The closet. Start by visiting your grocery store and bringing home a few big boxes. These are your garage sale or donation boxes. Start with your closet. Most of us have more than we can possibly wear, or clothes that haven't been worn because we don't feel comfortable or confident in them. All of those can go. Donate them, or have a rummage sale and use the proceeds to buy a few pieces you will wear.

Books. How many books do you have right now that you have been meaning to read? How many books can you read at one time? If you have stacks of unread books you are only adding clutter to your life. You may also be wasting money if, by the time you are ready to read those books, your interests change and there is a new book you would rather read. Simplifying is all about one thing at a time.
Tackling the stuff. Stuff equals stress. The more stuff you have the more you have to maintain, clean and repair. The basic key to simplifying your life is to simplify your stuff.

Think of everything you do in terms of priorities. What are your priorities in life? Do you long to have more time with your children? Is there an unfulfilled dream you would like to pursue? Identify your top few priorities and then observe how your actions affect them.

For example, if your top priority is spending time with your children, does buying a new outfit achieve that? If you have a comparable outfit, could that money be better spent?

Cutting down. Simplifying isn't about being frugal. It's about deciding what's important to you and what makes you feel better about yourself and your life. It's about doing more of the things that make you feel good — by cutting out the things that don't offer as much gratification.

The free item. How many things do you collect just because they were free. Newspapers, brochures, catalogs — enough to wallpaper your office twice. When you see something that’s free, think twice and don't take it unless it's something you’re positive you’ll use.

A Crash Course in Simplification

• "Use it or lose it" is the golden rule of simplifying one's life.

• If you can't figure out what a gizmo or gadget does, then all it's doing is taking up space.

• Take ten minutes every night to un-clutter. Have a race with your kids to put everything away. If you do this nightly as part of your bedtime routine you avoid the danger of letting your house get "out of control."

• Tackle one project at a time. Whether the project is cleaning, organizing, reading a book or working on a craft project, finish each project completely before purchasing or starting another.

• Limit junk drawers to one in your entire home.

• Teach "the art of simplicity" to your kids.

• If you don't have a place to put something, don't buy it. Avoid making space for more clutter.

• Donate your books to the local library when you are finished with them. (Ask for a receipt as the donation may be tax deductible.)

• Don't become obsessed with saving everything for a later use. How many plastic and paper bags does one person need?

• When you are organizing and come across something you kind of like, but don't really use, try to think of someone who not only likes the item, but also will use it. Make that person's day by giving it to them.

• Every couple of months, tackle the sock drawer. If there isn't a match now, there probably won't be one later. Toss solo socks or make sock puppets with your kids for some inexpensive family entertainment.

• Don't waste time looking for warranties, manuals or important receipts. Create a special drawer where only these things are kept. Using a drawer eliminates the chance of the papers never making it to a file or being misfiled.

• Bill systems. Try the following for a quick way to manage your incoming mail and bills. Purchase three magnetic envelope size holders. Place these on the side of your refrigerator. Use the top one for bills you need to pay with your first paycheck each month. Use the second for the bills that come out of your second paycheck. The third is for all outgoing mail and a roll of stamps. When you pick up your mail each day, sort it right by the bill-holders. Throw out envelopes, special offers and all the clutter that comes with bills these days. When it comes time to pay your bills, remove the top holder and find a quiet place to do your paperwork. Then return that holder below the other one and make it for your next paycheck.