Related Posts with Thumbnails

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Decluttering 101

Sadly, as soon as the last trick or treater rings the last doorbell, retailers ring their own dinner bell: out come the Christmas carols and holiday decor, and so begins the annual saturation of commercials touting the latest gadget we all, seemingly, cannot live without. 



We're drowning in stuff. Look around. Look at the walls, on the counter tops, in the drawers. 

Look in the junk drawer, in the cabinets and under the bed. 

Look in the spare room, in the mudroom and in the garage. 

Look in the spaces that are secret catch-alls, if only to you. 

Look at all of it. 

Now, think about the amazing experiences you've had over the past year. The past six months. The last few weeks. 

Are your experiences as plentiful as the stuff you've accumulated in the last year? 
The past six months? The last few weeks? 

Are you swimming in memories of laughter? Of joy? Of tender moments with those you hold dearest? 

If not, why? 

Sometimes work gets in the way. 

Or schedules. 

Or time . . .there's that busy thing again. 


Or, especially in these times, money gets in the way. 

But look around again. 

How much of this stuff do you really need? Really . . .



How much of it sounded like a good idea at the time, only to be used once or twice, only to find its final resting place under the sink or in the junk drawer or buried in the closet?

What if the time you spent looking for the perfect stuff, for you, or for others, was spent planning the moments and memories that would last you long after the stuff you've accumulated has lost its value?


If you only had limited space, say a backpack or a small car, in which to store all of your most prized possessions in order to, let's say, travel for an extended period of time, what would you take? What would you sell? What would you throw away?

I'm not saying that stuff is worthless. We all have the gadgets that make our lives easier and much more entertaining. But at what point does our stuff begin to weigh us down? 

We need not be hoarders to feel like we're drowning in clutter. And in as much as we have, many of us still feel like something is missing, and so we buy more. 

But the emptiness remains.

But the good news is, there is a way out. 

As a teacher, I teach my students to chunk tasks. It works and it's less daunting than tackling a project in its entirety. 

Here's how to chunk your way out of stuff:


1. One room at a time, and only one room per day. Consecutive days are not necessary.

2. Make four piles: save, sell, donate, discard. 


3. Find your camera or use your phone. Take pictures of the stuff to sell and upload it to eBay or another website on which you can sell your stuff (unfortunately to others looking to add more stuff--it never ends). Don't wait, or you will never do it.

4. Bag up your donations and drop it off to the local charity to which you will donate. Don't wait, or it will never go.

5. Bag up the trash and get rid of it. Don't wait, or it will never go. 

Take comfort in what you have saved, feel relieved of the burden of clutter that you have released, and celebrate with a walk outside with someone you love. 


53 comments:

  1. Yes! Taking pictures just for memories too is good! Saving the picture takes a lot less space!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You bring up a great point, Rebecca. I take so many pictures now and rarely print them. As long as you have space, you can save everything digitally. And it is more mobile than albums.

      Delete
  2. Great reminders. I love these images - did you create them? They're beautiful and moving and made me think and remember. I love the pinned up note, too - especially - as a quick reminder of how it doesn't really take that much to rid ourselves of the junk!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Andrea. Yes, I created them online at livluvcreate...thank you. :-)

      Delete
  3. It's amazing how much stuff piles up and how quickly. I moved around a lot growing up so it seems natural to me to go through things once a year or so and get rid of stuff. It's a foreign concept to my husband who basically lived in the same house growing up, where his mother had a storage system in the basement to hold onto their childhood clothes and toys.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just wrote something similar before reading the rest of the comments!

      Delete
    2. My husband can be a packrat...he calls it preparedness. Sticking a balance is key. My nomadic spirit wants to be ready to go on a dime.

      Delete
  4. OMG this. Now that my husband and I are planning to downsize and move, this is especially relevant for me! Our house is full of "oh this is awesome, I might need this" and "shit, this is only a dollar? score!" and "yeah, I need to use this now". We're downsizing a 3 bedroom + basement house into a 2 bedroom apartment. So yeah, we need all the help we can get!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck, Esther. It's a great exercise. You will discover what is most important and keep your non-negotiables.

      Delete
  5. I'm bookmarking this for inspiration. God knows I need it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Carol. I'm so happy it was helpful.

      Delete
  6. I totally needed this post today! The clutter in my house is driving me insane. There are so many old toys I need to throw out or donate. I really need to tackle the mess before the holidays and my daughter gets even more toys!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And think of the children who may love your gently used toys. It's a win-win. Good luck!

      Delete
  7. I need t start doing that... I was actually just thinking about clutter and how many un-necessary THINGS we have in our lives.
    Thanks for sharing this post! Going to go home tonight and clean my junk drawer - start small :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Starting small is smart. Good luck, Lena! Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  8. I love to organize and declutter so when I downsized my life last year it was easy and a pleasure. But somehow, I'm cluttered again...sigh...I think it's because stuff becomes a habit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does become a habit. You're right, Laura. But it's an amazing feeling of accomplishment when you're done. Good luck with round two. :-) Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  9. I so need to do this. You're so right about getting it on ebay. if it does to a box in the basement, it will NEVER get listed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed, Cari. And if you can make money off something you no longer need or want, it's a win-win. Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  10. This has been in my to-do list for way too long. I need to de clutter all that unwanted stuff from around the house! thanks for this reminder post lovely :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Zakkiya. :-) Good luck with your decluttering!

      Delete
  11. So smart to take pictures of stuff to sell right away! I think that's where my motivation ends, I declutter and clean out my drawers and closets easily but it's the actual act of getting rid of the stuff instead of just having them sit in boxes.

    -Chelsea
    chelsandthecity.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For me, packing it up is easy...getting it to the donation center is more of a chore. It could sit in the back of my car for weeks. Thank you for stopping by, Chelsea. :-)

      Delete
  12. You know I love this post and heartily agree!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm always de-cluttering and giving away stuff. I love my stuff though :) great reminder for me to go though some more "stuff" I don't need though :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everyone has their non-negotiable. And there is no shame in that. You know what you love. What you don't love so much is where you can start. :-)

      Delete
  14. Hi Kelly! I so-so-so-so-so believe in this. In fact I write about it all the time to and try to remind others that "less really is MORE" and that happiness doesn't come from stuff. Thanks for sharing! ~Kathy P.S. and loved your photos too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by, Kathy. Less is more. I am all about experiences over stuff.

      Delete
  15. I need to do this in my office. I have too many craft supplies and yarn that I am sure I can get rid of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And someone, like an art teacher, for example, might love it. An idea for another #bethechange project? :-)

      Delete
  16. I am so glad I found your blog through BoBBs. I have really enjoyed your perspectives! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so happy you are here, Mandee. Thank you so much!

      Delete
  17. Best decluttering tips ever. I think one thing I have a problem with is letting go of things because they hold some sentimental value but like you said "collect moments not things". Thank you for sharing love your blog post as always Kelly. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jazmine. I am so happy you are here. I so appreciate your feedback. Keep those sentimental things...everyone has non-negotiable. The stuff that makes you shrug can be your starting point. Good luck!

      Delete
  18. This is so true! I try and try to do this decluttering thing and honestly as the years go by I find that my biggest piles are the "throw out" ones because I realize I just do not need so much stuff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think, in general, we overestimate how much stuff we really need. There is much more available to distract us or entertain us, but in reality what we need hasn't changed much in decades. Experiences over stuff is what is most important to me.

      Delete
  19. Kelly, these are excellent tips! Thank you for sharing them. I love getting rid of stuff. I think it comes from moving around so much in the past, and not wanting to have huge piles of stuff to pack. I also love the quote about glorifying busyness. We live in a culture where the busier you are the more impressive and respected you are, but the truth is people who are always busy aren't necessarily happier or more productive than the rest of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Part of the decluttering is practical...moving too much stuff is a pain. But clutter can weigh you down emotionally as well....it can be overwhelming.

      The busyness thing makes me crazy. You can go 100 mph and get 1 mile to the gallon, as my dad would say. Movement does not always equate productivity. It's sad that so many find their value in such frenetic movement.

      Delete
  20. These are great tips! My hubby and I are both OCD and clutter makes our eyes twitch. We do this twice a year in Spring and Fall.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's great, Rena. I hope this helps with your clean-outs. Thank you for stopping by.

      Delete
  21. yes, yes yes!! I have been slowly going through my stuff and decluttering. When I moved into my place, I had so many people want to give me things and I had to keep saying, No, I don't want it (unless it was something I actually needed, like a sofa for the living room, which I didn't have.) And you know, people were almost offended I didn't want stuff! I had people nearly argue with me that I needed this stuff. I'm still going through all my stuff. I admit a lot of it has sentimental attachment and I find it hard to part, but I keep at it. Thanks for the post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, Claudia, I sometimes think that people who love their stuff are weirded out by people who don't want stuff. I think they think it's some sort of indictment of their choices. Everyone is different though, and I will take travel over just about anything. However, I also appreciate that there are some non-negotiables. The trick is finding what they are and being okay with getting rid of the rest. Thank you for stopping by. :-)

      Delete
  22. It's such a great feeling of accomplishment once we de-clutter our closets and drawers. I'll admit, I have been negligent of this lately. I think after the holidays, it will be time for me to purge my closet for sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. You feel accomplished and ready to tackle other challenges. Good luck! And thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  23. This post is perfect for me! I have big plans to declutter during my weeks off this winter and will definitely be back to reference these great tips again :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. This is a brilliant post and I couldn't agree more. In fact you'll rarely find "decor" posts on my blog because I stopped being into "decor" when I moved to Italy. I hardly buy stuff, but we still have SO MUCH OF IT! With no North American basement to put stuff in, we either have to use it or store it....and space is limited!

    I started decluttering last week, only to be blocked because I want to sell some stuff but can't seem to find the time to put it online....but this post has inspired me. We spend most of our disposable income on adventures as a family and not on stuff, but I still seem to be such a hoarder with what I own. Maybe its an expat thing of mine?? when I moved to Italy I only had a few boxes with me, and in a way "stuff" signified stability and a home. But now I realize that home isn't where your stuff is!

    Catching up on your blog and it is so refreshing.

    Angie from reasons to dress

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Angie! I am so happy you're here. I am a firm believer in experiences over stuff, but I see how easy it would be to accumulate things, especially as an expat, if you are missing "stuff" from "home." But you're so right...home isn't where your stuff is. Have a wonderful week! And thank you, again.

      Delete
  25. Holy Baloney Kelly- this was clearly a poignant topic- it took me as long to scroll down to the bottom of your comments as to get rid of a piece of junk,lol! I downsized my house before my daughter left for college, and have always been one to get rid of what I don't use- and do it frequently. My Mom and Aunt Betty have a famous philosophy- if you can't use it, give it to someone who can! Thanks for an interesting Post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your Mom and Aunt Betty were right, Peggy. Someone can use it...and be happy with it. :-) I love decluttering...such a feeling of accomplishment. Happy Thanksgiving to you your family.

      Delete
  26. This is wonderful advice!

    We are in the midst of the annual pre-holiday purge and I am reminded how much easier it is to not bring stuff in than it is to bring it in only to have to get it out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. You're right...if you don't buy it to begin with, you don't have to find space for it. Good call! :-)

      Delete
  27. I have read articles and books on organizing, downsizing, declutering, minimizing, etc. But there is one that spoke to my heart: "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up." by Marie Kondo. Highly recommended. Number 1 global bestseller.

    ReplyDelete