It’s a new chapter, a clean page, a fresh beginning – A NEW YEAR! Hope, excitement and expectation is in the air and we take pleasure in the anticipation of a fresh start. A new year is a great time to make changes in our lives that will be beneficial to us, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual. One area of our lives that is challenging is dealing with clutter or stuff. The beginning of a year is a great time to start the journey and conquer this mountain. We live in a society that has the mindset that it is important to have the latest and greatest – cell phones, computers, iPads,and the newest trend in pots and pans, dishes, coffee makers just to name a few. Our homes gradually start becoming cluttered, disorganized and chaotic by the unnecessary “stuff” we attain and hold on to. We have trouble closing drawers, getting things out of the closets and the war on mail and papers…well it’s crazy! We become a slave to the clutter and disorder in our homes and that causes feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted. Cluttered isn’t just found in homes, but also in other areas of our lives. Our time is cluttered with too many activities, our emotions are cluttered with unresolved issues, unforgiveness and drama, so in turn our lives are drained of enjoyment and contentment. Jesus said that He came to give us life more abundantly, but due to all the “stuff” we try to cram into our lives, we are wondering where the abundant life has gone. This year I want to focus on removing the clutter from my home, my time and my spirit. Declutter our home: Schedule time to declutter: Even 15 minutes a day will make a good start. Better, schedule larger blocks of time, fromtwo to four hours once or twice a week, for greater declutter efficiency. Go room by room and divide your things into four boxes: things to donate, things to throw away, things to keep, and things to store. If you don’t need it or love it, consider getting rid of it. Keep kitchen counters clean: Just say no to the “latest and greatest” kitchen gadgets. They take up valuable space and your counters will be less cluttered. Sticking with the basics will keep your kitchen more organized. Children’s toys: Rotate children’s toy out of a larger storage area and keeping just a few current favorites. Change them out every so often. Pick a shelf or two: It doesn’t matter what shelf. It could be a shelf in a closet, or on a bookshelf. You don’t have to tackle the whole bookshelf — just a shelf or two. Clear all non-essential things and leave it looking neat and clutter-free. Then the next day complete another self or two! Use the “one in, one out” rule: if you buy a new item, one item is discarded. Keep a box for Goodwill in the garage at all times, and put things in there that you no longer use. When it is filled, make the trip. Designate a spot for incoming papers: Papers account for a lot of clutter, but unfortunately, we put them in different places - counter, table, desk or drawer. Try to discard unnecessary mail and papers the moment you pick it up. Designate an in-box tray or spot in your home and don’t put down remaining papers anywhere but that spot. Mail, school papers, receipts, warranties, manuals, notices, flyers all go in the inbox. You can later file these. This one little change can really transform your paperwork. Speed Clean Clutter: 15 minutes of tidying up every night helps to keep down clutter. Straighten couch pillows, wipe down the kitchen counters, pick up toys, start the dishwasher and take out the trash. Everyone helps! It makes waking up the next morning stress free. Declutter our time or schedule: Get up early. Have a plan and be organized in daily tasks – make list. Stay off the phone as much as possible. If someone does call, make it brief. Don’t let social media rule your life – it’s a major time waster. When saying “yes” to something, we don’t realize we are saying “no” to something else as a result. Because of the limited number of hours in a day, we need to be conscientious of each activity we choose to accept or the committing of our time. Declutter our spiritual life: Holding on to unforgiveness and unresolved issues is clutter in our spiritual life and it keeps us attached to the past. Thoughts of unforgiveness can consume us daily and the unbearable pain stays with us through life. When someone we care about hurts us, we can hold on to anger and resentment or we can embrace forgiveness and move forward. By letting go of the clutter of unforgiveness and bitterness, we are allowing our lives to be emotionally decluttered and have peace of mind and contentment. As we start 2018, let’s strive to make changes in our lives that will free us from the chaos and stress that clutter can bring whether emotionally, spiritually or in our homes. It’s a fresh beginning!