I’ve been trying to be a little more productive these days, and so I’ve been clearing out a few small areas in our house. I thought I might share the love and offer a little decluttering motivation for you.
My husband has been laid off for about six weeks now and it’s pretty amazing how much he has accomplished. I, on the other hand, have no problem being a lazy slug and getting the bare minimum done. I do have the decency to feel guilty, if that counts.
But in the last few days, I did attempt some small decluttering in two of the closets.
And that’s actually one of my tips for you: do small, manageable projects. Don’t try and tackle the whole thing. That’s how you get overwhelmed and end up with a big mess on your hands.
A Little Bit at a Time
Yes, I know that doing things a little at a time will slow the whole process down. Or will it?
Let’s think about that: I spent maybe 20 minutes decluttering my closet floor the other day and probably less than a minute to clean up the mess I made. And just so we’re clear: I didn’t have any trash bags with me – this was a spur of the moment decluttering session (I must be sick).
I should also note this was the master bedroom closet, which is a walk-in, and I don’t touch my husband’s side. He doesn’t even like me to sort his socks! (I do it wrong. How? No idea.)
I found a bag in the room – a shopping bag, not a garbage bag, so it was smaller – but I managed to fit everything I was throwing away into that bag. And there was two pairs of shoes and an umbrella in there, along with other stuff!
Now, if I had decided to tackle the entire closet at once, I’m guessing it would have taken me a couple of hours, at least. And there would have been a bigger mess.
When you do an entire big project like that, you have to set aside several hours to get it done. And what happens if you run out of time (or energy) before it gets done? Usually you leave it in process until you feel like tackling it again.
I think that definitely qualifies as slowing your decluttering project down.
Some Thoughts as You Work
I know the standard advice is to decide if you really use it, if you need it, or maybe if you love it. Marie Kondo and her “does it bring you joy?” method.
Now we all have our quirks when it comes to keeping certain things. I am overly fond of boxes – cardboard boxes – and jars. The jars are extremely useful in the kitchen, but the boxes really don’t get used as much as you might think. I actually threw out five of them the other day.
When my mom passed away, we found 17 punch bowl cups. No punch bowl; just cups. No idea.
So if you have a little quirk like that, ask yourself some questions as you go through your decluttering:
- Is this useful in my life? Cardboard boxes and punch bowl cups are useful, but you need to dig a little deeper there. Do you see what I mean? Just because they are useful in general doesn’t mean they are useful to you.
- How many of these do I have, and how many do I need? We’ve established that punch bowl cups are probably not a need in most households, but 17 of them goes way over the line in my opinion. On the other hand, we have multiples of several kitchen utensils, but there are days when all of them get used.
- Am I willing to let it take up space? This is mostly for sentimental items. I cleaned out a corner cupboard a few weeks ago and got rid of a lot of things. But I have three things that I have had most of my married life and never used. And yet I keep them. I love them and I am willing to trade the space they take up in order to keep them.
Sneaky Tip #1
Habits and routines are two of your bestest friends. They help you get things done without really thinking about doing them.
You take a shower, you brush your teeth, you get dressed; all without thinking about it. It’s just what you do.
Take that same tactic and apply it to decluttering.
While you’re in the bathroom (and checking to see if anything needs a quick wipe down), keep in mind that you probably have things there that you could get rid of without much thought. Your makeup is a good example. You may have expired products that could be risky to use. Time to get rid of them!
At some point while getting dressed, you will be in your closet. Maybe you don’t have time to go through and weed out an old shirt or pair of pants, but what about your socks and underwear? Is the elastic long gone? Are they stained or do they have holes? Uncomfortable? Time to go!
Sneaky Tip #2
This is one you might be able to get your family to help with – if you trust them.
Every day – after dinner, while dinner’s cooking, during the commercials – you decide and then stick to it – you do a clutter pick up. Routine and habit, remember?
Pick a number. You can choose the same number every day, or a different one. It doesn’t matter.
Then you choose a room – or not – maybe the whole house is fair game. Now grab a bag and find eleventyseven (or whatever number you picked) things to get rid of. Remember, you can donate as well as throw away, so be sure to keep the two separate or do it when you’re done.
Do that for a week or two and you’ll have trouble finding anything to put in your bag! Won’t that be a great feeling?
Let’s Talk About Paper
The paperless society we were promised never arrived. Neither did flying cars.
And paper can be one of the most frustrating things when it comes to decluttering because we get a fresh delivery of it every day. Even if you no longer subscribe to the daily newspaper, the post office has got you covered!
And here’s a little hint for you: the USPS has a new thing called Informed Delivery. DO NOT sign up for it! Oh, it sounds good. You can find out what’s coming to your mailbox before it gets there.
You also get an email every day – that’s six emails per week – cluttering up your inbox.
And because they scan every piece of mail coming your way – even the junk – it also ends up in your Google Drive if you use it. Oh my gosh! The first time I saw scans of the mail we had gotten that day posted by anonymous to my Drive, I was scared! I contacted Google right away and they had no idea. I went up the chain of command three times before I figured it out on my own.
Now let’s talk about just plain old mail. Do you have a system for it? You should. Here’s what I mean:
- You need a place for the mail to go before it gets sorted. It would be nice if it were near a trash or recycling bin, but if you don’t get to it daily, that may not be the best idea. Choose a place that’s contained (a basket) and a little discrete, in case people come over. You don’t want them snooping in your mail. Not that anyone you know would do that.
- Once you get to the mail – routines and habits – throw the junk away right away or recycle it if you want. It kind of depends on what it is.
- If you’re still getting your bills by mail – why? Anyway, they need a system too. Put the due date and amount on the return envelope if you’re still living in the dark ages and mail them in, or put it near your computer or in your planner. Whatever you use to keep track of them.
- Don’t forget – anything with a date that’s important to you goes on your calendar or in your planner. The idea is to record the information and throw the actual mail away.
- If you find you’re getting a lot of catalogs, you can go here to stop them from coming.
- This would probably be a good time to talk about file cabinets and shredders, but we’ll do that in a separate post.