Picture your home right now. Your furniture, mementos, décor, clothes; the accumulation of a life lived and stuff collected. Now picture fitting it all into a 9’ x 9’ x 16’ PODS storage container and moving it all across country. Sweating yet? Eleven years ago this month that is where I found myself. Our life had been turned upside down and my husband and I made the decision to sell our house in Washington and move back to our home state of Michigan. I was faced with ten years of stuff accumulated not only by me but my husband and two children as well! Who knew that a 2000 square foot home with no basement could hold so many “treasures”?
Since we were moving into a furnished home and this was a one shot deal – I had some decisions to make. In the process of preparing to move we filled a dumpster, had several garage sales (Ugh!) and donated truckloads of goods to our church and Salvation Army. Going through boxes, clearing out closets, and emptying our attic, I learned a few things about myself. First, I had a serious shopping problem! There were things that still had price tags on them! Yikes! Also, I clearly had an issue throwing things away. (Oh – I am sure that I will find a use for that piece of plastic. No, don’t get rid of those pants, I may fit into them again someday.) Full disclosure: I came across boxes that we had moved from Michigan ten years earlier that had never been unpacked. Please tell me that I am not alone! The process of downsizing our possessions was difficult at first but eventually became liberating!
Since that time, I have tried to be more mindful of how much stuff enters our lives but not always successfully. Every year we donate bags and boxes of clothes and household items. Where does it all come from? Thankfully there is help! There are hundreds of resources on how to declutter and I wanted to pass on a few strategies that have helped me then and now.
The first step is to have a plan and set a time limit. Does the task seem too overwhelming? Pick one area, whether it is a drawer, counter or closet and set aside 15 minutes to declutter that spot. When you pick up an object it is going to be assigned to one of three categories: Keep, toss (or recycle), or donate. Have a box or bag labeled for each category. Once you get into the groove of it, you can take more time but this will help get the process started.
The following questions I found on www.apartmenttherapy.com and they are very useful in helping determine which category an item fits.
Ask yourself: Does it meet these criteria? If not, out it goes!
- Have I used this in the past year?
- Will I use it in the year ahead?
- If I was shopping right now, would I buy this again?
- If it’s broken, is it worth fixing?
- Would I keep this if I moved?
And my bonus question: Does this bring me joy?
There are some situations that call for a waiting period before getting rid of things. Unfortunately, I have had the task of clearing out belongings when loved ones have passed away. For things that are sentimental, sometimes it is best to box it up and wait a bit before making a rash decision.
I hope this has helped to inspire you! What are some ways that you tackle clutter? I would love to hear your tips and suggestions!