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Decluttering - I'm serious this time!

June 15th, 2008 at 05:35 pm

I must confess - our house is a mess. Plain and simple. We just are lousy at keeping things neat and organized. I occasionally get upset with our daughter for having stuff strewn all over, and then my wife points out that we haven't set much of an example for her to follow.

I'm a piler. Every flat surface tends to have a stack of papers, magazines, books, whatever, whether it is my desk, the computer desk, the dresser in the hall, the kitchen table, the floor, the closet, etc.

About 4 or 5 weeks ago, I once again realized my dresser was covered with assorted crap. I came up with an idea. I committed to taking care of at least one item per day on the dresser that didnít belong there. That might have meant throwing out a receipt I didnít need, putting something back where it actually belonged, filing a paper that I had left out, putting loose change into my change bank, or whatever else needed to be done. I stuck with it, most days doing multiple items, not just one, though some days I did do only one thing. After about a week, I had cleared off a pretty decent section and what was left was stuff that pretty much belonged there. Iím glad to say that I have continued to keep the dresser cleared off since then.

Once the dresser was cleared, I moved on to my desk, home to a couple of ever-present piles of assorted papers and a vast assortment of other junk. Over several days, I got one pile down to nothing except items that are part of a project I am currently working on. The other pile was cut in half, though there is still work to be done with what remains.

Then I started branching out tackling the ďto be shreddedĒ pile in a few shredding sessions, papers piled under the desk and on the computer scanner and a few other places. The past few days I started attacking the large bookcase in the computer room. Just before posting this, for example, I cleaned off the Travel shelf, tossing outdated guidebooks, maps and other items that we no longer needed, putting them all in the recycling bin.

Little by little, my efforts are starting to show. There is noticeably more floor space and desk space in the computer room. The kitchen table pile isnít gone, but now holds just current items. The bookcase has started looking much neater (at least on the 3 shelves I have worked on so far).

Is any of this financial? Kind of. One thing that invariably happens when we clean is we find things we had forgotten we had. Knowing we have them and where to find them helps prevent us from buying duplicate replacement items at a later date. For example, there is now a neat stack of spiral notebooks on the bookcase and another stack of 3-ring binders. When it is time to shop for school supplies for next year, that supply will get checked first before heading to Target or Wal-Mart.

Reducing clutter is also a psychological thing. I just feel better looking around and seeing what Iíve accomplished so far. I still see plenty left to do, but seeing what is already done helps motivate me to keep at it. And taking it in little steps of one item per day helped keep it a manageable goal, rather than being overwhelmed by the big picture.

8 Responses to “Decluttering - I'm serious this time!”

  1. Ms. Pearl Says:

    I too suffer from the clutter virus and I know exactly how you feel. Isn't is amazing to find you own 10 pair of scissors after major declutterinng? My main problem is that I declutter but then let things pile up again. I heard if that happens it meant you had a bad system to begin with. I laughed about the school supply thing, currently I have my bills/grocery list/meal plans and important receipts in a large three ring binder my daughter won't use anymore! Good luck with your decluttering!

  2. Amber Says:

    I second that. I got a little annoyed today and cleared out some things and found $10

  3. JanH Says:

    I loved the word "piler." That describes both me and my father to a "T." I have been doing the same as you. Clearing out clutter a section at a time. I've figured out the same as you. Once the stuff is gone, I love the cleared site so much that I try to keep it that way. I have to revisit areas every so often to keep it free. I'm tackling the garage in tiny steps now and one day hope to demolish the stuff in the attic. And, I'm still shredding things out of files. Sheesh.

  4. toyguy1963 Says:

    Thats the basic plan I've been doing for some time too. I look at it like this. I took around 40 years to make the mess so I have to give myself a bit of time to get out of the mess. I call it my "paper challenge" Its really helped me out although I'm still cluttered and messy. Its getting better and better though.
    Good luck.

  5. creditcardfree Says:

    I'm a little opposite and tend to be a bit more compulsive about clutter. I just don't like it. Now, I do have some piles and clutter...but I have less than the average person. I know this because I've been told by friends, family and professional movers.

    You are handling it the right way, small steps, small spaces at a time. And it is definitely financially related in so many ways. Keep up the good work.

  6. snoopycool Says:

    I've had a revelation in my life dealing with crap and that is this: I'm so much happier when I have the basics that I use, where I need them, and nothing else is there. I really feel less stressed! I hate having to look at things in piles and feel overwhelmed because I don't know where to start. Luckily, this weekend is garage sale weekend and I have a deadline to meet.

    Good luck on your decluttering, too!

  7. koppur Says:

    I'm just like you. I look at a clear surface adn think it looks empty, then the piles start. Moving helped clean out stuff a lot, but it's a hard habit to break. Congrats on doing so well!

  8. luxlivingfrugalis Says:

    I declutter too, with an eye for resale. Now when I shop I try to look at it the same way. If I'm willing for it to be in the house awhile as decoration or such then okay, but will it resell??? Then when I'm tired of it - off it goes to one of my junque' booths.

    Flylady.net has been a major help as well in getting the C.H.A.O.S. (Can't Have Any One Over Syndrome) & STUFF gone!

    Good going DisneySteve, do you have a day available to come clean my house??? Big Grin

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