I stayed at my sister’s house on the weekend. We had an awesome time drinking bubbly and watching cooking shows on the couch. Her home is newly renovated and beautifully decorated. It’s enviably clean and the sheets smell like flowers.
I left feeling like I had been on a retreat in a peaceful place. Then I got home.
I wanted to cram a fork in my eye so I didn’t have to keep gazing upon the horror. It appeared that a pack of angry people had rampaged around and kicked up a storm, but it was only two small boys. Things were piled up in corners and clutter was garnishing all free surfaces. If you’ve been subjected to Madagascar the movie as I have been 100 times, you’ll know about the hilarious monkeys that throw poo on the wall. My house looked like they had visited, although minus the actual poo (we’re not that feral).
So – after the obligatory psychotic phone call to my husband telling him we need to get our shit together – I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I’ve heard that a great way to declutter is to get rid of one thing a week. Yeah…Nah.
I took the decidedly more crazy-person option and removed a whole large item of furniture. Well five large items actually. I loaded our “breakfast” table and chairs on my back and threw them into the shed. Which is like sending them into a another time space continuum.
It was AWESOME. I’ve created a lovely empty space. A space where there is abso-friggin-lutely NOTHING. The thing is we never sat at the stupid table anyway, as breakfasts involve kids at the kitchen bench and parents milling around doing chores. So it was really just another surface for clutter to gather. I may have lost a table but gained my sanity and some breathing room.
If you feel clutter is making you crazy, but you’re not quite ready for discarding furniture, here are some clever methods for decluttering your home:
Get busy for 5 minutes a day
You can get a lot done in 5 minutes. This Zen habits article 18 Five-Minute Decluttering Tips to Start Conquering Your Mess is pure genius. So many great ideas for nailing it in 5 minutes; such as putting away 5 things or creating a ‘maybe’ box or emptying out one drawer. Imagine how excellently uncluttered your life would be if you took 5 minutes a day?
What stops you from throwing things away? Are you a sentimental person? You can still declutter things you feel nostalgic about. One option is to store them away. I have created a ‘memory box’ which is a large plastic box with a secure lid that lives in the shed. I’ve got all sorts of things in there from a pile of congratulations cards given to my mum when I was born, to photographs, to our wedding invitation, to random stuff the kids have made for me. Alternatively take photographs and save to a specific folder on your computer. And then throw the stuff away, it’s strangely liberating.
Schedule a striped bag purge
Every now and again I go through a room and fill one of those striped bags with things to give away to my local charity shop. I make sure I imagine that I am directly handing every item in person to someone in need, that way nothing goes in that is dodgy. But make sure you TAKE IT STRAIGHT AWAY TO THE CHARITY SHOP. Don’t drag it around in the back of your car for 9 weeks. You know what I’m talking about.
The 10, 10, 10 technique
I read somewhere that a really easy way to feel like you’ve achieved a lot is to go around and grab 10 things to chuck, 10 things to put back where they belong and 10 things to give away. 30 things dealt with in no time at all. BANG.
Eat the elephant one bite at a time
Decluttering can be really overwhelming. Starting small is the key, never book in a full day, just do a few hours at a time and make sure you finish the task or corner that you started. I also really love The Organised Housewife’s Organising by Room page with loads of small simple things you can do around the house to get organised.