I've been traveling periodically to a friends house and helping her to organize. Organizing is what I do. It is a joy, a pleasure that sets my heart singing. Yes, I am weird... but there's something to be said about a shelf with all the jars sorted, labels facing the front. There's harmony in a room decluttered and organized. Removing clutter can set you free. Let's face it, STUFF = WORK. When you have too many things, even looking at them can make you tired.
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself... Do you have "stuff" that you don't notice anymore until it's time to dust it or move it? Do you have things that are neither use nor ornament, things that you liked/used at one time, but now your life has gone in a different direction? If you were to hear that you are moving in two weeks, do you own things that you would be carting off to the nearest thrift store, giving away to family, neighbors or maybe even setting curbside with a big sign labeled "FREE"?? Why hold onto those things? Let's face it, stuff equals work!
There's a method I've used for years to declutter and organize my home so that it is a joy for me. I'll share it with you. It's not that I'm an expert, I'm not. But this method works very well for me and perhaps it will be a blessing to you.
Initially I decluttered twice a year, January and July. I was always amazed how many things I held on to from the previous declutter session as I decluttered yet again. Now I do it once per year, taking my time to move through each room, each closet, cupboard and drawer. Here is my method:
*Pick which room you want to start in. It may be a room that is your most cluttered, or the room you use the most. Maybe you'd like to start on one end of the house and move towards the other end. It doesn't matter, it's your house and what ever pleases you is the right room to start in.
*You will need four destinations for your belongings
#1, right where you found them.
#2 a place to temporarily put things that you want to keep, such as on a table, or maybe on your bed, or on the floor in the center of the room. This is truly a temporary place. You will be dealing with these items on the same day you place them there.
#3 A box to remove from your home to donate to others
#4 the trash and yes, there will be things you've held on to that you suddenly realize aren't even worth donating to charity.
*Shop from your house. Start in one corner of the room and move slowly around the room. Pick everything up, one item at a time and make a quick decision. If this were on sale right now, would you buy it?Does it bring you joy to look at? Do you even notice it anymore? Do you use it anymore? Does it fit into your life anymore? If it brings you joy and you use it, and it's in it's rightful place, put it back, otherwise place it in a temporary keep spot, in a box for donating or gifting, or in a box to be taken out to the trash. Pick up each item. Hold it in your hand, and make a decision. Don't look at a shelf of books or a rack of clothes and think "I want all of these". Seriously but quickly, contemplate each item. People use approx. 20% of their belongings. Folks, that means we don't use approx. 80%. With this in mind, realistically we should be able to get rid of a minimum of 25% of what we own and not even miss it. Decide ahead of time what you want your space to do for you and what you'd like it to look like. If something doesn't fit in with your plan, move it out.
*Group similar things together. Does your child have an over abundance of stuffed animals? Asking which ones to get rid of typically won't accomplish much. Gather them all together in one place. Pick two up at random and ask your wee one which one he/she would like to keep and praise him/her for the decision made. Pick up two more and repeat. If he/she has difficulty giving either one up it could be that you happened to pick up two favorites, put one down and try a different one. Once again praise for a good decision. When half are gone do you find that there are still too many? There are two ways to handle this that work for me. Either repeat the process with the remaining toys, this time putting three out at a time and saying "which two would you like to keep?" or say "If you will pick 10 that you would like to donate so that someone else can enjoy them, I will purchase one new one for you the next time we go to the store". Maybe it isn't stuffed animals. Maybe it's books and maybe they're yours. Bring them all together so you can have a clear understanding of just how many you own. Make a decision as to how many you will part with and give yourself a pat on the back as you sort through each title, freeing yourself of the burden of holding onto books that you no longer care about and will probably never read again. It's time to let someone else enjoy them and free yourself of the burden of taking care of them. Straighten them neatly on your freshly dusted shelf and enjoy how much better a pared down book shelf looks with each book having a place instead of being shoved in and piled high. Perhaps now you will have room on your shelf for a few pictures in frames or an attractive sculptured bookend? What ever the case, make a decision of what your end goal will be and stick to it.
*Continue making your way around the room and moving out anything that doesn't fit in with your goal. This includes artwork hanging on the walls. If you don't love it, and love it in the space that it is in, remove it. Take everything into consideration, the only exception being dresser drawers. Make this your last stop as they can be extra time consuming. If when you are finished with your room you still have time, then by all means... otherwise save it for the next day. But when you do it, do it as thoroughly as you did the rest of the room.
*Now go to your "temporary spot". Take each item and decide again. "Do I love it? Is it useful" If so, put it where it should belong. Remember, you removed it from the previous room. It doesn't belong there anymore. Make sure you put it where it truly belongs. If on the other hand you decide you actually don't love it or use it, place it with the donations or in the trash.
*Now make yourself a cool drink (or if it's Winter, a hot one) and step back in your "new" space. Look around and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Take a good long look around, relax and be pleased. You did a good job and it was worth the effort. After you've had a good rest go take your donations out to the car for your next trip into town and take out the trash.
Some spaces may take more than a day. That's okay! Just get started! The time is now! It's time to get that room you always wanted! My friend said to me wistfully last week as we were looking at her living room "Some day I'd like to make this a Western room." I told her "Let's get started!" Because she loved all things western, it wasn't difficult. We went around her entire room, starting in one corner and moving counter clock wise, We removed everything that didn't fit in with her theme. Next we arranged the remaining items until we found the most pleasing placement. After that we "shopped" from other rooms in the house and found a few extra odds and ends to fill in the gaps. Within an hour she had a room that she had wanted for a year without spending a dime!
It's time to begin, time to set yourself free of clutter and to tell yourself afterward: