I will be honest, despite years of growing up and helping with “fall”‘ and “spring” cleaning.. it is not one of my strong points. When I first had my own apartment, yes I cleaned bi-weekly. Fast forward to being a crazy busy single mom, and cleaning was not on the top of my list. The house was always neat but there have been the occasional dust bunny. Now, when I struggle with days of not being able to move, I can see the dust bunnies and want to clean. YES! I said I want to clean. Then when I feel better, I am playing catch up and still don’t get everything done I wanted to do.
So, you are wondering how someone like me, can teach you about “fall cleaning”, right? Well this is more about “decluttering” which may or may not lead to cleaning. BUT it will help you get organized which could make cleaning much easier..
Step #1 – Determine if your clutter is, well, clutter.
I know this may sound like a no-brainer but sometimes clutter is hard to recognize. Yes, it is true! Seriously, hear me out. We live in our house day-in and day-out, so clutter really becomes part of the landscape. Maybe you don’t recognize the piles and groupings of stuff because it’s become the norm. You know the pile of mail you are going to get to. Or the stack of papers to be filed in the office. Maybe it is the shoes piled by the door and never making their way to the closet. Whatever your pile looks like, we are pretty good at ignoring clutter, or just plain not realizing when it’s moved in.
So, when do you realize it is clutter? When you can’t find something you’re looking for, or realize you have bought something you already had – costing time and money. Admit it, you have run to the store to get something only to find it about a week later (after the tags were off and you can’t return it).
Are you wondering if you have clutter? Try this: Take a photo of the space in question. Start small with a drawer, a closet shelf, or a bookcase. Zoom in on the photo. How does the stuff make you feel? Are you horrified what others would think if they saw it? Does it make your head spin wondering how this happened? Do you use all of the stuff? If so, how often? How would your life feel if the space was tidy, leaving room to grow?
The answers to these questions are a great indicator there is work to be done.
Step #2 – Accept you probably do need to declutter
Have you recovered from the shock of seeing the pictures of your clutter? Have you now started to stress over whether or not you can part with ANY of this stuff?
Even with you think you have pruned your closets, drawers and home, you will likely still pick items up and think, “Why did I keep this?” Life tends to bring new items into our space each day, and we frequently fail to recognize the pace at which we are accumulating things.
I used to clean out closets twice a year. Donating them to the church rummage sale or Goodwill. The biggest one was always before the holidays especially when Belinda was younger. I knew the gift giving season would bring a whole lot more “stuff” while there were many things sitting in the bottom of the toy box which hadn’t see the light of day in years. Now, as I notice things are no longer used or needed, they go in the box in the garage to be donated. Slowly, I am decluttering…
Step #3 – Let yourself let go
How many items do you have which you have only used once a year or maybe once in five years? It is sitting there taking up space, right? You wonder how you could live without it. I have a wok which I have had for years and it hasn’t been used in years…. why? you never know.
Ownership is overrated. We often feel we need to own something to enjoy it. How many things do you have which you could have rented or borrowed instead? The truth is we may get more pleasure out of borrowing or renting something than actually owning it. Sounds crazy, right? Well, when we own something, it requires we clean it, move it, store it, maintain it, and maybe even insure it. It all takes energy. Be open to alternative ways to access and enjoy physical objects.
Step #4 Baby steps when setting organizing goals
Yup, I hit you with a lot in just a short period of time, right? I know it is overwhelming. What happens when you get overwhelmed? If you are like me, you run and hide. NO, seriously. Do you avoid the situation? Most likely, when you are overwhelmed, you lose interest and momentum. So what if you just took baby steps. Do a little bit every day. Continuity is key. Do small spaces first, as you do small spaces, you will begin to see the difference around you and you will feel energized to do more.
Organizing is not an end destination, it’s a process of acquiring skills, applying them, and being committed to being organized every day.
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!