The new year and the onset of spring are two of the most motivating times of the year for me. I seem to have a burst of new energy and a strong desire to pare down. This urge has gained strength as I’ve matured (a word I prefer over “aged”). Having a smallish house, short on storage, helps force this task on me.
I long to cull out unneeded decor items along with the other odds and ends that build up. Tone on Tone posted some amazing images of his camellias in October last year, but this image, which was part of that post, resonated with how I’d like my desk area to look. I kept it as additional motivation of a goal not yet fully accomplished.
This year was no different, so I thought I’d throw out (no pun intended) a few of my favorite ways to accomplish this task. Oh, and by the way, I have to capitalize on this action (paring down) when the mood strikes, otherwise I tend to think, as I take out one more unused item, “maybe I’ll need this next year, or one of the kids will need it”. Trust me, as the mother of two married sons, both with lovely wives, THEY WILL NOT WANT MOST OF YOUR STUFF!
1. Identify the target. I zero in on a closet or two to tackle. [Divide and conquer is best or it will overwhelm me] This can also be the storage cabinets in the garage, which is where I find most of the stuff that I no longer use gets sent. Once it’s hit the garage shelves I find I rarely go out and get it even if there’s a remote chance I’d use it. Still, I try to make sure I’m not going to need the item anytime within the next year. That seems to be the common time frame for
dumping disposing of possessions.
2. Once you know of a particular space that is troubling you with it’s over-crowding, set aside a time when you can remove all items from the closet, cupboard or drawer. The last thing you want to do is get started right before you have an appointment or dinner guests arriving.
3. Start by making 4 piles…things you can’t possibly live without, things you’d like to donate, things you might like to sell via eBay, Craigslist or a garage sale, and things you need to deposit in the trash. Do not allow yourself to believe you’ll need everything unless you have more storage space than you need, and have the luxury of saving stuff forever, in other words, don’t hoard. Remind yourself that donating is a good thing and that someone may end up with your item and it will make them very happy.
4. Once you’ve divided the items, act decisively. Take “trash” items to the trash can and the donation items to the car, right now, do not delay. I say this because if you loose momentum on this task you will end up putting it all back and you’ll have wasted your time and the problem will rear its ugly head again next season.
5. Reassign the remaining, must have items, to a location in the cupboard, drawer or closet where it can be easily accessible. If you have useful things but can’t get to them, you won’t use them and they will gather dust and you’ll wonder why you have the thing in the first place.
Note: The above steps apply to decorative accessories as well as other under-used household items. I do have a bit of a problem paring down decorative accessories but I’ve gotten better about doing it and it feels good to have only what I love, even if its a seasonal decoration. Keeping less clutter frees me to know what I have, where it is, and comfortable in the knowledge that I absolutely love it!
The ultimate goal is to have things where you can find them and achieving some semblance of order in and around the house. The images I’ve selected for this post calm me by their simplicity and lack of clutter.
The other thing I try to do while going through items is re-purpose things in unexpected ways. Jermaine at French Kissed is a constant source of inspiration for this, as demonstrated in her “Pantry Post” sometime back…
…and this from Roses and Rust, a clever use for a silver set no longer used for formal tea…
For additional tips on clutter-busting, visit Real Simple for some great ideas on making this job easier.
Are you organized, do you stay that way or is it something you have to do twice a year?