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Quote: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” 1 – William Morris
Introduction. Have you ever felt like decluttering is one of those skills that you are either genetically predispositioned2 to be able to do easily or are just genetically unfortunate3 and have to struggle with decluttering? Have you ever spent hours watching others on YouTube or other programs that show people decluttering, and think that you will be able to pick up on what key thing it is that makes decluttering easy for them? Yeah, me too.
There are many of us that aspire to live a more Simple or Minimalist life that feel that we got on the wrong side of the genetic gene pool4 when it comes to decluttering and organizing. However, there are things that I have seen and learned over the years that have given me hope when it comes to decluttering and organizing, – and I hope that after you hear it, that it gives you hope and encouragement as well.
Decluttering and organizing may seem like it is some of those elusive skills that we all long for, but that only the rare few have been so fortunate to have learned. Fortunately for us, that is not true. The secret to being good at decluttering and organizing is that with practice, we can get better and even develop each as a skill. For me, I remember that when I initially began decluttering and organizing years ago, it was a real struggle. It was something that I dreaded because it did not come easy to me.
However, I can say that it has been years since I originally began to practice decluttering and organizing, and it definitely has become easier. It has taken consistent practice, but I no longer dread doing it. (Don’t get me wrong, there are some projects that I may not be crazy about working on, but overall, decluttering and organizing are not near as bad as they used to be.) Actually, I found that the more that I decluttered and organized, the easier it was, and found my own way / knew what types of things that I usually decluttered and which items that I usually kept.
Project: Part 1 – The Planning. The one thing that has helped me is being able to see an area or room that I have previously made progress with. If you are new to decluttering and organizing, just pick one room, and one small area within it to begin. Work on that one area regularly – whenever you have time, until that area is finished, then move on to another area within that same room. Preferably, it is better to finish the room before moving onto the next room.
If though, you have several areas that are getting to you, come up with a plan. Write a list of the worst spots that you would like to declutter and organize. Then, place it into your schedule with a specific date and time for each area on your list. I have found that this works so much better than just making a list that you want to work on; helping to ensure that the list will be taken care of instead of having the list sit around for an undetermined amount of time.
Just remember to treat the “reminder or appointment“ like you would a regular appointment outside of your home (ex. like a doctor or dental appointment). After all of your worst areas are done from your original list / scheduled appointments, then you can go back to choosing one room to declutter and organize until it is completed. As time goes by, I have found, that the more that you get decluttered and organized, the more that you will want to continue finding areas in your home and life to improve.
Project: Part 2 – The Decluttering. There are several tips that I have learned through my own decluttering and organizing experiences. If you would like to try these tips, they may help in making it easier when working on your decluttering and organizing projects:
1. Before beginning to declutter and organize items, categorize the items into different categories. It helps in making it easier to see all of the items that you have in each category so that you don’t later find that you have kept too much of one type of item. (Ex: Keeping 5 green shirts!)
2. When looking at each category of items, begin by picking out all of your favorites items that you would like to keep and set aside in your “Keep” pile.
3. Next, pick the items that you definitely do not like or want to keep. Set these items into your “Donate” or “Sell” piles depending on the items and your preferences.
4. The “Holding” Pile (also known as the “Maybe” Pile) – Now, depending on how much that you want to declutter at one time, the Holding Pile can be used to either further consider whether you want to get rid of the items. You could also do like Marie Kondo teaches to do with the “Maybe” Pile; take these items and donate them as well.5 Either method is effective. Do whichever you feel comfortable with and matches with your goals of decluttering.
If you should decide to temporarily hold on to the items from the Holding Pile, you may find that it may help if you are having trouble deciding whether or not you want to declutter the items from this pile. If you look at the items in this pile at least once a week, for a few weeks or so, and think about how it would feel if you get rid of the items, it may help to remove that initial panic of what to do with the items.
I have found that after a period of time, it makes it easier to make the final decisions of what to declutter and what to keep. (I would recommend putting a date on your calendar of when you would want to finalize this task so that it is measurable; placing a determined amount of time on it. This will ensure that your decluttering project does not go stagnate and keeps progressing. Afterwards, your project can be finalized. That way it can be donated with your regular donations for the week or month, and not have to make an extra run to the thrift or consignment store.)
5. When decluttering, get your items out of the house and donated as soon as possible. (I found that this definitely helps me! The idea of “out of sight, out of mind” certainly applies here. It helps to prevent second-guessing, and gets the items to the people that need them the most more quickly.) If you cannot get to the thrift store immediately after decluttering, I have found that putting the donation items into my car’s trunk helps me; they’re ready for when I can go to the thrift store – and again – “out of sight, out of mind”, so that I am not rethinking about what I have decluttered.
6. When considering what to declutter from the “Holding” Pile, think if you will truly use the item. What will happen to the item if you keep it; will it just be put away and go unused? Will the item be put to good use now that it is not lost in the excess?
When thinking of these things, if I find that the items will just go back onto a shelf or into a closet (most likely unused), I then think about how someone else could use this item. I try to picture in my mind someone else finding this item at the thrift store and being excited that they found it – or – picture them wearing it or using it in their home and feeling so happy to have it. For me, picturing this makes it so much easier to declutter the item that I would have just initially thought of storing. I would rather have someone else that needs the item or would absolutely love and be grateful for the item to have it.
Keeping this mindset when decluttering is one that helps me. It makes my decluttering go better and is a more pleasant experience / activity to do then. Try doing this as you declutter. I think that it will make your decluttering so much easier for you, too!
7. Don’t worry about organizing until after all of the decluttering and cleaning is done in the space that is being worked on. Items can collect dust so easily. Wiping down the “Keep” items or washing them, seems to make them look newer and fresher. If not anything else, the act of doing this definitely helps in making you appreciate the item all over again. After the items are cleaned and the areas where the items will be placed have been cleaned, then the organizing can be considered.
Project: Part 3 – The Organizing:
8. I think of organizing in several ways; categories, containers and accessibility. First, look at the items that you have kept and see if they can be put into categories. Make sure to take time to do this because it makes containerizing the items so much easier. Once this is done, it is easier to see the size of containers that are needed for each category of items.
Once the containers are picked, place the empty containers into the space that they will be stored to see how they can best be placed to ensure that they will fit well. Next, take out one container at a time, wipe it out and fill it with the pre-chosen, categorized items. Then, one of the most important things to do is to LABEL the container.
I see labeling as a step that is missed many times with others that I have seen declutter and organize their items. This is necessary so that everyone in the household will know what goes where. In the future, others in your household will be able to put items away because they will know where the items belong. If you live by yourself, it reinforces where items go – and if we forget, the labels will help. Also, in an emergency, others can help get items that you need to bring to you. So again, LABEL, LABEL, LABEL.
9. After the containers are all wiped, filled, labeled and put in place where it is to be stored, take a moment to enjoy all of what you have done. Believe me, you will have such a nice feeling of order every time that you look at what you have done – and you will feel proud of yourself. Taking photos of your finished space is another way to enjoy your newly decluttered and organized space. (As a matter of fact, taking photographs of the “Before” and “After” can help you appreciate your finished room or space even more!)
After taking a moment to enjoy your finished space, take out any remaining items to shred, recycle and trash and dispose of them. Then, if you have not already done so, get your donations packed up and ready to go. (As I previously mentioned, I put mine in the trunk of my car.) The important thing is that they are ready to be donated.
In some areas, the thrift stores even have a free service where they will pick up your donations. Usually, they have certain days each week that they pick up in certain towns and cities. So just call the thrift store that you want to donate to. They can either schedule your pick-up or give you a number for their administrative office that will help you schedule your donation pick-up. After that, make sure to write that date and time into your calendar – and then, it is time for a well-deserved break time!
Closing Thoughts. When we declutter, we are molding our home to the way that we want it to become. We look through our home, space by space, item by item and decide what should belong to our life now – in the present. (It is fine to keep sentimental pieces from our past, but there is a place and a limit to have for them.)
Most of the items that we are keeping are because they represent us in the now and will help us in the future. As William Morris has said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” 6 This is a very good reminder and a goal, actually, that we should try to keep in mind when decluttering and organizing our spaces. By decluttering and organizing, we are taking the steps that will lead us closer and closer to that dream.
What areas of your home bother you the most? Where do you plan to begin decluttering? How do you feel about planning out your decluttering projects? Have you found in the past that decluttering seemed easy or difficult for you? (Either way, just remember, decluttering will get better and better with practice!)
Please leave your thoughts and ideas that you have in the Comments’ section below. We would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and opinions. Thank you for visiting Simplicity’s Journey. Take care and see you again soon!
1, 6 – BrainyQuote:
2-4 – Flylady – Examples where the Flylady talks of “Being Born-Organized” – may have a slightly different connotation in this article:
5 – Marie Kondo – Discussion on her Teachings – Video is on Christina Mychas’ channel (YouTube). Video is called: “I Got a Master KonMari Consultant to Help Declutter my Closet. Here’s What Happened.”