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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The De-Cluttering Survey: Systems

Photo by: photostock

Do you need inspiration and help with simplifying your life, especially with organizing your home? Is it hard for you to throw things away? You’re not alone!

I asked twenty expert de-clutterers to share their tips, systems, and opinions with you. I’m excited about this survey, because it’s so very practical. Enjoy!

1. Do you have a system for de-cluttering your home?  Yes—14   No—6
If yes, could you describe it, briefly?

“I try to have a proper place for everything and put things away after using. When I notice that a particular storage area is getting filled up, I go through it to see what I can get rid of. Excess paperwork in the filing cabinet gets shredded then put in the recycle bin. Donatable items such as clothing and housewares get bagged up and taken to various charities. And, real junk hits the trash!”

“I take one room at a time and work my way around the room and make piles for each room that the stuff goes to. When the room is de-cluttered and my piles are made, I head to each room with the designated pile and put it all away. Also, if I'm trying to get rid of ‘stuff,’ I make three piles. I make a pile for keep, give away, and throw away.  It's pretty easy to decide given those three options, and soon the job is done and the house is free of some useless junk. I usually do a big de-clutter trying to get rid of stuff about twice a year.”  

 “I don't do it regularly but when I see a need—a storage area getting too crowded, etc.—then I'll go through things. I don't know if I have a system exactly. I don't do the ‘If you haven't used it in a year’ thing because that's not an indicator of whether I might use/need/want it in the future. I do ask myself how likely it is that I'll use it, whether it would be of more use to someone else than it is to me sitting in storage, how much it would cost to replace it if I got rid of it and then decided I wanted it. Some things are easy to toss out with those questions; some are harder. Usually, if I have any qualms about getting rid of it, I keep it, if storage is not an issue. Moving is a different situation. I am more inclined to get rid of things then, because I don't want to keep dragging things around with me or find a place for unnecessary things in the new house.”
 “I try to get rid of stuff that does not have a specific purpose. Some things I may keep for a time, but once it goes for a while and is not used or played with, it gets given away.”

“We just try to have drawers, baskets, drawer dividers, etc. so everything has the right place. If something is not going to be used, we throw it or give it away and try not to keep things we don’t need. We go through these dividers, drawers, baskets, etc. every few months and discard what we know we won’t use, or we give it away. We have moved many times, so that has helped a lot!”

“I have a shelving system with labeled plastic bins to keep things that are or will be needed in the future: various school supplies, camping items, etc. Seasonally, I room by room go through closets and “purge” out things that no longer fit the kids or are no longer used, either boxing up to save for younger children that may grow into it, or to sell or donate.”

“The rule in my house is: always keep a box by the front door. If you pick something up and see that you haven't used it in a long time or can't think of another time you will use it, put it in the box! Keep a pilgrim mentality. Ask yourself, ‘If God wanted me to move today would I need this?’ If you don't want to just donate something because of its value then put a sticky note on it with the person you want to bless with it, or a sticky note of EXACTLY what you're going to do with it to sell it. Sticky notes are great! If you have a large family then just get a larger box. :) Sometimes, you may need to separate box for ‘sell/give,’ and a ‘donate’ box. I've seen the system work with families of eight kids! For example: if it is a toy your child doesn't play with anymore and all the others have outgrown it, ‘put it in the box!’”

“I wait until I can’t stand it anymore and start throwing stuff away, which usually gets me in trouble. So, in reality, I guess the answer is no, I don’t have a system, because a system implies pro-activity instead of reactivity.”

“Moving helps. We've recently downsized to a smaller place now that the kids are grown. We knew we couldn't keep the twenty-something years of ‘stuff’ we had acquired. Not having the option to just move it all helps. It does hurt at the beginning but gets easier with practice. Why are we soooo attached to this stuff anyway? Being able to give stuff away for the use of others is helpful. I also try not to keep too many things just because of sentimental value. (I am not cold hearted.) I am sure I still keep tons of things because of just sentimental value (which is not getting easier now with grandbabies and their drawings, etc.) I try to take pictures or scan things like a cute story or picture one of my kids did back when they were small and pass the hard copy on to them to save or trash.  I more and more dislike having stuff just sitting around (knickknacks). I like to be able to dust without having to move tons of things out of the way to do it. Any clutter that starts to build up usually gets sorted through by the next dusting. . . . We also gave our kids weekly jobs to do as they were growing up. One was that of making a nightly sweep through the kitchen, dining room, and living room and return anything lying around to whomever's bedroom. Books, toys, and shoes were back in their room each evening. It’s something we still do unconsciously.”  

“Usually, once every two or three months, I will go through clothes to see what is in good shape or outgrown and toys that are in good shape. I will sell the things that are too old or too small on a yard sale site.”

“Every evening, I clear off all surfaces and put things away where they belong. I have file baskets for the kids' school work, and their papers that need to be graded go in there at the end of the day. Every week I empty the file basket and store tests and important work in binders. Every two to three months, I go through closets and take out clothes that no longer fit or are worn out. There is nothing in a closet that hasn't been worn in the past year. I also clean all kitchen cabinets every couple of months and give away dishes or utensils that aren't used. We have very little storage space, so if I don't use it, I don't keep it.”

“I always have a ‘discard’ pile. When I do laundry, if something is stained/ripped beyond repair, it goes in the trash. If something doesn't fit well or I decided not to store it for future kids, it goes in the donate basket. My kids have labels on their toy bins. Most of the time they put toys away on their own. About once a week, I help them, and we make sure that everything is sorted into the right spot. As we sort, if I find broken, junky, or old toys that are no longer needed (especially after a birthday/Christmas/grandma box when they get something new), then we put it in the trash or donate bin. A new stuffed animal ALWAYS means selected one to share with someone else. About twice a year, or whenever I get the ‘itch’ to de-clutter, I go through closets, out-of-season clothing bins, extra toys, kitchen, etc. and select items that are not used much. These are donated. Usually, it happens around the change of seasons when I am changing out the clothes in the closets. Regarding children's clothing, I do not have space to save everything for future children. I save the basics like socks, jammies, coats, etc. I select my favorite outfits or the ones in the best condition to save (usually about five outfits per season, per size). This cuts down on the clutter and ensures I am saving clothes that will actually get used again. In my experience, there are always thrift stores and hand-me-downs, and God has always provided what we need at the time, so it's not just up to me to store enough to provide for my kids. I also have an inventory list of what clothing I have in each children's size, so that when I am thrifting/shopping I don't get caught up in the great sale so much that I am only adding clutter to my clothing bins. I can check if I already own sneakers in that size before I purchase. This keeps the clothing clutter under control. The inventory is in my day planner, so it is almost always with me.”

“I just learned to grab things on every trip through the house and put them away. When cooking, I try to wash dishes as I go to keep the kitchen from getting too messy.”


Did you enjoy reading these? Are you inspired? Come back in two days for the next installment of the De-Cluttering Survey!

The standout quotes from today:

Keep a pilgrim mentality.

Why are we soooo attached to this stuff anyway? 

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