Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Conquer Clutter: Master the Mess in a Month

Clutter is like laundry and dishes.  It never goes away.  You can do some things to help minimize the clutter in your home, but kids grow up and we go through different changes in our lives.  Things wear out and need to be replaced and we grow out of or don’t like some of the things we used to.  The purpose of this book is to provide an organized way to get rid of and clean out your home in a month.  I am using examples from my own home as I walk you through my experience and provide ideas of ways to do things as well as questions to ask yourself.  As it is the beginning of a new year, I am starting in January, but you can start whenever you want.  The process is the same whether you start at the beginning of a year, the beginning of a month or the begging of any day in the month.  The most important thing is to start.
If your husband is watching football, get a piece of paper and start your plan while you sit with him in the room.  If you like to watch sports, plan when they have time outs or during the commercials.  If you are watching a favorite television show, use the commercials to plan for your month of clutter busting.
First, make a list of every room in your home.  Include the garage, laundry room, hall closets, etc.  This is an example of our current home:
Master Bedroom
Master Bathroom
Computer Room
Guest Bedroom
Guest Bathroom
Coat closet
Living Room
Linen Closet
Family Room
Extra room
Closet under stairs
Storage closet downstairs
Pantry Closet
Kid’s Bedroom #1
Kid’s Bedroom #2
Kid’s Bathroom
Laundry Room
Next,     figure out how many days you can reasonable clean and declutter your home in the month.  For example, January has 31 days, but I don’t clean on Sundays, so I have 27 days to clean.  If I had a very busy day coming up, I would skip cleaning that day, and would have 26.  Once you have the number of days you have available to work, divide the days between the number of rooms and closets you have to clean.  For example,
Master Bedroom -3 days
Master Bathroom -1 day
Computer Room -2 days
Guest bathroom and Coat Closet – 1 day
                After you finish planning how many days you will spend on each room, you can either get started or go into a little more detail.  For example, I am spending 3 days on the Master Bedroom.  I plan on cleaning my closet one day, my husband’s closet another day, and vacuuming, dusting, cleaning out the night stand and changing sheets on the third day.
                It doesn’t matter where you start, just start and keep track of what you have done.  Today I started with my closet.  I removed all of my shoes from the floor and vacuumed.  I put back the shoes I wear regularly.  I saw some dust on three pairs of shoes.  Two are shoes that I wear in the summer, so I just dusted and put them back.  The third pair with dust was a pair of shoes that I haven’t worn for a few years.  It is probably time to get rid of them since I don’t wear them.  Go through your shoes and see if there are ones you no longer wear, no longer like or no longer fit.  Figure out how many pairs of shoes you need to get by.  I have a pair of running shoes for exercise and a pair of tennis shoes for walking, etc.  I don’t need more than that.  Next, go through your dresses, skirts, etc. hanging in your closet.  I wear most of the clothes I have.  But, I do have a few things I really like that don’t fit.  If I don’t wear them in the next year, they are gone.  Look at the condition of your clothes.  I have a few shirts with stains that need to be replaced, so I will get rid of them when they are replaced since I need them for now.  I read about an idea to find out what you really wear.  Turn all your hangers the opposite way.  As you wear each item of clothing, turn the hanger it is on the right way.  After a few months, you will be able to see what you do and don’t wear.  Get rid of the things you don’t wear.  Most people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time.  Chances are that you have a lot of things that you don’t wear or that don’t fit any more.  It is nice to open your closet and know that things fit instead of taking a long time trying on several things before you find something that will work for you.  Less stuff equals more peace.  It means fewer things to take care of and having more time for yourself.  I have a few things in my closet that I will tackle later.  These are some gifts that I got from my children.  I will ask them if they want them and then decide what to do.  I also have a few journals that I will go though later.  I have some nice pictures I want to put up, but am not sure where to put them.  Now is not the time to decide what to do with these things.  There aren’t too many things and they don’t take too much space.  If I finish cleaning the things that need my attention more, then I can spend the extra time going through some of these later today.  Be careful not to get burdened by these kinds of things that take a little more thought.  The first day is over and my closet is clean.  This is what it looks like now.  

You can tell I started painting my closet and didn’t finish.  I will put that on a list of things to do and will tackle it when the weather is nicer and I can open windows while I paint.  I also wrote down a few things I need to replace.  As I have extra money in the budget, I will look at the list of things I need to replace and choose something I need. Don’t go out and buy any storage containers.  They are used a lot of the time to hide your clutter instead of face it.  Don’t keep anything you don’t want to take care of.  If you have clothes that need dry cleaning, think about whether you really want to keep paying to dry clean those clothes.  If you have a hard time discarding things and donating them, consider selling them through a consignment shop.  I haven’t suggested selling them on the internet because many people keep clutter in their homes and garage just waiting to sell them on the internet.  If you are motivated to sell them that way, set a date that you have to have them sold by or they are out of the house for good.  If you donate them, get a receipt for your contribution to help save money on your taxes.  Having less stuff simplifies your life.  You have more time to take care of what you have when you have less.  You also can do a better job taking care of things when there are fewer things to be responsible for. 

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