August 12, 2012

How to Declutter, Little by Little

There are millions of blogs, checklists, and advice columns out there to help you declutter and organize your household to the n’th degree.  Some people, however, are not natural organizers and are completely overwhelmed at the thought of using a highly detailed three page checklist to tackle what might look to them like prime candidacy for an appearance on television’s “Hoarders!”

If you’ve never pared down before and simply don’t know where to begin, here is a low impact start for  beginners, from a wonderful friend in one of my homeschool support groups (thank you, Karen C.!):

Supplies Needed:
Masking tape
Sharpie marker
Your personal calendar
Two large, black garbage bags (this is important, so you can't see inside)

  1. Using the masking tape and sharpie, label the garbage bags “Bag #1” and “Bag #2”.
  2. Spend a brief 15-20 minutes each day decluttering in the room of your choice.  Pick the smallest room, or the worst room to make a dent in it, or the least cluttered room to finish up quickly, or the room in which you spend the most time each day, etc.  Regardless, set a timer so you don't become overwhelmed, tired, or discouraged.  If you want to make an afternoon project out of this, still set a timer so you at least have a measureable, achieveable timeframe with an end in sight.
  3. As you declutter, tell yourself you're not saying, “Goodbye,” to these items. You’re only setting them aside for a short time to see if you really need them, or if you'll really miss them if they're donated.
  4. Place the items in one of the two bags as follows:Bag #1 – “I liked using you, Nice Item, but I haven’t used you in a while and I’m not sure I need you anymore.  You might be needed more by another person who doesn’t have the means to buy you.”
Bag #2 – “I really, really liked using/reading/wearing you, but you’ve just been sitting around for a while and someone else might need you more."
  1. When a bag is full, get another piece of masking tape and label it with the date you finished filling it.  Place the bag in your garage, basement, or other out-of-the-way place.
  2. Mark your calendar, “Donate Bag #1” or “Donate Bag #2” six months from the date on the bag.
  3. Over the next six months, only remove an item from either bag if you think of it on your own and really want or need to use it.
  4. When you reach “Donate Bag #_____” on your calendar, donate that bag with whatever is left in it.  Do not open the bag!  Say a prayer for those who will use these items.
  5. Repeat the process as needed with Bags #3,4,5, etc., with new dates on the bags and on the calendar. Feel free to adjust this system to fit your needs.
Gentleness and Patience are Fruits of the Holy Spirit, so be gentle and patient with yourself, especially if you’re not used to decluttering!  If you need some help, call in the cavalry -- ask a friend who always seems so organized or whose house always seems neat as a pin if she'll help you for a day!

Make her lunch and it's a party!

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