Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tackling Clutter

It's no big secret that I've been on a Simplifying kick since 2010.  And...apparently I'm a clutter bug.  Not that I like clutter or anything.  I just don't deal with clutter.

Something in my way?  I just put it in a pile...out of the way.

Company coming over?  Throw it in the closet...the office...our bedroom.

Junk mail?  I'll shred it later.

Magazines?  I'll read them...later.

Random part of something I'm not even sure if we own anymore?  Put it in a drawer, I might need that one day (I never do...until the day after I throw it out of course, which is about 10 years later).

I think you get the picture.

This month I've gotten really serious about tackling the clutter.  And not just in the main areas - but everywhere. My goal is to get the entire house in order.  As in, everything has a place.  No more "piles".

Honestly, I've never had that goal before.

Some tools that are helping me in this?  Storage bins!!

Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not justing throwing everything in bins. Haha.  That would be too easy, and believe me I've already tried that...it doesn't actually solve the problem.

No, I'm taking a cue from the experts and cutting down on the running around and decision making process that gets me bogged down and limits my progress.

I have 4 bins and a trash bag.

Bin #1
Things that already have a place, but just need to be put away.  

This bin is for items that I can quickly put away without having to "assign" a home to.

Bin #2

Paper is my enemy.  There is just SO much of it.  Junk mail, bills, flyers, coupons, Christmas cards...argh.  And each piece I have to look at and think...Do I need to keep this?  Do I want to keep this?  Can I throw this away?  Do I need to shred it first?  Blech...makes me tired just thinking about it.  So I made a big bin to dump all my papers in without having to make ANY of those decisions.  Then, when I am refreshed and have time to do JUST paper sorting, I can pull the bin out and make some progress.  By the way, this is a great activity to do while watching a movie or something.

Bin #3
Things that DON'T have a place.

As I'm sorting, I'm coming across a lot of items I just don't know what to do with.  Keep it?  Toss it? Donate it?  And if I'm keeping it, where does it go?  Again, I throw all those items in a bin and deal with it when I have more energy to tackle just that task.

Bin #4
Kids artwork

You wouldn't think that you'd need a bin just for that...but I do.  The kids make LOTS of little crafty things at home, not including all the stuff they make at church and other activities.  It's sentimental and can be difficult to sort through.  I love being able to put it all together in one bin, and then go back later and deal with the decisions of what stays and what goes.

The trash bag.

Self explanatory.  Anything that I can immediately judge that it can be thrown out, I toss.  If I have to think about it, it goes in one of the other bins.

Once my bins are full, I stop my sorting for the day.  If I still have energy, I tackle the bins in the following order:

1. Put things away that have a place - that's usually the easiest job because there's not much thinking involved.  I already know quickly where each item goes and I just have to return it there.
2. Paper - I rummage through first and make decisions on what can be trashed.  Then, I shred whatever needs shredding.  If I have papers that can be filed, I file them.  If I need to make a new file folder, I do that.  If it's something I need to do - like pay a bill - I handle it right then.
3. Kids artwork - when it's all together in one place, it's easy to pick out the treasures from the scribbles.  Any ones I don't absolutely love, I save for the relatives and let them have their pick of the kids "Masterpieces".  Whatever doesn't get taken goes in the trash.
4. Finding homes.  The hardest job for me, is deciding where things are going to "live".  So I save that job for last.  It's usually the most time and thought consuming.

I don't start another sorting session if any of my bins are totally full.  That way I'm continually moving forward, but not getting "stuck" in the process.

I cannot tell you how much this system has helped me.  I used to get frozen in the details of it all.  Stressed by all the decisions.  Running around from room to room trying to put things away.  Piling things in other rooms because I hadn't yet decided where something goes, I just knew it went in that general vicinity.  Ugh.

Now I'm making progress and feeling energized about it.  I love that when I "quit" for the day, I'm not sitting in the middle of a pile of junk, but can quickly close the bins and stack them off to the side of the room.  They aren't in the way and keep the room neat in the midst of de-cluttering.

I'd love to hear about your methods for decluttering!  I'm no Martha Stewart or Flylady, that's for sure - but I love finding something that finally works for me!

1 comment:

Katie said...

Wow-- I have the exact same thoughts about my things. I can't count the number of magazines that I have that I'll read later. I also worry that I might need that something later, and if I get rid of it, I'll have to go buy it again. I don't want to have to respend the money on something I already had.

A strategy I use for the "might need later" set is to put it in a bin for 6 months. If I haven't used it in 6 months (or sometimes 12 if I'm lazy), then I get rid of the bin without going back through the things.

I've been trying to go through each area of the house and sort into keep, give away/sell, and throw away. I haven't necessarily gotten to the "where to put the keep stuff," but I have traveled to Good Will several times!