The first time I tackled my house was about 8 years ago. It took over a year to get the house to the point where I felt I was finished. That was me working on this nearly every day. I spending countless hours researching, watching, reading. listening, talking. I made so many poor decisions, overcomplicated things, over researched, over analysed, and in some aspects didn't analyse enough, didn't communicate enough.
Since then I have worked with so many women; friends, clients, family and continue to work on my own space! Along the way lessons have been learnt and now I can pretty much go through every corner of my house in a day, or a weekend if I have other things on. I no longer turn my house into a bomb site, and I can even have drop in visitors while doing it and i'm not flustered! Want to know my secrets? Read on....
1. Don't spend time researching, just start doing.
Simple enough right?
We tend to overthink everything these days. There is so much information out there, and we want, no, need to get it right. So instead of doing the actual task we research the task to make sure we get it perfect, and then research some more just to make sure. This is just another form of procrastination. It's like we have lost all faith in our ability to make a decision for ourselves. But we wont get anything achieved without any doing. So stop researching (after you finish reading my post of course) and start doing. Go on..just give it a go!
You know whats annoying you, you know you have to declutter so pick something, anything and get rid of it. And just keep going, one decision after another, thats the only research you need. Thats what decluttering is all about. Decisions. The more you do the better you will get at it. The more you will realise the more decisions you make the easier they become and the faster the process is. Stop thinking...start doing.
2. Get a concrete "WHY" aka Mindset.
I know you are probably so sick of hearing about mindset. Mindset this, mindset that, but unless you have your head in the game you really can't make all those decisions I told you about in number one. Like I said decluttering is all about making decision after decision, If you don't know why you're making these decisions, where you want to end up its like throwing spaghetti at a wall. Everything is random and nothing is flowing.
So think about your why. Ask yourself why am I doing this? Whats my end goal? When I did my declutter, I knew I had a problem, I knew it was too much stuff, but I didn't have an end goal in mind that was motivating me to keep going. I was flip flopping between keeping and tossing. If I had a concrete reason, like spending more time playing with the kids, having friends over more often, enjoying the glass of wine on the back deck with hubby, then I would have made clearer more precise decisions. The whole task would have gone faster as I would have been way more motivated.
3. Have a basic plan.
When I started out I just kinda flaffed about. I didn't have any type of plan in place. I literally woke up and saw a pile, a drawer and went at it. This way worked, I got it done, but it did take longer, way more mess and a lot more stress. I don't want you go to back to overthinking the whole show and start researching the "best plans to declutter my home", just come up with something.
If your kitchen is killing you. the paperwork, the overflowing Tupperware drawer, the cutlery drawer. Start here. But just write out a how to guide for decluttering your kitchen. Step 1. Papers. Step 2. Tupperware. Step 3. Cutlery. ect. Try to break down each zone into bite size, actually even smaller than bite size chunks. Step 1 Paper for instance- 1. gather all rubbish paper, 2. gather all important paper and put in a bin, 3. pull out any urgent paper...etc. This way every morning (early bird) or night (night owl) (or if your an exhausted pigeon like me sometime during the day that you have enough energy to tick off a task) you know exactly what task you will do. You may even have time or energy to tick off a couple. But if you have a task you can just get in and do it, not spend time thinking (and researching) what comes next.
3. Sort out where to take the stuff!
I have hit this block in the past and even as recent as a few months ago. Its so frustrating when you don't have a plan for your donations and once all the hard work is done, it is still sitting there clogging up your space and the visual clutter is such a drain on all your hard work! This is such a common problem I also come across with my clients. They declutter but then they don't know how to dispose of it. What, when & how? Oh do I have to talk to the workers at the shop? Can I just toss it all in the red bin? Do the donation centres take this, that? Is there a homeless shelter that can take it....and road block again.
Not having a plan of where the donations, rubbish, and other items are going to go, will cause a major road block in your path. Pick a few causes that you are really excited about, being excited will help you make decisions knowing your stuff will be used in the best possible way. Overthinking where you will donated each seperate item, is just another way to procrastinate getting to your end goal. Figure out where you want to send your linen (animal shelters or local donation centre) furniture, find who will do free pick ups, clothing, is there a charity or collection centre that really pulls at your heart strings? Check your local council rubbish rules, to see what can and can not go in your red, yellow and green bins.
Always call when you are making these decisions. Sometimes local causes are only accepting a certain type of clothing or bedding. And you don't want to get to your location and for them to then ask to go through it to make sure. You want this process to be as easy as possible as its one of the last steps and you want it done!
I understand we all want to protect the earth, we want to re-use, and recycle. But I think in this journey the most important thing to learn is REDUCE. So let's get out of this funk of clutter overwhelm, debilitating, all encompassing overwhelm and learn from our mistakes. Don't let the recycle and reuse part slow us down, do what you can quickly and in the easiest way and reduce the amount of stuff in our home. And then we can really help the earth by our decisions on purchasing from now on.
4. Gather your kit.
When I first started, I didn't have a "declutter kit", just piles of stuff all over the house. Silly I know right, but having a few handy items on hand will make the process go so much smoother. Theres not a lot so i'm not going to go to deep here but gather these, preferably from your house.
Three or four tubs, baskets, bags. These will help you keep track of your piles, No more getting to the end and thinking hang on were these keep, toss or donate? Or realising you have thrown half of the items into the wrong pile.
Garbage bags of different colours. One colour for the entire process for toss/trash/bin. And another colour for donation. I always think black is great for donation if you have people in the house you don't necessarily want to see what is going out...lol.
Sharpies and coloured duct tape. I have recently discovered easy tear duct tape (it may all be easy tear i'm not sure) but I am now able to quickly label EVERYTHING as i go. Donation bags, bin bags, bags to go to Marys house, Op Shop, Vinnies, Animal shelter. I also use it in the house to label tubs, shelves anything (check it doesn't rip the paint off before sticking it to any surface!). This way while we are gathering decluttering and putting back, we know where everything is going and belongs. It def takes the guess work and double handling out of the equation.
5. And probably the most important one... Don't forget that the stuff is just that...stuff.
Along our journey of decluttering we all forget that stuff is just stuff. It can all be replaced. We put so much emphasis on what the item is "worth" not just money value but sentimental value but we forget the "cost" of the item. What is the item taking from us? Energy. Space. Freedom.
The energy & space an item takes up may be small, but a collection of small items takes so much from us. The time we think about it, the time we clean it, the time we think about cleaning it, the time we think about how we haven't cleaned it, the guilt we feel that we have it but never use it, the guilt we have that we have it, don't look after it, and in fact we haven't seen it for three years. We need to stop the guilt and let it go. Stop holding onto STUFF because of guilt or expectation.
The more you start to release the stuff, you will start to realise that the stuff doesn't hold the person, the money or the feeling you have attached to it. The memories aren't the item, you yourself are not the collection of items you hold or own. Releasing the stuff will not deteriorate your self worth, your value, your friendships, in fact they will only enhance all of those things. You will find freedom in your mind, your home and your calendar.
So release the stuff, don't overthink it, don't expect to be perfect. I hope these simple tips will help you on your journey, do you have any tips you can share to help others? Or major mistakes you've made along the way? I would love to hear from you! Share with us over on FB.