In preparation for today’s post, I have been searching with great abandon for graphics with tips about decluttering on Pinterest. You can see what I’ve found on my “Spic and Span” board, right here. Then I decided to find a book on decluttering so I could speak about it with some background and authority. Not that I haven’t decluttered a little bit firsthand, myself. But my decluttering is usually done in conjunction with spring cleaning. Last spring, in anticipation of my annual cleaning, I wrote this post for The Blended Blog.
The more I research decluttering, I’ve come to realize it is an ongoing process. There are lots of books out there on cleaning and its step-children tidying and decluttering. I read and enjoyed The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo prior to writing my TBB post. Please take a sec to read my review, here.
For today’s article, I chose to read Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul by Ruth Soukup, and then ‘borrowed’ the title of her book for my post.
I have not finished the book but have really enjoyed it so far. Although, I haven’t really learned anything earth-shattering that I didn’t already know. YET. But it is good to hear that some of my methods for decluttering are also recommended by the Queens of (De)Clutter.
Now that we know we need to declutter, and we know that it should be an ongoing process and not a once-a-year event, how do we do it? I found a lot of info on Pinterest about spring cleaning…be still my heart…but not as much on decluttering. In my book, they are two decidedly different things. Clutter doesn’t require cleaning, it requires organizing. It needs to be put away. Which sometimes equates to simply being thrown out.
In her book, Marie Kondo suggests touching each object you are sorting through…each piece of clothing, each keepsake or memento. If the object brings you joy, then it is worthy of keeping. Ruth Soukup suggests doing the same thing. Examining the reason why you are keeping certain items can help determine if they are precious or simply clutter. Of course, some things are obviously more trash than treasure and easy to part with. But other things are IF-y.
Take a look at this graphic from Pinterest. It provides questions you can ask about those IF-y kinds of clutter as you try to decide whether to keep or toss them.
And one last question to ponder: “Could someone else benefit from my donation of this item to _________? “(fill in the blank with your favorite charity – Candlelighters, Salvation Army, etc.) PC can usually pry clothes up for consideration from my clinched fists if he asks that question of me.
Deal with that un-IF-y clutter swiftly! For example, look through your mail each day while standing in front of the trash can. Recycle all of those unwanted sale catalogs and credit card offers immediately. Important mail should go into a specific bin, letter holder that is in plain sight to be dealt with in the near future. I bought a decorative metal container at Hobby Lobby for that purpose.
I put jury duty summons, birthday cards, bills, bank statements in this container and go through them about once a week.
Here’s another tip that has served me well. Touch everything only once. When you pick up an item that is out of place or creating clutter, deal with it immediately. Dirty glasses, for example, on the end table in the den. Don’t pick them up from the den table and set them in the sink and then return to wash them later. Instead, pick them up, take them to the sink, rinse them and put them in the dishwasher. Or wash them by hand immediately.
So, What Constitutes Clutter?
Found a couple of great graphics to help us identify this elusive stuff called clutter.
Check out number 89 and 90. I think they go along with Soukup’s ideas of decluttering the mind and soul. But haven’t got to that place in the book yet.
How to Find the Time?
You work full-time, have 2.5 children, a cat and dog and a husband. After work, there’s dinner to cook and dishes to wash and homework to help with. On weekends there’s soccer practice and grocery shopping and laundry. With all that going on, when are you supposed to declutter? Pinterest has that covered, too.
Here are two graphics for decluttering over a 30-day period. Not necessarily 30 consecutive days but more often than one day a year!
I like the top pin because it is more specific. Sometimes I need things spelled out. Seeing “home office” doesn’t help me much. Will go into our home office and stand there wondering what I should be doing.
Just Do It and Then Do It Again
Looks to me like the key is to get started then do your best to keep up with decluttering. Each evening, before bed, do a once-over of the den/living area and kitchen. Five minutes, tops.
I had baskets for both of my girls. Colorful laundry baskets. I kept them tucked under an end table in the den. During the day, we would put things in their baskets. Toys they were finished playing with, books, games. At night, before they went to bed, they would take their baskets up and put things away.
Same thing with laundry. Color-coded baskets. I would wash, dry and fold their clothes and put everything in each girl’s basket. They would take the basket up and put the clothes away. Once they were older, of course, they took on the responsibility of washing, drying and folding, too.
Baskets saved my life. And my daughters’.
So, today I decided to try doing one little project to get this decluttering underway at my house. I am going to make an effort to tackle one area a week. Today I did the cabinets under the sink in our bathroom.
Isn’t that pretty? I took everything out and started going through things, one at a time. I touched each of the containers…not to see if they brought me joy but to check for expiration dates, or to see how much product was left.
Deodorant. I actually found a second Secret after I took this pic. Yes, these are all mine. And yes, I am a woman who (occasionally) wears/wore men’s deodorant. It smells good. I don’t always want to smell like a flower. Or like baby powder. But I decided to pitch the Brut, the Axe and the FDS was almost empty.
Here are some other things I decluttered.
It is laughable that I had four bottles of nail polish remover. Ha! Do you see my nails? And a dozen different hair products. Have you seen my hair? And how ’bout all that wrinkle cream!? Gotta ask. Have you seen my face? Then there’s my nose hair trimmer and three packages of dental floss. I bought the nose hair trimmer because PC is always asking about hairs in his nose. I started thinking he was hinting that I needed to do some nasal hair grooming. Bought this gadget and promptly put it in the cabinet to be forgotten.
I was having such fun cleaning out my side of the cabinets that PC joined me. I got my nose hair trimmer hidden just in time.
In fifteen minutes we had decluttered both cabinets and all of the drawers.
Could have used a little hair product before PC snapped this pic. But look at all that clutter we tossed. If only I could lose weight that fast.
Now, it’s your turn. And my turn again, too, next week. Pick one small area to thoroughly declutter. I think I will tackle the linen closet next. Can hardly get the door closed in there. What are you going to start with? Take pics and share with me. I would love to showcase your hard work here!
If you haven’t stopped by Sarah’s blog, be sure to do so. I am heading there first thing tomorrow with my morning coffee.
Have a clutter-free week, gals! Thanks for starting it off here with me.
Hugs and kisses,