by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: If decluttering one item a day is all you feel comfortable doing, know that one item is better than zero. On the days you feel up to decluttering more than one item, do so. These small steps will add up.
Maybe you decluttered and organized your closet without much trouble; but, when you moved to your books or your kitchen gadgets, you started to worry that you’d get rid of something useful. Or, you were looking at images on Pinterest of minimalists’ homes and you got uptight thinking you’d have to get rid of all your stuff to be organized.
Sometimes, clearing through a lot of stuff in a week or a weekend and seeing the dramatic results feels great. Other times, it’s too much
1) Sort Stuff by Category
In my book, Decadent Decluttering, I focus on sorting categories of stuff because I think that makes it easier to compare items and judge how much space you need to display or store them.
To start decluttering, select a category of stuff – bakeware, books, clothing, jewelry, toys, craft supplies, etc. You may have books in your living room, bedroom, and home office. Select the room with majority of the items and bring everything there.
Sort the items so like things are together. For example, put all your pants in one pile, long-sleeve shirts in another, sweaters in yet another. Notice, some of these groupings can be subdivided; so, when you start sorting your pants, divide that pile into black dress pants, jeans, khakis, etc.
2) Eliminate Ten Percent of the Items from the Category
After you’ve sorted your items into categories, eliminate ten percent of the items in each category. So, if you are sorting shoes, get rid of ten percent. Start off by counting the items. If you have thirty-seven pairs of shoes, round up the number to forty to simplify the math. Pick the four articles of footwear that are the most worn-out or uncomfortable.
Chances are, when you return the items to their home, you won’t notice a significant loss. Instead, you’ll appreciate that the area looks neater. You won’t get that panicky feeling of getting rid of too much. Now, in a couple of weeks or months, go back to your shoes and gently eliminate another ten percent. (Round the quantity up or down to the nearest number ending in a zero.)
You can continue to clear your clutter, removing ten percent of your items each time you go through a category. You don’t even have to worry about the math; just remove a few items from a category every so often.
Reluctant about Decluttering?
Won’t eliminating a mere ten percent of your items mean that it will take forever to declutter your home? If you’ll be moving in two months, this isn’t the best method for you. However, if you realize that you have too much stuff, but the idea of decluttering makes you nervous or resistant, removing ten percent of the items in a category can ease you into the process.
Now, you may not need this technique for everything – you may struggle with books but not kitchen gadgets; blouses but not pants. Also, bringing everything in a category into one place can help you see unnecessary duplicates. You can always get rid of more if you feel comfortable doing so.
When you're ready, you can go through a category a second time. You can use the ten-percent technique again, or sort through your belongings, eliminating the things you don't like or need.
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The Organized Squirrel, Susan, shows you how acorns (small habits) can grow into oak trees (a better life).