Current Mood: Hopeful – I hope it’s not a passing phase!
Current Song: Detours by Penn Masala
Over these last holidays, I have had far too many opportunities to help organize and declutter. Starting with my dear sister Zoyah’s room. Zoyah is a very busy lady and most times her room looks like a bomb exploded in there. By no fault of her own, when the piles get too much, she starts another.
It was a major job, that was quickly followed by helping to organize the entire basement and make room for three sewing machines, a myriad of academic paraphernalia, and miscellaneous things like yoga mats and two-by-fours from when Zoyah and I had bunk-beds.
My family tends to hold on to things in case we need them in the future, often falling just short of an episode of Hoarders. Mainly because we hate buying things that we already have, we tend to keep things for an extra long time.
I however, cannot think if my desk is a mess. This is what it looks like right now – and it’s a mess. Decluttering is a regular occurrence for me, and I’m more than happy to throw things out. I like efficiency…and clean surfaces. I’m also very lazy when it comes to finding things: pens to write with, blank pieces of paper. I need them all at my fingertips.
Many people hate to declutter, so I have some tips that helps me keep my environment from overwhelming me. There are many people who are famous for this, and probably have better tips, but here’s what works for an exceptionally lazy (efficient) cleaner.
1. Get in Decluttering Mood: By this, I mean, be alert enough to do the task, but tired enough that you don’t care enough to ponder over everything. I prefer to start just before lunch, because I’m a little hungry and I want it done quickly, so I work fast. If you’re too alert, you’ll think through everything, and you’ll have as much stuff in the end as you started off with.
2. Be Ruthless – No whimpering, no cooing, no reminiscent stroking of items. Some things I understand, have sentimental value. I have a few of those including a china tea set that my aunt sent me, a Brazilian Barbie and Ken (acquired in Dubai) and a blue teddy bear from a few years ago. But don’t keep every thing that has a memory. Often things can be condensed, converted, or made into other things.
3. Don’t Get too Many Containers – My mother has this understanding that the more containers, the more organized you are. She made my sister put every single piece of jewellery into a little plastic egg, which then went into a box. This proved futile. Nobody wanted to look through a bunch of egg-shaped containers, and nobody wanted to put anything back in them. Keep containers to a limit. More isn’t better.
4. Think About Accessibility: If you are a yoga buff, don’t put your yoga mat on the top shelf of your garage’s back shelf. It’s obvious, but when you’re in the throes of decluttering, you start making stupid decisions. My dictionaries, pens and computer paper are easily reachable for me. University textbooks, not so much.
5. Enlist Help and Split up the Job – Whatever you do, do not try to tackle a huge job in one day. You’ll slam into a wall really fast. Split it up over a weekend. If you can rope an unsuspecting family member or friend into helping you (with promise of treats), then do. It’ll go faster and then you can get on with your life.
6. Have a Plan: If you’re splitting things up, have a plan. Don’t think as you go along. There have been many a time where we’ve had to reorganize things because we didn’t think things through. If you forget where you’re going, write things down beforehand, so you don’t lose the groove.
7. Keep Flat Surfaces Clean – The most irritating form of clutter is that flat surfaces are covered in random things. We used to put all of our mail on top of our television unit, until we didn’t actually see the unit itself. I instituted the file box for mail, and now I can keep my brain from blowing up every time I encounter the television unit.
It’s not hard. It requires maintenance, but it’s well worth your sanity.
What tips do you have to share about decluttering?