As we start on our first collective organizing challenge, I thought it was important to share how I start my projects – with the goal of decluttering.  Or uncluttering, if you like.

Declutter is not a word, let’s be clear on that.  Unclutter is a word.  No matter which one you use, they have the same goal in mind:

Get all that extra stuff you don’t need out of your house.

When I moved from Madison to DC in March, I had to do this on a pretty big scale.  I went through each room, each closet, each nook in the house and evaluate whether or not we should move it.  This was a bit of a daunting task for me.  I get pretty attached to my “stuff” and I really dislike throwing perfectly usable products,  so I really needed to exercise a lot of rational thinking while going through each room.  This was both physically and mentally tiring, but in the end the whole process was worth it.

We were able to donate, give away or toss a lot of things I had been holding onto since college (for no good reason in a lot of cases), which not only made our move a little bit easier, but also gave us a feeling of starting over with a clean slate once we arrived on the East Coast.

As you start your next organizing project, here’s a few tips for how to get started:

  1. Set a goal and keep this goal in mind while working
    • What should the purpose of this space be? What do you want this space to look like when you’re done?  How do you want this space to make you feel?
    • Maybe you need to set smaller goals – so for this first day you’re really just trying to get all that extra stuff that you don’t need out of your house.  And that’s it.  While moving, that was a really powerful idea to keep in my head as I worked.
  2. Put on some music! Make this a fun time for you.
  3. Clear everything out of the space
    • Take all the spices off the shelf; take all your clothes out of the closet; remove everything from the bookcase.
    • This allows you to:
      • actually see how MUCH stuff you’ve accumulated (and how this is unnecessary in most cases).
      • resets how you view your belongings, since you’re seeing them in a new environment.
  4. Sort First – Like with the Like
    • Put all your black cardigans in one pile (OMG that was scary for me); put all your sock yarns together; group all the kitchen utensils together.
    • By putting all similar items in one group, it’s easy to identify duplicates as well as areas you might be lacking.
  5. Sort again – Donate, Toss, Keep
    • Set up three distinct piles or boxes: one for donations, one for the trash, and one for things to keep.
    • Go through each and every item and decide if this will be donated, tossed, or kept.
    • Donated clothes and goods must be in decent shape in order to be accepted.  Any clothes that are too worn out should be tossed or turned into rags (but only if you actually use rags and don’t have a huge pile already.  even your rag pile should be decluttered).
    • Everything you want to keep should be things you actually use/wear and are happy to keep in your home.  You could go as far to say that you need to love everything that you own or everything you keep brings your some amount of joy.  Just keep this goal in mind as you sort!

Hopefully this gives you the push to go and get started! I’m starting on my spice shelf today and will share the full results next week.

Happy organizing!

2 Thoughts on “Declutter/Unclutter/How I Moved Across the Country

  1. David Seal on 28 July 2013 at 4:22 pm said:

    I think I’m going to start putting dates on the bottom of all of my spices!

    a.) I don’t want to be using dated spices. If my jar of dill is four years old and I still use it, I should spend the 50 cents at the coop to get it refilled.

    b.) If I have spices that were used once to cook some Indian dish one time five years ago, I don’t want the clutter if I’m not using them.

    • Dave- That’s a really good idea! I might do that too! Especially with those Indian spices. I just bought a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook and I’m trying not to go overboard on new spices…

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