by Susan Caplan McCarthy
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One thing that I like doing more that decluttering and organizing is writing. And, writing about decluttering and organizing? Well, that’s fun! (No, that isn’t said in a sarcastic tone, just in case you were wondering.)
When I’m organizing with someone, I can help one person at a time. Doing a presentation? I’ve talked with six to sixty people … and I’m often frustrated that I come up with better answers to questions that were asked by the audience while driving home.
If I forget something while writing I can go back and add in the information. Or, I can use my epiphany of, “Oh, I forgot …” to write another article, or book. And, in a book, I can talk to many more people than I could while giving a presentation.
My new eBook, Conquer the Mess Your Way: Your Guide to Making Decluttering Work for You, focuses on different decluttering techniques. One of the things I’ve noticed while writing articles for A Less Cluttered Life these past two years is that I’ve never stuck with teaching a single system for decluttering.
Why not? Because I don’t think there’s one best way to declutter.
What works for your clothes closet might not work for your garage. The method used by someone 30 and healthy won’t work for someone 50-years-old with chronic pain. Decluttering an apartment that you’ve lived in for three years requires a different mindset than if you were decluttering a house you’ve lived in for thirty years.
Yes, there’s some core actions that carry over no matter the specific technique used but thinking that you can declutter in only one way may mean doing nothing until you feel the planets and your schedule align perfectly. But, that’s not the case. You can make decluttering work for you in many ways.
Different Ways to Declutter
Which general method (or methods) appeal to you right now, based on the time, energy, and attention you can give to putting your house in order?
Invisible Decluttering – Invisible decluttering isn’t dramatic “look at what I did this weekend” sort of techniques. These actions create change slowly and are perfect if you’re overwhelmed thinking about how or where to start.
These small actions create change to your mind as well as your home as you get used to owning less. You can use invisible decluttering techniques along with any other action that helps clear unwanted and unnecessary things from your home.
Maintenance – If you’ve ever spent hours decluttering a room only to watch the clutter creep back in, over the following weeks, then you know that decluttering is not a one-time action.
Maintenance is all about preventing the clutter from returning. And, while it may seem like a hassle to tidy up here and there throughout your day, maintaining order takes much less time than you think. Somehow, thirty seconds of tidying today can become an hour of work in a month.
Slow and Steady Decluttering – I’m a big fan of decluttering 10-to-20-minutes a day because I think it’s manageable. Slow and steady techniques can add up to eight or ten hours a month without making you feel as if you had to carve that much time from your schedule.
Slow and steady decluttering also complements invisible decluttering techniques as well as the actions described in the maintenance chapter of Conquer the Mess Your Way. Picking and choosing what works for you doesn’t just help you organize a room but helps you see yourself as an organized person.
Decluttering Games – Games are a great incentive for clearing clutter – knowing that you want to get rid of x-number of items in a day or that you want to own x-number of items is somewhat arbitrary and for some reason that seems to make it easier to clear unwanted items.
I think that when you focus on gathering six items you look at the things in your home as potential candidates for your six items … as opposed to debating the potential use for an item.
Fresh Start – If you’ve ever gazed longingly at before-and-after photos (or raptly watched shows that speed up the process of decluttering an entire home within 30-minutes), then some part of you is drawn to making a fresh start.
If you’ve decluttered before a move or pulled everything out of your closet (and returned a fraction of what you own), then you’ve done this type of dramatic decluttering. However, this drastic clearing (occurring over a weekend or no more than a month) takes a lot of time, energy, and focus to accomplish.
Probably not a process for the busy or tired … unless you have an incentive, such as moving.
Making Decluttering Work for You
So, which tactic is best? It depends. How much time and energy do you have to give to decluttering? Do you have a timeline (the arrival of temporary or long-term guests, major renovations, or a move)?
Or, do you have no time to declutter right now, but you wish there was something you could do to start? With over twenty different techniques in Conquer the Clutter Your Way, you’ll find a decluttering game that can start you with a burst of energy, a slow and steady technique that will amaze you with the difference it can make a month from now, and maintenance tasks that keep the results of your hard work in order.
And if one procedure doesn’t work, try something else because there’s no one right way to declutter. Get your copy of the eBook, Conquer the Mess Your Way, on Amazon.
My thanks to Kay Andberg and Katrin Hawkins who were among those to suggest titles for this book when I put out a call on Facebook seeking inspiration. Together their suggestions became the title and subtitle for this book.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm a professional organizer-coach with 26 years' experience as a teacher. I believe that an organized home isn't your destination but a step on the path toward the life you want to create. I teach decluttering and organizing skills through articles; books; and speaking engagements; as well as virtual coaching sessions.