So this week I am going to begin a whole house declutter and spring clean. The spring sunshine is beaming in to the house showing up grimy corners, tired piles of paperwork, abandoned craft projects and trails of bobby pins. This is rather an ambitious project, and the kind of thing I generally start, then abandon due to the pressing siren calls of the spring garden or other vital necessities like reading the paper or talking to the cat. Hence publishing my intentions here, because I have found that you, lovely readers, are all immensely encouraging, and also good at nagging, and I would love to have you help me accomplish my mission. I of course, would also do the same for any of you:)
I have a few key principles that I follow when I declutter, because I know my weaknesses all too well. I get bored easily. I get distracted easily. And even if I manage to heroically stay on task I am invariably interrupted by some well-timed 'emergency'. These are my strategies:
Pick the low hanging fruit first: Clutter you can see is so much more satisfying to deal with than invisible clutter in cupboards. It is emergency clutter. If a room is cleared of all visual clutter, it looks lovely and is easy to live in. Clutter in cupboards can then be dealt with a shelf at a time. Which leads to..
Clear a small area at a time: It can take less than twenty minutes to clear away all the unnecessary detritus from a tabletop, desk, sideboard, bookshelf or single cupboard shelf. You can do it while you chat to your mum on the phone, or while your daughter tells you interminably about everything she has learned about sedimentary rocks that day at school.
Don't create more piles: Decluttering books will tell you to declutter with three boxes - one for donating, one for rubbish, one for keeping. If I did that I'd just have a bunch of random boxes of stuff sitting around, because I would never come back to it. If I am keeping something, I take it to its new home right away. If I can't find an exact home (maybe in a room that hasn't been sorted out yet) I put it with other similar objects somewhere so I can rehome them later. This takes longer and feels more inefficient, but it pays off when you get interrupted by suddenly needing to cook dinner or pick up children from hockey ('Good lord, is that the time?'), because everything is already put away. Rubbish can go straight in the bin or recycling, donation bag goes straight out to the car. And there is no evidence that you have ever been decluttering at all. Except for the lovely, lovely surfaces.
Do not let more stuff in the house: I find the fact that I have to continually declutter slightly immoral. All this 'stuff' that is leaving the house in bin bags is the product of somebody's imagination and labour, is made using precious and dwindling resources, and cost us time and money. Our life energy and our children's future is bound up in that shocking volume of 'stuff'. It is worth soul-searching and the exercising of considerable ingenuity to evaluate the genuine necessity of bringing more 'stuff' into the house in the first place.
Tell me your thoughts on decluttering - is it cathartic? Do you live a fairly minimalist lifestyle, or are you overwhelmed with too many possessions? Is it possible to live in a creative space with the stuff that you love, which is at the same time cosy and organised?
Here is a woman who has done just that, an artist who lives a simple life in a tiny space but hasn't sacrificed her creative spirit to bare-bones minimalism.
I am still juggling my ideas about stuff, about things that I love, things that I want, things that I need. I think that right now in this spring decluttering project, it is all about divesting my life of those things that I don't love, want or need, so I will more clearly be able to see my way forward with what is left..