Tuesday, March 18, 2014

10 Tips on Decluttering

Decluttering is really personal. I don't believe in holding on to things I'm not using, wearing or loving in the hopes that I will one day use them, fit in them, or love them. I'm not telling you to get rid of your stuff...that's a lie. I am telling you that. Everyone has at least a few items they shouldn't have, me included.

I think people shy away from decluttering because they think it means an absence of things and a home void of personality.  It does not mean that. It means having the respect for the things you love and want on display to give them a home and space around them.  I have a lot of decor throughout the house. My walls are full of photos. I never, however, have more than I can handle. If it doesn't have a place, it doesn't belong.

My view on clutter in the home is that it leads to clutter in the heart and mind; it allows clutter to infiltrate everywhere. Too much stuff, then suddenly too much to do, too much chaos. In my mind, clearing physical clutter clears a path to a better life.

Here are some things I live by. I'm not a genius and these aren't things I made up. They're basic tenets of organizing in my words.
1. A place for everything and everything in its place. If something doesn't have a designated space, find one for it or get rid of it. Wherever it goes is its home, so when you're done with it return it to its home. I swear I heard my Grandmom say this 49030489038 times. The next one as well.

2. One in, one out. One of the best things my Grandmom taught me. Last week I brought home two cardigans, two t-shirts, and a 3/4 sleeve t-shirt. I also ordered a skirt and two dresses. That night at home I did a quick closet purge. That's how you keep from having too much.
3. Tough love evaluation. If you hold something in your hands and don't feel a connection to it because it's useful, beautiful, or because you love it, get rid of it. If you just want a memory of it, take a photo. Purging requires a shred of ruthlessness. When the urge hits, do it.

4. Cast a critical eye on your every once in a while items. I have seasonal items and entertaining items that I don't use daily or monthly. I make sure I keep an eye on them so I'm not holding on to more than I can use at any given time, or buying more to add to an already complete collection.

5. Zone by zone. I don't say today I will declutter my bedroom. I say I'm going to go through my top two drawers. Once I do that and deal with all the stuff (throwing out, packing up to give away, or putting away in a new home, NOT just moving it), I may move on to my shoes, two more drawers, the bookcase in my room, the box next to my bed. Or I may just stop with those two drawers. Scaling decluttering projects down to 10 minute intervals allows me to accomplish something in 10 minutes. Decluttering a closet sounds like a lot of work and something I might not be up for. Decluttering a shelf does not.

6. Know that organizing is circular. I typically declutter and organize some part of the house on a daily basis even if it's just a pile on the table. Some weeks shit lays on the floor in the closet for three days before I can get to it. Life happens around us. Still, I'm disciplined in continually putting things in their homes and reevaluating my organizational systems and whether or not things are still functional, useful, or loved. You don't organize something once and then never again. It requires upkeep and evaluation.
Real Simple
7. Do not transfer clutter. FYI, it's not decluttering if you're just moving shit from place to place. You have to actually find a home for it, toss it, or give it away.

8. Jammed in is not a good look on anything. We always get new things. Make sure there's a little bit of space for you to assimilate new items and still have some space around the items you have.

9. Someone might want it is not a good reason to hold something. Your home is not a storage locker. Don't treat it as such. Reach out to whomever may want or need it and give them a pick up deadline. If they don't meet it, it gets tossed or donated. MFD wants to hold on to things for months just in case. Nope. Not happening.

10. Use reminders. If you can't bear to part with something, set a reminder on your calendar for six months from now. If you haven't thought about it or used it since you set the reminder, get rid of it.

What about you? Is decluttering a part of your life or a foreign concept? Do you have any tips to share?
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Haikuesday
Purging is needed
or you will be on Hoarders. 
Then we can't be friends. 
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45 comments:

  1. I'm sort of in between a part of my life, and a foreign concept. We both know I'm not anything like the organizational diva you are, but every once in awhile (when I watch Hoarders), I get in these moods where I feel the need to purge. Every year we sell stuff in a huge town-wide yard sale, and anything we don't sell goes to Good Will. It's a nice way to pocket a few bucks, and get rid of shit at the same time.

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  2. But if I ever needed to be on Hoarders, you seem like the perfect person to call up and ask for help, just saying. Please tell my husband about #7 and remind me about #9. I hate trash and the idea of filling up a landfill so I always want to hold on to things just in case! I heard on Oprah or Dr. Phil once that "Memories are in people, not in things" meaning that I can throw away that old ratty t-shirt because I have the memory of what it means in my head. I try to remember that when I clean things out - just because the object is gone doesn't mean the memory is!

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  3. i am so so so SO bad about this. i really need to adopt these principles. my house is all out of whack and i need to be better. i really like the one in one out. that will also help me with shopping!

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  4. I am so bad about clutter, but I'm trying to fix this! I'm hoping I can use these tips to organize my house. :D

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  5. i love this. i'm on a huge organizing binge right now and i'm doing all of these. i bought a few things from old navy and got rid of 2 things to make room for them.

    -kathy | Vodka and Soda

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  6. Today & tomorrow are my big spring cleaning days and even though we moved only 4 months ago, I'm embarrassed to say that it's a little out of control. I'm so excited to be clean & decluttered. Yippee.

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  7. I'm really on the "one in, one out" cycle now. As I buy new clothes or house things, I'm either throwing or giving away a similar or like item that I already have. It really is a great way to avoid duplicates.

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  8. I need to do the 10 minute declutter sessions - I usually do the take all day Saturday to go through everything in the bedroom declutter. It gets exhausting. I also need to work on the 1 in and 1 out...I'm really going to work on these when I get back from my trip.
    What do you do with the stuff you don't need or want anymore? Tom and I will typically put our unwanted clothes in those drop off boxes or donate things to Goodwill, Salvation Army or the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission Thrift Store. I didn't know if you had any other donation places or suggestions for unwanted goods.
    Tom is good for #7 and #9 - I start to get crazy and tell him, if you don't clean xyz up I'm throwing everything out! It lights a fire under his ass.

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    1. Al, I like to use Purple Heart simply because I call and leave the stuff out on the steps and they pick it up. So it doesn't require me to take anything anywhere. hahaha

      Just this morning I told MFD I was throwing everything out that was not put away.

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  9. I just saw your comment response about leaving the stuff out and someone comes to pick it up...that is amazing. I need to see if we have something like that. I end up with shit for Goodwill sitting in my garage for 2 months before I get around to taking it (sort of defeating the purpose of decluttering to begin with).

    I agree with so many of these, especially doing a little at a time. I can clean out my underwear or sock drawer in 10 minutes one Saturday morning while I'm getting dressed and feel good about it, rather than feeling overwhelmed at the thought of "cleaning out my dresser." Ugh, that was such a hated chore as a kid, but it is so nice to clean out drawers now.

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  10. But but my favorite way to clean is to move shit from one place to another!!!

    These are great tips! I often do a lot of these steps when trying to clean and organize spaces! Looking with a fresh eye is always important. Sometimes you get so used to seeing things in the room that you don't realize it doesn't have a purpose or use in that space.

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  11. I like the "zone by zone" tip because I get overwhelmed easily and then just don't do it at all. That seems like the best way to approach it though. I went through my closet the other day and got rid of a BUNCH of stuff in preparation for rearranging and whatnot. There were some shoes I've had for literally YEARS... like, no joke... probably 7 years... without even wearing ONCE. I mean, c'mon. You gotsta go.

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  12. I have trouble decluttering because I don't like to get rid of things. It runs in my family, I swear, haha. Either way, these are some really great tips that I need to put into practice myself. I'm in the process of moving and in doing so, I've started decluttering a lot. I'm not taking things to the new house that I won't need and don't actually want. It's a good way to declutter, but I'll have to start doing it more often. Thank you for the tips, I'm going to ease myself into utilizing them.

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  13. Perfect tips, all so true. I have a couple little projects (scanning things in mostly so I can get rid of the physical stuff) I need to do to get rid of a bit more clutter but there's pretty much nothin left and I love it that way! One in one out is huge, especially for clothes. And assessing something the minute it comes in the door. Like the crap I came home with on St. Patty's - beads, a shirt, a random koozie - all straight to the 'get rid of it' box at the door, no need to hold onto anything like that.

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  14. I'm definitely guilty of transfering clutter- need to work on that! And I always end up with clothes piles- ugh! Need to get through some of those tonight before it gets overwhelming.

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  15. I don't like purging
    but I have to let stuff go
    or I'll be buried.

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  16. I need to work on my paper clutter. It takes me too long to deal with shredding bills, going through mail, and it takes me forever to red magazines. I really cleared a lot of my clothes out but I still have a lot of shoes. Working on it.

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  17. This is soooo true. I am good at de-cluttering except when it comes to my closet (but I might be that size/like that again/it was expensive...) and toys (save it for the baby/maybe fun in the pool/they might want it some day)...

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  18. #5 is key for me. I get completely overwhelmed otherwise. I also have to place items that go in another room by the door of the room I'm cleaning or I get distracted. I don't leave that room until the task is completed.

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  19. Just in time for my spring cleaning mission!

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  20. All great advice. I have the "move it to another place in the house" syndrome. Usually that place is the garage, and now the garage is out of control. First day it's warm enough to spend the whole day in the garage it's on. Love the spring background!

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  21. I abide by these same rules. Too much clutter makes me crazy, ramps up my anxiety and I can't function. Unfortunately, my husband doesn't seem to have the same problem and keeps EVERYTHING because, and I quote, "I might need that some day". Yes, Scott, you haven't needed it in 7 years but tomorrow you just might. Drives me nuts.

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  22. I've done a lot of decluttering lately but I still have stuff I could get rid of I just haven't, I'm not sure how to let go of all those stupid knick knack type thinks I use to decorate with but don't really go with anything anymore. What if I have a room in the future that I want to put my Asian symbol lanterns from Pier 1 in?

    I know this is not an excuse but they are still in the closet and not at the Goodwill.

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  23. I 100% agree with all of this!! I have so much going on during the day I need to come home to a peaceful non cluttered space. I also abide by the philosophy one in (sometimes two out) negative acquisition. Unfortunately my significant other is not always the same but I am getting him to start donating things that is a huge step for him!

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  24. I know you do not like some of the straight leg jeans that I am waiting to fit in, but I just love them and will fit in them
    sometime soon. BUT I may not like how they feel since they are have no spandex in them, like many jeans do. I have purged and now regret it. (purple knit dress, red one just like it) Agree, tho, to get rid of things especially if someone else can use them. There are collection bins all over the place, close to me, and at the Levittown Library, that I frequent. I have reorganized some areas and am very happy with it. #allgoodtips Love your MOMMA

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  25. Really, REALLY good tips! I get overwhelmed and want to declutter and simplify our entire house in one day. And then I end up doing nothing bc I got overwhelmed. I'm getting better at taking on a little corner of one room, or just a few drawers, etc and it's really helping! I'm also on board with the bring one in, get rid of one thing type of deal!

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  26. I never thought to do it as "two drawers at a time". I think I have to do the entire bedroom. Then I get overwhelmed, and don't do anything! These are really great tips.

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  27. I throw almost too much away. Scott is the opposite. It's definitely our biggest battle. My biggest trick is to set a timer for 15 minutes and start de-cluttering. It's amazing what you can get done.

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  28. I need to de-clutter. Especially in the garage. It's very scary.

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  29. I love the one in one out rule. Great way to not get overloaded on stuff. My fella is a very cluttered person, and it drives me batty 98% of the time. I'm like "we don't even use that!!". Needs to go!

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  30. I'm guilty of having a lot of clutter, but my mom is a flat out hoarder. I have been doing better about getting rid of some stuff, but there is room for improvement. I'd be happy if I could just follow a couple of your tips!

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  31. Such good advice! If only I could follow all of it. I'm good at getting rid of clothes I don't wear (and I'm better at buying new clothes)! I do agree when things have a place it makes it much easier to keep clean and organized. I need to do some cleaning out very soon. My mom is very good at it and whips me into shape every once in a while!

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  32. I am bookmarking this post! I am moving and de-cluttering is definitely a big part of it! If not my fiancee might want to throw everything out!!!

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  33. I am not sentimental about my junk (although my husband is a total packrat, but that's another issue), I just get overwhelmed by thinking of decluttering as a huge project. I love your tip about breaking it down into smaller chunks. Do you have a rotation of rooms/zones that you declutter on a schedule, or do you just go with the area that seems to need the most attention?

    Kids toy clutter is a huge pet peeve of mine. I mean, I know the kid needs toys, but they can take over a room SO FAST. I'm going to do a pre-birthday purge os when we get new toys, hopefully he won't even notice that some of the old ones are gone. One in, one out!

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  34. these are great tips! I go through phases of hoarding/decluttering. my dad is a hoarder (not in the crazy sense) and my mom throws away everything including sentimental things and she used to throw away my homework sometimes before I turned it in ha. so I have both of their personalities. I've been trying to be better about getting rid of stuff that I feel bad about getting rid of - like mementos from trips or ugly things people have bought me ha. but I've been better at detaching emotionally and letting it go!

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  35. Hi, I'm Jessica. I'm a transfer clutter. I'm working on it. But don't worry - if you visit, I'll tell you what rooms to stay clear of!

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  36. Good tips! I'm guilty of clutter transfer for sure.

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  37. I am a huge fan of decluttering! So much so that my husband asks me "Did you throw my (blank) away?" whenever he can't find anything. Maybe I need to cool it, just a little...

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  38. I'm a bit late to the party, but I just saw this referenced on another blog and I LOVE IT! I have had arguments with friends, who I fear are on their way to fame Hoarder-style, about why things should have a place that isn't just "the top of the pile." While I love decluttering and organizing, I'm not quite at your level of prowess, but it's nice to have something to reach for!

    Jenn | Business, Life, & Design

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