Rules For Decluttering

I’ve been on a serious spring cleaning spree the past couple of weeks.  I recently did my kitchen in the 30 Minute Declutter Challenge, and it went so well that I’ve been working my way through the house.

Today I tackled my sons’ room.  It’s a small-ish room, and they had it packed to the gills with toys, drawings, and school memorbilia from years past.  They do get attached to their things, but eventually something’s got to give.  There’s just not enough space for all of the things they want to keep.

Here’s what one side of their room looked like before I started:

And here’s what it looked like when I was done!  (Sorry for the camera shift.)

Take a look at the time lapse video below:

Getting started with decluttering can be a real challenge for many people.  Here are my rules for making it as painless as possible.

1. Each item in your space can only have one of three labels: Keep, Trash, or Donate (to the Goodwill, the Salvation Army, a local shelter, etc). Start with two garbage bags of different colours.  One will be your “Trash” bag (ie. black bags), and the other will be your “Donate” bag (ie. orange bags).  I use bags instead of boxes because they hold so much more, and I can buy lots of them at one time.  That way there’s no opportunity for procrastination when there are no more boxes.

2. Don’t think too long about where each item should go.  When you take a book off a shelf, either put it in the Trash bag, the Donate bag, or put it back on the shelf.  You should be able to find a spot for the things you’re keeping very quickly.  If you can’t find a spot for it relatively quickly, you need to pass it on – donate it.

3. Don’t second guess.  If it’s in the Trash bag, don’t start to wonder if you’ll need it again next year.  When in doubt, consider this: Would the amount of space the item takes up justify keeping it “just in case” you need it again sometime in the future?  Imagine having to pay rent on that space (since really, you are paying for heat, air conditoning and electricity for that space in your home).  Is it worth it?

4. Remove the unwanted items from your home as quickly as possible.  Drive the Donate bag to the closest drop box, and get the Trash bags ready for your next collection or drive them to the dump asap.

I’d love to hear your decluttering story! 

How has your spring cleaning gone this year?


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