The (Not Fun) Art of De-Cluttering

If I would look at my Goals(or New Year’s Resolutions) for the last 24 years or even more, there are a few on there year after year after year.  One of these has been “Getting my house totally de-cluttered”.  Sure, I follow many “experts” with their advice of doing a little bit every day…and yes, a drawer would get done, a shelf would get done but the massive part of the house was just getting more and more cluttered.  Last year I spent an entire month de-cluttering…I would daily work on it.  I will admit that I did make some progress but over the winter, the backsliding went into effect and the two bedrooms I had been so proud of last year were back to what they had been(sounds a lot how my weight does as well…).

One thing I learned was that buying those cute little organizers will not do the trick.  We basically have TOO MUCH STUFF.  Too many clothes, too many shoes, and in my case, too many art and craft supplies!

A few months ago, an old friend of mine from High School happened to mention she was reading a book entitled “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo…also known as the Konmari Method.  If you regularly get or look at the women’s magazines, there are certain topics that crop up continuously…one is diet and the other is how to de-clutter.  What makes the Konmari method different is that instead of doing one room at a time, you do one category at a time.  Clothing is the first category.  For example, you literally empty your closets and empty all of your clothes on the floor(or bed).  From there, you pick up each piece and determine whether or not that piece gives you “joy”.  If you aren’t sure, then try it on.  Then at that point you decide…do you keep it, does it get given away or thrown away.  Before putting it in the specific pile, thank it for having served you and then go on to the next piece.

Since I had done a lot of de-cluttering last year, I basically had gone through a lot of my clothes but the thinking process behind this method makes all the difference.  A lot of people use the method of “if I haven’t worn it in (insert number of years here) then I won’t” or they reverse their hangers and when the wear the item they put the hanger in the correct way…that way in a glance they can see if they haven’t worn it in a while.  Once you have done this, then and only then can you put your clothes back into the closet.  My friend is still at this point…her clothes are still not in the closet.

Once you have done the clothes, the other categories such as books, paper, sentimental items, etc. get done.

It really helps if you have a reason to de-clutter…  My reason was that my daughter was coming home.  She lives far away and I haven’t seen her since Christmas.  She is going to be in her room mate’s wedding this Saturday.  Mind you, I wouldn’t have gone to the extreme that I have done if it had just been her coming home…yes, I would have made sure her room was done but my room could have stayed the same.  Add “bringing home the boyfriend”…someone I have talked with on the phone for a year now but haven’t met face to face…the sheer embarrassment factor of his seeing what the “before” pictures looked like spurred me on.

The last three weeks have been brutal.  I started on my craft area in the downstairs first simply because much of my stuff was in both my daughter’s room and my room(my finished products for my shop on Etsy.)  I needed the clear space in the craft area to put them all in.  When my time was starting to grow short, I had to shift gears and first do my daughter’s room(which I finished on Friday) and then my room(which I finished on Saturday).  By the end of last week, I knew that there was no way I was going to be able to totally tackle the papers and the sentimental categories plus I also had bits and pieces of “stuff” that I had no idea what I was going to do with it.

The weeks coming up to this point I had been sticking to a routine…Sundays I would get the garbage ready and also whatever I was taking to the Good Will and would drop that off on Mondays.  For Tuesdays, I would make sure all the cardboard boxes I had emptied that week were flattened and taken to the recycling bin.

This week in a panic mode, I ended up taking boxes to the recycling bin three times and boxes to the Good Will two times.  The garbage man is NOT going to be happy when he comes to our house tomorrow for collection…

So, what have I done with the papers and sentimental stuff I couldn’t get to this week?  And the bits and pieces of “stuff”?  Well, on Thursday I went to the Dollar Store and got two HUGE plastic bins and literally threw the stuff in…went up on Friday and got two more…now…the stuff is not going to stay there indefinitely…I am going to take a box and gradually go through the papers and either throw away or file…I just couldn’t handle any more right now.  When the boxes are empty, I will then use them to stash my fabric so that it will be kept clean.

But for now…with the two bedrooms done, the sheer pleasure of being able to open the door and look in and sigh happily instead of groan.  Knowing that there are no boxes under the beds, that there can also be clothes placed into the closet without having something fall on you…that you can feel peace in that room.  Knowing what this now feels like will spur me on to finish what is left to be done.

My daughter and her boyfriend are coming tomorrow…I will say that the house has not looked this good in the 24 years we have lived here…my husband has been smiling more these past few days and keeps complimenting how nice it all looks.  I still have a way to go…but this whole experience has given me a de-cluttering “muscle” I never had before…where the Konmari words would be “does it give me joy”…my mantra is more like, “if I were going to move tomorrow, would I want to take this along?”

til next time…Eva

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One thought on “The (Not Fun) Art of De-Cluttering

  1. Ok …. this sounds so brilliant that I’m going to give it a ‘go’. I’m guilty of hoarding clothes, even those I haven’t worn for …. oh, heck, thinking about it I’m rather shame faced into admitting that I have some clothes I haven’t worn for years. But I hang onto them ”just in case”. Heaven knows what it would take for me to wear them again, but I’m hanging on to them for the wrong reason(s).

    Going to try this Eva. ~ love, Cobs. x

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