Calling all Clutter Bugs!
September is a good month to “love it or lose it”
Hello to all of you clutter! Most of us have too many things. Am I right? Seriously? What’s the deal?
You probably inherited items from deceased family members. You bought items because they were on sale, thinking you might need them in the future. Maybe you once loved those linen pants and floral shoulder-pad blouses. You may have a collection of broken electronics that you never threw away. Things seem to multiply the more we avoid dealing with them. Let’s just put these boxes in the attic and we’ll figure it out later.
Where do we start sorting? Luckily for you, this is my wheelhouse. Grab a pencil and paper and go room by room making a list of projects and areas you would like to tackle. I would suggest starting with a somewhat easy project. If you have a closet with coats and handbags that you haven’t used in decades or an avalanche of towels falling on your head every time you open the linen closet, start there. Once you start, you’ll feel good and want to keep going. It feels good to cross off this list.
For each item, decide whether you need it, use it, or like it. Ask yourself how many you have and if you have room for it. For clothes, keep what fits you plus a size up and down for weight fluctuations and what feels good to wear. If it’s too big or too small, an ugly color, scratched or doesn’t feel fabulous, it’s gone. This is the criterion for keeping an article.
When I work with a decluttering client and ask these questions, most people will answer yes to all of these questions. Yes! They need it, use it, love it. Yes! They will wear it again. I can guarantee that is not entirely true. You’re trying to convince yourself (and me) why you should keep it. But you called me to help you declutter, so let’s declutter! Honestly, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t keep everything and yet live in a less cluttered environment.
Side note: people have called me and wanted me to help them clean up and get organized without getting rid of anything. Great Big No. You can’t clean around clutter.
I asked my clients, “Do you need and use all 10 spatulas?” or “Do you wear all 30 pairs of jeans?” or “Are the eight large workbooks necessary?” Maybe you would say yes, I don’t know your life. How much is reasonable for you?
If you had a hypothetical fire and all the people and pets were out, your purse, wallet, phone, computer, and important documents were saved, what five items would you want to save? This will help you identify what you like. Many people say personal items like photo albums, jewelry, a book or record collection, or something that was made exclusively for you like a quilt. Everything else is just things we surround ourselves with, some of which are useful and enjoyable, but guess what? The rest is just mess.
Now that you know what you like, show it. Once you’ve decluttered, you’ll have more space to place your pretty things. It’s hard to appreciate a vase of fresh flowers on the dining table when there are bills, coloring books and crayons, batteries, potholders, groceries that haven’t been put away and cookies for dogs covering the surface. Does anyone remember what your dining room table top looks like?
I highly suggest renting a dumpster for a few weeks if you’re serious about decluttering and downsizing and have an abundance of broken items that no one else will be able to use. You can ask your neighbors to share the cost of the dumpster. Park it between two houses and have a race to see who can fill it up with more… well… stuff.
If you have antiques or collectibles, try selling online. Organize a garage sale. See if family members would like some of your grandmother’s traditional dishes that you never use. The animal shelter always needs towels and blankets. And you can contact women’s shelters, family centers, Union Rescue Mission to see if there’s anything they need that you might already have.
Take before and after photos to help you stay motivated to maintain results. Your life will not improve if you go back to old habits. You’ve come this far, don’t go back to this way of life. With less material, it is easier to clean. You can pass visitors. You won’t come across piles on the ground. And in an emergency, first responders can come in and find you.
If all else fails, that’s what I do. Call me if I can help you with your decluttering and organizing projects. I want you to live in a clean, safe home and be proud to invite your friends over for game night. Have you ever played Qwirkle?