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Last month, I declared May as my Decluttering Month.

I have been needing to do it for quite some time, but just didn’t want to. πŸ™‚

I have done a bit here and there over the years, and I cleaned out my closet during the pandemic, mainly because I didn’t want to be the only one who didn’t. πŸ™‚

Let me just set you at ease by telling you upfront I’m not here to sell you a decluttering course, or show you “after” pictures that will make you feel bad about yourself.

I just want to share with you my approach, what I’ve been doing, what is working, what didn’t, and see if you have any good tips that will help me.

I’m still at it and making good progress.

Before I started, I wanted to give some thought to how I got here in the first place. Just as I don’t think it’s a great idea to take medication long-term for depression or anxiety without addressing what is causing your depression or anxiety, I think it’s important to figure out why we have clutter in the first place. The clutter is a symptom.

I remember reading somewhere that clutter is just a deferred decision, and I think that is true. This is curious to me because I am a decisive person. But apparently, not in this area. Hi, it’s me. I’m the problem. πŸ™‚

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As I thought about my situation, I think it is multifaceted. First of all, this is the second smallest house we have lived in. Our two previous homes were two-story and our house in Virginia before we moved back here to Texas had a full basement.

Now we’re in a one-story and no one in this part of Texas has a basement. All that sea level and striking oil stuff makes it impossible. πŸ™‚

Also, I thought back to the time in our lives when we moved back to Texas. My daughter was in high school and we hit the ground running when we got back here.

We moved over the summer and had to get her settled back into the school she had attended before we moved. She auditioned for the drumline by video while we were still in Virginia. She made the drumline and the minute we got back we were off to rehearsals.

We had to teach her to drive.

We had to adjust to a high school schedule and the homework load that came with it.

We had to get involved in test preparation for theΒ  PSAT, SAT, and ACT.

She had to take all of those tests.

We had to do college visits and Admit Days at the colleges to which she was accepted.

I started my Amazon business while she was still in high school so I would have something to do when she left for college.

Once college rolled around, we had to move her in and out for four years and go up for football games and Dad’s Day and Mom’s Weekend and Homecoming, and other events.

So we had a lot going on and I think when we moved back there really wasn’t time to intentionally put things where they belonged. We just had to get it put AWAY.

My husband thinks I’m a hoarder but I really resent that because I’ve seen those hoarding shows and our house does not even remotely resemble a hoarding situation.

You can see all of my floors, there is nothing under the beds, no dishes in the sink, no one has to climb over piles of stuff to get from room to room, and there are no stray feral animals with eye infections crapping in the corners. πŸ™‚

So I’m not a hoarder, but I will confess to being messy. I don’t always put stuff away as intentionally as I should. I don’t have laundry on the couch or piles of clothes lying all over the house. But I do just kind of stick stuff somewhere to get it out of sight. Not organized.

I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, just like everyone else did when it came out.

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That book did not spark joy for me. πŸ™‚

If you’re not familiar with the method, it involves going through all of your possessions in a systematic way, holding each item and seeing if it “sparks joy.” If it does, you can keep it. If it doesn’t, you are supposed to talk to it and thank it for its service and send it on its way.

I have been decluttering for a few weeks now, and I can’t imagine how much further behind I would be if I had to talk to everything in the process. πŸ™‚

Also, not everything is about joy. My tax returns don’t give me any warm fuzzies, but I know I have to keep specific ones for a designated amount of time.

But I get the idea behind all of it. And if it works for you, go for it!

I also became discouraged when Marie said the decluttering process would take about six months. Though I’m sure I will continue to refine for a few months here after I’m done, I could not declutter for six months. It’s exhausting.

But I do see how it could take that long. (Especially if you’re talking to all your stuff.) πŸ™‚

I didn’t feel like I needed to purchase a big pricey course to teach me how to declutter. I’m sure there is lots of valuable information in a course like that, especially if you don’t feel like you know what to do, but I felt like I inherently did know what to do.

Start with one area. Take everything out. Throw or give away what you no longer want. Organize what remains. Put it back where it goes.

That is working for me.

I also knew I would not be participating in one of those “Declutter Your Whole House in a Weekend!” kind of challenges.

Just, no.

Unless you have VERY minimal clutter or are in a position to go on a 72-hour-no-eating-no-sleeping-only-decluttering bender, this just seems unrealistic to me. It took me a week to do my laundry room.

Now, there are a lot of cabinets in that room and it also serves as the place where we keep all the cold medication, first aid, and vitamins, and the countertop in there also serves as the control center for my business.

I’m a multitasker–I do laundry and count my money at the same time. πŸ™‚

My main problem areas are the kitchen, a guest room closet/office, and my closet and bathroom vanity.

I knew if I started with one of those, I would quickly get overwhelmed and discouraged. I thought about it like strength training. You don’t immediately start with the heavy weights. You start small and move up to heavier weights once you build up your strength.

Starting small is a great confidence booster because it gives you some quick wins.

The living room is fine because we got all new furniture for that room last fall and have done a good job of keeping that area neat and tidy.

So I started in the guest room closet. Done.

Then I moved on to the guest bathroom cabinets and vanities under the sinks. Done.

Then I moved on to the liquor cabinet. Done.

China cabinet. Done.

Buffet where I store all my holiday dishes and serving pieces. Done.

Then I tackled the laundry room last week. I did the upper cabinets on one side in one day. I did the upper cabinets on the other side another day. Then I did the lower cabinets another day. I’m very happy with the results.

So this leaves that office closet, the kitchen, and my closet/vanity. The Big Three are waiting for me. πŸ™‚

I have started the office closet. I plan to tackle the kitchen this week, leaving my closet for next week.

So that will push me into next month, but that’s okay. I have had other things going on and don’t spend all day every day decluttering.

One thing I tried that I think was a mistake was doing just a small drawer or two before I went to bed. My reasoning was I could go to bed with a fresh dopamine hit of accomplishment.

That was true, but I think decluttering might actually rewire your brain. Once you start, you don’t see anything the same way. You start looking for other areas to work on. After I would do a small drawer, I couldn’t go to sleep because my mind was pouring over what area to tackle next.

So I only did that two nights before I stopped doing it. I have a hard enough time getting my brain to shut off without purposely keeping it up at night. πŸ™‚

I think the following things are working for me:

  • Figure out why you have clutter.
  • Set a reasonable timeframe to complete decluttering. Don’t be afraid to grant yourself a small extension, as long as you are actively working toward your goal. If you just aren’t doing anything and tell yourself you’ll get to it next month, that is not effective.
  • Start small.
  • Build up your confidence with each quick win.
  • Be intentional with the process. Find a true home for each item.
  • Don’t rush to buy storage bins and labels and an organizing system until you have decluttered and know what you have left that needs to be organized.
  • Take everything out. Declutter. Organize what remains. Put it away in an organized fashion.
  • When you start to get discouraged, focus on how much better your home will look once it’s organized, and how cleaning will be easier without dealing with clutter.
  • Find a system or process that works for YOU. Not every approach is best for everyone. Maybe you prefer tackling one room at a time. Maybe you prefer to tackle one category all over your entire home. Do what makes you comfortable.

Once you have completed your decluttering project, I think it’s important to DEFEND your work. Don’t allow those newly organized spaces to become cluttered again.

This is where I screwed up with my closet. I need to fix it and keep it tidy. Figure out a system that allows you to keep your work intact. Perhaps a weekly once-over schedule of each of your spaces to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand again.

I think the most important things are to give yourself ample time, go slow and steady, and don’t compare your results with those of others.

I look at those pictures of rooms that just look so sterile and lifeless and pristine and I know I am just not neurotic enough to live like that.

I am pretty sure I won’t be wallpapering the inside of my pantry to make it pretty and spending two hours every grocery day decanting every little thing. Although, I did decant some cough drops last week and it was kinda fun. πŸ™‚

I may label some bins with cute labels but that’s about it. This is a working kitchen. πŸ™‚

I have to hope those pictures we all see are just a brief moment in time, tidied up just for Instagram, and that the people who live in those homes are occasionally allowed to walk on the carpets without getting screamed at for messing up the symmetrical vacuuming lines. (True story. Friend from high school. Her mom would LOSE it if we messed up the vacuum lines in the carpets.)

Don’t do that to your children. As someone who grew up in a clean-freak home, I can tell you it’s very anxiety-inducing.

But a tidy and organized home can make it more relaxing for everyone and give you some of your time back. And who couldn’t use that?

To help you get started, I have a free “quick wins” task list that gives you 30 days of small tasks you can do to build up your decluttering muscle and gain the strength you need to take on bigger challenges. Just enter your email below and it will be delivered right to your inbox!

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Do you have any decluttering tips that can help me reach my goal? If so, please share in the comment section.

And I’d love for you to follow me on Pinterest!

 

 

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