Wednesday, March 16, 2016

"It's Time To Think Seriously About Spring Cleaning"

Here it is the middle of March, so it seems like a great time to get started on that annual ritual known as spring cleaning. Actually, there hardly is a bad time to go through items that we have been hanging onto and getting rid of the myriad of items that no longer have any value or simply don't work.

This time of year, as we are heading into spring, traditionally is the time set aside to freshen our homes and remove some of that unwanted material that has been accumulating during the winter - and over the years as well. Hence, the term "spring cleaning" is applied.

It really is amazing at the number and condition of items that we accumulate and hang onto - often with the best of intentions. Sometimes it's just that we can't bear to see an item go, even though we know we'll never use it again. Other times, we have specific plans for various items that we hold onto or acquire, but then our plans change.

As much as we - as aging-in-place specialists and providers - are aware of this significant challenge of clutter accumulation in our own situations, imagine how much of an issue it is for some of our clients and potential clients.

For instance, having a white pages or yellow pages phone directory is not something everyone does these days - especially with Google, Siri, and other online resources. Still, some people do have a current copy of either the white or yellow pages for their area - or both. That said, how much value is there in having previous editions of those books sitting around like a reference library? If you think about it, outdated editions really aren't of much value - and they certainly take up space and add to the general clutter situation.

Those old report cards from school, sports programs and playbills, ticket stubs, outdated over-the-counter medications that we hang onto just in case, bell-bottom pants, leisure suits, double knit shirts, high school or college letter jackets, and even more items that meant something to us at the time but likely don't anymore - if we could even use them again - may be taking up more space than should be the case.

When was the last time we used that baseball or softball glove or skates? Are we ever likely to use them again? Are they any good or has time eroded their value and usefulness?

We have to ask ourselves just how much we need or want to hang onto various things just to remind us of pleasant memories from the past - and how much we can remember things without those tangible reminders. Of course, with the computer and digital photography, we can take pictures of many of those items and store them - eliminating the need and the space for keeping them. We can also use the internet to search for events and items we enjoyed from past years.

Just as many businesses (especially law firms and physician offices) are scanning old files and dumping the hard copies, we can do the same thing and vastly streamline the amount of material we keep and the space used to store it (such as a flash drive, external hard drive, cloud, or computer).

There's more to discuss on this issue of cleaning, storage, organization, and de-cluttering, but this should be a good start.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.