Wednesday, 28 August 2013

This is how we do it

It's Friday night, and I feel alright....had that song in my head all day! Any way this is how we get started on the decluttering mission.
I think most people (excepting the few super minimalist tidy people) get the feeling sometimes that their home is just too full of stuff, and it gets frustrating trying to store, organise and clean all of it. When you think about it do you really need half of it? Most likely the answer is no, so how do you go about getting rid of what you don’t need?
The first step is accepting that you want to get rid of your clutter and that getting rid of possessions is a positive thing, the house will be tidier, easier to clean, look better and you will have more freedom to decorate without lots of junk in the way. If you’re anything like me you have loads of things you have been meaning to get rid of or do something with but they have just ended up hanging around because decluttering the whole house seems such a huge job and it’s easy to get discouraged or not find the time for it.
I originally found this method here and just adjusted it to fit our home. It’s not rocket science, but the key is to break everything down into really small areas and do them one per day, allowing just 15-20 minutes per day. Allow more than one day for things that will take longer than 20 minutes. This keeps me on track and I don’t get bogged down into spending hours at a time going through one area and losing sight of the goal.
It also helps to find the time if it’s only a 20 minute task, plan around days when you know you won’t have time. If you don’t get to it just try to do it the next day, don’t be tempted to do more than one area at a time though. The aim is to make this easy and kind of fun and piling up the jobs until the weekend will just make it seem daunting and like a big task. It helps to do them in order as it keeps you on track rather than putting off the bigger stuff, but last time I did this I sometimes substituted smaller jobs on days when I was unexpectedly busy. If you start an area and realise it’s going to take longer than 20 minutes just add on another day for it.
Set up 3 boxes or areas for ‘bin’, ‘sell’ and ‘donate’ and put things into these each day. The goal is to put things into these boxes every day, so to get rid of something from every area you go through. It might be more from some areas than others but you must put something in at least one of these boxes every day. Rather than having to make loads of trips to the tip, charity shop or car boot sales it worked better for me to get rid of everything at the end, and it’s such a morale booster to see the piles getting bigger!
Really be ruthless and try to keep the image of your new clean, tidy and clutter free home in your mind! If something isn’t useful, beautiful or sentimental then it goes. Think about what other lovely things you can put in place of things you never use or don’t really like.
It’s useful to have a ‘maybe’ box for stuff you aren’t sure what to do with, as it’s better to remove them from their place to see if you can live without them rather than leave them in place to decide later as 9 times out of 10 I will just end up leaving it there! Also I tended to put stuff in there of Toms which I wanted to check with him first, and stuff which I didn’t think was ours and needed to return to whoever I had borrowed it from or whoever had left it at ours. I also had a small ‘repair/projects’ box, for things like clothes that need mending, stuff you’re keeping for a project you haven’t gotten round to yet, or stuff you are keeping to repurpose or renovate. Give yourself a deadline for each thing to be out of that box and either fixed or gotten rid of, and be realistic on how likely it is that you will get round to it – if you’ve been keeping it for a long time and haven’t found a use for it how likely is it that you ever will?
The list for our flat is:
1.       Hallway – Books
2.       Hallway – Cupboard
3.       Hallway – Small ottomans
4.       Hallway – Music equipment
5.       Hallway – Shoes
6.       Hallway – Surfaces
7.       Hallway – Misc
8.       Dining – Table
9.       Dining – Boxes on tank
10.   Dining – Pet supplies
11.   Dining – Misc
12.   Bedroom – Chest of drawers
13.   Bedroom – Kate’s wardrobe
14.   Bedroom – Tom’s wardrobe
15.   Bedroom – Makeup and cosmetics
16.   Bedroom – Ottomans
17.   Bedroom – Ottomans
18.   Bedroom – Under the bed
19.   Bedroom – Under the bed
20.   Bedroom – Trunk
21.   Bedroom – Drawers
22.   Bedroom – Surfaces
23.   Bedroom – Misc
24.   Living room – DVD’s
25.   Living room – Corner by DVD’s
26.   Living room – CD’s
27.   Living room – Corner by CD’s
28.   Living room – Box under coffee table
29.   Living room – Ornaments, frames, candles
30.   Living room – Coffee table
31.   Living room – Misc
32.   Kitchen – Top of microwave/fridge
33.   Kitchen – Cupboard by fridge
34.   Kitchen – Cupboard under sink
35.   Kitchen – Cupboard by oven
36.   Kitchen – Drawer
37.   Kitchen – Worktops
38.   Kitchen – Tops of cabinets
39.   Kitchen – Food
40.   Kitchen – Misc
41.   Bathroom – Drawers
42.   Bathroom – Shower caddies
43.   Bathroom – Cupboard – cleaning supplies
44.   Bathroom – Cupboard – Towels, medicine box, misc
45.   Bathroom – Surfaces
46.   Bathroom – Misc
47.   Garden – Pots
48.   Garden – Plants
49.   Garden – Under steps
50.   Garden – Under tarpaulin
51.   Garden – Misc
52.   Whole flat – Furniture
53.   Whole flat – Ornaments, frames, candles etc
54.   Whole flat – Misc
Who wants to play along at home? We can compare tidy clutter free homes at the end :) The original list included a lot of things I didn’t need like kids rooms/toys etc and second bathrooms and bedrooms etc so modify it for your home and schedule. Leave the furniture until last because once you’ve gotten rid of a lot of stuff you may be able to get rid of furniture you didn’t think you’d be able to. I also added a ‘misc’ day for each room on the end of that room, so once you have done all the areas you can think of just pass over that room again to pick up any things that you might have missed or didn’t fit into a category.
At the end of the list (Or when we run out of space to keep the stuff waiting to go) we go to the tip with the ‘bin’ stuff, start on selling the things in the ‘sell’ box so list a load of stuff on EBay or in the paper or do a car boot sale, then do a trip to the charity shop with the ‘donate’ pile. Last time anything that didn’t sell at the car boot sale went straight with the ‘donate’ box to the charity shop. Anyone not from the UK or not familiar with a car boot sale it’s kind of our version of a yard sale, we take all our stuff to one of these sales and park up and sell it from the boot of the car.
I’ll probably need to do this once a year as the clutter does build up pretty quickly, but each time it should get easier and I’ll try to keep the amount of junk we keep to a minimum and do this more informally as I go along rather than letting it build up.
I'm going to get started this weekend and cannot wait to start getting stuff sorted out!


  1. I love decluttering and being ruthless but as I just moved out of my one room in my parents' house and into my five rooms in my house, I don't actually have any stuff to get rid of!!! I could perhaps get rid of a few clothes but I always think I can just wear crap things to work in the winter when it's cold and I need layers (working outside = cold and messy).

    1. Lucky you with a blank canvas :) It doesn't feel like too long since that was me, I don't know where it all comes from!

  2. Love this! I've been working through our house but extra motivation is always nice!