Choose Less: Clear the Clutter
It is amazing to me, how quickly clutter can add up in our homes without our even noticing. Life moves, as it always does, and suddenly daily tasks seems 10x harder.
You look around, really look, and there is stuff accumulated everywhere. This pattern plays out to a degree in all of our homes and when it does, nothing but a good old fashioned purge will do.
A clean and clutter free home makes life so much easier. It offer some real motivating benefits.
- A clutter free home is calming and peaceful.
- A clutter free home offers a sense of pride and appreciation for the blessings we’ve been given.
- It is easier to find items that you need.
- You save time from not having to go hunting when you have a need.
- Then, there is also the benefit of financial savings. When you allow clutter to build up, it makes it very difficult to know what you own and what you need to purchase.
Many years ago, I was asked to step in to help a family in our church who had been in an accident. I was told that they needed some house cleaning, meal preparation, and laundry help. Happy to help, the ladies of the church put together a rotation to go in and help, while the wife got back on her feet. As we got into the house, our first order of business was to get a load of clothes in to start washing, so it could be going while we cleaned the rest of the house. I opened the door to the laundry room and was instantly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothes that needed to be washed. This was not a weeks worth of clothes!!!! In fact, it was more clothes than our family of 5 washed in months.
We came to find out, whenever the family couldn’t find their clothes; they would just go out and buy more. The task of sorting through the clothes clutter was more than the wife could even think about tackling. There were hundreds of pairs of socks, underwear, undershirts, pants, and shirts that we laundered and folded. There were so many clothes that we couldn’t even fit them into the drawers after they were all cleaned. This family had wasted so much money, and all because their clutter had overwhelmed their life.
Maybe today, your clutter has you overwhelmed and stuck in a pattern because you have no idea where to begin. If that is you, please know that you are not alone. Here are some tips to help you get unstuck.
Here are my rules for organizing a space:
- Focus on one area at a time. You may be looking around and seeing the need to clean and purge everywhere. No doubt, that is overwhelming, but it is best to only set your sights on one area at a time. Today it may be your kitchen counters, tomorrow may be the cabinets, and the next day may be the pantry. By breaking down the whole project into smaller tasks, it makes it seem less intimidating and more manageable.
- Grab boxes, baskets, and trash bags for sorting through your items. As you sort through the clutter it is important to not exchange one pile for another. It makes it hard to see the forest for the tree’s that way. Start out your project on the right foot by already having a home for the items you are sorting, even if it is a temporary one.
- Dedicate one box for keep, one box for donate, and the trash bags for trash. Be sure to clearly label which box/bag is for what purpose.
- Sift and sort through all the items stored in your cabinets, closets, drawers, and surfaces. If you haven’t used an item in the last 6 months, if it no longer fits the way you want it to, if you have multiples of the same item, if an item is out of date, broken, expired, or you no longer receive joy from that item: eliminate it from your home. Be ruthless!
- Give all your items a “home”. If it doesn’t fit in the area designated for it, repeat step 3 until you can give it a home.
- As you finish each organizing session; remove trash from the space (and the house if possible) immediately. As the donation boxes fill, drop them off to their designated recipients. If an item needs to be returned to its proper “home” do that as you work through the process.
Perhaps, you would greatly benefit from a full purge, but you are short on time. Should you just wait until you have hours, days, or weeks to dedicate to it? My answer is a big, fat, NO!!!! I firmly believe that even small steps can lead to big outcomes. Today, all you may have is 30 minutes. If that is the case, work the steps above in the time you have. Tackle one drawer, one shelf, one cabinet, or whatever you can do in the time you have. Don’t look at the big picture and wait until you have time to complete it, just focus on the piece of the puzzle that you have the ability to tackle.
Watch Out For These Pitfalls:
- Inherited Clutter: Perhaps you have inherited clutter left to you by a relative. Your house is now full of your stuff and theirs and you are overwhelmed. You may be feeling guilty giving it away because it was theirs or because you don’t want it. Either of these reasons may keep you in a pattern of inactivity. Keep the items that you love, but let go of the ones you don’t! Hold a yard sale, sell them to collectors or on eBay, and then take the proceeds and donate them to a cause or a charity in your relative’s name. This is a much better way to honor their life, then to slowly build unhealthy attachments to the items in your home.
- Don’t try to find the perfect person to “gift” your clutter. Choose one organization or charity that will receive your donations. This makes the letting go process much easier for you.
- Don’t hold on to something you “may” need. Either you use it or don’t. If the item is of great value or difficult to replace then hold on to it, however if the item could easily be replaced if a need comes up then let it go. More times then not, the item will not be missed.
Be patient, work at pairing down the clutter, stay consistent, and watch how you will reap the benefits of choosing less.