Now that I’m out of my funk, I’m ready to do this. Decluttering, here I come! Especially with Baby #2 on the way. I desperately want to feel relaxed and comfortable in my own home…and I cannot do that in its current state.

I feel like I’ve read 1,000 different articles on how to declutter. Do one room at a time! Don’t do one room at a time. Do one item throughout the house at a time! Throw everything away and start fresh! Is there something wrong with me? Why has this project eluded me for so long??? (To read more about how to get out of a decluttering funk, click here.)

Personally, I have a few things that are at the core of my being that explain why I struggle with decluttering.

  • I was born to immigrant parents. I’m not saying all immigrant parents are “savers” (mine certainly were) but it seems to be where I got my saving tendencies from. I never realized until I was way deep into adulthood that my parents never really threw anything out! This probably stemmed from not having many material items growing up and being extremely resourceful and creative with what they did have.
  • I’m a teacher. I can already hear the teachers out there saying, “What? I’m not like that!” Yes, it’s true that not all teachers are savers…in fact, many of my teacher friends are minimalists! (But then they end up coming to me for things, LOL.) As a young teacher starting out with absolutely NOTHING, I started shopping like there was no tomorrow. Then I realized that there was such a thing as the Black Hole of School Spending. You will never have enough money to buy all the things your students/classroom need. So you resort to the next best thing. Freebies. Whenever veteran teachers would throw out their old treasures, I’d be the first one scavenging outside their classroom. As a result, I’ve amassed a record amount of stuff no one will ever use, need, or miss for the next 45 years.
  • I’m a massive recycler. I don’t just mean cans and glass bottles. I mean, washing out the sour cream container and reusing it kind of recycling. Level 10 stuff. I literally have a problem with throwing things out. 
  • I’m sentimental. I’m actually growing less so the older I get. Huh. Anyway. Hubs and I are BOTH sentimental, so there’s a double whammy! When one of us starts to throw something out, the other one will rescue it! It’s horrible!

So…now that I’m aware of who I’m dealing with (myself), here is my plan of attack:

  • Start with the “throw away” stuff. I think this is the easiest. In my mind, “decluttering” and “cleaning” are two separate entities. Throwing away stuff almost crosses the line into the cleaning world. I need to start by throwing away:
    • things that no longer work
    • things with missing pieces/parts
    • things that are empty/all gone
    • things no one else in their right mind would want/need/use

I struggle with throwing things away but I think if I tell myself “no one else would use this!” it will make ripping the bandaid off easier.

I’ve read about questions to ask yourself before determining an item’s “throw-away-ability”. Do I love this item? Have I used it in the past year? Does it make me happy? 

I have come up with more questions of my own for determining an item’s worth.

1. Do I need this item? Like truly need? 

2. Have I ever used this item? Will I ever use it? Could someone else use it? If I haven’t used it by now, the likelihood of me ever using it is slim to none. 

3. Does this item serve its purpose? For instance, is the treadmill actually being used as a treadmill or a giant clothes hanger?

4. Does this item have sentimental value? I have a lot of items that bring me sentimental value…but I can take a picture of those things and let someone else enjoy the them if they are not currently in use.

  • Move to the “recycle” pile. Recycling can mean both “putting it in the plastic blue bin in the alley” and “let’s cut this up and turn it into a shower curtain”. Although is that considered “repurposing”? Whatever. If I think I will actually reuse the item, keep it. Otherwise, out it goes. Things to recycle:
    • old paperwork – This is a biggie for us. Hubs has saved every receipt, owner’s manual, and menu known to man. I need to dedicate a day (or two) just to our filing cabinet and dump everything from before 2017. Except for tax stuff.
    • plastic containers, cardboard boxes, packaging
    • my school stuff – I have a gazillion trillion papers in boxes and file folders…when will they ever be used? Seriously?

5. Does this item have a home? If it does, put it in its home. If it doesn’t…find it a home or out it goes.

  • Move to the “sell” pile. Here is where I get stuck. So many of my household items are in decluttering purgatory. They are living in limbo in a brown paper bag in the living room, waiting to be loved by someone else. Problem is, no one has wanted to claim said items. I need to set a deadline for when these items must be sold by…once the deadline has passed, off they go to the donation pile.
  • Last but not least, move to the “donate” pile. I feel I need to be judicious about the things I put in this pile. I need to ask myself “Annie…seriously…would anyone want this?” If the answer is no, there you go. Back up to the “throw away” pile it goes. 

Decluttering is fluid and ever changing. It’s a PROCESS, not an EVENT. 

Now…where to begin? 

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks,

 

 

Decluttering 101: Plan of Attack