Each new year seems to start with the need to declutter and get organized. I believe its a consequence of Christmas decorating and gift sharing. Once the holidays are behind us we all have those fabulous new decorations to store along with our older decorations. Typically in the same area with the same amount of space. Then we have to put away all of the new wonderful gifts. Once we get past Christmas, we look around and all “the stuff” hits us. Right then is a perfect time to start doing something about it.
To me declutter means getting rid of forever and should not be confused with organizing, storing, rearranging, or putting things where they should be.
I am always tempted to start by organizing, with pretty labels, new pantry jars, storage baskets and what not. But that is just buying more stuff to store stuff, so I seriously recommend starting with a simple decutter. You will be amazed at how much easier organizing will be once the bulk is gone, you may even be able to forget about it for awhile.
The One Bag Method
You may laugh, but I always declutter using the one bag method. The name makes me remember because basically that’s what it is.
Every member of the family takes one large garbage bag to fill up with things they don’t need. Once the bag is full, they are done for the day. That’s it. Very young children need to do it with you, but even then it doesn’t take long. You can always find the time for just one bag.
Once you (and each member of your family) has one bag full of clutter to toss out, you are done for the day. Try it for one week. If your family is larger it may just take a couple of days.
Declutter Suggestion List – remember to refer to blog post as the list is not explanatory.
HOW TO GET RID OF CLUTTER
All those sentimental things and the “someday I want to use this stuff” will come later. For now our goal is to get started, then check how you feel and reassess. For this week we keep the sentimental stuff and toss only the easiest to get rid of someday items.
WHAT TO THROW AWAY
Start anywhere you want to, a specific room, or if your stressed, roam around grabbing easy stuff anywhere you want. Lets quickly get rid of the bulk of the clutter, and if you need a guide, here are some simple ideas.
I really recommend doing the kitchen adults only. In our home Hubs will go through the pantry tossing expired food stuffs, and I always do the dishes cupboards. Doing the dishes he’d keep every treasure, whereas I get frustrated when I find expired food. I try to be better organized than that.
Anything chipped, glasses, plates, bowls, and so forth.
Plastics missing a lid, and lids that don’t fit a container.
Worn out items such as rusty baking pans, scratched frying pans, specialty pans you haven’t used in 2 years, or don’t really want.
Anything thing free with a label on it. Everything from washed out pickle jars to those lovely vendor advertising mugs that don’t match anything.
Dull scissors and knives. Either sharpen them or wrap in paper and toss them.
Mismatching and bent cutlery that doesn’t match your set.
Duplicate potato mashers, colanders, shredders, ice cream scoops, cork screws are some ideas.
Since I began blogging I have and keep a large variety of paper products that take up too much room, cupcake liners, cute cupcake flags, wooden skewers, paper loaf pans, and so forth. If I have less than a dozen matching ones, out they go.
Unwanted cookbooks. (I can’t say wrecked because my favorite cookbooks are something to see)
Expired food, canned goods, spices, discoloured and no longer appetizing.
Empty containers of cleaners, if you have duplicates transfer them into one bottle, and throw away the second container.
Old bills (shred first), junk mail, calendars, saved take out containers, some recycled plastic food containers,
Broken and unused electric appliances, I had a waffle maker and a belgian waffle maker, the belgian stayed and the other one went.
I like to get the little ones to do this with me. Those big comforters and linens fill a bag quickly which is great for the younger family members
Torn or worn sheets, top sheets that don’t have matching bottom sheets anymore. Stained or worn pillowcases.
Old or damaged blankets and comforters, I toss, or call the SPCA to donate, but I don’t count it in my bag count until they are actually donated.
Scatter rugs and bathroom mats you no longer like. Or bathroom mats with crackling rubber backing.
Old towels I either have a box with ones for bathing the puppy, or rip them into rags and store in out cleaning closet. Toss any torn, worn, bleached or shrunken towels you don’t want.
Bathrooms don’t tend to have anything bulky so they don’t usually fill a garbage bag, but they can be cluttery. So lets just do this.
Samples of anything old or new, those travel sized things of shampoo, and dental floss etc. Toss or place them in your suitcase.
Old nail polish, emery boards
Outdated makeup, broken makeup brushes, or utensils like eyelash curlers.
Old worn hairbrushes, razors, used razor blades
Empty bottles, old sponges, loofahs,
Expired medicines but they only count once they go back to the pharmacy for recycling. (adults job)
Bedroom – Adults
I am going to include the bedroom closets, dressers, and nightstand drawers.
Broken jewellry, watches, including watches without batteries you haven’t fixed.
Massagers, old electronics like Iphones, chargers, electric razors, or dvd player, heating pads, TV Trays, laptop trays you don’t use.
Worn or dated purses, shoes, scarves, belts.
Clothes that don’t fit, if you lose weight you deserve new clothes right?
Socks, gloves, slippers without mates.
Pajamas or robes you don’t wear.
Unloved dresser knick knacks, burnt candles, printable art.
Broken hangars, dry cleaner hangars.
Old empty shopping bags and receipts, shoe boxes.
Bedroom – Kids
Kids rooms always cause tension somehow, whether your in the close the door its their space mode, or my payment, my house mode occasionally parents have to venture in there.
The kids room is where I came up with the one bag method, its actually pretty easy to hand the older child a bag, explain what they are suppose to do and let them know when its full. They are DONE.
Older kids are easier, I allowed mine to do their own room. My boys often shared a room so they decluttered together. I did not care what they threw out as long as it was theirs.
Young children need us to be involved to help choose. You can make most of the decisions, letting them join in as much or as little as you want.
Clothes that are too small, stained or ripped.
Shoes that are too small.
Unwanted and broken toys
Old books, crayons, pencils, old school papers like Valentines, art projects
Broken storage crates, boxes, bins, totes
Old throw blankets, baskets
Broken unwanted games, DVDs, controllers, cords, remotes.
Coffee table books, burnt down or discoloured candles.
Decor and plants you don’t love.
Front Entry and Mudroom
These two areas bother me the most, because of the traffic volume I think. Oh the stories I could tell, but to save your time and my family I won’t go there.
This is the one area of the house I organize while I declutter, otherwise everything from fishing rods, to battery chargers, and sports equipment would get tossed to leave room for what’s suppose to be there.
To get some of the bulk out of the entry I will suggest to anyone with an almost full bag to go see what they can find of theirs in the entry.
Deal with the laundry. I made this lovely large wire laundry hamper a couple of years ago and I adore it. If you don’t have a hamper, make or buy one and pile all the clothes in there.
I insisted on having the drawer units for our washer and dryer, I keep one full of my ironing, the other one is for mending and mismatched socks.
Toss all the mending and mismatched socks.
Empty soap, bleach, fabric softener containers
Pour duplicate containers together, toss out the second one.
Empty out the lint basket/trash
Old finished projects that haven’t left the craft room.
To do projects you didn’t finish this season
Old dried out paint, stain, broken or ruined paint brushes. partially used sandpaper.
I have a craft room that can get very full with my stash, I purchase things at Michael’s after season sales and keep them for next year stored in plastic bins. Personally organized and neatly put away items aren’t what I call clutter. Its all the stuff I don’t know where to put it, out it goes
Odds and sods you kept just in case, leaves from floral stems, trimmed off scrap paper. small amounts of beads, embroidery thread, ribbon, partial greenery steams.
Final Thoughts on Decluttering
You probably noticed I said toss, garbage, chuck, get rid of etc. You don’t hear sort, donate, have a garage sale and so forth. This method focuses on You and Your Need to reduce your stress from clutter.
Eons ago I lost everything but three boys and three coats to a monster. I chose not to let it hurt me or frustrate me. My boys were with me and safe, the rest is just details.
Remembering the rest is just details, its just stuff, I love things but they don’t love me back. and other self motivations have served me well for a very long time.
If you feeling overwhelmed with things, take it a bag at a time. Use the finished bag as a motivation, when its done, you start a new bag tomorrow.
The one bag method has served me successfully for a long time. I promise you will get to the point that your no longer overwhelmed. Once you get to that point its time to start organizing.