Go go go!
Here are the two approaches I take when de-cluttering:
5 minutes a day: this is the thing that's made the biggest difference to how I approach de-cluttering and tidying now. Set yourself 5 minutes (or two of your favourite tunes) to target one small area, such as a drawer or a single shelf. Divide larger areas that will take longer, such as a wardrobe, into 5 minute segments and tackle them one at a time, day by day. Empty the area you're tackling and sort everything into separate piles - things that will stay, rubbish/recycling and things to donate to charity or sell. The 5 minutes fly by and it's surprising what you can get done in that time. I often find that having done one 5 minute chunk I'm all geared up to do a second one.
The Battle Plan; there are times when you might feel like setting aside a day to attack one particular room. I did this with my kitchen last weekend with good results, though I was totally knackered afterwards and I could do with spending a second day on it (it's a work in progress). Before I started through I got my Battle Plan straight. In the preceding few days I studies how we use that room - what we use most, any awkward places where regularly used items are stored, things that got in the way, problem areas, all that kind of thing - then jotted down ideas for where things could be moved to and what order it would be easiest to do things in. I found this made the whole process less daunting and because I had a rough schedule to follow.
Three common obstacles to de-cluttering:
- Not sure whether to keep something or get rid of it? Time to get tough on yourself and ask:
When did I last use it and will I use it again?
Why am I keeping it?
If I get rid of it am I ever likely to miss it?
If I moved to a place half this size would I happily find room for this?
Be honest with yourself here. If you're struggling to decide pack it - along with any other unsure things - away in a box, label it and come back to it in a couple of months, and ask the same questions again.
- A place for nostalgia; this is my nostalgic Cancerian side coming out, but there are some things where it would be too much of a wrench to get rid of, they hold too many memories. For these things it's up to you to decide what's special to you and what you're keeping out of habit. I find that I keep a lot of things that, when it comes down to it, I don't miss at all when I finally move on from them and give them away. However there have been a couple of occasions when the opposite has happened; I've been tough on myself, got rid of something then later I've tried to find it, remembered I gave it away and been disappointed and annoyed with myself. If in doubt put it in the Unsure Box and come back to it a couple of months down the line.
- Respect your partner's belongings; when you're filled with the zeal of a new de-cluttering convert it can be tempting to impose it on your partner against their will. If they're willing to be part of your Clutter Free Crusade then that's great, otherwise you should be prepared to make compromises. De-cluttering is a positive move but it's not worth starting World War Three over!