Declutter Week One: Entry and Hallway

I have been looking forward to today for ages. All those piles of mess around the house that have been annoying me - I have been giving them little sideways glances, thinking, 'Huh, your days are numbered..' Mmm, yes, it is probably a sign that I should get out more, but I am thrilled to announce the beginning of my Whole House Decluttering and Spring Cleaning Project.

This week I will be tackling the front verandah, entryway and hallway.

First, the front verandah. Earlier this year it was painted a charming shade of grey. Unfortunately, as I have discovered, charming grey shows up all the dirt. My task this week will be sweeping, then scrubbing the front verandah. Luckily it is quite small. When we had it painted I moved everything off it. I used to have a box of shoes there, with the idea of keeping dirty shoes out of the house. In reality everyone ignored it, and the only shoes left languishing in it were those which had actually been outgrown, and were full of dirt and spiders. So each child now has a shoe tub in their room, muddy shoes go into the back porch closet, and there is no shoe clutter around the front door. I love this!

Next, the entryway. Above is the hall table. This whole project has been scaring me principally because of the hall table drawers. First of all, I use the top of the hall table as a first port of call mail drop. Then I open mail, mostly ignore it and pop it in the middle drawer for further action or filing, thus:

Aargh, I hate mail, unless it is lovely parcels or postcards from friends. Anything that requires me to make a decision, a phone call or pay something makes me twitchy, so I ignore it. Except if it is school related, then I pop it in the yellow folder so my life doesn't fall apart completely. That is two baskets, each the size of about two shoe boxes, absolutely stuffed to the brim with pieces of paper I need to Look At, and Make Decisions About this week. I am feeling a little tired now, and might need a nap..

The only drawer worse than this one is the top drawer, which is the receptacle for every item in the house that doesn't have another home. Also, every week when I dust the hall table, I throw everything on it into the top drawer. Unless it is a piece of paper, in which case it goes into the second drawer.

Then there is the third drawer which contains everything I have borrowed and need to give back to friends. Easy items whiz in and out effortlessly to people I see quite often. Unfortunately about three quarters of the drawer consists of items that have been there for years belonging to ? Now I have to decide what to do with the orphans.

The only other piece of furniture in the hallway is a large bookcase containing all my books. Several years ago I threw out so much of our stuff when we renovated the house. It was great. I have never been able to part with books, but I was very brave and heroic, and just did it. I now have one single book case, and have to give away books when it gets too difficult to pass it in the hallway without tipping the piled-up books onto the floor. It is at that point again. More books need to go.

So, jobs this week:
First, remove all the visible clutter.
Clean out those terrifying hall table drawers.
Throw out some books.
Sweep and scrub front verandah.
Clean around all the light switches.
Remove cobwebs from the ceiling.
Clean hallway light fittings.

That should keep me out of trouble. I'll update as I go along.

So tell me, would you like to join me decluttering your hallways this week? And what awful secrets do you have lurking in cupboards and drawers in your hallway? Do tell.

Monday: Well, usually Monday morning starts off slowly, because, well, it's Monday. Today I raced around doing my Monday jobs, did the grocery shopping, went up to the school to work in the school garden, then finally got to start decluttering around 2.30pm. I was going to write the day off completely, but no, decluttering can go so fast when you actually DO it:) I cleaned off the top of the hall table. There were several notes to call people, such as the council and the builder, and I did it, actually sorted jobs that have been languishing in my hall table 'to do' pile for months. Oh, the heady sense of power. This must be how organised people feel all the time.

Then I tackled the third drawer, the one full of Unknown Objects that have been there for years, and possibly belong to people I haven't seen since 1999. I made the executive decision to send it all to the op shop, figuring if people have gone without their precious things for this many years, they probably don't need them. This is the moment to make a silent note to self, everyone. Never lend me anything. I am clearly not a responsible person. There is one single book remaining in the drawer which is rather a nice one. I have just this minute remembered who it belongs to. Goody. I even know where they live:)

Lastly, there is a constant pile of bags in my hallway:

Most of the mess in our house is caused by the hordes of children, but I must take responsibility for everything in this pile. Gym bag, work bag, handbag, grocery bags. They are always there, getting in the way. I decided to unclutter the hallway permanently by storing all of these bags in my bedroom. I will now have to walk at least ten extra steps every time I walk into the house.

Tuesday: I did it! I put on loud music, surrounded myself with the recycling bin, the phone, my diary, the bin, and processed every single, evil piece of paper in my house. Hallelujah, it is a decluttering miracle. Actually, it wasn't all song and dance. At some point around lunch time it got quite tedious, so I made a deal with myself. Ten minutes of watching Hercule Poirot, ten minutes of filing and so on. This worked wonders, and I was all done before Posy came home from school. Now to continue this filing miracle every week (Wednesday is my filing, bill paying, paperwork day. Hypothetically..)

Wednesday: Top drawer, done. This one was perplexing. So many tiny and annoying things had been thrown in there over the years. In the end I tipped everything out on the living room floor, and forced myself to spend five minutes in there every half hour or so throughout the day, putting a couple of things away, throwing a couple of things out, making a decision or two. Done by the end of the day. I feel so much lighter now:)

Thursday: Before:


My challenge today was to pull one book that I don't absolutely love out of the bookshelf every time I walked past. I walked past this many times:

And now all the books fit in the bookshelf.  And now I really have to get me to the op shop with my bags and bundles and lighten the load on the house just that bit more.

Friday: Here I am at the end of the week. Last night I took a pile of books to our Better Living Group (this was last month's amazing workshop). That got rid of some of them, then today I took the rest to the op shop. Today was the last job. Cleaning. All winter I have been glaring morosely at the festoons of cobwebs in my hallway. Today I pulled out my cobweb broom and got rid of them all. I think it took about four minutes. There is a lesson in there somewhere..

Then I put some warm water, dishwashing liquid and eucalyptus oil in a bucket, and tackled the grimy light switches and many grubby handprints courtesy of my youngest daughter. I scrubbed the front and back doorsteps and the front verandah. I tell you this, there is absolutely nothing better for making you feel like a proper housekeeper than scrubbing the front doorstep on your knees. Should you want to feel like a proper housekeeper, that is.

All this took less than an hour. And there we have it. The first week of decluttering and spring cleaning done and dusted. It was surprisingly less painful than I thought it would be.

Next week is school holidays. So I will be bribing the girls to declutter their bedrooms. Now that will be painful. Do you feel like joining me?

So tell me, did you do any decluttering this week? How did you go?


Unknown said…
No hallways, open plan. Does that mean I'm safe?

Don't you believe it. Every surface is covered in mostly paperwork. OK, I'm making a commitment that by the end of the week, not one piece of paper will be visible.

Jo said…
Excellent Lynda. Just wondering where you are going to put it all? Wood stove? That would be my first choice:) Honestly, where is this wonderful paperless society we were promised? I will think of you as I start slogging through it all tomorrow xx
Anonymous said…
The only thing(s) in the hall are the shoe baskets - which got a spontaneous clean out Friday night when I was looking for a couple of actual pairs of shoes for the kids to wear. And the book case - which is enormous and full of books.

Paper gets carefully placed under the dish full of crap on the little book case in the dining room then shoved in a cupboard after it's dealt with. I so NEED to do something about that paper and the dish of crap(also, I suspect I've lost the rego papers for something and I'm not sure what - only a trailer, but still.)
Jo said…
Oh, that hollow feeling of missing a vital piece of paper and knowing it's probably, hopefully in one of the drawers, and rifling through them in increasing despair.. this is the feeling I am hoping to avoid by cleaning up. Am in the middle of sorting dreaded drawer number two. Loud music.
Well done on the shoes. Much sympathy for the cupboard:)
i've been busy and am only just gettign to ctach up on your last few posts. i apologise. but i LOVE decluttering! golly i could do it til the cows come home. i'm ruthless. so i'm going to enjoy these to see what i can learn from your experiences! woo!
yes, i need A LIFE :-)
I love these sorts of challenges - even from a voyeuristic point of view!

I have a hall table, but I don't 'store' papers there. Bottom drawer is for the hardware, the second for socks, and the top for bangles, my name tag for church, pen, and a few other odds and sods (some folded plastic bags). The cupboard on one side is for handbags, the other side for some monthly paperwork from meetings, and the BF's gym towel and gym bag (when THAT'S not strewn on the floor!)

My big decision is with my extra crockery. With a big party, it's good to have far surplus, and I have space to store them. Do I love them? No. Do I really need them - not really... :s Thoughts?
Jo said…
e, we know you love to edit all areas of your life! I loved the recent pics of your extremely tidy pantry:)
Sarah, my thoughts about too much stuff? At some point it becomes overwhelming. That's when I need to cull. Your crockery issue doesn't sound like it's overwhelming you, or like you are addicted to collecting more of it. I am also not on the side of getting rid of useful stuff just because I can. I keep extra crockery too, and am always glad of it at Christmas, birthdays, BBQs etc. What do others think?
Anonymous said…
Minor Decluttering here, ie what can be done in a couple of hours, as I have just returned from an adventure out west and am about to depart on another one north. So I am having an episode of out of sight, out of mind. Being away from my home means I won't see the clutter.

Love seeing order restored and the results of real decorating of real homes so will enjoy your work.
Jo said…
Lucinda, that is a brilliant plan. Solving the housekeeping blues by leaving home. Genius!
Jen's Busy Days said…
Ok Jo, I will join you on this journey, although I think my filing may just scare you. It does me!

I will blog and tell you when it is done. And I have a desk shelf that is covered in those little things that don't have a home but still need to stay.

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Jo said…
Ooh, Jen, goody, more company:) I just hate filing, which is why I always put it off. Then it turns into that mammoth job..
This will be a brilliant time for you to declutter, with your big move coming up. So much better to get those boxes of stuff out of the house rather than having to move them.
And all those little things that need a home, such pests. I like to throw them in a box so I can't see them.
jengod said…
Thanks so much for the nice post on my blog about radical contentment and thanks for the decluttering inspiration here!
Jo said…
Hi Jen (are you a Jen?), I have been thinking all day about that phrase, 'radical contentment', and I think it sums up so beautifully everything I am aiming for. Less 'things', more kindness, more joy in the abundance I already have. Thank you:)
And I hope the decluttering goes well for you.

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