March Madness and Your Next Best Play for Decluttering

Everywhere you look at this time of year, there are brackets — for everything — all modeled on the NCAA’s annual March Madness competition. There were even brackets popping up online for picking the next Pope! (We’re pretty sure the Vatican wasn’t consulting those, but who knows?) This yearly tradition of “bracketology” — an actual term invented by ESPN — can be a terrific template for starting your own round of organizational madness.

Accept this March Challenge: mimick the tournament’s single-elimination process to decide what deserves a place in your life.

NCAA Tournament Trophy

As you cull your collection, think “what’s worthy of living on my trophy shelf?”

Take three weeks to cut any bench-warmers — objects that hog space, collect dust, and detract from the rest of the team. Just as athletes work toward goals and milestones like personal bests, you can use “bracketology” to make your decluttering goals concrete.
• Trim Sweet Sixteen items from your closet so clothes don’t spill over.
• Contain your collection to an Elite Eight items that fit neatly in a cabinet.
• Find the Final Four essential cookbooks for your kitchen shelf.

The hardest lesson March Madness teaches is one-and-done. The Final Four teams play two games over three days to determine the one national champion. Culling collections down to a single winner is unrealistic but selecting winners based on proven criteria is a good play. Choose from a laundry list of categories: books, clothes, vases, kids’ artwork, pantry items, electronics — just to name a few.

Let these Elite 8 questions be the driving force behind refining your best team.
1. Do you use it?
2. Do you love it?
A “yes” to either of these earns a guaranteed spot on the team.
3. Has it expired?
Cut expired food, medicines, fashions, make-up, or electronics from your roster.
4. Does it fit?
5. Is it flattering?
These two questions — though obviously referring to clothing — need not be exclusive to your wardrobe. Really, you’re asking if things fit your lifestyle. Sometimes entire collections represent an old hobby that’s irrelevant to your current interests. Consider how much of what you own is an honest reflection of you and the life you want to live. If something doesn’t fit — for any reason — let it go.
6. Could you easily replace it?
7. Is it still valuable to you?
8. Is it easy to maintain?

Surplus supplies can rob us of space, energy and disposable income. Don’t stockpile if you are maxing-out on space. Simplify; fewer working parts, lower maintenance costs, and a smaller footprint can be a savings on several levels.

Take your time. Give yourself an entire month to accomplish your goal. Each week, as new tournaments are played make your ‘team cuts.’ Try out the feeling of having less on your shelf, less in your collection, and less on your mind.

In the end YOU will be the winner. March Madness ends on Monday, April 8. Don’t throw in the towel if the tournament ends while you’re still deciding what to keep. Decisions take time. If you don’t declutter on a regular basis your organizing muscles aren’t at peak performance. Practice will perfect your skills.

March Madness and Your Next Best Play for Decluttering is our 4th post of 2013.

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