Life Simplified

Decluttering made easy

1:02 PM

Those who have been following me for a while know I have had my fair share of packing, moving and relocating. With each stints I learned that there is no such thing as being too prepared, and that starting to weed through belongings early was the key to salvage a little bit more sanity in the long run. And the best advice I have to give there is to not wait until you have to move to junk things you don't need, do it regularly. And rest assure that even if you do so, you'll still have a lot to sort through should you suddenly be served a notice to vacate your place.

If you haven't been through a massive decluttering operation before, you might suddenly feel overwhelm and at lost as of where to begin. How to start? Where to begin? How to proceed? Here are my tips:

1) Tackle one room or area at a time, and don't expect to do more than that in a day, if you can, great, but don't go ahead with the idea that your entire home will be clutter free and organized by the evening because, unless you live in a studio apartment, that won't happen. And having on,y to focus on one room at a time is far less daunting.

2) Have a plan. Before you launch yourself in a garbage bag frenzy, know what you want to do in that room. Do you want a practical storage system for what is left? Move some furniture around in the process as well? Then once you have thought that through, go shopping. Yes you read it right...shopping. Because if your vision of organized documents, or baubles, or knick knack involves storage containers, you will need to get these first, along with labels, and way to write said labels, so do write all that you will need to organize that room on a piece of paper, and go buy what you don't already have. If you are going to decluttering and organize a room, you might as well do it right all in one sitting or else it will be that still work in progress room, that you'll end up messing again simply because it was never finished...get the idea?

3) Once you've got all you need, take a trash bag, and two boxes or paper bags. The trash bag is obviously meant to be used to throw away the things that are clearly garbage (broken stuff included). Label or designate one box as "Donate" in which you will put all the things that you don't need anymore but are still in good condition enough not to be trashed. The other box is the "Store somewhere else" box. You will soon enough find out that you have a lot of things that simply do not belong in that place to be there. That box is meant for that. Of course you could just interrupt yourself, go put the odd one in a better place and come back to the task at hand...this is a waste of time and energy. Once you finished with that room in question, simply go through that box and sort it out, and leave the items you just can't figure out in it until you did the whole house (some will end up being donate material...or trash).

4) Don't be too emotional with your stuff if you want to do a good job...seriously DON'T. If you haven't used something in over a year, you probably never will, so find it a new home. Know the difference between true sentimental values and the feeling of "I've spent good money on this so I might want to keep it". if the on,y reason you are keeping that sweater that doesn't fit well is that you spent money on it...well, breaking news! You probably spent money on all your stuff anyway, but you still throw certain things away right? I speak from experience, I held to stuff I thought I would wear again for nearly a decade, simply because, you know they did cost me money, and you never know, I might actually catch an amoeba infection and loose tons of weight that might make me fit into them again...never mind they aren't even my style anymore. I gave it all up, made my maid's day when I did and saved some valuable shelf space in my wardrobe. But it is not just clothes that can be donated, a lot of your old stuff you almost never use can make other happy, so give up your old still good stuff, in the name of charity, it is still good money you spent toward making the life of someone better or brighter. In the west we have thrift stores that raise money for charity, in India it is your maid or an NGO that will be happy to take your old things away.

5) If it is broken and can't be fixed, throw it away, it won't miraculously grow parts to be functional again. Yes you some good money on it...again everything do cost money these days. But nothing in this world is permanent, things break, sometimes beyond the repair point, sell it for parts if you must, but get rid of the dead weight. I myself go by this rule when it comes to broken things: if it breaks 3 times I am not having it fixed the third time...waste of time, money and probably no longer even safe to use certain appliances that keep breaking every few months...time to buy a new one.

6) Label things. Once you are all done, and have found a great organization system for your things, label the containers, or store your things by categories on your shelves. Might sound OCD and stupid, but the fact is you will be far more likely to keep something that looks clean and organized that way. If your craft supply box is labeled as such, you will feel less tempted to throw in some blank paper, post it notepads and odd ends in, and the next time you find a stray toy in your kitchen, you'll know where to put it if you have a box just for building blocks, or pretend tea cups. Labels by the way do not need to be written, a transparent box that shows its content to you at a glance act as a label too.

7) Do it regularly, once you have tackled the mess and organized it, make sure you go through it regularly, I found that once every six month or once a year for certain things, works great. If a spot looks messy, do it as soon as you notice and have time to do it, the earlier you get at it, the less energy sapping and daunting the task will be.

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