Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days: Minimizing & Organizing

I love the simple life! As if you didn't already know that, right? I'm always looking for ways to make our life even more simple. Yes, I do think it's possible.

Last night while Daniel and Nyla headed to church (Naomi was a mess so she went to bed early) I cleaned out our master closet. It's needed it. I've been putting it off. I don't like clutter. But clutter happens occasionally. Enter our master closet.

Last year when we found out we were having baby number two I quickly went to work in cleaning out our extra third bedroom and closet. It has a spacious closet and it was pretty packed. Daniel paints, I like to craft, extra baby items and just a bunch of stuff that wasn't getting used was in there. I knew I need to minimize quite a bit because what was in that extra closet would be coming into our closet. And no, we didn't have room for ALL of it. Nor was I going to make room for things we weren't even using. I probably got rid of 4 large boxes of stuff. Between extra paint and craft supplies, games, puzzles, baby clothes that we had too many of, and so on, we had a lot. Minimizing our lives has been a work in progress. One I'm still learning.

As I was clearing out our closet last night it felt like all our things had multiplied. Does anyone else feel like that? I'm fairly good about getting rid of stuff immediately if it doesn't go with our way of life. I like the "one in, one out" rule too. I always have a pile going to give to Goodwill. But stuff still gets shoved on top of the fridge or in the back of a closet. It just happens.

I've been minimizing our lives since we got married. We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment with spacious closets and bathrooms and a bigger kitchen than I have now. I knew when we moved in I didn't want to pack every corner of that place. I packed up stuff for Goodwill right after I moved in and took it away and continued doing that every three to six months. Before we moved 2 years later I did that again. When we moved into our home I did it again. I hated that we took over quite a few boxes that eventually went to Goodwill but I've learned I don't want to be spur of the moment in giving away things. I don't want to have any regrets. And minimizing takes time. My rule of thumb is if I haven't used it or worn it in 6 months I think it's time to give it up. (This doesn't include maternity clothes or baby items that are expensive to replace) My rule used to be 1 year but now 6 months is good for me. If I'm unsure about something I'll hang onto it for another 6 months and revisit it. If it rarely got used I let it go. This works for me. It won't work for everyone.

I have people ask me frequently about my minimizing efforts. Here are my tips:

1. Take one room at a time or even one closet at a time. 
Remove everything. If it's clothes, try it on. If you're like most people you wear 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time. Keep that 20% and get rid of the rest. It's so freeing to look in your closet and know you won't spend ten minutes looking for an outfit. If you're unsure hang onto it a bit longer and revisit it. That's okay!
If it's "stuff" (childhood memories, crafts, etc) get out 3 boxes. One for "trash," one for "keep" and one for "Goodwill" (or your choice of place). Go through all the items and put them in a box. If you have a friend in need make a box for them. Once you've completed this process start putting things back in one at a time. And if it doesn't belong in that area, put it where it does go.

2. What do I do with sentimental items? 
This is always a big question. If you have room and you're not sure what to do with it, keep it. If you think someone else in your family will want it, pass it on. If these don't work for you because you don't have the space but you're somewhat attached, take a picture of it. Make an album for things like that. You will always have that picture but not the clutter. For us, we don't have the room for everything. Nor do I want it all. I like taking pictures of the girls in certain clothes or playing with a toy. And I still have a hard time letting go of some things. I don't beat myself up about it. And I keep it for awhile.

3. De-clutter once a month.
Grab a laundry basket or box and start going through your main rooms (kitchen, den, entry hall) and fill that basket up. You'll be surprised how much stuff you accumulate that you don't really need. Just this past week I tackled the top of our refrigerator. I had PILES of pictures, Nyla's school artwork, papers and junk up there. I took everything down, piled it on my counter and went through it over a couple days time. I put our photo books in my closet away from the dust and put the paperwork where it belonged. I feel so relieved that my fridge is cleaned off.

4. Ask for help.
When you first start de-cluttering you may have a hard time letting go of things. Bring in an impartial party to help you. They can help you sort through things and you'll really look at it and decide you haven't worn it, you don't love it and you really need to get rid of it. And then get rid of it.

5. If you have a pile ready to go, get it out of your house immediately!
I can't stress this enough. I think of how many times I've gone through our home, had a huge box of stuff and then it just sits for a month or two. Then when I get ready to put it in the car to take to Goodwill I start looking through it. And then I think I need to keep some of the things I thought I wanted to give away. But wait. Haven't they just been sitting in a box for two months and I haven't touched it? Yes! Get rid of it within a couple days.

That's all the tips I have today. I'm going to tackle our hall bathroom closet now. It's a disaster!

What are your tips for staying organized and having minimal items in your home? 
Or do you struggle with de-cluttering?

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I do think the stuff jut multiplies! Great tips, especially asking for help, I sometimes struggle making decisions about keeping or getting rid of stuff and having an impartial opinion is a big help!