An MSN article reposted by Joshua Becker on Becoming Minimalist, which I discussed in my last post, presents seven useful tips for decluttering. The first tip, Start With The Easy Stuff, seems blatantly obvious, but disregarding it has been the downfall of many would-be declutterers – at least, it was the downfall of me.
I tried to declutter my home unsuccessfully multiple times before finally getting some momentum and seeing progress this time around. The problem was that I would decide to, say, declutter the living room. I would wade into the living room mess and start trying to declutter and make decisions about everything at once. I soon became overwhelmed, and any gains that I did manage to make were quickly regained by clutter. Plus, decluttering an entire room from top to bottom at once is very time-consuming!
So I am here to tell you that Start With The Easy Stuff is excellent advice. “What”, you might ask, “is categorized as ‘easy stuff’?” Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are a few of my personal “do and don’ts” to help you identify and Start With The Easy Stuff:
- DO start with items that are broken, worn out, or no longer useful to you. If they can be used by someone else, gift or donate them, otherwise recycle or toss.
- DO get rid of clothes. If you haven’t worn it in a year, with the exceptions of winter / bad weather gear, legitimate formal / dress wear (no 20 year old prom dresses!), and the like, donate it to the Goodwill, Salvation Army, or your favorite thrift store. Pricey item with the tags still on? Try selling them on eBay. And those outfits that you plan to fit into again someday when you get those 10 pounds off? When you lose the weight, reward yourself with new clothes!
- DO get rid of shoes. Uncomfortable high heels, beat up sneakers, etc., if you are never wear them, get rid of them. Same rules as for clothes.
- DO get rid of junk mail. It’s JUNK. Recycle, shred, and toss. Don’t get bogged down with bills, letters, and magazines. Focus on the JUNK and toss it!
- DO get rid of kids clothes, toys, and gear that your kids have outgrown. There are lots of people who can use these items and would be glad to have them. Try eBay and Freecyle.
- DO get rid of duplicates. No one needs three lawnmowers, fifteen flashlights, ten sets of sheets for one bed, etc. Try Freecycle. It will make you happy. (I do admit that I have TWO bass guitars, but one is a fretless, so that doesn’t really count, right? AND I play them both so …)
- DO get rid of unused kitchen gadgets. If you haven’t used it in a year, you aren’t going to. This includes fondue pots, breadmakers, juicers, panini presses, woks, rice cookers, and on and on. That being said …
- DON’T get rid of kitchen gadgets that you DO use. For example, I use my breadmaker all the time, but I never used my rice cooker. But Katy at The Non-Consumer Advocate uses her rice cooker all the time. If you use it, keep it.
- DON’T try to declutter sentimental items. Save them for later when you are more experienced.
- DON’T try to declutter any kind of paper – records, schoolwork, etc. – except junk mail.
If you focus on just these areas, you will be amazed at how much space you can clear and how good it makes you feel. Start With The Easy Stuff, and you will clear the way for the harder decisions to come.