Entry #122, June 25, 2010
What’s the real reason why you don’t declutter? Is it because it takes too much mental energy to figure out how to
accomplish it? OR Is it because the time to do it seems daunting and unachievable? I have a solution just for you.
Zenhabits is this fabulous site I found that is about “…finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.” Is that not the meaning of life!?
Take a look at their article on how to take easy 5 minute steps to decluttering your space. Space could mean home, office, room, car, etc… pick a space and get 5 minutes, and begin.
When your home is filled with clutter, trying to tackle a mountain of stuff can be quite overwhelming.
So here’s my advice:
Start with just five minutes
. Baby steps are important. Sure, five minutes won’t barely make a dent in your mountain, but it’s a start. Celebrate when you’ve made that start!
Then take another five minutes tomorrow. And another the next day. Before you know it, you’ll have cleared a whole closet or a room and then half your house and then … who knows? Maybe before long your house will be even more uncluttered than mine. We’ll have a challenge!
For those who are overwhelmed by their clutter, here are some great ways to get started, five minutes at a time.
1. Designate a spot for incoming papers
Papers often account for a lot of our clutter. This is because we put them in different spots — on the counter, on the table, on our desk, in a drawer, on top of our dresser, in our car. No wonder we can’t find anything! Designate an in-box tray or spot in your home (or at your office, for that matter) and don’t put down papers anywhere but that spot. Got mail? Put it in the inbox. Got school papers? Put it in the inbox. Receipts, warranties, manuals, notices, flyers? In the inbox! This one little change can really transform your paperwork.
2. Start clearing a starting zone
What you want to do is clear one area. This is your no-clutter zone. It can be a counter, or your kitchen table, or the three-foot perimeter around your couch. Wherever you start, make a rule: nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Everything must be put away. Once you have that clutter-free zone, keep it that way! Now, each day, slowly expand your no-clutter zone until it envelopes the whole house! Unfortunately, the neighbors don’t seem to like it when you try to expand the no-clutter zone to their house, and start hauling away their
unused exercise equipment and torn underwear when they’re not at home. Some people don’t appreciate simplicity, I guess.
3. Clear off a counter
You want to get your house so that all flat spaces are clear of clutter. Maybe they have a toaster on them, maybe a decorative candle, but not a lot of clutter. So start with one counter. Clear off everything possible, except maybe one or two essential things. Have a blender you haven’t used since jazzercise was all the rage? Put it in the cupboard! Clear off all papers and all the other junk you’ve been tossing on the counter too.
4. Pick a shelf
Now that you’ve done a counter, try a shelf. It doesn’t matter what shelf. Could be a shelf in a closet, or on a bookshelf. Don’t tackle the whole bookshelf — just one shelf. Clear all non-essential things and leave it looking neat and clutter-free.
5. Schedule a decluttering weekend
Maybe you don’t feel like doing a huge decluttering session right now. But if you take the time to schedule it for later this month, you can clear your schedule, and if you have a family, get them involved too. The more hands pitching in, the better. Get boxes and trash bags ready, and plan a trip to a charity to drop off donated items. You might not get the entire house decluttered during the weekend, but you’ll probably make great progress.
6. Pick up 5 things, and find places for them
These should be things that you actually use, but that you just seem to put anywhere, because they don’t have good places. If you don’t know exactly where things belong, you have to designate a good spot. Take a minute to think it through — where would be a good spot? Then always put those things in those spots when you’re done using them. Do this for everything in your home, a few things at a time.
7. Spend a few minutes visualizing the room
When I’m decluttering, I like to take a moment to take a look at a room, and think about how I want it to look. What are the most essential pieces of furniture? What doesn’t belong in the room but has just gravitated there? What is on the floor (hint: only furniture and rugs belong there) and what is on the other flat surfaces? Once I’ve visualized how the room will look uncluttered, and figured out what is essential, I get rid of the rest.
8. Create a “maybe” box
Sometimes when you’re going through a pile of stuff, you know exactly what to keep (the stuff you love and use) and what to trash or donate. But then there’s the stuff you don’t use, but think you might want it or need it someday. You can’t bear to get rid of that stuff! So create a “maybe” box, and put this stuff there. Then store the box somewhere hidden, out of the way. Put a note on your calendar six months from now to look in the box. Then pull it out, six months later, and see if it’s anything you really needed. Usually, you can just dump the whole box, because you never needed that stuff.
9. Put a load in your car for charity
If you’ve decluttered a bunch of stuff, you might have a “to donate” pile that’s just taking up space in a corner of your room. Take a few minutes to box it up and put it in your trunk. Then tomorrow, drop it off.
10 Create a 30-day list
The problem with decluttering is that we can declutter our butts off (don’t actually try that — it’s painful) but it just comes back because we buy more stuff. So fight that tendency by nipping it in the bud: don’t buy the stuff in the first place. Take a minute to create a 30-day list, and every time you want to buy something that’s not absolutely necessary (and no, that new Macbook Air isn’t absolutely necessary), put it on the list with the date it was added to the list. Make a rule never to buy anything (except necessities) unless they’ve been on the list for 30 days. Often you’ll lose the urge to buy the stuff and you’ll save yourself a lot of money and clutter.
For more home organization ideas on Stagetecture, click here.