Photo by: distelfliege
Sometimes people settle into a disorganized life because dealing with the clutter is overwhelming. It is easier to live the way you’ve been living, untidy and disordered as it is, rather than jumping in, taking control and learning how to declutter your home and your life. In addition to being overwhelmed, maybe you equate decluttering with downsizing, and shudder at the thought of letting go of your hard-earned possessions, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Decluttering your home doesn’t mean you have to get rid of everything you have. It’s about managing those things you own and even holding onto a lot of it. Some things may end up in self-storage, but most of it will certainly be better organized.
You can eliminate the overwhelm factor by starting small when you declutter your home. Plan to small organizational projects in 10-minute increments. Anything more might seem difficult, plus, thinking you have to put in hours of work to declutter your life could be one reason you haven’t done it yet. 10 minutes is doable, though, and most people can find 10 minutes in their daily schedule to devote to decluttering.
Drawers are examples of smaller projects you could start with. Instead of having one or two catch-all drawers that are full of junk, group similar items together and give them a home in the same drawer or cupboard. Use interlocking containers in drawers to keep everything neat and tidy and further organize things such as candles, tools, or batteries.
Ask the Right Questions
Whatever area you are sorting through, each item should be subjected to the same questions:
- Do I really need this?
- How often do I use it?
- Do I love it?
A “no” answer to any one of the questions should earn the item a spot in the donation or recycle bag. Be ruthless when it comes to answering the questions, too. Sometimes, even if you answer “yes” to loving an item, that does not justify holding onto it if you don’t really need it and have not used it in the past 12 months.
Image via Sean MacEntee
There is going to be a point when you have to move on to larger decluttering projects. Closets, basements, and garages are notorious for bringing out the procrastinator in anyone. First, schedule an afternoon to tackle a big area. Then start by tossing the items that are broken or damaged. If they are not useful, they have no place in your new, decluttered life. You can group the “good” stuff together as you go through the unsalvageables, putting all of the seasonal clothing together, all of the Christmas decorations in another spot, and the cartons of kids' school projects and memorabilia in another. When it is time to go through each category of items, subject them to the three qualifying questions to determine what you keep and what gets donated or otherwise disposed of.
Out of Sight
Create an organizing system that puts an orderly face on odds and ends you need access to, but that aren’t needed frequently enough to earn them a home in the main part of the house. They could be things such as the pasta maker you use a couple of times a year, craft supplies for the occasional art project, or even holiday ornaments. Just draw or paint numbers on the fronts of several boxes or storage containers, then note what is inside each one, keeping it all in a notebook or logged on your computer. Then, when you need something, it can be easily located with a quick search of your inventory list.
When You Can’t Decide
There are times when you truly can’t decide whether something should stay or go. You know you haven’t used it in the last year or so, but you have a feeling that it could come in handy later on. A “Maybe Box” is a solution to that problem. It is a temporary place to put things you are not ready to let go of yet. Mark the box with the same date that you fill it, then put a note on your calendar to revisit the box in six months. Typically, give items a full year, but remember that the things in the Maybe Box are ones that you already haven’t used in at least that long.
Decluttering Tips for Your Schedule
Decluttering your life doesn’t only apply to material possessions. Organizing your life includes getting control of your schedule. Just as with decluttering your home, declutter tips for your schedule begins with taking it one day at a time. Start with today and cut down on commitments that aren’t essential. Remember: it isn’t possible for to do everything. Only keep those things that are truly important on your calendar, and learn how to say “no” to new commitments. Get control over your digital life, too. Email and social networks may be enjoyable but only spend quality, necessary time on them instead of wasting hours.