Home organization and decluttering is an undertaking, I know. There is a reason the business of professional organization exists. It can seem totally overwhelming, time consuming and confusing. What do I keep? What do I trash? Where the hell am I supposed to put all of this stuff? How do I keep it looking this way? And so on…
While organizing everything you own may (and probably will) take a while, declutter can be done a lot faster than you think. The reason I have found that getting rid of junk, trash and overall clutter takes so long is because we A) pine over our things for way longer than we should, and B) we have decided that it is going to take a long time and therefore, it does.
The mindset that tasks will be lengthy and un-fun is no joke. Take laundry for example. I hate laundry. Yuck. I’ll scrub and scrub toilets for days, but please dear Lord don’t make me put away another piece of clothing. In my head, the task is far more daunting than it is in real life. I build up my unhappiness before it even happens. One day, while I groaned about having to put my son’s laundry away, I decided to time it. It took me exactly 4 minutes and 46 seconds to put away a full load of 4T clothing. Under 5 minutes and you’d swear by the way I was carrying on that someone had asked me to disarm a nuclear weapon.
Mindset is everything.
When we get out of our own way and make a decision to just do it, we are far more capable of getting down to brass tacks and just doing the damn thing.
This is how decluttering works. When you spend too much time pining over what needs to be done, you talk yourself out of it. The word that is thrown around in my area of work is “ruthless” and this is exactly how you should be when decluttering most areas of your home. Be ruthless. Don’t be romantic about the brochure for your local children’s museum. Be ruthless instead.
“Alright Kendra. Fine. I get it. Be ruthless. (eye roll) But where am I supposed to start?”
Here are some places you can declutter right this second without having to give much thought to it at all. Watch your spaces transform and your home feel lighter.
1. Magazines. We don’t have magazines in our home, because I stopped all subscriptions. Anything I need to read, I read online. Why? Because I knew I would hoard them longer than I needed to. If you’re done reading it, recycle it immediately. Want to keep a fabulous recipe from it? Tear it out and keep it in your recipe folder. Better yet, scan it and keep it in a desktop recipe folder. If you really feel badly about recycling such a beautiful piece of print art that is a magazine, donate it to a local doctor’s office to use in their waiting room.
2. Makeup. Take a look at your makeup kit/drawer. If you can’t remember when you bought something was, it has been too long. It’s expired. Chuck it. Not only is this good for your cluttered area, but it is good for your skin. Expired makeup is horrible for your precious body and can even cause infections. Yuck. Make room for newer makeup by throwing out the old pronto.
3. Underwear/bras/socks. Just like the makeup, if you can’t remember when you bought it, it probably needs to go. If it has a hole in it, it needs to go. If it is so worn that the printed tag is faded, it needs to go. Remember, we’re being ruthless here. A quote I heard many years ago was “Bras shouldn’t celebrate anniversaries.” A-to the freakin’-men
4. Expired food. Have you ever opened your fridge to get out a piece of fruit, only to be hit by a wall of stink so horrible, you’re likely to pass out? Me too. Going grocery shopping before you actually clean out of your fridge each week is a hazard because all the new food just pushes the old food to the back, where it sits, rotting and smelling up the joint. Take a garbage bag and 5 minutes, and remove all expired and rotting food. Your fridge and nose will thank you.
5. Brochures and pamphlets. Unless you plan to travel back to 1999 in the near future, before every single business on the face of the earth had a website, you don’t need them. A few weeks back, a camping brochure came in the mail from Girl Scouts. Excitedly, I put it in our file folder in the kitchen, only to stop myself by saying “Wait! This is all online and I am going to be signing her up online. I don’t need this. Bye.” Recycle those bad boys and clear some space.
6. Broken toys. They are broken. You won’t fix them. You know it, I know it. Throw them out now. Also, note that broken toys can be a safety and choking hazard for small children. Even more reason to say “Sayonara.”
7. Games with missing pieces. If the missing pieces are essential to the function and playability of the game, it is time to throw them away. You can’t use them or enjoy them, so why keep them around?
8. Gross shoes. Unless they are your “I wear these when I garden or work outside” shoes, those old, tattered, yucky shoes gotta go.
9. Toothbrushes. Ew. Again, with the anniversary analogy. Splurge this week on some shiny new toothbrushes for the whole family and get rid of the brushes with half the bristles gone.
10. Chargers for electronics you don’t use. I recently came across a charger for a phone I had in 2005. Two. Thousand. Five. Needless to say, I won’t be needing the charger for the flip-phone with the long, extendable antenna.
Ok, so we've got these places taken care of, but what about the rest of the house? Is the clutter taking over and causing you to think "It would just be easier to move to a yurt." The problem is, you don't even know what a yurt is and you love your home, so let's find a better way. I've designed a checklist just for moms like you who are ready to take the junk by the proverbial horns and get uncluttered for good. Download your free copy of the Purge it Like It's Hot list. Room by room, you'll find out what to toss for good.