It is not because things are difficult that we
do not dare, it is because we do not dare that
they are difficult.
Unlike a tornado, clutter doesn’t just happen. It gets that way over time. Sometimes clutter is so insidious that
we don’t even notice it until we are deluged by it. Hopefully, you’ve learned some things about clutter this month,
like what it is, what to do about it, and how it’s different than disorganization. But, just like any good habit, such as
exercise, decluttering isn’t something you do and then it’s done: it’s something you start and then keep doing.
Too often people are bitten by the declutter bug and make one big push to declutter. That’s wonderful and having your clutter cleared in one fell swoop feels incredible and unburdens you. Most of the time, though, clutter is related to a vitamin deficiency.
Either someone is frozen in fear and doesn’t do anything about the clutter, usually because they’re just overwhelmed, or they do it once or then forget about it for the next 25 years. The key to both is Vitamin C – “consistent C.”
The daily approach
Just like exercise (Vitamin X), decluttering has to be a daily habit because clutter happens on a daily basis. The tips below are all strategies for dealing with clutter and keeping it from overwhelming you again. Doing just one of the strategies will help you keep clutter from becoming a serious problem or making a serious problem even worse.
Having a regular routine for decluttering is the single best way to keep it from getting out of hand. Pick a daily time that’s convenient such as every day at four o’clock. Then, spend fifteen or so minutes working at removing clutter (tossing mail, magazines, clearing out the refrigerator). Make it long enough you can accomplish something but not so long that you’ll give up.
Set a weekly goal
Pick an area of the house each week that needs attention and take steps to declutter and organize that area. Having a weekly goal (and reaching it) will give you a great sense of accomplishment.
Declutter with other activities
Instead of just putting freshly-washed towels away toss out your old tired towels first. Or, while your child is getting ready for bed, take a moment to go through some drawers and remove outgrown or stained clothing. Decluttering as you do other things makes decluttering part of daily living.
Make it a habit
Don’t unload groceries into the refrigerator that’s messy or cluttered with jelly jars with only a teaspoon of jam in them. Instead, quickly go through the fridge and toss old items out and wipe down shelves before restocking, and do the same in the pantry. Likewise, if you take a phone message and the pen you’re using doesn’t work, make it a habit to throw it away and not put it back in the holder (and I know you do this!).
Be a clutter friend
If you lose your objectivity with your clutter, invite a friend over to your house to help you declutter. The friend will be more objective about the rationality of keeping that old broken mixer from your Aunt Helen – and give you the strength to part with it. Be sure to return the favor, too.
Buy a label maker
Label shelves in closets, pantries, cabinets, and even the freezer and refrigerator to show where items should go. This helps you keep items neater, more organized, and they won’t look as cluttered.
By following a regular, consistent pattern of living and dealing with clutter, you will keep your home neater, cleaner, more organized, and you won’t re-purchase those things you simply couldn’t find. You’ll enjoy going home and being there, too.
How I Lost 500 Pounds in a Weekend
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to have a garage sale. True to my promise, I did have the sale and it was a doozy. Not only did I lose over 500 pounds of unwanted excess and clutter, I raked in $675 in a mere three hours.
The sale was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, but it was so successful, we were through before noon on Friday and on our way out to lunch and to donate the leftover items (mostly new stuffed animals).
Yep, all that old stuff bought me a new home theater system and curtains for an upstairs living room. You can do the same. Now, it took a little time and the house was a disaster while I was gathering everything, but there was no closet, no drawer, no space that avoided inspection.
Yes, in the decluttering before the garage sale, I found out that I had five – count ‘em, five – water pitchers. I had no idea. So I narrowed it down to three and I have much more room in the cabinet now. In fact, my whole house has much more room and better organization, and I’m ready for the holidays.
Get your house in order by decluttering and holding a garage sale as soon as possible. Remember, the key to a good garage sale is good stuff. Broken items, teeny tiny trinkets, and old stained clothes don’t sell. I had great kids and adult books that I sold for twenty five cents apiece – and they moved. A brand new $100 tire was had for only $3, a baker’s rack, antique tables, computer parts, and upholstered chair and ottoman that all were unused and took up valuable space were all in the mix for dirt cheap. So, get your unwanted good stuff, price it right, and you might just have your holiday shopping money – and the space to store your purchases