Talane’s Top 3 Decluttering Tips
I’m a born packrat, coming from a long line of packrats. (If you don’t know what a packrat is, it is a furry mammal that lives in the desert and makes its nest with twigs and all manner of rubbish so that it appears these creatures are living in a small dump.) It is easy to buy stuff and very hard to part with things and, to make matters worse, I love rummaging around in charity shops to find hidden treasures to take home and add to my growing collection of beautiful things. My husband, on the other hand, is a minimalist so you can see a potential source of conflict right there. I’m not always grateful to him for his efforts to keep my collections in check either!
Now that we have decided to downsize, having lived for 6 years in a rather largish grand home and finding it all a bit too much to manage, I need to get rid of at least 50% of my stuff or we simply won’t fit into the new house. This is a big goal that is sufficiently motivating me to do the big clutter clear out. I’ve started small by going through my stacks of interior design and decorating magazines dating back from 2009 (I’m almost done and find it quite therapeutic to tear out a page or two from each magazine, before putting it in the pile to give to friends). I don’t actually know if I’ll keep these torn out pages but it makes me feel better about letting the magazines go. I wouldn’t recommend doing this, as it is quicker to just give them away, but since it is so soothing and I’m only doing it at night when I’m too tired to do anything serious, I have decided it is okay. Small progress creates momentum for bigger tasks.
My husband managed to get rid of 50% of the children’s books simply by holding one up at a time and asking them, “Keep or go?” with the reward of a movie afterwards. Genius move!
I’ve boxed up a bunch of decorative ornaments and all the photos in frames and right away things look much nicer. Too many photos become clutter. Now I’m preparing for an estate sale as I don’t mind selling things, but do mind filling up a landfill with stuff. I’d much rather give my things to someone who can use them and wants them or to a charity shop who will find a home while also raising money for a good cause. This makes it easy to part with things because I imagine that these donated objects will be helping a family in Africa buy a goat or a chicken or two.
Talane’s Top 3 Tips for Clearing Clutter Quickly:
- Get a goal that is big enough to motivate you. In our case, it is the goal of simplifying our life so that we have more time to enjoy our family and spend less time looking after a big house with a big yard. You might find that the process of decluttering is easier if you have an inspiring vision—a house that feels calm, peaceful and spacious. Clearly identify what your ultimate vision for your home is and that will make it much easier to part with the items that work against that vision.
- Get the whole family involved with motivating incentives. Children can do this too.
- Figure out what makes you feel good in terms of parting with your precious things. I can’t stand it when my husband tosses things into the garbage bin, knowing it will end up in a landfill, but I feel fine about giving things a chance to do good in the world in a charity shop. I also like selling things so having an estate sale is the next project.
Enjoy your own decluttering!
P.P.S. I thought you might also enjoy these additional tips for organizing your home submitted by one of our readers, Noelle:
I have been working on organizing and decluttering for 4 years now, and here are some more ideas…
- What works best for me is taking pictures of things that are going to be buried in the attic. If it is a box full of files, I make sure all the file names are visible. I have one photograph glued to the box, and one I put in a master household record keeper. It’s less time-consuming than writing everything down. I have large signs on each box stating clearly what the box is about, for example, Sports Instruction, which include class notes from classes I’ve taken (weight training, water aerobics, Pilates, and so on) and various articles I’ve clipped out. The signs are on every side except underneath the box. I need glasses to read, but this way I can clearly see across the garage, shed, or attic, what every box contains. I try to color code the cardboard I use to make the signs; red for Teaching French, yellow for Teaching English, blue for Taxes, and so on. All my boxes are now entirely transparent, so I give myself every visual aid I can to make the task of filing or finding things easy.
- In each closet I keep a small photo album with the pictures of the contents organized at their best. When I need to reorganize because mess has settled in, I take a quick look at the album and it energizes me.
- This is not about decluttering, but I love color and I use my drab, windowless laundry room to display my beautiful scarves on rods, and color coordinated art-postcards pinned on cork bulletin boards with same color pins. It makes my laundry room look like fireworks. As I don’t use the table in there, I display my colorful curios, including felt pens, candles, crafts, threads, anything cheerful. In the garage, I display old posters and travel postcards, as I believe that if I keep something because I think it is pretty to look at, I have to display it somehow. All my pretty hats, all my boots are open to view. So are vases, dry flowers, family photos. In the shed, I have hung my pretty baskets on the walls.