Stuff, stuff EVERYWHERE
A quick note: thank you to all you fabulous humans who have shared their stories of how they have shut down Netflix, got off their couch and decluttered their home. And are LOVING it! To learn the skill, check out my e-book: The Decluttering Book (click here). These are the steps I run though with clients, and it’s all about getting you to think about how decluttering your home works – particularly for crazy-busy humans who have no time.
If you’re wondering why everyone seems obsessed over decluttering, streamlining and reducing the stuff they own to just a wee pile that fits into one neat square on Instagram, trust me, you are not alone.
Decluttering is a relatively new term. And in 2020, it has now taken on a life of its own. Mostly good stuff, but also sometimes a little eye-rolling-ly OTT (over the top).
Decluttering has actually always been amongst us. It used to fall under general housework and Spring Cleaning, and would be completed throughout the day when we had one half of our parents staying at home. Or our parents would potter around the house on the weekends, getting rid of stuff unbeknownst to us kids watching Disney cartoons and secretly (or so we thought) flicking over to Rage.
Skip to our own Adulthood: our weekends full, no one has time for Saturday morning Disney with sports and other commitments starting way too early, and our brains are overflowing with checklists longer than Santa has in December.
And the reality is that our lives have no plans of slowing down. Which we simultaneously love and loathe.
We need new systems to keep our homes under control.
What worked for our parents and grandparents doesn’t really fit anymore.
No matter how much you try to jam that last sock into the drawer and slowly jam it shut (forever) there comes a time when you need to take a step back and reassess.
We are buying more, binning more and accidently buying items we already have because we can’t remember where we last left them.
And we are all kinda over it.
Hence, we have drawers that are overflowing, cupboards that don’t really close, and who knows what’s been shoved under the kids’ beds for the last 5 years…
Say hello to clutter.
Clutter is the stuff we no longer love or use.
But how do you go from knowing your home is chaos to finding the time – and more importantly, even knowing where to start?
Stop Googling local skip bin hire prices and read on.
1. Decide you’ve had enough
Decisions aren’t made based on one event. There are tiny micro-decisions all along the way that lead us to want to change. The final straw that broke the camel’s back can’t be blamed on that final straw. In fact, it was probably the time spent in the heat, muscles aching and the camel wondering why the humans were taking so darn long to put the load on.
And that’s what happens with your home.
The days of chaos. The weeks of looking at the piles of crap. The months of wishing it was better. The years of dreaming for something more.
The best thing is, the SOONER you decide to make a change, the more time you will be living in your awesome home!
Inspiration, motivation and all the lovely jubbly images on Pinterest are great, but if you don’t want to change, then it won’t happen.
If I have your attention, read on.
2. Schedule it in like you mean business.
I’m guessing you’re reading this because you are the CEO of your home.
You run a tight ship.
But one department (‘your stuff’) has been underperforming and you haven’t had time to really investigate why.
And now, that underperforming department is affecting the bottom line, and more importantly, team morale. A very expensive, and frustrating process and place to get out of. Mainly because you blame yourself for not getting on top of it sooner.
A much wiser person than I once said: Hope is not a strategy.
To start decluttering, you will need a decent chunk of time. None of this ‘declutter for 7 minutes every day’. Even meditation should be a minimum of 10 minutes, so precious little will happen in less than that.
You will need at least a full 6-8 hour day to get started if you’re serious about overhauling your home.
Book in a day. If you’re going no-nonsense about all of this.
Trust the process.
And once you start, rest assured that you will never return to the chaos you’re currently trapped in.
3. Get a game plan together
A list of priorities: EVERYTHING IS URGENT!
We all know those types of people. 17 tasks that need to be done, all due 3 days ago.
And then we calmly sit down next to them and tee off the different tasks against each other. Allowing them to only pick one above the other. This results in a neat list of order and them feeling calmer that stuff will actually get done.
And if they panic, we just point to the laminated checklist we posted on the wall that we all agreed to 3 hours ago.
Same goes for your home.
If your home is just ARGH!
Break it down.
Start with the areas that everyone uses each day or the stuff that will make your soul sing.
It may be that your closet is much more important than the laundry. Or the laundry is more important than the garage. Or the garage is more important than the shed.
Write down a list of the “problem” areas in your home and create a list of priorities. Once you have a list, slap it on the wall or take a picture of it – and stick to it.
You will get through it.
Sitting there stressing is not working through it.
Get a quick win on the board by getting off the couch and planning how you are going to create this amazing home.
4. One question to rule them all
Is this item staying or going?
This one question is the fundamental crux of decluttering. Stuff WILL be leaving your home. And it has to. I don’t care if it goes in your neighbours bin at 11pm at night or gets sold on Ebay.
Get excited that the piles of stuff will be exiting through the doors they came through.
You allowed it in your home, you can give it permission to leave all the same.
No road trips to Mordor required.
Decluttering is a form of active decision-making mode. Like an air traffic controller, you are simply asking the same question of each item and directing where it should go.
If the answer is ‘not sure’, ‘but I should love it’, or ‘well that’s where my savings have been going’ – put it in the keep pile.
Don’t bother getting stuck on minutia, there are plenty of items that can go in a heartbeat decision.
5. Non-emotional is where we start
The best place to start decluttering is the bathroom. It’s a smaller area of your home, and you’re probably not going to get stuck deciding if you should keep the expired sample pack that is covered in some mysterious, sticky dust.
Starting with the non-emotional is the best way to start and learn the skill of decluttering.
If you dive into your grandparents’ school books, you’re probably going to get stuck on whether to ditch the History book or the Geography book. Or both?
Choose your battles and start with the easy stuff.
Ask the one question: is it staying or going?
If ever unsure, it stays.
6. Peel back the layers. Like an onion. Or cake. Cake has layers too.
Decluttering works in rounds. You do one round and get rid of the obvious. Then you do another session because the drawers STILL WON’T CLOSE.
And that’s how it works.
Unless you are ruthless from the start (I see you), you will most likely be more comfortable peeling back the layers of stuff to an amount that you enjoy by attacking the pile a few times.
You may even find that throughout your Declutter Day, (because you scheduled it in like a ninja) you get faster and faster at it. Like a snowball of a decision-making expert, you crush this decluttering business.
7. Don’t be dumb
Remember as a kid, when your bestie would warn you about doing that gymnastic move which you had never tried yet you thought “I’ll show them” – even though you have never done anything more than something that would barely pass as a rolly-pollie?
Yeah… Don’t be dumb.
Don’t chuck out stuff you actually want to keep.
Keep the baby clothes for your planned, yet-to-be-born children who will destroy them with peach puree.
Don’t secretly throw out your partners pride and joy art collection that isn’t totally in theme with your Hamptons Coastal aesthetic.
Us humans like our stuff (try taking a toy off a toddler and you’ll see my point).
Decluttering is active decision mode. And whilst you may be worried about throwing out stuff you’ll regret, if you are present in your decision mode, you’ll be just fine.
If after a few hours, you are finding that your decisions are becoming a bit hazy or you once again start Googling skip bin hires, it’s time to stop and take a break.
At the end of the day, decluttering is common sense. Getting rid of the stuff you no longer love or use.
It’s not rocket science, but it’s much more important. Your happiness.
You’ve got this.
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