A Simple Change of Perspective

When my furniture and the things I’m keeping are all moved into the new house, I’ll need to come back to my current house to clean it and prepare it for the new people moving in.
I’ve been sort of dreading that part of the move, but have recently started to change my thinking. What if instead of seeing it as a big chore and hassle, I saw it as an opportunity to say goodbye to my house? A chance to bless the house and to thank it for sheltering me for so many years. For giving me a safe place to celebrate, and to grieve, and to experience change. A place to live my everyday life.
I’m also seeing the final cleaning of the house as an opportunity to close the door on past circumstances, and then head off into an unknown and beckoning future.
Sometimes a simple change of viewpoint can bring about great changes in perspective, and can even change a chore into an opportunity.

Thoughts on Decluttering

Just thinking.

In books and websites and seminars by clutter experts, they sometimes say that decluttering is easy. “Just get rid of it.”

But it’s not easy. It seems at first like it would be easy. Just take a dedicated weekend, dive in, and deal with it once and for all.

But so much is hiding in the nooks and crannies. Memories, good and bad. Unfinished tasks. Feelings I don’t want to feel.

Decluttering isn’t easy. It demands courage, thoughtfulness, and sometimes actual heroism. There are emotional minefields lurking in the cabinets and drawers and boxes. You’ll stumble upon both joys and sorrows.

Decluttering isn’t simple. It isn’t easy. But it can be done. Be gentle with the process. Be kind to yourself.

Assorted Facebook Posts

I was looking for a place to put some of my recent Facebook posts, so I decided to put them on this page.


Quote that spoke to me from Carolyn Koehnline:

“I thought about how my culture is very good about teaching us how to accumulate things, but not very good at teaching us about how to let go of possessions or loved ones or homes or jobs. To let go means to consciously say, ‘Good bye,’ and to open up space. For many of us, that is a terrifying proposition. We don’t tend to experience open space as delicious spaciousness, full of mystery and possibility. For many of us it is a frightening emptiness to be avoided at all costs.”

– from Confronting Your Clutter by Carolyn Koehnline


Had a trunk full of old books that I hadn’t decluttered yet. Worked my way through it this afternoon, and I’m about to cart off five big bags of books for donation. I think I’m now down to just the books I’m keeping. Although I might find another stash somewhere in the house. But the cupboards and drawers and hiding places throughout the house are pretty well emptied now. So this really may be the last of the books. Amazing. Decluttered so many books and still have so many I’m keeping. There was a time when I had 3,500+ books. Nearly every room was lined in bookcases. I never would’ve thought back then that I’d be so ruthlessly parting with my personal library. Did I read all those books? No. But I read a lot of them.


I was feeling a little stressed out about my new place not being ready yet. So many delays. So many moving deadlines looming. So many dominoes to put in place. I told my dad I was feeling stressed and he said, “However you look at it, in a few months it’ll all be done and you’ll be all moved into your new place. Just take it one day at a time.” That actually helped.


Just read in a book a common phrase that you should only keep things in your home that are beautiful, useful, or rich in sentimental value.

One thing I’ve been discovering while packing/decluttering is that I have a lot of things that I used to love, so I’ve held onto them for that reason, but now I’m asking myself if I love the item now. How do I feel about it today?

I’m parting with a lot of things that held former sentimental value, but that I don’t love in this current season of my life.


I’ve been trying to build more “self-time” into my day. Time to read, time to practice being mindful in the moment, time to sit in the morning sun with a cup of coffee or a glass of ice tea. Time to pet my cats. Time to journal. I’ve been sneaking “self-time” into my regular daily routine. For example, rather than spending my lunch break from work doing chores around the house (which I’d been doing), I sit in a sunny window and read for a bit and write in my journal. I try to take some time in the evening to think over the day. I have a couple of daily reader books that I keep by my desk for slow times at work when I can’t get up and do something else because I’m tethered to the phone , but I do have time to read a short entry and meditate on it for a bit. I’d been feeling for a while like I didn’t have “me-time” in my day, but now that I’ve found ways to sneak it into my day, I find that I feel more refreshed.


What are you reading these days?
I’m reading The Simple Abundance Companion by Sarah Ban Breathnach.


Still packing. I decided to pack up the majority of my clothes, leaving out only the items I wear regularly. The little bit of clothes left hanging in the closet make me smile. It’s like a mini wardrobe of favorite and comfortable things. I sort of wish I had done this earlier.


I read recently that one way to discover what wardrobe would make you happy is to go to a paint store, look at all the paint swatches, and see which ones “speak to your soul.”

Well, I was at a store the other day that sells paint, so I decided to give it a try. I kept telling myself not to look for colors that I would choose to wear, but to look for colors that “speak to my soul.” I was about to give up because nothing was speaking to me. But then I saw them. Peacock blues and vibrant purples. The cards with those colors almost jumped off the display at me. Those are NOT colors I would choose to wear, but wow, were they “speaking to me.”

I brought the swatches home with me and have looked at them now and then. Nope, still not something I could see myself wearing.
Then the other day it dawned on me …. I’d decided a while back that if I ever decided to go wild and crazy with my hair, I would have it dyed those very colors! Deep blues and vibrant purples … I think of them as peacock colors. Oh. My. Gosh. I honestly wanted to dye my hair those colors. Maybe I actually could see them as clothing.

The book recommended for the next step to take your color swatches to the fabric store and find a fabric with the colors you’ve chosen. Buy a yard, and live with it for a while. Throw it over a chair. Maybe make a pillow out of it, or a scarf.

I haven’t done the fabric part of this experiment yet, but so far it’s been an interesting experience. Peacock blues and vibrant purples. Wow. That’s a far cry from the colors I usually wear, I wear a lot of autumn colors and black and white and blue jeans. I don’t have a single piece of vibrant colors in my wardrobe.

I’ll report back if I do the fabric store visit.

I was reading something that talked about ways to get in touch with your “inner decorator” (well, something like … I’ve forgotten the exact term the author used). She said to think about your first experiences with color. What color was your bedspread when you were a child? What color were your childhood bedroom walls? Did you have a favorite flower growing up? The question made me realize that a bright, sunny yellow is a color that brings me joy. Forsythia, daffodils. I realized while reading that I have yellow pops of color in my bathroom and bedroom. They make me feel light and happy. Maybe at my new house I’ll decorate the main bathroom with bright yellow. Funny thing is that I already picked a new chair for my living room … and … it’s yellow. If you’d asked me if yellow was one of my favorite colors, I would’ve said no, not really. Now I’m wondering if it’s a color that “speaks to my soul” even though it’s not necessarily a favorite. Or maybe it is a favorite and I’m just in denial?


I found the following quote while reading today. It expresses what I’ve been feeling while decluttering and simplifying. She says it so much better than I could’ve:

“Simplicity does not mean making do with less, but appreciating the important things more. It means making deliberate decisions to surround yourself only with objects that inspire, comfort, soothe, and serve you. Paring down to those essentials is more than just cleaning, organizing, or rearranging. Clearing away the clutter is a spiritual endeavor made up of choices, not chores, the process itself can be as satisfying and empowering as the results. With every decision, you are creating a calm, clear space for yourself. You are making room for wonderful new gifts to come into your life.”

— Sarah Ban Breathnach, The Simple Abundance Companion


I posted a while back about how I was following some suggestions for choosing wardrobe colors. I won’t repeat the whole process, but I was at a thrift store earlier and looked specifically for items in the colors I’ve been contemplating. I brought home four shirts. They’re in the wash right now. I’m going to try wearing these shirts in the colors that “spoke to my soul” at the paint store, and we’ll see how it goes. Reminder, these are NOT colors I would normally wear. We’ll see what happens. I have to admit these shirts are pretty. I don’t usually do pretty. I tend to wear very simple things in neutral colors. I’ll report back.


Yesterday I wore one of the shirts in the new colors I’m experimenting with. I received a compliment that the shirt looked very nice on me. I never receive compliments on my clothing. Hmm. Interesting. Honestly, I didn’t feel particularly comfortable in the new colors, but a compliment was a nice boost. Today I’m wearing my normal colors (jeans, dark khaki green, white) and feel like myself again. Although I suspect I probably won’t get compliments at church this morning on my attire. It’ll be interesting to see how this color situation plays out over the long run.


Many items in my house have made me sad over the past ten years. The past few years, I’ve been working on clearing things out that raise feelings of sadness, but during this current moving-related purge, one of the questions I ask when I’m making decisions on what to keep and what to part with is, “Does this make me feel sad?” If the answer is “yes” it goes in the donation pile. Eight to ten years is enough time to know if the sadness that’s related to particular items is going to ease up or not. I’ve decided I want a fresh start, and I don’t want to carry excessive sadness with me into this next phase of life.


I’m laughing at myself. I just closed up a box and thought, “There, that takes care of all the books.” And then I walked to another part of the house and found another small bookshelf of books. And here I’d thought that I’d pared down a lot of my books. While decluttering in preparation for moving, I’ve donated many boxes of books … and I still have many left. Amazing.


I’m reading a book called Better Than Before. It’s about the importance of habits and gives practical steps for creating new habits. I’m finding the amount of information in the book to be a little overwhelming (she tells lots of stories and gives lots of examples), but I think I’m going to go back through and grab out the practical step-by-step instructions. One of the most important ideas that I just read is that it’s always tempting to put the formation of habits off until tomorrow. She says that NOW is the time to begin. Not some magical time in the future. Right now. Today. I think I’ve been mentally putting things off (like going back to the gym regularly) until after I move. My move is my magical tomorrow. But there’s nothing stopping me from putting on my workout clothes and heading to the gym today. Will I do it? I honestly don’t know. I’ll report back if I glean anything helpful or inspiring from the book. (The author’s name is Gretchen Rubin.)


I found something in my freezer that I’d made and then frozen in a single serving. But I forgot to label it and had no idea what it was. I decided to be brave and plan it for my dinner tonight. Turns out it was a stuffed green pepper. Yum! And now I know that the other unlabeled frozen blob in the freezer is probably also the same thing. (Note to Self: Don’t forget to ALWAYS label the frozen meals, even if you’re absolutely certain you won’t forget what it is.)


Somebody asked me what books I’m reading right now for personal growth/self-care. The books I’m working through (taking notes, writing responses) are Confronting Your Clutter: Releasing the excess baggage from your home, head, heart, and schedule by Carolyn Koehnline and The Simple Abundance Companion: Following Your Authentic Path to Something More by Sarah Ban Breathnach. I think I’m finished with the Confronting Your Clutter book now. I might go back through it and review a bit. The other book is big with lots of thought-provoking work. I think I’ll probably be working my way through it for a while. So my two current topics are 1) decluttering (because of the upcoming move) and 2) finding direction for the next chapter of my life. I have a couple of books that I’ll be reading next, but I’m wondering does anyone out there have any suggestions of books to read on either of my two topics? I’d love to hear what you’re reading or have found helpful.


“If you want to be good at anything, you need to do that thing. If you want to be great, you need to do that thing like it is your job. To be a master, you have to do it like it is your life. All three levels are acceptable.” – said to me by someone on Facebook (I don’t know if they were quoting from somewhere else, or not)


As moving time is getting closer, I’m trying to declutter and pack at the same time. I ask myself while I’m sorting, “Does my new house want this?” I’m discovering that my new house doesn’t want a lot.


Simple Daily Decluttering Steps

1. Declutter the inside of your car.
2. Clear off your bathroom counter.
3. Remove ten items from your wardrobe.
4. Declutter the visible areas of your entertainment center.
5. Clear off your nightstand.
6. Walk around your house and fill one box with items to donate.
7. Walk around your house and fill one bag for trash pickup.
8. Remove old or expired food from your pantry and fridge.
9. Declutter old or unused coats and items from your coat closet.
10. Clear off the top of your refrigerator.
11. Recycle old magazines or newspapers that are left out and piled up.
12. Declutter your underwear or sock drawer.
13. Clear five items from your kitchen counter.
14. Remove excess towels and linens from your linen closet.
15. Declutter your laundry space.
16. Clear off the tops of your living room side tables.
17. Declutter your Tupperware (start with anything without a lid).
18. Declutter your shower keeping only what is essential and used daily.
19. Clear out and sort through your medicine cabinet.
20. Return toys to where they belong in the house. (No toys? Pick another spot in your house that could use a quick declutter. For me, it’s the top of my piano.)


From the workbook Confronting Your Clutter by Carolyn Koehnline:

“Imagine that you have all the time in the world with no immediate obligations hounding you. How do you imagine yourself spending that precious time? Think about what would bring you the most joy and would have the most meaning for you. Don’t worry about answering this in the perfect way. Just notice what you think and feel today. Set a timer and write for five minutes. Don’t edit or think too hard. Let it come out however it wants to.”

I did this assignment from the workbook and one of the things I noticed from my list is that many of the answers I listed could be done right now in my life (or at least partially) if I just reprioritize how I spend my time and then actually made a plan to slip the ideas into my days. I can’t reprioritize my working hours, but there’s so much time during the day that I just fritter away when I could be doing things to add more quality and meaning to my life.


My new place is next to a green belt. So right out of my bedroom, I have a view of trees and a little meadow. When I was visiting the place the other day, I realized that during the winter when the trees are bare, I’ll have a partial view of a little lake. I’m so excited! Right now all I have a view of is my neighbor’s yard (that’s overly full of “stuff”). My dad said it’s very rare these days to find a place in the middle of town with open space next to it. I feel very fortunate. I’ve already noticed some interesting birds, so I bought some new binoculars.


Second List of Daily Decluttering:

1) Sort out your kitchen utensil drawer.
2) Declutter your junk drawer.
3) Clear off kitchen counters.
4) Clean out under kitchen sink.
5) Declutter desk.
6) Tidy your refrigerator.
7) Declutter bathroom closet or cabinet.
8) Sort through cleaning supplies.
9) Organize and declutter shoes and handbags.
10) Declutter a clothing drawer.
11) Declutter your home’s entryway.
12) Clean and organize refrigerator condiments.
13) Declutter utensil holder and any pen cups.
14) Sort through sock drawer.
15) Declutter paper piles.
16) Sort through coffee mug inventory.
17) Clean out under your bed.
18) Sort and organize pantry.
19) Clear off front of refrigerator of magnets, etc.
20) Sort through sheets and towels.


I was reading something earlier and it was talking about how to get in touch with your authentic self. They had several questions they suggested spending some time writing out answers. 1) Who am I? (Not a list of jobs or roles, but descriptive words and personal traits.) 2) What do I feel? 3) What do I need? 4) What do I want? These questions sort of resonated with me. I think I don’t take enough time to identify my needs, wants, feelings, etc.. I’m going to spend some time later today pondering and writing on these questions. Join me?


For some unknown reason, I’ve been feeling oddly nervous. Not about anything in particular, just a general sense of uneasiness. A long time ago, I learned to deal with anxiety by asking myself, “Right here, in this moment, am I safe?” If the answer was, “Yes,” then I would take a deep breath and focus on the safety in that moment. I’ve been doing this with the current uneasiness, and it helps. I just have to remember to do it. It’s so easy to get caught up in the current feelings, that I lose touch with possible solutions. So I’m off to breathe and to focus on the safety of the present moment.


Decluttering tips I received from people who know: 1) Take breaks, and 2) do things in small amounts. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, and then exhausting myself and getting burned out. That’s why I started preparing for my upcoming move several months ago. Many, many bags of clothes and household items have gone on to live new lives via donations. A great deal of actual garbage had found its way into my cupboards and closets and drawers. Anyway, I hope as the time comes closer for moving, that I can continue to take a fairly slow and easy pace so I don’t burn out at the last minute. I had someone out to give an estimate for moving costs, and it was still amazing to me to see how much stuff I still have. I don’t want to move it all, so I’m going to keep working.


Anyone out there still cooking for the freezer? Back in the day, it was so helpful for feeding a houseful, but I’m finding it to be just as helpful when feeding just me. I can make a recipe that feeds several people, eat one serving, freeze the others. Easy-peasy meals. Cuts down on spur-of-the-moment trips through the drive-thru, too. Not that I’m doing that these days … doesn’t fit with my food plan. Having meals ready to go that fit with my meal plan really helps with the weight loss journey, too. All sorts of great benefits to cooking ahead for the freezer.

Decluttering Step One: Inside of the car

I decided yesterday that I was going to do a daily decluttering challenge throughout the month of February.

So, here’s my first day of easy decluttering steps: “1. Declutter the inside of the car.”

While doing this decluttering step, this is what I discovered. I had some papers that needed to be recycled and my trash needed to be emptied. All pretty straightforward.

But I had an exciting moment.

I had misplaced some cat medication that I knew I’d picked up at the mailbox, but I wasn’t finding it in the house. Well, that’s because the package never made it into the house. It’d gotten buried under the papers for recycling in the car. I thought I was going to need to repurchase the meds, so I’m super happy to have found it. Keeps me from spending an additional $30.

Evidently decluttering can save me money. 🙂

Anyone else care to join me with the decluttering challenges? If so, have you found anything interesting hiding in your car or other space that you may have worked on today?

And on another note, I’d been putting off decluttering my car because it seemed like it would be too time-consuming. Well, I timed it. It took less than five minutes. Now I wonder how often I put off doing a project simply because I incorrectly estimate the time it will take?

My blue trunk

When I was a child, there was an old blue steamer trunk in my bedroom. I used it like a bedside table, but usually just stored my stuffed animals on it. I wasn’t allowed to open it .. it was big enough that I could’ve gotten closed into it, so it was always locked.

Every now and then my mom would open the trunk and she and I would go through the contents. The trunk held my baby things. Tiny dresses, cloth books, baby toys, rattle, dish, cup, spoon, stuffed animals. I was able to convince my mom to let me have the stuffed animals to play with, but everything else just stayed tucked away in the trunk.

The trunk made it seem almost like my babyhood lived in my room with me.

I never knew the history of the trunk. I think it was my mom’s, originally, but I don’t know for sure.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I had someone come by and cart away things to the dump. One of the things that left my house was the trunk. It had stayed with me my entire life, eventually serving as storage for Christmas decorations. It lived out in my shed where the damp and cold eventually rusted and rotted the trunk.

The day the trunk was taken away, I just felt relief to get rid of things. Now, I feel like I should’ve taken a moment to sit with the trunk. To thank it for a lifetime of storing my special things. It wasn’t until the next day when I realized how important that trunk had been and how I’d let it go with giving it proper regard.

So this little post is my salute to the blue steamer trunk. You know, I don’t even have a photo of that trunk. It’d always been such a fixture in my life, I don’t think I really saw it anymore.

Goodbye blue trunk. You served me well.

What is the intent of the room?

I just read/skimmed another book on decluttering. “Declutter Like a Mother.” Funny title. 🙂

Anyway, she had one idea that sort of revolutionized part of my decluttering project. She said before you do anything with a room, take some time to identify what your intent is for the room. How do you want to use it when everything’s done? And then keep that intention in mind as you’re decluttering.

Since I won’t be using the current rooms in my house after I declutter (I’ll be moving), it didn’t really apply to my current situation. But then I thought about the intentions I have for the rooms in my future house. And suddenly the two rooms that were going to be my office and a spare bedroom changed entirely. I realized I wanted the office space to be solely for work-related things so I can close the door and be done with it all at the end of the day. The other room I want to use for more than a guest room. I want to use it for art/crafts, sewing, reading. I want to make it cute and cozy. I want to put a hide-a-bed or futon in there so it can be used for guests as needed, but I don’t need an entire room set aside for guests since I rarely have anyone sleep over.

Just that idea of “intention” for a room really transformed my thinking. It also has changed the decluttering process on this end, too. When thinking about the intention of the rooms at the new place, I realized I can part with the queen-sized bed that’s currently in the guest room since I’m going to be using a hide-e-bed instead. I can keep a desk I was going to part with because now I’m going to use it as a craft table. I have chair that was going to go away, but now I want to keep it as a reading chair in the craft/activity room.

I didn’t really get a lot of new ideas for this particular book, but just finding one idea that’s helpful like this is definitely worth checking it out from the library.

What happens to our stuff?

I read a short story recently where one of the characters, an older woman, had a spare room where she kept much loved items that friends — who were downsizing or moving to nursing facilities — gave to her for safe keeping.  Things they didn’t want falling into the hands of people who wouldn’t appreciate the specialness of these items.  This woman had a room that was full of other people’s cabinets and collections and curios and china.,

While I’ve been decluttering, I’ve realized that I’ve become the keeper of the family “things.”  Furniture, musical instruments, china, photographs, books.  I don’t want to become the woman in the story with the room dedicated to polishing someone else’s keepsakes.  This story gave me food for thought.  What is worth keeping?  I’ve already decided I want to clear out my excess stuff so people who come after me don’t have to make decisions about what to do with my things.  But what do I do with the things I’ve accumulated that have meaning to me, but maybe not enough meaning to keep hauling them from one house to another.

Interesting how random things like this short story I stumbled upon will pop up at opportune moments.

Spring Decluttering

I read a short article today about how Spring Decluttering is a good way to begin Spring Cleaning.  The less stuff we own, the less stuff we need to clean.

As you know, if you’ve been following this blog or my Facebook page, I’m in the midst of a big decluttering spree in preparation for moving to a smaller house.  If you’re not preparing to downsize and just like the idea of getting rid of some household clutter, I have a couple of quick suggestions.

Start with the areas of the house where you spend the most time.  For example, the living room and the kitchen.  Clearing out clutter from the most used areas will give you a feeling of freshness and lightness right away.  If you start with somewhere closed off, like a basement or storage room, the door can be closed, and all your hard work is hidden.  Wait before you tackle the office or attic.  Start with the visible areas.

If you’re starting in the living room, try starting with decorations, DVDs, CDs, books, and coffee-table clutter.

Ask yourself:

  1. Do I need it?
  2. Do I love it?
  3. Why do I have it?
  4. What would I do if didn’t have it?

Spring decluttering is a great way to begin Spring cleaning.

No Longer Paralyzed to Declutter

When I realized I was going to be moving into a smaller home, I looked around at my rooms full of things and felt overwhelmed.  I’ve lived in this house for more than fifteen years.  A variety of people have come and gone, leaving behind things that I never knew what to do with.

Looking at my houseful of stuff, I’d sometimes felt paralyzed and even guilty.  I’d thought that I “should” have kept from accumulating so many things.  I “should” have been better at letting things go.  Shame.  Embarrassment.  Frozen.

But now, instead of just feeling general embarrassment and overwhelm, preparing for the new home and the new life it would bring became something that somehow freed me from the guilt and shame.  It’s just stuff.  Now I just need to sort through it all and figure out what is going to make the move with me, and what’s going to go to a donation bin to make someone else happy.

I don’t want to be weighted down with junk.  In my home, I want the freedom and space to create.  I want a home that is welcoming and that I share with visitors without shame.  I want to be nurtured by my home.  I want it to be livable and clean.  I want to be content with where I am, and content with what I have.

I’d read an article about Swedish Death Cleaning, and had decided, in many ways, that was what I was preparing to do.  Paring my things down so that those people who come after me won’t have a huge task of going through my belongings after I’m gone.  Not only will things be lighter for me now, my collection of “stuff” will be lighter for others later.

Since I had a year to prepare for the move, I felt the freedom to take my time, go slow, and do it well.  We’re two months into that year and I’ve accomplished quite a bit in three rooms of the house.  No room is finished yet, but they’re getting closer.

Part of me wants to dive in and go crazy and get it done quickly, but I know myself.  I would just end up burned out and then find myself not wanting to finish.  And because there is a set time frame for moving, this is a job that has to be finished.  I don’t have the option to get burned out and save it for another day.

I think it’s important when undertaking a decluttering job of this magnitude, to keep in mind your own personality type.  Some people need a big project that they can dive into and get done quickly.  Others need to bite off bits and pieces of the project so as not to get overwhelmed.  One of the things I try to tell myself when I work a little bit on this big project is, “Whatever I do — right now, today — is an improvement, and a step in the right direction.”

I also find it’s helpful to try to do away with the sense that I need to do this the “right” way.  I just need to get on with it.  Muddle my way through.  There are so many books out there on decluttering and homemaking, that it can get easy to get locked into thinking there’s only one way to accomplish this process, and every other way is “wrong.”  For example, I’ve learned a lot from people like FlyLady and Marie Kondo.  I use many of their techniques and find them helpful.  BUT I also know that I need to adapt their ideas to fit with me and my own tendencies and personality in order to bring about lasting change and success.

I took some time out from decluttering this week to read a book called Declutter by Debora Robertson.  I found it inspiring in the sections on actual decluttering, but a big part of the book was about homemaking and how to keep your house clean.  Which really didn’t apply to my undertaking.  I realized that my project of downsizing is a different sort of project than just choosing to declutter the house and keep it from getting overwhelmed.  My experience really is more of a Swedish Death Cleaning type of project.

If you’re wanting to declutter, do you think you’d do better by doing a little at a time, or doing one big push to accomplish a lot at once?  Are you looking to pare things down a little bit, or are you preparing for a complete overhaul, or a move to a smaller home?

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?