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Decluttering

Raccoon in garbage can.

Decluttering, minimizing, dejunking or cleaning no matter what you call it, it's a large task. We all have extra things in our homes. This is the stuff you shuffle from place to place and you need to manage. The most important part of decluttering is going slow enough to make sure you make good choices. Getting it out of your house will save time and money. You won’t have to buy more things to store it and you will no longer have to pick it up or put it away.

As you start in each room ask yourself:

  • What do you do in this room (in other words what is its purpose)?
  • Do the items in this room help you fulfil this room’s purpose?
  • Are there doubles or extra things in this room?
  • Are there things that you never really liked and you keep them because of guilt, fear, or sentimentality?
  • Are there items that no longer fit your lifestyle or who you are trying to become?

LEVEL 1 -- TOTAL CHAOS

This is when you have let your home go a bit and you have stuff everywhere. Nothing seems to have a place, you feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start.

  • Choose a room you can easily make progress
  • Take some pictures, it shows you what you've done and the progress you have made. Our brain forgets very quickly how things used to be. Then take them at the end of each session.
  • Have 2 garbage bags or baskets ready. (1 for garbage and 1 for giving away and if you have a lot of things that don’t belong in the room have a box or basket to put the things that don’t belong.)
    • The garbage and donation bags can be placed somewhere to give you time to see if you need any of the items. This can help you feel comfortable throwing things away.
  • There are two ways to do this:
    • Set a time for about 20 minutes and go to work. Once the timer goes off stop and come back another day.
    • The other is to attack the room and keep going until you are done. Choose a goal and keep going until you reach it.
  • Start with one corner and get to work. Sort the items into the two bags.
    • If the item doesn’t fit in either place leave it behind, you’ll come back to it in another pass.
    • This first time we are just trying to get rid of as much stuff as possible.
  • Be present and don’t get distracted by phone or other notifications.
  • Once you're done, come back in a couple of days or a week, and make another pass. Is there more that you can get rid of?

LEVEL 2 -- FIND A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING

  • Now that your room is decluttered you need to determine where each item belongs.
    • This is not a hurried process. Take your time and make sure the items belong in this room.
  • Sort through each item. Does it help the room fulfill its purpose?
    • No. Then it goes in the garbage or maybe in a different room?
    • Yes. Then, where does it belong in the room? Now look at the furniture, do you need it all?
  • Look at the storage solutions you have (dressers, cabinets and bookshelves) and figure out how to make the best use of what you have.
    • The point of this is not to go out and buy more things for storage.
  • Remember furniture and other storage items can end up being clutter themselves, so if you don’t need them all get rid of them too.
  • Don’t be afraid to continue to remove things as you go.
  • Find a place for everything and don’t leave things out on your desk, dresser, and kitchen counters.
    • We often fall into the trap of the convenience factor thinking that leaving things out makes it easier to use them but instead it just becomes clutter. This causes further distraction and adds to our stress

LEVEL 3 -- MAINTENANCE

  • Take time to occasionally walk through the rooms and make sure things are put away.
    • You want this new lifestyle to be sustainable and easy to keep clean.
  • A well organized room should almost clean itself.
    • If you are constantly having to put the same things away it suggests you may have too much stuff or the home for the stuff isn’t convenient enough.
  • As you become more confident you can increase the time between walkthroughs.
  • It is okay to change your mind and remove more things or to put something back again.
  • Make sure you manage what comes into your house.
    • Now that you have taken things out you have to stop and think before bringing more things in.
    • Just because you have taken things out doesn’t mean there is room to bring more things in. If you do bring things in it is a good idea to take more out.

We hope this article has been useful. If you have any questions we would love to be given the opportunity to clarify. If you would like to share how this article has helped you, we would love to hear about that as well. Either way send us an email. We read and reply to all of them.

Kelli & Nathan

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We are Kelli and Nathan, we have been married for over 20 years, and have 8 kids. In our lives we have had a lot of success, and a lot of failures, we are hoping to help others learn how to improve their lives and avoid potential pitfalls. Please subscribe to our newsletter. If you have any questions we would love to try to help.

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