How did decluttering 101 begin for us? It just happened one day. For years, I’ve been staring at the shelf under our TV wishing SOMEONE would go through the mass of CDs there and clear out some space. It was cluttered and left our small, cozy space feeling a little bit restrictive. Yes, CDs can do that to you. A few weeks ago, just before Christmas, something motivated the spouse to get to work on this project. What happened next was nothing short of amazing. We got rid of 3 outdoor-sized trashbags worth of clothes, etc. It all went to Goodwill along with 2 cardboard boxes of other stuff. What happened to those CDs? Many of them got moved into under-bed storage boxes that were empty due to the mass of other stuff we got rid of.
Here’s what the space looks like now, and there’s more declutter story to be told about the items here:
Decluttering 101 tip 2: Use it or lose it! This one simple project of decluttering this shelf led to 3 bags of clothes and such and 2 boxes of other ‘stuff’ being taken to Goodwill. The photos here? Those were part of old calendars we’d created. They were kept in drawers along with the frames. As I was going through the drawers of a chest in our guest room I stumbled upon these frames and thought, “I might as well put these to use instead of leaving them in a drawer.” So they got new homes and the drawer got more space to use for other items. The books underneath the photo had been stuck in a basket: not at all where coffee table books belong! Now they have a new home where visitors can see the titles and peruse them if they like.
This bookcase sits beside a desk; it usually stores only cookbooks but now has a new found purpose of cleverly hiding work file folders too. On the top shelf towards the back you can see a wire file holder. This was sitting, visible, on my desk. Now it has a hidden home on the back of this bookshelf. I don’t use this set of files often, but they’re necessary to keep. So now they sit in a space where they’re accessible but out of sight. How did I make this happen? I got rid of cookbooks I never use. In fact, I had an entire 3″ binder of recipes from old magazines…some of these recipes had been in the binder for a decade and I’d never. once. made them. The whole binder, with the exception of about a dozen recipes, went out with the trash. See that Old Time Baseball tin? It holds spare USB drives and cords that are occasionally used with our electronics. It was an empty vessel and we found a use for it.
Decluttering doesn’t have to be like our recent episode. It can happen one room at a time, one shelf at a time, one closet at a time. Set aside some time, maybe 20 minutes and work though one drawer. If you pick up an item and know you’re never going to use it, put it in a goodwill pile. Be brutal. It gets used or it goes. Once you do this with one drawer, you’ll find yourself (we think) anxious to do it to more drawers, more spaces, more closets.
What do you do with all this new-found space? Nothing. Leave it empty. Soon enough you’ll find a use for it, but if you can, spend some time just enjoying the freedom of empty spaces.