I don't know about you, but I'm tired of spending vacation days cleaning out the garage! I know, but what if the kids will want it someday…hmmm, maybe I can re-gift this…oh and my personal favorite, when I lose the weight, I'll fit in that again (never mind that it went out of style a decade ago). We deceive ourselves with excuses for why we hold on to things we don't use and will probably never use. The reality is physical clutter distracts us, consumes our time and our money. When we begin to eliminate the physical obstacles we also extinguish the mental confusion in our life. Double bonus!
As mentioned in my strategy piece, either the Chip Away or Blitz method will work. Regardless of the method you choose, these five steps will help you navigate the process.
1. Put yourself in a good emotional state.
Put on your boxing gloves and be ready for a good fight! Envision the outcome. This is a good article I read that will help you with prepping your mind for the battle. The questions we ask ourselves will determine our success. http://www.newminimalism.com/blog/11-questions
2. Assess the mess.
Decide on you plan of attack and prepare for it. Have garbage bags ready to go and boxes ready for the haul to your favorite donation place. If you're choosing to make a day of it, make it fun - I don't know about you, but pizza always makes things more fun for me!
3 Assess your emotional attachment.
If you find yourself very attached to something, try to find a home for it where you know it will be cherished. I had a friend who had a beautiful wooden cigar box collection; the boxes were unique in every way and some probably quite valuable. She came across a man who made musical instruments from cigar boxes and her precious boxes found a new home and a new purpose.
3. Partner in crime.
Ask a friend who has no emotional attachment to your memories to help you sort. Make sure not to pick the friend that is holding on to more stuff than you; well, unless they are asking you to reciprocate the effort! Make sure your friend knows that they should not allow you to talk yourself out of it.
4. Sort, sort, sort...toss, give, keep!
Make three piles… that which you will throw away, give away, and return to its proper place. And, for real traction, try the 70/30 rule! With the exception of the furniture you use; couch, dining table, beds, etc. seek to toss or give away 70% of your stuff. I know this sounds scary, but if you aspire to 70% and succeed at 50%, you're still going to feel like you shed a lifetime of clutter.
5. Avoid building up again.
When you get to the place that feels good, implement the in/out method. If you buy or bring in something new, something else must go. Set a goal for yourself… I don't want to own more than 100, 200...things. The number is yours to choose, but stick to it! And, promise yourself that you will no longer have a junk drawer, junk room, garage or worse yet, storage room that you're paying absorbent prices for.
Closet Clutter - This deserves its own section!
Don't keep clothes you don't like or don't fit – let someone else enjoy them. Your black sheep may be someone else's peacock!
Create a Capsule Wardrobe for yourself. It's nothing more than a mini wardrobe made up of versatile pieces that you love to wear. I've seen 10 items or less, 37 items or less, I'm kinda at the 50 items or less stage, OY VEY...but I'm working on it! There are some amazing bloggers who have made this an art. Caroline Rector of Unfancy gives great detail on how to do this. Check it out www.un-fancy.com/capsul-experiment. Another fav is MomAdvice, she has ideas for spring/summer and fall/winter, secondhand for your capsule. Check her out here http://momadvice.com/search/capsul%20wardrobe
Oprah’s Hanger Trick (she didn’t invent it, but she made it popular)
If you aren't sure what your favorites are, try the Hanger Trick. Turn all the hangers in your closet backwards. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time, 2 months, 4 months, but no more than six months; if you work out of the home, the reveal will present quite quickly. As you wear items, put the hangers back in straight. There you go, all your favorites!