by Tamera Lynn Kraft
Clutter is an epidemic in the US. Many of us have way to much stuff to enjoy what we have, but we worry about parting with some of it for sentimental reasons or because we spent a lot of money on it. How much money we wasted is in the past. If we want a peaceful environment, room to stay organized, and a place for everything so we don’t have to spend precious time looking for it, we need to get rid of our stuff. Trust me. It will feel so good when your done.
Start at the front door of your house. Many people are paralysis when they consider where to start. I’ll make it easy for you. Start at the front door. Are there any shoes there you don’t wear? Do you have too many coats? If you have more than three winter coats, you have too many.
Go in a clockwise circle around the room and organize. Next circle the room. As you get to each place in your room, decide what you need to keep and what needs to go. Then go to the next room.
Keep four boxes and trashcan with you.
The first box is labeled “Put Away”. This is for stuff that you need to put away or find a place for. Resist the temptation to put it away now. You might have a lot more room when you’re done.
The second box is labeled “Give Away” or “Sell”. These are items that have some value but you don’t need. It’s difficult to part with something you spent money on, but if you give it to the poor or sell it, you’ll feel better about freeing up that space. After you’re done decluttering, sell this stuff on e-bay or at a garage sale and make some money, or take it to the Salvation Army or AmVets. There also might be some items family members would cherish. Consider giving some of your stuff to them.
The third box is for storage. These are items you need, but you don’t need them all the time. Christmas and Fall decorations would fall in this category. Label each storage box with what is in that box for easy reference later.
The fourth box is for keepsakes and memorials that mean a great deal to you. This box is not for the pencil your nine year old took to school his first day of Kindergarten. These keepsakes should be important and irreplaceable. Things like your wedding certificate and your children’s first teeth might go here. After you’re finished organizing, you can go back to this box and decide how to display some of these items. If you don’t have room to display them, it might be better to get rid of them. Keeping a keepsake packed away in the garage for years doesn’t help you feel any fond memories about it.
The trashcan is for everything else. Be merciless about this. You don’t need 20 pieces of string just in case. You don’t need a cleaning product you never used but bought because it looked good on QVC. You don’t need a 20 gallon drum of Spic and Span. Get rid of it and free up your space and your life. You might also want to have a recycle bag for items you can take to the recycle plant later. See, you are helping the environment by decluttering.
Evaluate your stuff. Have you used it in the last year? Do you intend to use it within a month? Does it have great sentimental value? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you can keep it. Otherwise get rid of it. You will be amazed at how much stress you can get rid of by getting rid of your stuff.
Repeat in every room.
Go through the keepsakes again. After you’re finished organizing, you can go back to this box and decide how to display some of these items. Keeping a keepsake packed away in the garage for years doesn’t help you feel any fond memories about it. One idea is to start a scrapbook or memory box for each of your children. If you have too many keepsakes to fill one memory box for each child or to display your treasures, go through them again, and try to cut them down by half.
Find a place for all your put away items. At this point, you may have to get rid of some of them. You don’t need 53 pens and 7 pairs of scissors. The first time I went through this process, I found out I had seven 99 cent turkey basters. My husband convinced me to keep two so I had a back-up, but nobody needs seven turkey basters. Get rid of excess items.
Find a place for your storage boxes. They should be easily accessible but not take up prime space in your home. A storage closet, shelves in the garage, the attic, or the basement work well for storage boxes.
Find a place for your garage sale or e-bay items and label the boxes with the date. If you don’t sell them within a year, take them to the Salvation Army. You never will get to selling them if your haven’t within a year. Do not open the boxes to look through them at this point. You’ve gone without them for this long. It’s time to let go.
Repeat decluttering process at least once a year. Enjoy the peace that comes from a decluttered house.