4 Approaches to DeCluttering6 min read

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This is my favorite part of decluttering my home. Cleaning my desk. After every book I write comes the process of trashing all the drafts, old notes and organizing my life after the completion of writing 50,000+ words into a manuscript. Today’s photo is my desk after two days of work clearing and filing. I finally have it back to my system of dailies and meeting notes. Ahhh. Pat-on-the-back-time. Job well done.
Having a home office is a delight. It is a perk of being a professional writer, but there is also that side of my personality that wants the rest of my home to hum with the efficiency of my business. Well, that takes a bit more work. The step-by-step process of decluttering is outlined here. Today’s article describes the different approaches I use to keep the momentum of my clean desk moving me onto the rest of the home.
Mobile Containers Approach. Much of the stuff that we haul around in our daily lives is quite mobile. Grab your backpack, laptop carryall, briefcase, purse or gym bag and dump it all out on your kitchen table or living room rug to totally revamp the items you have stored in there. Do you really need to have 3 paperclips, a stick of old gum and napkins from fast food lining the bottom of your bag? As you go about decluttering your life, focus on the small spaces where you haul items back-and-forth and see if you truly need the items you keep with you. By cleaning these small, mobile spaces first, you get some momentum to then tackle the larger jobs of decluttering, such as the front closet or the bathroom cabinet at a later time. But first, just focus on the small spaces where you may keep quite a bit of unnecessary stuff. wallets, shopping bags, milk crates, storage boxes on wheels, car trunks, car glove boxes and any other space that you haul goods back-and-forth to meetings, seminars, sporting events and volunteering. Cleaning out these spaces gets your creative juices flowing to start clearing out larger spaces in your life.
• Small Spaces Approach. The small spaces located throughout your home are areas that give a huge return on your time and attention. These are the tiny areas that are quick to clean and give you a wonderful feeling of accomplishment as you restore them to a tidy state. Declutter your medicine cabinet in your bathroom, drawers in chest or the bins under your bed. Have you worn that sweater in the past three years? Donate it. It all depends on what you feel drawn to do first. I like to attack my kitchen drawers because frequently things that I think are missing are actually just misplaced and I find all kinds of items through the decluttering process. Some are treasures, others not-so-much!
• Room-to-Room Approach. This perspective of decluttering is an efficient, systematic form of cleaning and organizing. It is based on the old Roman format of camp establishment once an army was on the move. It is quick. It is simple in execution and you will definitely get you results! The only limiting factor in this approach is your energy level. I use this approach twice a year for Spring and Fall sessions of decluttering. I start at the top of my house, apartment, or office and work down room-by-room. For starters, I go to the smaller spaces in a room. I get into drawers, closets, trunks and then I work on the room itself. This process is all-out-no-holds-barred sort of decluttering. The word one of my friends used was, “ruthless,” when she watched as I pulled everything (furniture and all items) out of a room, cleaned the room from top-to-bottom and then put everything back. This process takes longer so I set aside two weeks to do this and only do one room a day. That keeps me working and my momentum on high. The last time I did this, I donated 36 boxes of stuff, took two trips with furniture to the thrift store, and emptied my vacuum’s bag twice. When you finish with this process you will feel like you’ve lost 400 pounds. It is amazing and worth the investment of your time. Trust me.
• Garage in Spring, Basement in Fall Approach. When it comes to declutter, there are areas of our homes that carry significant emotional baggage. They are laden with indecision. These two areas are the garage and the basement. When you are focused on clearing the unused items of your life, you’ll find a mine field in these spaces. There are traps for our emotional wounds. Grief, memories, and disappointment reside in the corners of basements and unopened boxes (from the last move). The garage has items that won’t fit in the house or we just plain don’t know what to do with them. The indecision causes us to put it “out there” so we don’t have to view it every day. Let’s change our perspective on this, shall we?
Remember there are a lot of things in your life that you love. Those are tucked away and want you to find them again. They are hiding in areas where you don’t see them. Get those things out and use them as gifts for your neice’s graduation or put them in a nice frame and hang them in your hallway. These are the very items that will help heal your emotional wounds by reminding you of good times, happy moments and thrilling stories that you can share with your family and friends. Our lives can be quite high-speed these days. Give yourself a chance to see how far you’ve come. Give yourself the gift of clearing your basement and garage of the items that no longer serve you, but could serve someone else. Share the joys that these good memories bring. You don’t need to keep most of these items anymore. Thank heavens for the electronic storage systems we now have. Take pictures and then give the items away. You no longer need to burden yourself with the weight of them.
If you need help getting started on your path to a decluttered life, drop me an email ([email protected]) or leave me a voice message and I’ll respond to your question in the next article I write. I’ve been decluttering for over 40 years. If you can’t think of a way to get rid of Aunt Sally’s best china that will preserve her memory, drop me a line. I have three organizations that will gladly use that china and will send a letter to your Mom, Aunt Sally’s survivors, and you describing how much they appreciate the donation!
Janine Bolon, Fool & Founder of The8Gates, writes your story so you can live the life you want. Find out how she does it here: http://the8gates.com/old/contact/

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