The 3 first steps to (really) declutter your life |Keeping it Real

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The 3 first steps to (really) declutter your life

It's Thursday, so I'm due for another update on my decluttering efforts. If you remember, this was my main goal for 2015, which I labelled "the year of no clutter".

Well, we are now in May, which means that we are getting close to the middle of the year. Am I finished? No, not by a long shot. But am I improving? I still have a long way to go, but the first, most important steps, were taken, and those steps are what I wanted to share with you today.

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These past few months have been filled with interesting experiences and I learned a lot. 

There are lots of helpful resources and tips online (Pinterest is a good source, if you don't want to lose yourself in a Google search) and I have read many of them, though after a while I realized I had to make choices. 

I ended up ignoring those posts advertising 100+ solutions for a clutter free life, because who has time for 100+ solutions? If I can implement half a dozen and stick with them, I'll consider it a victory. An I also put aside all suggestions of minimalist houses because...well, realistically, it's never going to happen.

So, where do you start? Here's the first step:

decluttering tips, organising tips, steps to declutter your life, the first three steps to really declutter your life

Ok, so unless you are a pathological hoarder, you don't really have clinical issues. But if you have a cluttered house, then you do have a problem.

Is it hard to admit? I'll go first then: my name is Teresa and I have a cluttered house. There. I said it. and truth be told, I've know it for quite some time.

My husband kept throwing hints at me, but I dismissed them with a series of excuses: worry about your things and I'll worry about mine...this can be useful one day... oh, but I love my books and my crafts, I don't have any other hobbies...blah, blah, blah. Nothing but excuses. I've had to come to my senses and realize I needed to do something about it.

And it's not like I didn't have bad examples in my family, since I've had to clean out two houses full of clutter after my grandfather passed away, and I've had to partially clean out my mother's house when she moved (yes, she still asks me for that box of stuff she had in the garage and that failed to show up at the new house...). But somehow, throwing away other people's clutter is easier than throwing away our own.

Will recognizing you have a problem with clutter solve that same problem overnight? No. Brace yourself, you're going to work hard for it. But it's the first step, and unless you are prepared to take it, clutter never going to go away.

decluttering tips, organising tips, steps to declutter your life, the first three steps to really declutter your life

Like I said, decluttering is a lot of work. And you need time for it. You need time to plan what you want to do, and how. And unless the only clutter in your house is in one or two drawers, you're going to need more than one day. I've given myself one year.

Why? If you want to do too much too fast, you'll be rushing it, probably making bad decisions. You'll be overwhelmed in a short period of time and lose your momentum. And clutter with either not disappear completely or start accumulating again shortly after. Like everything else in life, you need to balance things out.

Use a calendar and plan weekly decluttering tasks that you can easily fit into your regular schedule. If you can take a full day off to tackle something, do it. But as a working mother of two, let me tell you those days don't come often, if ever at all, so it's better not to count on them. And if you just have ten minutes available to dedicate to decluttering, make the best use of them. Ten minutes a day will work wonders after a while, as long as you are patient and stick with it.

decluttering tips, organising tips, steps to declutter your life, the first three steps to really declutter your life

By now you know you have a problem and you've planned how to solve it, but when you actually start to sort through things, that's when the going gets though. Because everything you saved at home was put there for a reason (even if you can't remember exactly what it was right now). But you need to know that there are options available.

When I started decluttering, my greatest problem were books. I had tons of them. Literally. I've purged significantly and I still have full bookshelves. But I really can't get rid of my books. I love them, and once in a while I want to re-read a few of them. Well, I didn't get rid of them, I transformed then into digital books (well, not all, some I really got rid of) and I've stopped buying more physical books. Now my books are still accessible whenever I want and I'm slowly gaining bookshelf space.

Books are just an example, you can apply a similar approach to a series of other things, like kids art or souvenirs from those fantastic holidays twelve years ago. Frame what you feel you really need to save and display it in your walls and photograph the rest. Keep the photos, throw away the stuff.

Same for clothes. Have you used a certain item more than once the the past two years? Does it still fit (your body and/or your current lifestyle) at all? It you answered no to any of the previous questions, it's time to fill a bag for donation.

I've been slowly purging my closet and I've donated several bags of clothes already, but there is still work to be done. Before kids, I used to bring a t-shirt from wherever we went on vacation. Now I have a pile of t-shirts that are over eight years old and that I rarely wear. I'm still thinking of a creative way to dispose of them (if anyone has suggestions, please let me know) but they will need to go.

I've also had success with the following exercise: I take out of storage something I saved to upcycle or try to reuse in the future. I leave it on top of a table or the bed in the guest room, clearly visible (you don't want it hidden, or you forget about it again). If after two weeks it is still there, unchanged, I toss it. If I can't find the time in two weeks to tackle it, it's because I have more important things to do. And likely always will have.

Overall, the hardest step is the first one, then it gets progressively easier. I'm still learning as I go along but I like sharing my experiences and hear from others that followed or are following the same path. So, if you have any tips or ideas to make decluttering easier, just pop in and say hi!

Enjoy,





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29 comments:

  1. Teresa, the only clutter in my house is my huge desktop. If anyone can figure out what to do about my piles of paper, I'll be most grateful! :-\

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    1. can you just scan them and store them in your computer? that would be the easiest way! Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend!

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  2. My house is cluttered. I admit. I have hard time to throw away anything!

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    1. Throwing thins away is the hardest, I know, but if you really want to declutter you need to start somewhere, so just pick what is easiest for you to go first.

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  3. Great tips! My house does not appear to be cluttered...it is well hidden! Which makes it easier to put off doing something about it. It is a goal of mine this year but I find the everyday stuff that needs to get done leaves no time....see, excuses already! I will read your post again!!

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    1. Yeah, I'm an expert in that type of excuses, still today, but I'm really getting better...Having a blog and putting it out in the open has helped me a lot, that's for sure! Have a wonderful weekend!

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  4. Hi Teresa! Great tips! Now if only my mother would follow them.

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    1. Ah, my mother's the same! Thank you for stopping by and have a great weekend!

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  5. T shirt quilt! Great throw blanket for camping, picnics or sofa snuggles and a great use of all those fun touristy trip t shirts.

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    1. I'm not much of a quilter, but I love the idea of the picnic blanket! Thank you!

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  6. Oh just lost my comment whilst still typing.

    I need to declutter our house. I have started, I'm trying to tackle different areas bit by bit. I do like your steps. You make a good point as well, do we really have time for the 100 tips ...

    Over from #HomeMatters.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and good luck decluttering!

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  7. We all wish that clutter disappeared from our homes, but it takes time and a lot of mind work.
    I am slowly getting there and it gives a great feeling.
    Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Debbie, have a great weekend!

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  8. Great tips! My home is not supper clutter but I still feel there are things that need to go. Just getting to it is sometimes difficult. Must be committed and consistent!! Thank you for sharing with us at #homematters Linky party.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, have a wonderful week!

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  9. I have summers off of work. Every year I plan to do my Christmas sewing during the year and every summer it doesn't happen. This year, I am taking my projects to work to cut them out (there is a big island to use before and after work) so I don't have to bend so much at home. I think if they are cut out, I will be able to get to the sewing part easier. Then I will cut up the scraps for a future quilt. And, using your idea, if I touch it twice and don't use it, out it goes. ("Out" means donating anything big enough and trashing the rest.)

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    1. Yes, if you keep looking at it and nothing happens, then it's better to just get rid of it!

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  10. I collect, declutter, collect, and declutter. Lol! A vicious cycle. I do go through my closet for Winter and Spring. If I didn't wear it all winter or summer it is donated. I admit that I love and collect too many things. Dishes, oh yes, I have way too many! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. I've changed winter for summer clothes last weekend too, and ended up with a huge pile to donate. And it must have been the third or fourth time I went through my closet this year, so I guess it's an on-going task...

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  11. I only have a hard time throwing things away in my craft room!! LOL! Thanks for Sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday!! Hope to see you again tomorrow!! Love your stuff!! Pinned

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    1. craft rooms and craft supplies are the worst, because we always think things will be useful someday. But, from my experience, we have more projects in our heads than what we can really accomplish. The 2 week-rule has been useful for me in this case. I take something out of storage and leave it out in the open. If after two weeks I haven't touched it again, it needs to go.

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  12. Hi Teresa - Thanks for sharing with the Let's Get Real party. This is going to be my featured post at this week's party.

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    1. Thank you so much Gaye! I hope these tips prove useful!

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  13. I was so proud of myself because I did some decluttering this week and it felt so good! Love it. Thank you for sharing at Snickerdoodle. Hope to see you again tomorrow.

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  14. Learning to let go can be so tough! But once you do, it is so freeing. Thanks so much for sharing at #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup -- I'm featuring your post this week and hope you'll stop by again!

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  15. Learning to let go can be so tough! But once you do, it is so freeing. Thanks so much for sharing at #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup -- I'm featuring your post this week and hope you'll stop by again!

    ReplyDelete

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