I recently joined ZenHabit’s Sea of Change Program. Each month you focus on a new area of performance in your life to improve. Here is the list:
- A Month of Mindfulness [January]
- Unprocrastination [February]
- Exercise [March]
- Meditation [April]
- Self-compassion [May]
- Wake early [June]
- Declutter Challenge [July]
- Let go of expectations [August]
- Simple living [September]
- Productivity [October]
- Improve relationships [November]
- Contentment [December]
What got me to join was the lure of the De-clutter Challenge. I am a clutter junky. I grew up with a mom that tried to teach me to put my stuff away, eliminate clutter as much as I could. I thought I was a neat person because her personality projected onto me. But it turns out I am kinda messy but I crave order and a neat house because that’s how I grew up. So it is vicious circle of anxiety – I can never find what I am looking for and because I work from home I feel like the house is closing in on me at times.
I think it really started to get out of control when we moved into our last house. After the birth of our second child I was managing my own crap, my husband’s crap and 2 kid’s crap. We all have a lot of crap and suddenly endless basement space to store it instead of throwing it out (along with a massive barn shed and garage to store it too).
When we decided we weren’t having more kids I felt liberated. I could get rid of the old small clothes I was holding onto and all the extra baby stuff (high chairs, playpens etc) that went to the Good Will. Good riddance!
When I started a home office based business it started to really get out of control . Display boards, gift bags, printed material, massive posters and paper work clutter my office and basement.
Embarrassment is a good motivator
My sister in law would walk into my office and I sensed her alarm. “We could really give this place a makeover”…. Fear entered into my body and I felt anxiety fill my soul. That is a lot of work – new furniture to organize my stuff meant spending more money I didn’t have. So I said thanks but no thanks – for now. The piles of paper work are now clustered in sections and I need to set a date to have this mess sorted and stuff thrown out.
My deadline: July 21, 2014
But for every personal criticism I should focus on progress -> I did allow my sister in law (and boy what an amazing Christmas gift it was) to help organize my kids closet – here’s how it works:
- Get all your bins of kid clothing you are saving out of the basement – sort through it and hang up all the stuff that is going to fit your youngest kid in the closet by size. One bin per kid is then kept at the bottom of the closet floor – as your youngest child grows out of his / her clothes it then put in the bin – when the bin fills up you pack it up and send it away -HURRAY (god I love it)
- Second child (oldest) has a bin too – the keep-able clothes are put into a bin and then hung up when you have time in the closet by size order – smallest to biggest – everything on hangers even PJ’s = when you need more clothes you shop the closet and add it into the kids drawers to wear.
- When the draws contain clothes that don’t fit you follow the system (Steps 1 / 2)
- I have maintained this system for two years – I am happy to say that my kid’s clown closet (the kind where you open the door and stuff comes falling out) is no more! Try it – it really works.My kids closet is the one room I am really proud of.
- TOYS – We have also sorted through tons of toys – so when the weather was nice (Father’s day) we put everything outside and organized and packed up bags and bags of toys that have since gone to Good Will. All new toys were placed in small clear bins that are labelled and put into a IKEA organizer. It has been a month now and things are still neat – I think I have scared the kids into submission 🙂
Here are some basic tips you might find helpful to de-clutter
- Start small – set a standard time each week to straighten and throw out stuff you aren’t using – 1/2 hour tops
- Work up to chunks – up to 10 minutes a day to de-clutter (and not throw in a drawer)
- Use One Note or Trello to set declutter goals – and set deadlines – we have a Trello board for the cottage to keep track of projects (everyone can be assigned tasks)
- Get help – use our business directory to find someone to take the project on together
- Have a common team home goal – Enlist everyone to get on-board in your family – have a family reward at the end of the month
- Build it in your schedule – if you have a cleaning service – use that day to do extra purging
- Live simple – have a rule that most of your presents given (tell grandparents etc) have to be experience related: Movies, trips, use Echoage service to collect birthday money for one big gift- half is given to child’s gift and half is donated to charity. This is a great way to cut down on duplicate “gifts” and teach social responsibility
- Get mindful – picture yourself clearing your mind and soul as you throw crap out and think about how you are going to feel when you are done – “Free and Clear. “
- Train yourself to ask “Do I really need this – am I buying to feel better?” – if the answer is yes get the hell out and go for a walk or address the core problem that is the underlying issue and likely you can stop the impulse buy
So I challenge myself to have my office declutter project done by by July 21st. Do check up on me to see that I followed through 🙂