Although I’m naturally wired to keep clutter to a minimum and have a fairly organized home, I still have spots that I never seem to get on top of. I was doing a terrific job of finally tackling some of those areas this spring when I was (finally) diagnosed with a disease that has been plaguing me (undiagnosed) for years (Eosinophilic Esophagitis). It required that I pretty much drop everything extra in my life in order to cope with the necessary lifestyle changes that accompany it.
So I had been planning on doing a declcutter focus here in June, but am just now getting around to it. Over the many years I’ve blogged I’ve become reluctant to do this kind of thing because whenever I say I’m going to do something like this, life interrupts. But I think I can put this one on auto-pilot and even if I’m unavailable for a day or two, it won’t stop anyone else!
For the next seven days, I’m challenging anyone who wants to participate to declutter at least a part of their home. I have a number of spots in my home I need to tackle and I hope you will work in your home as well.
Note in 2023: This was originally a series of seven posts over seven days. I have consolidated them into one post to simplify my website. I also moved a few of my comments to the appropriate days so I can keep a personal record of them.
Day 1 – Choose a Decluttering Focus
There are three areas I am focusing on. I want these totally cleaned out and organized before we start up again in the fall. They are:
- the learning room (where we keep our homeschooling stuff)
- the unfinished basement
- the office
The vast majority of clutter I need to deal with is paper. I got a good start on my office files and office closet in May, but want to finish up. I really want to go into this fall with the piles and piles of paper in the basement finally weeded and organized. This has been hanging over my head for literally years. The learning room just needs an end of the school year clean out so I can start to organize our new materials for this fall.
If decluttering your entire home sounds overwhelming, is there just one room you could clean out? Or can you commit to purging 5-10 items a day? Even baby steps like this can help a lot! In the spring, I cleaned out our kitchen, linen closet, bathrooms, and bedroom closets this way. Every day I went in and found stuff to rid of. I was amazed at how much there was that could go in the trash or get donated to Goodwill. We got rid of lots of things via Craig’s List and a local Facebook group. I love looking at all the space in those areas now and want to have this in other areas of my home as well.
So are you in? What areas do you want to tackle? Can you find 10 things to clear out of your home today? They don’t even have to be big. Old makeup, expired meds, worn out kitchen items, old cleaning products, stuff you will never use, etc.
Each day I’ll share a bit about my spring purge and (hopefully!) what I’ve purged that day.
So go throw some stuff away. Just five minutes and ten things.
Day 2 – Pre-Internet Paper Items
How did you do with the first day of the challenge? Did you find a bunch of stuff to get rid of? Which room did you tackle first? Find anything amusing? One of the things I finally started to get on top of this spring was my writing files of clippings, ideas, rough drafts, outlines etc. I’m talking about files of paperwork I collected during the pre-internet days.
Do you know what I did with with this pre-internet junk (because that’s really what it was)?
Most of the piles of papers went into the fireplace. There was something really cathartic about about burning it all up. It was like letting go of the past and starting fresh.
Anything from your past you need to get rid of? Anything from your own pre-internet days that no longer has any earthly purpose?
Go get rid of it!
What I did: Today I tackled the Learning Room! I organized Caroline’s paperwork and artwork for the past year. I took down all her artwork hanging on the wall and commissioned new artwork so we’ll have something nice on the walls before I have to take pictures for the Not Back to School Blog Hop in a few weeks. I sorted through piles of papers and pitched dozens and dozens of things we no longer needed. Hoping to finish up the rest of the clean out tomorrow! 🙂
Day 3 – Sentimental Objects
How is your decluttering going? Did you get rid of some old baggage? Speaking of old baggage…
Do you have a problem with hanging on to things for sentimental reasons? Or because it is old so it must be worth something? Or because it belonged to someone else who is gone and you feel obligated to hold onto it?
I have had this problem. But I read this comment from Little House Living and it provoked me to let go of stuff this spring:
This week I was just pondering one older friend telling me she has hoarded her home with a hundred or more boxes of possessions of now-dead relatives…when another friend called and asked if I’d like a broken electronic organ.
Both wanted to realize some of the value of their items or if not that then gift them individually so they weren’t completely worthless since good money had been given for them at some point.
It just makes me sad that both friends need the space and to detach from the past…yet they can’t just let go of out-worn out-grown items.
Thought-provoking, isn’t it?
We have an entire generation of middle-aged adults who have parents and even grandparents who have stuff. Lots of stuff. Those parents and grandparents want to pass it on to younger loved ones. Part of it is because they want someone to realize the monetary value of it and part of it is because they have a hard time letting go. So they pass it on to someone they know rather than making the choice to just get rid of it.
And those younger loved ones already have their own stuff problems.
I’ve learned that there is almost nothing so valuable that it is worth hanging onto if I don’t need it or want it. I do have some sentimental things that are truly valuable to me. But I’ve learned I can’t keep everything that belonged to someone I love. More often than not, it is the memory or emotion attached to that person/event/time that I value, not the actual object.
I’ve learned I have to take pictures of it to remember it by and then let it go to someone else who will enjoy it whether I sell it or give it to a charity.
What are you going to release from your life today? What are you keeping out of guilt or obligation? What do you have because it might be worth something but it really needs to go?
“Realizing some of my hoarding tendencies is misguided nostalgia.” Karen Campbell
Day 4 – Setting an Example for Our Children
Did you find the courage to get rid of some “valuable” things yesterday? Were you able to separate your sentimental feelings about a person or event with the object you associate with it? Good for you if you succeeded. If not, keep trying!
It took me a number of years to get to the point where I could get rid of some things and not feel guilty or sad about it. But once you get there, it does get easier.
One of the great gifts we can give to our children is the ability to not become too attached to “things” and recognize that stuff is just temporary. We set the example for how to relate to material possessions.
Seeing us clear things out and donate them to others in need is a powerful example to show our children. It demonstrates a willingness to let go of material goods. It also promotes the idea that there are others who have needs that we can help meet out of our abundance. These are valuable lessons to teach our children by our example.
So what are you cleaning out today? How much clutter have you removed from your home? Has anyone else around you caught the declutter bug after seeing you in action?
What I did: Just cleaned out my desk in the learning room. Wasn’t too bad, but came across a few things that I have no idea why I have kept…
A set of scented coasters given to me by a “mentor” lady at a previous church. They make me sad every time I look at them. Why did I keep them? Into the donate box.
A Minolta Freedom 200 35 mm camera. With a broken lens shutter that a preschooler that shall not be named broke when she got into the desk that was supposed to be off limits. So why did I keep this broken camera when we have gone digital? Sentimental reasons. And because it cost a lot of money when I received it as a gift. Into the trash and I admit it is hard to just throw it away! And I don’t know why!
A floppy binder of a print off of “Masterly Inactivity” by Charlotte Mason that I think I printed off and put in the binder when Caroline was starting, oh, kindergarten. She’s going to be eight this fall! If I haven’t figured out masterly inactivity by now on my own (which I pretty much had before I even printed if off), it’s too late. I’ve determined I’m never going to read this. Into the recycling pile.
Day 5 – Things That Make You Feel Guilty
We’re up to Day 5 of our 7 day declutter challenge. How are you doing?
Today let’s focus on getting rid of things that make us feel guilty because we never use them even though we had or even still have the best of intentions. I’ve already gotten started on this one. What did I get rid of?
A bunch of Pampered Chef stoneware.
Many years ago I attended a few Pampered Chef parties. I bought stoneware because everyone raved about it. But after I started using it I discovered I didn’t like baking with stoneware. It doesn’t appeal to me.
So I had a few pieces of this expensive stoneware that mocked me each time I opened a certain kitchen cupboard. It reminded me of my good intentions to do more “special” baking for my family. It reminded me of how much money I had wasted on this stoneware.
I finally had enough. I sold it all on a local Facebook group. I got $10 for each piece I sold. I don’t even care that I lost money on them. They are out of my house. That stoneware is no longer mocking me!
What’s mocking YOU?
- Clothes you never wear?
- Kitchen paraphernalia?
- Exercise equipment?
What needs to go today?
Day 6 – Cleaning Out Old Hobbies
When I first started decluttering in the spring, I decided something that had to go was the piles of unopened scrapbooking products. Before I developed neck and shoulder issues and then had Caroline I was a fairly steady scrapbooker. But once my life took a significant change, the scrapbooking fell to the wayside. I had a lot of Creative Memories products that were still in the original packaging. I knew that there was no way I was going to use them any time soon, if ever.
So I sold all of those Creative Memories materials on eBay.
I still do have some scrapbooking materials – pretty papers, stickers, etc. I’m letting Caroline use them from time to time, rationing them out a bit so she doesn’t go through them in a week. LOL!
But all of the pages and pocket pages and stuff like that is gone. I’ve released it to other people who will use it and enjoy it. It no longer takes up mental space or physical space in my home. If I ever do decide to get back into scrapbooking in the future, I can go shopping and buy what I need.
Sometimes our lives change and we need to remove the materials from old hobbies. The reasons for dropping the hobbies might vary. It could be due to health, season of life, finances, time, or something else. Whatever it is, it’s important to let go of the hobby materials if you truly aren’t going to use them any longer. By getting rid of them you will free up physical, emotional, and financial space.
Do you have unused hobby materials that need to go? Are you hanging on to products that you simply don’t use and probably never will? Who could you give them to? Or could you sell them on eBay and use the money for something that really would be helpful today?
Day 7 – The Last Decluttering Push
It’s the last day of our decluttering week. Time to push toward the end! I still have a ways to go on my goals and have company coming today. I’m not sure how this is going to work, but I know that I’ve cleaned out quite a bit this week.
If you feel like you just don’t have time to keep going on your decluttering project, here are some suggestions that have worked for me in my life over the years.
- Try to do just 5-10 items for a few minutes.
- Find some things to throw away.
- Remember that sometimes just getting started will get the ball rolling!
Everything you do accomplish is worthwhile. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. Even getting half way through what you wanted to accomplish is better than giving up because you feel overwhelmed, got behind, etc.
Rejoice in what you did accomplish and then let those results spur you on in the days ahead to keep going!
What I did: Okay, I’m really proud of myself for getting through this challenge. I didn’t get through all of my goals, but I made progress on each one!
I’m going to keep at them as I work toward back to school. Hopefully I will get through all of them.