“Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them!” – Peace Pilgrim
Note: Scroll down to the bottom for a links to all of the Clean Up the Clutter posts.
Happy New Year! And, welcome to my January Clean Up the Clutter Challenge.
As I am writing this Mr. SH and I are in the middle of cleaning out my parent’s home of 30 years after moving them into a senior apartment near my sister. Their home is typical of homes built in the 80’s. Three bedrooms, two baths, two living areas, two eating areas and a nice grassy backyard.
And every closest, cabinet, and cubby-hole is filled with stuff. Stuff, stuff, stuff. As in 20-year-old-floral-foam-under-the-wet-bar-stuff. It’s as though my parents moved into this house in 1980 and filled it with stuff. What they failed to do was the occasional purge.
If you read this blog regularly you will know that a little over a year ago we downsized and purchased a smaller home. It took me months to purge things that we had collected over the years. It was a little painful at times, but I can honestly say there isn’t one thing I have missed.
While getting rid of things is difficult I can say that today my house is free of the type of clutter that steals away peace and harmony. In it’s place is order and rest.
And that is why I am issuing a Clean Up the Clutter Challenge to all of you in hopes that you will be able to achieve this no matter how much clutter you’ve accumulated. There is no oath to take, but I do have a form on the sidebar if you’d like to commit. This is a personal challenge from me to you that will help put you on the path to taking back your life.
This is a self-motivated challenge. Here’s how it works. There are four Mondays in January. Every Monday log into this post, scroll down, and choose one of the different areas of your home to Clean Up the Clutter. For some of you this might be a weekly task; for others, it may take the entire month to complete. Oh, and I’m also giving you a couple of options: The Easy Way and The Thorough Way. Which ever way you choose, the end result will be the same. A clutter-free home.
I also highly recommend reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up* by Marie Kondo. This book will inspire you to look at your clutter in a whole new way. It will also help you let go of possessions that might be robbing you of your peace. (*affiliate)
Here are four steps to follow through the entire process.
1. Take the First Step and Believe in the End Result
Perhaps your home is a haven for clutter and you have no idea where to begin. Like walking on a tight rope, taking the first step can be very scary. For you, the first step is believing that this can be accomplished. Begin by taking small steps in the right direction. Take one step, then another, then another ~ all the while picturing in your mind how your home will look and feel with all of the clutter gone. And remember, it is impossible to live a completely clutter-free life. It’s really a matter of limiting the amount of clutter and getting rid of the excess.
2. Excess, Waste, and Too Much of a Good Thing
The second step to a clutter-free life is to remove excess possessions. Here’s how I define what needs to go.
- When was the last time I used this? A year? Longer?
- Does it work? If not, can it be repaired?
- Do I like it?
- Do I have more than one? Do I need more than one?
- Is this something I can find on the internet or at the library?
- If I keep it, where will it be stored?
Keep in mind ~ Some things will take a little more time and thought.
- Sentimental items may need to be passed down to family members or shared with a friend.
- Books (I could write an entire series on getting rid of books) – this will require that you determine if you will ever read/study the book in the future. Also, can it be easily gotten at a library should you decide you want to read it again.
- Inherited items – these things may require checking with family members to see if someone else wants them.
The key to mastering this step is to be patient and take your time. Start with a small project first. After a few minor victories, move on to the family momentos.
I find that this is the place where many people get stalled. Rather than stopping altogether try this. Get some cardboard or plastic storage boxes and sort through the things you have trouble parting with. Label them, date them, and go back to them later.
Above all, remember that this is a process and not a race. Some of this will take time. Remember to believe in the end result.
3. Managing Future Clutter
Staying ahead of the clutter and managing incoming clutter requires that Steps #1 & #2 have taken place. You cannot develop methods to manage new clutter unless you have first cleaned up the old clutter.
Assuming that you have managed to clean up and get rid of unnecessary items then a system of managing clutter must be developed. Otherwise you will be right back where you started in no time at all.
Here are a few examples of managing clutter on a daily basis.
- In the kitchen – Clean after every meal and put away the dishes.
- Living Areas – Put things back after they are used ~ video games, throws, etc.
- Play Areas – Have children put their toys away into designated storage areas.
- Laundry – Fold and put away laundry.
Be prepared for additional clutter which sometimes occurs after a particular event or seasons.
- Birthdays and holidays can create an abundance of stuff. Have a plan BEFORE the event.
- Life events like a new baby, new home, or new job will require some readjustment.
The key here is to stay on top of the clutter. Have a plan and, if necessary, create a new plan if circumstances change.
4. Evaluate Before You Buy
We live in a consumer-driven culture and accumulation is part of our daily lives. If you want a clutter-free home then the key is to slow down the amount of possessions you accumulate.
This takes a little thought. After all, it is easier to go out and buy something; but it takes time and thought to determine if an item is needed or necessary. Taking the time to evaluate before you buy will actually save you time and energy in the long run.
Before purchasing ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I REALLY need this?
- Where will I put this?
- Will this purchase require more or less work from me?
- Why am I REALLY buying this?
While it is impossible to not accumulate new things it is possible to slow down the accumulation. When you become aware that purchasing new items has a cost beyond the price sticker then you will know the difference. And then you will be on the road to a clutter-free life.
Are you ready to Clean Up the Clutter? On Monday we are going to get started in the Entry and Home Office.