When it comes to decluttering your home, it helps to first understand why you hang onto certain things. Next, create a plan for decluttering and then finally commit to action.
For the sentimentalists among us, memory clutter is the hardest type to get rid of. Certain things remind us of special times (high school, college) or special people (relatives, our kids when they were babies. The key is to select a few things to hold onto that have special meaning and toss the rest.
Things are not a substitute for memories. Often this is the case when hanging on to items that once belonged to special people who are now deceased. When it comes to family heirlooms and memorabilia, do you love it enough to display it within your home? Does it have a place of honor? If not, it may be time to part ways. Tell all family members you can no longer store Grandma's collection of doilies at your home and give them ample opportunity to take it off your hands. Then, your conscience will be clear.
• Create a Memory Album
This works well for kids' artwork. Instead of hanging on to each “masterpiece” consider a photo album of their art and keep only a few of their drawings instead. Photograph them with their art to create a reference point for how old they were when they created it as well. You can even create a photo book at the end of each school year as a nice keepsake.
• Shadowboxes/Framed Art
If your grandmother was a great cook, consider framing or shadowboxing one of her handwritten recipes along with one of her doilies or hand-stitched tea towels with a photo of her in the kitchen. Or, create a custom-made framed collage with kids' favorite artwork.
“I Might Need It” or “I Paid So Much for It!” Clutter
If you're living the frugal life, you realize the value in hanging on to what you have because it would be costly to replace it. However, when you cling to things you really aren't using, you're projecting an energy of lack. There is a fine line between the “waste not, want not” mentality and one of a pack rat. The key is learning how to balance the two. If you really do need an extra pot holder, semi-dressy sweater or book on gardening one day, would you be able to replace it? If the answer is yes, consider getting rid of it and you'll shift your energy to that of abundance.
All those things you're storing in your home come with a price, and it isn't the price you paid when you bought them. That boat sailed long ago. Your price is NOW paid in the time it takes to maintain them, the mental strain you experience every time you think about them, and the lost opportunity of what could be if you they were no longer around. Consider what you'd gain by getting rid of them, and if the benefit outweighs the price, then do it.
Now that we've talked about why we hang onto things, what kind of space we want to create in our homes, and making room for our dreams and goals comes the fun part… actually diving in and getting it done!
As you de-clutter, your unwanted belongings generally fall under one of three categories: throw away, donate or sell. Sorting them accordingly can help speed the process along. However, it's often tough to decide what to do.
Donating may be the easiest and fastest route to take, but many people shy away from it because it doesn't result in a nice fat wad of cash in their pocket. What it does result in, in most cases, is a tax receipt for your contribution. The amount of this financial perk can vary greatly depending on your tax bracket and whether or not you itemize on your tax return. In general, the higher your tax bracket the more valuable your write-off will be. Decide what makes the most sense for you given your own financial situation and time constraints.
Including your kids in the decluttering process helps hone their organizational skills and builds self-esteem. Let them decide which of their belongings to keep and which to get rid of. Talk about the importance of giving to those in need and let them help select a charitable organization for their donation. Have them accompany you when you drop off their things.
The key to a lot of large projects is starting small and just plodding along. Instead of thinking of the huge scope of the entire project, what can you do in 15 minutes today? As with most things, success isn't one huge thing that you do in a short period of time, it's an accumulation of small everyday activities. If there are things you want to do in life, whether it's decluttering or working on a goal — try just focusing a few minutes each day on it and see where that road leads you.
Make It Happen Assignment: Commit to declutter 15 minutes each day for two weeks (or longer, if necessary). Make a list of “hot spots” to tackle each day. Your list may look like this:
Day One Decluttering: Emily's closet
Day Two Decluttering: Junk drawer in kitchen
Day Three Decluttering: My closet
Day Four Decluttering: paper piles on kitchen counter
Day Five Decluttering: Kids' games
And so on…
Consider taking “before” pictures today to compare to the end of the project.
I suggest watching an episode of “Hoarders” online right before you do your spring cleaning or before you prep for a move. It’s a great motivator for getting rid of clutter in and around your home.
Kimberly Danger says
You are definitely right on that one, Mary! Hoarders makes me feel like decluttering too.