Monday, July 16, 2012

home de-cluttering

I am once again at that juncture:  'tis the jolly season for de-cluttering (hooray!).  After watching a few episodes of Biography Channel's Hoarders,  I felt the impulse to clean out my closet, my shelves and most especially that unruly conglomeration of file boxes, doodads and whatzits squatting in our hallway.  I've already cleaned all those up in the past, but clutter tends to reproduce asexually when no one is looking, and you can end up with twice as much junk at the end of the year if you aren't careful to keep everything in their respective bins.

So here I go:

home de-cluttering tips

  1. Take one room at a time, one day at a time.  Depending on your mess, you may take several days, so pace yourself.

    I started with the easiest room - the bedroom.  Then I slowly conquered the hallway.  Then I took a break and made strategies for the living room and dining area.

    Still strategizing.

  2. Set up three huge boxes (or garbage bags).  Label one as "THROW AWAY", another as "RECYCLE", and the other as "DONATE TO CHARITY" or "GARAGE SALE".  You may even want another one marked "GIVE AWAY TO RELATIVE".  Pitch things in accordingly.

  3. If you haven't touched it for more than a year, let it go.
    I gave up any illusions that I will someday fit into that slim pair of jeans.  
    ByeI found a couple of dresses I wore back in college but can't possibly wear now without looking like I'm desperately trying to appear young.   Bye . That pair of shoes that always slices into my heels.   ByeThat cookie canister that has long been empty but is just too cute to throw away and is now eating shelf space. ByeSilly useless kitsch gifts.   Bye .   Bye .   Bye .

  4. If it's gross or useless, throw it away.  Especially if it's a health or fire hazard, forget sentimental value. Don't even think about fixing it up.  If you're having second thoughts about something, think about how you'll keep chancing upon it every time you clean the house, and how you'll always wonder whether to throw it away, so you might as well do it now.

  5. Give stuff away.  I've previously said elsewhere that giving away your stuff is an antidote to selfishness (try it, it really works!).  If there's someone else who could appreciate it more, give it to that person.

    While I was sorting the old clothes in the garage, our driver picked up this sun dress saying how his teenage daughter happens to love that particular style.  I never was able to use that dress since I acquired it, and I gave up trying to fit into it a long time ago, so it's time to pass it on.  Not to the driver, ok - his daughter.

    Old clothes: Take them to your church.  Most churches have ongoing charity collections. But nix on the ball gowns and party stilettos.

    Old books: Donate to a library.

  6. Hold a garage sale.  If you have a lot of stuff you no longer want but are still good, and it would seem too much of a waste to throw/ give them away, sell your second-hand items to your neighbors.

    It depends on your neighborhood, but you generally have to price things incredibly low, or they won't sell.  Unless of course they're genuine antiques or items of special interest.

  7. Employ smart storage solutions for the stuff you do keep Candy-colored plastic storage boxes come in various sizes.  There are also a lot of sleek Ikea-ish shelving aids, and nifty things like pegs, racks and bins. 

... And after several days of going through our stuff, I'm still not done.  But it feels grrrrrreat to have more space in my closet already.  And I'm so proud of the fact that I singlehandedly defeated the evil dragon of debris that has been living in our hallway, using only a broom, some trash bags and storage bins. Now I'm thinking about painting the interior of the house a crisp, fresh white ...