We may be into February and the memories of New Year’s celebrations are now but a hazy memory, but if you had intended to make 2017 the year of action – the year of a tidy house; of being a bit more organized – and haven’t quite got around to it, we’ve got your back. There’s still plenty of time.
Getting organized is one of those things that often tops these yearly resolutions lists, and because we know that, if this is your resolution, there’s every chance you might be having a classic case of the ‘overwhelms’, we’ve rounded up five strategies for decluttering your house.
1. The Game
“Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”
Don’t let that lofty ambition put you off. Even if you’re about as far from being minimal as they come, Messrs Fields-Millburn & Nicodemu have a game – or challenge, depending on your world view – for how to divest yourself of all the stuff you’ve been keeping. Like all good ideas, it’s simple.
Start at the beginning of the month and, on the first day, get rid of one thing. On the second, two things. On the third, three, and so on. It’s an easy first week or so, to get you into the swing of it, but gets more tricky as the month goes on. So… who can do the maths, then? By the end of the month you would have disposed of….?
- It’s fun, and the start of the month is easy…
- …but the end of the month isn’t.
If you’re a social media type, you can join in with the hashtag #minsgame.
2. The Purge
If you haven’t tried it already, the KonMari method is effective. Brutal, but effective. Her mantra – that you should only keep things that ‘spark joy’ – is something that’s easily dismissed as being a bit too existential for us mere mortals, but what she says makes sense: if you don’t really love something, why keep it? The good folks over The Pool filmed a lovely segment with Marie Kondo so you can see the process first-hand.
- There’s no doubt this is thorough, but it’s also pretty radical.
- Its’s easy to be put off by the explanations in the book. (She suggests that you thank any items before you bin them. Skeptics may snort derisively at this.)
- Not great unless you’re 100% committed to some serious change and prepared to put in the hours.
3. The Boxes
Another useful way to tidy up is to tackle an area with three boxes (or bags, we’re not fussy). One is for keeps, one for the charity shop and one for the bin. Every item you pick up has to go in a box. None shall pass!
- You don’t have to commit to a drastic clean up in one go. Sort one area a day until it’s done, or sort single items as and when you find them out of place.
- This also translates well into a game (see ‘The Game’, above), if such things appeal to you.
- This can obviously take forever…
- If it’s an ongoing project there’s a very real temptation that you’re going to start taking things out of boxes because you’ve convinced yourself you actually need them/ love them/ want them after all. Not for the faint of heart!
4. The sweep
Set a timer, grab a rubbish bag and GO! Simply bin anything that’s out of place until the timer goes off (or, if countdowns raise your blood pressure too much, until the bag’s full). Also works well for stuff that needs to go to the charity shop.
- Not much thought required: just work until the bin bag is full, dispose of it and feel better.
- Great for a quick whip around, if your place has only slightly got out of hand.
- Can take ages to get through the entire house.
- Doesn’t really help you organise: think of it more like organisational prep and sort through the bag later. It’s fun though.
5. The Hunt
Everyone has them: the things that don’t really have a specific home, but are both nowhere to be found and everywhere. In my case it’s pens. I can never find a working pen when I need one, but the moment I start doing anything else, they’re everywhere. This method should, I’m told, stop that. Pick a category and hunt out every single example of that thing. Look in drawers, down the backs of the sofa (I’m still thinking about pens here, but if you have a problem with, say, shoes, you’ll obviously look elsewhere). Once they’re grouped together, sort things out (use the three box method, the KonMari method, whichever works for you), find somewhere for them to go so that you – and everyone else – knows where to find them and put said items in the future.
- By grouping things together you can also get a better idea of what you actually own (and if you need to start or stop buying pens).
- It’s a long-term game, this one. Unless you’ve got serious declutter stamina, you’re unlikely to get through the whole house in one session (but equally it’s a good way to chip away at the problem).
- This is very much the start of large-scale sorting out, so not one if you’re looking for a quick fix.
- You may just have trouble finding what you’re looking for (better start with something easy, then – like clothes).
And before we go, a couple of other tips, before we forget:
DON’T start buying fancy new storage until you’re absolutely sure what you’re going to need to store. If space is an issue temporarily store those ‘not sure’ items until you’ve got yourself sorted.
DON’T take on too much. It’s much, much better to completely sort one area, rather than empty out your entire place onto the floor. Unless of course, you’ve got loads of time on your hands, in which case go for it! The reality is that, for most of us, large-scale tidying and organizing has to fit in around our many other commitments, so don’t add to the stress: keep it manageable.
DO find a way to enjoy the process. Put on some music, switch on the TV, take some time to make a really good cup of coffee. Get friends round to help. Make it fun.
As ever, Boxman is on hand to help you store those things you can’t quite fit in at home. Whether it’s off-season clothes, books you can’t bear to donate or the bike* you swore you’d be riding everyday but haven’t because you’ve, er, ahem, pulled a muscle, we’ll deliver boxes to your door, leave you to pack them up and return to pick them up when you’re ready.
*Yup. We even store things which don’t fit in a Boxman box. As long as it’s no bigger than 2 metres long and 25kg in weight, and can be lifted by an ordinary human being, we can probably help. Give us a shout if you’ve got any questions.