Hello 2018! As much as I love (LOVE) the Christmas season and all its abundance of, well, everything, I always look forward to how clean and almost sparse my house looks after I’ve packed away all that glittery loveliness. But it’s also the time of year that I’m aware, and kinda irritated by, the volume of boxes, bins and bags of stuff I’ve accumulated over the past year. Okay, more than irritated. Sometimes I feel physically exhausted just thinking about my clutter, never mind getting off my butt and doing something about it. Can I get an amen? Cause I know I’m not alone here – I used to offer a variety of design workshops, and Decluttering was my most popular. So I thought I’d share with you my top tips on dealing with the madness. Read on!
Recognize Your Clutter
Learn to recognize the type of clutter you have. Are you hanging on to pieces strictly out of their sentimental value? Do your belongings simply lack the proper storage? Do you buy in bulk more than you need to? Once you identify why your clutter accumulates, you’ll be better prepared to cut it down.
Work in Small Sections
Clutter is overwhelming, especially when it covers multiple areas. To make the process more manageable, only tackle single areas at a time. For example, start with one drawer in your kitchen (yeah, you know which one I mean!). Remove everything from the space, give the area a thorough cleaning, and then replace only the items that belong there. Every other item needs a new home (see next tip).
The Four Box Method
Let’s face it – clutter is essentially a decision delayed. The best way to deal with the “meh, I’ll get to it later” problem is with the Four Box Method. Here’s how it works:
- Gather three boxes and a garbage bin. Label the boxes “put away”, “donate” and “store.”
- Remove each item and place in its appropriate box. Anything broken or otherwise non-useful goes in the trash.
- At the end of each decluttering session, leave enough time to empty the boxes. Put away items are put in their appropriate homes, items to be stored and grouped with similar pieces and placed in labelled bins in a designated storage area, and things to donate belong together in the garage or trunk of your car until you can drop them off at the donation center.
Take a Photo
As a mom of three, I can attest to the sheer volume of papers and artwork that comes into this house. And keepsakes. And weird lumps of dried clay covered in flaking paint and sticky glitter glue. I used to keep every precious piece of wonderful art that my babies brought home to me, in an attempt to slow down time and cherish every lovely childhood craft moment. Then I moved 5 times in 4 years and thought, the hell with this. But I couldn’t just chuck it, I felt too guilty (plus, have you ever been busted throwing away something your kid made? Even though you were as stealth as a cocaine smuggler crossing the border? It ain’t pretty!) My solution? I take photos of everything. Often I’ll take a picture of my sons holding their creations, so I not only have the art captured, but the age they were when they made it. This works with all kinds of memorabilia – instead of hanging onto things that have been passed down to you, photograph it so you’ve got the memory, then donate it to someone who’d love to put it to use.
To put it simply: don’t buy it unless you need it or love it. Every single item you bring into your home should serve a purpose, and fill a need. Before you panic, realize that even frivolous items have a purpose if you absolutely love them. Avoid buying things just because they’re on sale (damn you, Black Friday!), and if you’re an impulse shopper, get into the habit of mulling over a potential purchase before committing.
My biggest piece of advice? Cut yourself some serious slack. Creating an organized space and living with less is a process. Set realistic expectations for yourself and don’t expect too much too soon. If you’re like me, once you start seeing small improvements, you’ll be inspired to push forward.
Looking for a bit more? I’m always up for an organizing challenge. Click below and we’ll connect!
Cheers to a 2018 of fabulously organized chaos!