Do you ever look around your house and think, “Wow we have to much stuff!”, or “Where did all of this stuff come from?”, or “I’m sick of looking at all of this stuff.” Yeah, I do too.
Then after realizing you have too much stuff your next thought is, “What do I do with all of this crap?” Your mind is running over different scenarios of having to take time off to sort through it, figure out what to donate, what to do with what you need to keep, and how to organize it all. It’s a scary, overwhelming, and draining process to think about if you have too much stuff.
So let’s break this down and start from the beginning. How do you figure what “stuff” you own is important and necessary to keep? Well, before a few weeks ago I would have told you it was usually a long process. But now I believe I have stumbled onto a much quicker way of doing things if you are willing to try. Are you with me?
A few months ago we decided based on our hot real estate market we should try to sell our house and possibly downsize. We made this decision very quickly, as in 24 hours because we found a ranch style house we wanted and the price had just dropped. So I got my professional organizer butt in gear and started de-cluttering, cleaning, and staging! I managed to get it done in about six hours.
I bought boxes and I went room to room. Anything out on any surface that didn’t need to be either went into the trash, donate box, or went into a keep box. I didn’t hold it out unless it was something I knew I would immediately need, or it was an action item. This includes all extra whatnots, glasses in cupboards, coffee mugs, board games we weren’t playing with, and books. I was relentless and determined and didn’t stop to make decisions about sentimental items. I just had the mindset of we are moving very soon and I need to get this house ready. I could sort through this stuff later. Once we had an offer I could slow down with the rest of the house.
Here’s the kicker:
We decided not to move. Yes that’s right we are staying put and I now how a room full of boxes filled with clutter. We have only opened a few to get out specific items. The rest have stayed closed and I’m beginning to forget what’s in them. What the heck do I do now?
As Oprah would say I had an A HA Moment! I recalled how I had read The Minimalists had a similar experience when they were morphing into minimalists about packing boxes and if they don’t get opened for thirty days then they got rid of them. Now these guys are a tad braver than I, but I get their point.
I have decided to take another few hours one day and open each box and if I really absolutely didn’t miss or don’t need it I will donate it, consign it, or trash it.
I will not put anything I packed away back into our main living areas again though. I am loving the way this house looks all clean and de-cluttered.
Do you get my new method? Let me explain in steps.
DIY Quick De-clutter Method
1. Pretend you are going to sell your house.
2. Give yourself eight hours to de-clutter your entire house. (I’m feeling generous and giving you two extra hours).
3. Buy boxes, tape, packing paper, and some wine/beer for later.
4. Start with flat surfaces and be nondiscriminatory.
a. If it’s papers you need to file but don’t need right now put them in a box, if it’s clothes on the chair you need to hang put them in a box, if it’s whatnots crowding up your shelves gathering dust, put them in a box. Remember you are pretend “staging” your house to show the public so your unique/scary/overly strange collections should be put in a box. Remove unique artwork, anything that makes a loud statement should be removed.
b. Toys: anything that can’t be put neatly in a toy bin or the closet should be put in a box. If it’s been in the closet and not played with donate it. Just move quickly.
c. Kitchen: I thought I might need space to hide things we use everyday so I quickly got rid of an entire extra plate setting for 12, I got rid of extra coffee mugs, seasonal items, anything we literally don’t use everyday went in a box.
5. Label boxes by room and contents.
6. If you think you have it done (or when your timer goes off at eight hours) then have your spouse or a friend go through and take a look.
7. Store boxes in garage, basement, or guest room (out of sight).
8. Give the house a good cleaning now that all of the clutter is out of the way (yes you can wait until the next day).
9. Finally take a look around at your work and take a deep breath! It’s amazing right?
Have a glass or wine or pop open a beer and relax!
Seriously, take a walk from room to room and feel the difference. The papers you needed to file are gone. The toy mess is gone. The counter clutter is gone. There was no magic here. You simply got rid of (for now) what you don’t need and quickly figured out what “stuff” really matters.
For now don’t worry about the stuff in the boxes. It’s safe and sound and it’s still yours. Just sit with your house the way it is for a little bit. I’ll say 30 days like The Minimalists recommend.
Then we can begin the process of unpacking and purging those boxes.
I challenge you to make a commitment to not unpack a box in 30 days (yes, you can get out items if you find you need them…my husband couldn’t live without his martini shaker).
By the end I hope you will also commit to not putting back a single item into your main living space that you de-cluttered. I’m not saying you can’t keep or store some items but you have made room for the new. In your home and in your soul! Just wait and see!
Let us know some of your best tips to decluttering as quick as possible!
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