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The Secret to Decluttering

September 6, 2015

Before you sort through a single possession when decluttering your home, you have to understand what clutter is and how you want you space to look and feel when it is done.  This first post in a six part series guides you through this important beginning step.

I always feel the need to declutter and organize in the fall.  Something inside of me associates the season with new beginnings.  A new school year has always signaled a fresh start.  For that reason, our decluttering series is starting as we enter into the month of September.

When I posted a survey over a month ago, there was a resounding cry for a desire to learn about getting your life back on track.  Ninety-seven percent of you who took the survey said that you are interested in decluttering.   And over half of you are interested in the book that is taking the world by storm, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience.  For more information, you can view my disclosure policy.

Lucky you that today is the first post in a series happening across eight blogs.  We are each posting our ideas and decluttering journey to help you along in your own struggles.  Some of us will focus more on the book while some of us have our own take.  I'm planning on doing a bit of both.  Links to everyone participating appear at the end of this post.

We are going to take this step over the next six weeks.  Rather than going room by room, we are following the Marie's path of organizing by category.  Which, can I say, makes so much more sense than organizing by room when you think about it?  It is one of my favorite takeaway ideas from this manual on decluttering.  And as you work your way through each category, be sure to finish one before moving on to the next category.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a book that I'll keep and probably re-read again and again picking up new bits of information each time.  But I don't think that it is the full picture of decluttering.  There are parts missing, parts that are a little too Japanese.  I'd like to add some of my own encouragement for you as well as tips and tricks that I've learned and developed over the years.  I'm pretty much an organizing fanatic so believe me when I say that I'm full of information!  Hopefully what I share will help you to uncover the secret to decluttering your home.

And now let's talk about our clutter, shall we?

What is clutter?  

We typically think of clutter as what a hoarder or someone who shops too much has.  But it is more than that.  Clutter is anything that overwhelms your life and your home and keeps you from being the fabulous girl (or guy) you are.

Clutter is the clothes that are hanging in your closet that you never wear.

It is the pile of books you have sitting unread and unenjoyed.

Those knitting supplies that you've been storing for three years just waiting for the time to learn a new skill?  Clutter.

An inbox with 600 messages?  I think you get the picture.

What does clutter do to you?

We worry about cancer and heart disease stealing our lives away from us.  We wonder how a bad economy will affect our day to day activities.  But clutter has an equally bad effect on our lives.

Clutter can lead to depression.  Who can be happy in a space where things are closing in on you?

It steals time away from your day.  On average, people spend between 30 and 60 minutes a day looking for things.  And statistics show that you could cut the time you spend doing housework by 40% if you declutter.

Being unable to locate or easily get to your possessions can be frustrating.  It zaps your creativity and makes you give up on projects because working on them is just too difficult.

Money is thrown away on items you don't need, don't use, and don't love.  80% of what we have, we never use.  Which also translates to saying that 80% of the money we spend on things is wasted.

And a cluttered home can be hazardous to your safety and your health.  It is easy to trip, things can fall on you, and air in the house can become toxic.

So how do we fix a clutter problem?

First of all, you have to be willing to change and have an open mind about tackling this problem, regardless of how big of an issue it is.

Next, you have to come up with a vision of the life you want to live.  It is important to be able to look past the stuff around you and envision the space that you want to have.  This will help guide you through the entire decluttering process.

And finally, you have to agree to spending as much time as it takes to sort through the items that you've been collecting for countless numbers of years.   Your clutter problem, no matter how big or small, did not start overnight.  So you need to be aware that this is not a "Work on a Saturday afternoon and be clean" kind of project.

Getting your house in order is the first step to getting your life in order and makes you feel like you have a little control over something.  How much you declutter will depend entirely on YOUR vision.  Some of you may want to be minimalists and be able to pack up your belongings and move at a moment's notice.  Some of you may just want things to not be crammed into closets and drawers anymore.  And for some of you, being able to see your floor again may be all that you're looking forward to.

For those of you who think there isn't any help for you, believe me when I say there is.  Just by reading this post you show that you obviously want to make changes.  That is the most important part in decluttering and organizing.  Stick with me and I'll guide you through the process and get you to the other side!

I've talked a lot about decluttering and thrown in the word organized many times.  Let me be clear, though.  This series is about decluttering.....getting rid of the things that are standing in the way of being the best possible you.  Organizing will come after when you see exactly what it is you need to store and can assess the most efficient way to do it.   There is no point in organizing things if they aren't important to you.  Believe me, clearing out those items first will make the task of organizing what's left a breeze!

So your task for this week is to work on your vision for a new and improved, decluttered home and life.  There are some questions that you need to answer so that you can look past all of the stuff around you and focus on the direction that you want your life to go.

(A decluttering printable appears below to guide you with answering these questions.)

  • What does your finished space look like?

  • How do you spend your time in your space?

  • Is there a certain smell?  Texture? Style?

  • How does your new life make you feel?

  • How does all this compare to the life and space you have now?  What is already working for you?

If you are anything like me, you may want to create a secret Pinterest board and fill it will all the pictures that represent the life you are after.  A cup of coffee to remind you to take time to enjoy your morning beverage.  An inspiring quote.  Your dream bedroom.  Anything to serve as a visual reminder of what you're aiming for.  And if you aren't into Pinterest, you can just as easily create a paper version of this same kind of mood board.  You can even just list words to describe the feeling you want to remember.

I'd love for you to snap some before pictures before you start digging into your clutter.  It helps to see where you came from and is always fun to look back when the job is done.

Here is that printable to help you keep your thoughts on track......

Decluttering Printable

Thank you so much for joining in this journey.  You can share with me anytime in the comments below, on Facebook or on Instagram.  I want this to be a time of connecting with you all!  Share your struggles or successes, ask questions, and post some pictures.  And we'd love for you to encourage your own friends and readers to join in as well.  The bigger the party, the better!

Best of luck to you all as we start taking back control over our possessions!

You may also enjoy these posts in the series....


Be sure to visit each of our blogs to see our individual ideas on decluttering over the next few months.

anderson + grant  |  Making It In the Mountains  |  Dwelling in Happiness  |  DIY Passion

Lost in the Found  |  The How To Home  |  Zevy Joy  |  The Happy Housie


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