No one wants to spend a glorious fall day holed up underground, especially if the task there is cleaning up a mess. But you can take advantage of the shortening days by devoting some after-dinner time to cleaning out the basement. First, tackle the empty cardboard boxes that tend to pile up. Set aside a few to use while you're sorting; flatten the rest and set them out for recycling.

Then cull items you no longer want or need. If you haven't used something in a year, it might be time to part with it. Once you see how much stuff you no longer want, decide whether to give it away or sell at a garage sale. A beautiful September or October day is a great time for that.