Handling all our "stuff" seems to be an issue that our society is having to face now more than ever. We have so many things that come into our house, whether we want them to or not. It used to make sense to hold onto things because they could be needed in the future - it was considered thrifty. However, we now have such easy access to the things we might need, times have changed. Having houses jammed with stuff has become the norm.
Keeping things costs money. Here's how it costs us:
- We need more square footage to keep the stuff. Even if we are able to keep it perfectly organized, it takes up space. This means we either have less living area, have to pay for a larger place to live, or have to pay for storage.
- We can't find the things we need, and often end up purchasing duplicates.
- We forget about the things we have and purchase duplicates. How many times have you gone to the cupboard to put something away, and seen the same thing sitting there?
- We hang onto things we could sell.
- Food expires (or becomes freezer-burned) before we have a chance to use it.
- Visualize what you would like your space to look like, and what you would like to use your space for (e.g. having friends over).
- Create three bins, labelled "put away", "throw away", and "give away".
- Choose a specific area of a specific room to start with. Either choose the area that bothers you the most, or choose the area that you think will be the easiest, so you will feel like you are making progress.
- Sort the items into the bins. When you are done, put the items away right away, and make sure you immediately remove from the home the throw away and give away items.
- It's valuable.
- It was a gift.
- I will fix it.
- I might need it someday.
- It represents a time or a person in my life I want to remember.
- I will get around to using it.
- It was hard to get.
- Is it adding value to my life? If it is in a box somewhere, the answer is automatically no.
- Have I used it in the past 2 years?
- Would someone else be able to make better use of it?
- Is it realistic that I will get around to using it?
- If I needed to, could I replace it? Is it available at a dollar store?
- Do I have other ones of the same thing? Duplicates are not necessary.
- Do I have space for it? It might be a great object, but if it takes up too much of my living space, it cannot stay.
- Is it helping me work toward my goals? Is it getting in the way of working toward my goals?
- If I am keeping it for sentimental reasons, where will I display it? If it is that important to me, it should not stay in a box. When will I work on displaying it? What date and time?
- What is the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of it?
- Does it work? How will I fix it? What date and time will I fix it? Am I prepared to schedule it in on my calendar?
- Play a favourite song, and declutter for the time the song is playing.
- Set a timer (15 minutes is a good amount of time to start with), and declutter until the timer goes off.
- Try a 10 thing fling. Go around your house and find 10 items to part with. Flylady recommends a 27 fling boogie, but I have found 27 items to be too many. 10 is much more achievable.
- Invite someone over. This will give you a deadline.
- If your freezer and/or cupboards are crammed full of food, see how long you can go with only buying milk and fresh fruit. You will be surprised at how much money you can save.
- Remember that it has taken you many years to accumulate the things you have, so you can expect it to take a long time to sort through them.
- Enlist the support of a friend. If you feel OK about it, your friend can come over and help. If not, just having someone supportive to talk to can help. There are numerous online support communities as well (e.g. yahoo groups).
So, after learning all that I have about clutter management, do I live in a spotless, clutter-free house? Not quite. However, they won't have to dig me out of my home either.
Here's a book that I have found incredibly helpful when working with clients and for myself: