Room cluttered with vintage items such as hats and umbrellas

If you are like me, dealing with your stuff can sometimes be overwhelming.  It’s an ongoing job for most of us if we want to keep clutter to a minimum.  When you notice that you are running out of space, it’s a good indication that you haven’t been managing the clutter… but just because you have the space doesn’t mean you should keep adding stuff.  We all like hanging on to some sentimental things but try to determine if it is really satisfying or joyful to hold on to something, especially if it’s been in a drawer, on a shelf, or in the back of the closet so long that you forgot you still had the item.  Maybe we should consider implementing a rule that says, “If I get a new item that is a duplicate, I must let go of the old item.”  Releasing some of those things that you’ve been hanging on to for no particular reason can be a stress reliever and donating the things you no longer need to a shelter or charity can help those who are in need.

1. Start Small

You can’t declutter or downsize a 40 year-old household in 48 hours, and most of us wouldn’t want to attempt to do our whole home in 48 hours! Begin in a low stakes room or area like a bathroom, a closet or even a dresser or nightstand. In the book, The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, she takes a different approach. Her approach is to declutter by category, i.e. Clothing, Books, Paperwork, Kitchen, etc.

2. Sort Through Your Stuff

Whether you are starting by room or by category you will need to sort through your stuff. Create two groups or piles as you sort through your things, a “keep” group and a “discard” group. You may be tempted to make a “maybe” group but that often ends up being the largest pile. Then it goes back in the closet, drawer or shelf where it came from and you will still have to address whether to keep or discard that same item down the road. Marie Kondo suggest you evaluate each item (hold the item close) and determine if it “Sparks Joy.” If it does, keep the item and if not, discard the item. It may bring joy to someone else.

3. Follow the Rules for Decluttering

Following these simple rules will help you as you begin the decluttering process.

  • When was the last time I used this?
  • How often do I use this?
  • How difficult or expensive is this to replace?
  • How much space and maintenance are required to keep this?
  • If you have multiples, only keep the favorites. Ladies how many spatulas do you really need, guys are you sure you need that many hammers?
  • If it’s expired, throw it out.
  • It it’s damaged, get rid of it.
  • If you wouldn’t buy it again, you don’t need it.
  • If it’s in your closet and has dust on it, do you still wear it?

4. Create a Holding Area

Many of the items that you are discarding may have value to someone else so consider designating a room or a spot in the garage where you can sort through the “discard” items. As mentioned earlier, consider donating items, like furniture, household goods, or clothing, to a shelter, mission or church to be re-used by other families. Sentimental items may go to family members. Papers may need to be shredded for security reasons.

5. Digitize the paperwork

For the paperwork that you cannot discard and need to keep, consider digitizing or scanning items as opposed to filling file cabinets. You may also want to have your banks, utility providers, and financial institutions send you electronic statements rather than paper and file them on your computer or in the “cloud” on applications like Google Drive or Dropbox. For paper items that you want to keep short term like receipts consider an expandable file box.

6. Rearrange and Sort

Sometimes you can add more room to a closet or storage are by sorting and rearranging. Some of us tend to just keep shoving things on a shelf or in a closet until it’s a cluttered mess. If properly stored, you would have more room and items would be easier to find. Items stored out of site tend to be forgotten. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has bought a duplicate because I couldn’t find something. Consider using clear storage containers to store items so that you can see what your are storing. It’s much easier to locate stored items when you can see them in a container and don’t have to open it up to see what’s inside.

Remember, start small and work at a pace that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Desmond Tutu once wisely said, “There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” Things that seem daunting or overwhelming can keep us from getting started, so breaking them down into smaller tasks can help. If we can continue with good decluttering habits, we can keep the stuff from getting out of hand in the future.

For a chuckle watch this short video of George Carlin’s take on stuff from his Comic Relief appearance in 1985. What he said then still holds true today!

If you need help with decluttering or organizing, give us a call. We have partners who can help! 817-330-9235

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