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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

De-Cluttering and Purging Your Home

Have you ever watched the show Clean House or Hoarders?  These shows are eye-opening!  Both of these shows are based on helping families who have issues with clutter or purchasing.  I just watched Hoarders the other night for about 15 minutes and was overwhelmed by the need some people have to hold on to their stuff.

These are folks who can't stop shopping, are going into serious debt because of their habit, are on the verge of losing relationships, and simply have a path (maybe) through their home because there is stuff everywhere.  They can't seem to let go of it.  It's a serious emotional issue that requires therapy and outside help.  Some of them have lost spouses and children (broken relationships) because they just can't get a hold on why they shop and can't seem to quit accumulating material things. 

The lady on Hoarders the other night had anywhere between $10,000 to $20,000 of collectibles sitting in her home that she could likely sell according to the experts brought in, but she preferred to keep the stuff instead of freeing up space and adding some financial peace to her life.  Her husband said he was contemplating leaving her if she couldn't get help and clear their home of clutter.

Time to purge...!

Every time I watch one of these shows, (which isn't as often recently), I find myself purging yet again in our house.  We live in a humble 1,400 square foot home that fits us perfectly as a family of four.  But, I am constantly aware of the stuff we seem to accumulate despite my efforts of purging and giving away things regularly.

Our home had an attic above the garage when we moved in and were were thankful for it because we don't have a basement for "extras".  When I say extras, I mean Christmas decorations, suitcases, camping gear, etc.  Well, we discovered quickly once the girls came along that we would need to switch out seasonal clothing from the closets to the attic because our closets are relatively small and can't fit both seasons (and we don't have that many clothes either).  So, my husband built in a set of stairs on the opposite side of the house off our hallway and put in plywood up there so we could store seasonal clothing and a few other items I would like to be able to access easily.

I have to admit, it's become my "catch-all".  When I don't want to get rid of something but don't want it in the house anymore, I toss it up there.  It's not the organized space I originally had or intended to keep.  There are toys up there from when the girls were little, bedspreads we don't use anymore (but might?), two rolling carts of extra craft stuff (we will enjoy some fun crafts in the weeks to come!), and so much more that I need to go through and purge!  I will be working on that during the next few weeks so I can enjoy a clean and organized space once again. 

De-cluttering your home is not difficult, but it can be time consuming and therefore become overwhelming and daunting to some people.  Here are some tips that have worked for me when I de-clutter my home that keep me from throwing my hands into the air and giving up completely.

De-Cluttering Tips
  • Take on one room at a time - yes, I know that sometimes you find stuff that goes into another room or you think of something that could be used to organize the room you're currently working in, but try to focus on one room at a time so you don't become easily overwhelmed.  I find that this process helps me to conquer more spaces in a timely manner rather than trashing my entire house at one time.
  • Accept that it will possibly get worse before it gets better.  I can't tell you the number of times I get half way through a space, and look around and get really tired and discouraged.  But, if that happens, take a break (chocolate is good!) and then come back with renewed vigor and finish it up.
  • Get three containers - one for giving away, one for selling, and one for keeping.  This way, you can automatically fill containers as you're going through closets, attics, garages, or under the bed.  I seem to have two give-away containers when I de-clutter - one is for items I want to share with other moms in my homeschool co-op, and one for Goodwill.  Do what works for you.  If you're not interested in selling anything (it does take time and it sits around a while), then just give it away!  
  • Good rule of thumb - if you haven't worn it or used it in a year, give it to someone who could use it.  This rule doesn't apply to items you use perhaps once or twice a year such as canning jars or the birthday cake pedestal - you know what I mean.
  • Start small if you don't have a lot of time during a day - begin with the junk drawer or the cluttered counter that seems to catch everything when family members walk in.  For me, it's a large basket underneath my counter - it's the place I put things I think I will deal with "later".  When it fills up, it's time for me to go through it, which is usually about once a month.  But, stuff gets lost in there, so I need to find another alternative.
  • Take the Goodwill bags/boxes to the drop off center the same day if at all possible.  At the very least, load it into your vehicle to drop off on your way past the center the following day.
  • Ask the following questions as you work:  Do I absolutely love it?  Can I live without it?  Does it make my life easier or more difficult?
  • Purge regularly - everyone has a different strategy, but do what works for you and fits into your lifestyle.  Take five minutes a day to de-clutter.  Take a weekend now and then if that works for you.  Or designate one week to do a room a day in your home.  It's up to you how you de-clutter, but just get started!
I love, love my home when it is organized and things are in their place.  It's freedom!  It provides a sense of calm in our home that isn't there when things are lying around or when my basket under the counter is overflowing (smile).

How do you de-clutter?  Do you find it helps you function more efficiently when your home is clean and uncluttered?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

All my best to you today,