“Stuff” is starting to own people. It traps us, holds us back, weighs on our hearts. “Stuff” fills our oceans, our woods. It piles up on the side of the road or in your backyard. It creates strife in the home, breaks apart marriages and makes people do things they wish they didn't.
People keep “stuff” for practical reasons, Maybe I'll use that lamp again sometime! They keep stuff for sentimental reasons, I bought this right after I found out I was pregnant! And even financial reasons, Do you know how much this cost me? And you want me to throw it away?
I own a small cleaning and organizing business, so, believe me, I've heard all these reasons and more. I've talked with hoarders of beauty products, craft supplies, kitchen utensils and children's toys – you name it! People keep it.
That said, decluttering can obviously be tough! So I've come up with a few questions to ask yourself to maybe make the decluttering process a little easier:
1. Is it trash? This is the number one question for me. If I went through your messiest closet or drawer and got rid of just the trash, I guarantee we would have taken care of about 25% of the mess. Pretty painless, right? See, this isn't scary! This is what I consider trash: things that are broken (crayons, tools, dishes, clothes), papers you don't need anymore (That one picture you daughter drew that's seriously just a blue squiggle on a page? Probably trash. Old mail? “To do” list from last week? Trash.) and basically anything super gross, dirty, used or messed up that no one actually wants (you'll know it when you see it).
2. Is it a duplicate? This is an easy fix! Two can openers? One goes in the thrift store bin. Two copies of the same book? Thrift store. Easy and painless!
3. Do you want it? This is my favorite. It doesn't work with everyone, but it's so basic and really clears the space (and your mind!). So just ask yourself, “Do I actually want this?” If the answer is no, send it guilt free to your nearest thrift store for someone who actually does want it.
Ok, that was the easy part. Already feels better, right? If you just did the first three steps, I'd still be really proud of you. It takes time, and you nailed it. If you like how you feel, let's go a little farther...
4. Do you need it? I know this is hard, but you really don't need 15 baseball caps. Could you narrow it down to five? Or your favorite two? You don't need a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and a hand help mixer. You don't need a linen closet full of sheets. Do you own a Bed and Breakfast? Ok, then I'll let this one slide. But for the rest of us, you should max out at two pairs of sheets (fitted, flat, 2-4 pillowcases) for each bed. And I say max. Do you see where this is going? Another question along these lines is, “Have I used it in the last year?” If the answer is “No...” then you really don't need it and should probably send it to Goodwill.
5. Get rid of “uni-taskers.” Alton Brown, from the Food Network, coined the term “uni-taskers” in reference to tools in the kitchen that are only used for one purpose. For example, a pan that only cooks omelets or a fork only used for getting pickles out of a jar. Instead of piling up a bunch of uni-taskers, keep the basic tools and use those for everything. Cook an omelet in a saute pan. Use a regular fork to get a pickle out of the jar. Uni-taskers can be found outside of the kitchen as well. We may find a quilt stand in your living room corner when that beautiful quilt could be displayed on the back of a completely usable chair. We may find a belt in your closet that only works with a certain pair of pants or vice versa – let's send them on their way and choose belts and pants that are a little more usable and versatile. If you're unsure about an item, consult question number 4. A sure sign of a “uni-tasker” is that you really don't need it.
6. Go the extra mile. Accomplished all the above steps but still want more? Create a capsule wardrobe for yourself (you can read about that on my personal blog). Challenge yourself to keep only 1-3 pieces of furniture per room. Get to the point where you no longer need “storage options” because you no longer have enough stuff to deem it necessary. Minimize your cell phone, your email account, your computer files. Minimize your spending. Delve into the world of “zero waste” and minimize your trash every week. Trust me, if you continue to simplify your life you will not regret it!
A couple last things to remember...
- It's just stuff.
- Eliminate instead of organize.
- If it doesn't add to your life, it doesn't belong in your life.
If you need help – email me! I will 100% support you and help you along the way. I promise you won't regret getting rid of the “stuff” that entangles you. And when you're done you'll sit in your clean, simple home and feel free.
If you enjoyed Elisa's guest post go show her some love. Her personal blog is orangeandgray.com and her insta is @mrselisacobb. She is a dear friend and has such a sweet spirit and deep heart.