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    De-Junk Your Life

    TAMING TROUBLE SPOTS

    To take the dread out of de-cluttering, grab your to-do list and follow Morgenstern's simple (but not always easy!) steps.

    • Watch the clock. Assign a time estimate to each activity. Say, this weekend you plan to organize your vacation photos and put together a spring yard sale for the stuff you no longer need. Next to each item on your list, add a rough guess as to how long the activity will take. "Once you quantify a task, that anchors it into your schedule," says Morgenstern. "But you have to be honest with yourself." For example, factor in the time it takes to sort through photos, date them, and put them into albums, and you may discover that what seemed like a two-hour project could take more than five. Knowing that, you can then make the choice to either devote an entire afternoon to the task or break it down into hour-long chunks that would realistically fit into the next several weekends.
    • Trim away to-do's. Look through your list for any project you can downsize or outsource. Instead of arranging all your vacation photos, pare down the job to organizing just the ones from the trips you've taken in the last year. Feel overwhelmed by the thought of a garage sale? See if you could hire an enterprising teen to run it, and split the proceeds.
    • Share the responsibility. Are you really the only person who has the skills to take used clothes to the donation box? Says Morgenstern, "By asking yourself that question for every task, you can begin to delegate — and focus on what's really important, like spending time with family."

    Originally published on: April 11, 2008

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