There comes a time in every shopaholic’s life when they must confront their demons.
For me, it was reading this article about clutter from The New York Times last week, and recognizing that a lot of the stress in my life was coming from years and years of collecting stuff.
I am a lover of things. I have many passions, a variety of crafts, books, magazines, baking, dressing my three dogs in adorable outfits, holiday decorations, home decor, gardening, tech gadgets, make-up.
However, all that passion leads to a shady part of town that everyone wants to avoid, Clutter City. It’s just two blocks up from Hoarder Town, a place I never want to live.
Clutter is like having a baby grand piano swinging on fraying ropes over your head. It’s always there…adding one more layer of stress to your already stressful life.
Warning signs that you may have a clutter problem:
- You have to move things off the table to sit down and eat a meal.
- You open a kitchen cabinet and a sauce pan falls directly on your big toe.
- You open the medicine closet and face creams, make-up remover, Band-Aids and cotton balls tumble out.
- You spend a half hour or more each week hunting for something you put away just a day or two ago.
- You have 7 pairs of scissors, but can never find one when you need one.
- You cannot see the floor of your walk-in closet.
Luckily for me, the winter cold, and the fact that my husband was out of town for the weekend, gave me the perfect opportunity to undertake an organizational project of this magnitude. It took me all day Saturday and half the day Sunday to get the job done.
The areas I tackled were my craft room, my spare closet (where everything that doesn’t have a home elsewhere is hidden from view,) built-in bookshelves, and my holiday/winter decorations. I’d done my bedroom, linen closet and kitchen last month. The make-up drawer and medicine cabinet are still an unspeakable mess, but I’m saving those for another day. Don’t try to do the whole house at once.
First I gather up my tubs, something else I hoard, plastic tubs of all shapes and sizes, with locking lids. That’s another blog in itself, my addiction to organizational tubs. I also use garbage bags, standard, and heavy-duty contractor grade bags.
The best way to get started is to make things worse before they can get better, by taking everything out of the closets, drawers, or cupboards, whether it’s your underwear drawer or the dreaded utensil jumble in the kitchen.
Then it’s time to take a fearless inventory, and make some critical life decisions. What will stay and what will go?
I create piles. First a pile of like items.
For instance, in my craft room, all my scrapbooking, card-making, papercraft stuff, like stickers, various papers, stamps, colored-pencils, stamp pads, go into a pile.
Then I have a doo-dad pile, pipe cleaners, buttons, ribbon, etc.
Adhesives are lined up on a counter…I have 8 different kinds of glue and glue sticks. Wood glue, fabric glue, archival scrapbook glue stick, Super glue, Tacky glue, it goes on. You see my problem clearly now, right?
Then I sort through the individual pile, and I sub-sort by color, holiday, purpose, etc. This is actually fun. I love rediscovering things I’d forgotten (hoarder trait.) At this point gather the stuff that’s squirreled away in random spots all over your house that goes into these piles, from the bedroom to the kitchen counter. I can usually cull a few pile-worthy items, lessening the clutter throughout my home.
Then there’s the stuff that I realize, if I’m honest with myself (hence the fearless inventory,) I will never use. These things go into a separate pile, the stuff that needs to go.
The stuff that needs to go, can go to several places (in order of requiring the most work to least):
- Garage sale
- Consignment shop
- Craig’s List
- Goodwill or thrift store
- Charity that will pick up bags and boxes of donated items from your doorstep
- As a last resort, the garbage. This is typically where damaged things I had a sentimental attachment to, or space-hogging packaging materials, end up.
Be sure to write down everything you donate and store in a file for taxes (you have one, right?) Here’s a link on how to value the items you donate. Then wrap breakables, and pile them with non-breakables, clothing, towels, etc, into your heavy-duty contractor bags, and move to the basement for selling, garage for pick-up, or directly to your car for drop-off.
After taking care of what must go, I place my “now-neatly-sorted items” into my clear plastic tubs (I should own stock in Sterilite and Rubbermaid) and label the container with my label maker (okay, I can’t find the batteries,) or masking tape and a Sharpie. The smaller things, like buttons, or my husband’s nuts and bolts, go into canning jars, upcycled spaghetti or baby food jars, tackle boxes, or anything that can be put neatly back into my cupboards, or stacked with the labels facing out.
You might think, why would I want to waste an entire precious day off decluttering? Well, because I don’t know about you, but for me, removing the piano looming over my head, threatening to crush me like a grape, is a huge incentive. I get an enormous feeling of accomplishment, and relief that I got that out of the way for another year, (assuming I keep it up, maybe 6 months…we’ll see.) And sitting down to an organized house is like staying at a fancy hotel, no worries, everything is in its place. It’s a fabulous feeling.
For more organizing tips from an expert, look to the new Smart Perks website coming soon. It’s a gold mine of helpful information for saving your sanity and money, too.
When she’s not blogging for Smart Perks, Melanie is staring glassy-eyed at Pinterest, her Pin It finger splinted from overuse. Besides crafting, gardening, shopping and cupcakes, the loves of her life are her three naughty terrier pups, the smartest and best-looking dogs in the world, and her husband.