Where to start with decluttering

When you find yourself looking at a clutter-filled home, or just trying to decide where to start with some minor decluttering, it can be overwhelming.  I was reading a short article the other day and the author mentioned that she starts her decluttering with easy things, things with little emotional attachment and things that aren’t buried too deeply in the clutter.

Some of the easy things I came up with for me are:

  1. Actual trash.  Do a quick trip around the house and empty all the wastebaskets and garbage cans.  There.  You did it. That’s a start.
  2. Expired items.  Medications, food, make-up.
  3. Extras/duplicates.  Extra coffee cups, unused handbags, pens, kitchen gadgets.
  4. Stuff you’ll never use.  Random spices, uncomfortable shoes, clothes that don’t fit, empty picture frames, containers without lids, lids without containers, junk drawer contents.
  5. Abandoned hobby supplies.  If you realized that you don’t like to crochet, there’s no need to keep everything related to an abandoned activity.
  6. Past phase of life.  If you’re keeping things because they represent an important past phase of your life, can you choose one or two items as a keepsake and donate/recycle the rest?
  7. Bad memories.  If you have things that trigger bad memories, let them go and make space for new memories and for a new life narrative.

I found while compiling this list, that there are two things that are going to be challenging for me and will require some serious thought.

The first is things related to the stage of life when I was authoring books, writing articles, and public speaking.  That stage is important to me, but no long representative of my life.  I plan on keeping at least one copy of each of my books and there’s a poster from a book signing at Barnes and Noble that’s meaningful to me.  Other than those items, is there really anything else I need to save?  How much of it is just clutter now?  It sometimes takes some serious thinking to discern what stays and what goes, what’s meaningful and what’s junk.

The other area that’s a struggle for me is all the books and notes and notebooks and other materials from when I went back to school to complete my degree and to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Poetics.  All of those resources represent many hours and literally years of work (not to mention a lot of money spent).  But do I hang on to them because they’re all meaningful to me, or is there a wise way to work my way through all of the stuff on my school shelf and part with some of it?

I’m definitely a work-in-progress when it comes to decluttering.  Do any of these “easy” decluttering idea seem difficult or overwhelming to you?