as the 15 minutes is up, immediately put everything in the put away box away, place the trash in the garbage can or recycle bin, and take the give-away box to the car. If the place you want to put an item is stuffed to the brim then declutter two items before you put it there. Place those items in trash or give-away box.

Your home did not get messy in a day and it is not going to get clean overnight. If you will commit to eliminating a couple of bags a day; you will find that your bag lady days are numbered. You can do this! I know because I am no longer a Bag Lady!

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