How I turned de-cluttering from a nightmare into a quick task
Every so often I get the need to de-clutter. Now I have to be in the mood to do this, otherwise I am completely ineffective!
On a bad day, what tends to happen is that I empty a wardrobe or chest of drawers, spread the contents around the room, look at it and feel total overwhelmed.
I really don’t understand where all the stuff comes from. Especially the junk! I don’t remember buying any junk. Why would I? Yet there it is!
The junk is easy to get rid of… but the rest of it…
I pick each item up in turn (eg; old receipt from that bad movie that we went to see and ended up laughing all the way through, the scarf that I bought that I really didn’t need on a lovely day out with my sister, the purse that went with a bag that I no longer have etc), and each item brings back a flood of memories and the de-cluttering nightmare begins.
Books are the worse. How can you get rid of books? I have what feels like a million books and can’t part with any of them.
So what’s the answer to the de-cluttering nightmare? After years of repeating the above scenario and getting nowhere. Here are my top tips that work for me.
1. Don’t take on too much at once
I’ve tried to de-clutter an entire room, it didn’t work. I ended up closing the door and leaving the stuff laid out everywhere for days until I could face it again, and then just ended up putting it all back in the cupboards that it came out of!
Don’t even attempt a wardrobe or cupboard…
The first thing to do is to select a drawer or shelf. That’s it! Keep it simple and small.
2. Sort through the items quickly
Divide all the contents of that shelf/ drawer into 3 piles – 1. Keep 2.Give to charity 3. Throw away
Just to be clear what goes in each pile:
Keep – Can’t live without, you need it, look great in it, use it all the time..
Give to charity – You can’t remember buying it but it works, is in good condition, it just doesn’t fit you, the colour looks awful on you but would suit someone else..
Throw away – It doesn’t work, it’s beyond repair, parts of it are missing..
Make decisions quickly. If you have any indecision, put the item in the “Keep” pile. That’s a battle to fight another day.
Indecision leads to procrastination. Make a quick decision, then move on. Don’t be tempted to put all the items in the “Keep” pile! Be honest with yourself, then make a decision and stick to it.
3. Time yourself
Set the alarm clock on your phone or… and this works better for me… put on your favourite playlist… with the intention that by the time the alarm goes off or the last song has ended, the de-cluttering HAS TO BE FINISHED!
If you think it’s going to take you half an hour, that’s the time that you give yourself. If you think it’s going to take 8 songs. That’s it. That’s all you’ve got, you can’t take any more time. You HAVE TO GET THE SORTING FINISHED IN THIS TIME.
4. Tidy/ clean up after the task is finished
Before you put the “keep” items back in the drawer, give the drawer a quick clean and put away all the items neatly into some sort of order.
This helps to give you a sense of the job being completed and also gives you the motivation to repeat the process again with the other drawers. I mean you don’t want one tidy, organised drawer and the others to be in a mess do you?
5. Finish the job completely
This is probably the most important step of the process. Put all the items in the “throw away” pile in the bin. And I mean the bin outside! Then there’s no going back. Now, put your shoes on and take the “give to charity” pile to your local charity shop immediately.
If you can’t do this right at this moment (because it’s 10pm and the charity shop is closed – I want a good reason for not taking it right now) then put the bag near the door and do it at your earliest opportunity ie; tomorrow!
After years of trying and failing to de-clutter effectively, these are the tips that work for me.
Good luck with your de-cluttering. You’ll feel so much better once it’s done.
I’d love to hear what works for you.