Decor Tip: Decluttering

As we go through life, it's so easy to collect.  Some things are treasures, but some are - let's face it - just plain clutter.  And it doesn't matter how beautifully your home is decorated if it's covered in clutter!  Most of us want to be clutter-free, but attaining that can be difficult.  It's overwhelming, and we don't know where to start...and sometimes it's just easier to overlook things, especially when you're busy. 

Decluttering can be tough, but the payoff is immense!  A decluttered home gives you less to clean and organize, which saves time and stress.  And avoiding RE-cluttering saves money.  Who doesn't want to save time, and money while avoiding stress?  Sign me up!   Here are a few tips that have made a huge difference in areas I tend to retain clutter:  

Area 1: Clothing

It's SO EASY to hoard clothing!  Unless you are actually in the closet you don't see it, and if you are you don't have time anyway.  Spending an entire day gutting your closet can be cathartic, but it's tough to find a day to do it.  This is the easiest way I've found to declutter clothes: turn all your hangers backwards, and turn everything in your drawers upside-down.  As you dress each day, reach for the oldest items you have.  If you fall in love with it again - great!  Launder it and rehang it, making sure the hanger is in correctly or it's right-side up in the drawer.  But chances are, if you haven't worn it in a while, there is a reason.  Maybe it isn't comfortable, or it rides funny, or you forgot how the color of green makes your hair look.  If it's in good shape, launder it and put it in the donation bag.  If not, throw it away.  Now.  PRO TIP: Keep a donation bag and a trash can in your closet.  This is especially helpful if you put something on and immediately know you aren't going to enjoy wearing it!

Area 2: Kitchen

Most of us have at least twice as many kitchen items as we need.  Here is the reality - if you have 7 spatulas, chances are you will use all 7, giving you the impression you NEED all 7.  But do you really?  The question to ask yourself isn't what do you use, but what would you use INSTEAD.  I'm also a huge fan of famous chef Alton Brown's theory - never buy a unitasker for the kitchen.  Everything worth keeping should be able to perform more than one service.  Much like clothes, it would take the entire day to completely muck out the kitchen.  It's a much easier task to do a little each time you cook.  I like the 1/1/1 rule; with each dinner, look for one item that can be tossed, one that can be donated, and one that doesn't even belong in the kitchen.  You'll have it decluttered in no time! PRO TIP: Don't live your life with guilt.  Maybe you want to be the kind of woman who makes her own pasta.  After all, that's why you own a pasta machine!  But are you actually going to make homemade pasta, or just feel guilty every time you crab a box of Barilla?  Guilt is stressful!

Area 3: Mementos

Mementos can be the #1 hardest thing to declutter.  Unlike a shirt you are keeping because you bought it, or a kitchen appliance you hope to use, mementos are sentimental.  They invoke memories. They represent something - a person, a place, or a time.  (This is the area I struggle the most, especially with small items because I just know, someday, somehow, I'm going to scrapbook those items!)  Guilt can factor in here, too; especially after losing a family member.  There is a natural feeling that you want to keep every item relating to that person.  Just remember - a single item can be just as powerful a memento of that person as 563 items, and they wouldn't want to see you stress over "stuff" if your life it overfilled.  PRO TIP:  The best way to declutter mementos, I think, is containment.  Instead of keeping a huge pile of keepsakes as a memorial of your family vacation, choose a small box and keep the best of the best.  Once the box is full, that's it.

BONUS TIP: To keep decluttering from becoming an overwhelming chore, try the Pomodoro Technique.  It's basically a method for time management that keeps you from mentally going astray.  You break your task into 25 minute sections punctuated by 5 minute breaks called pomodoros.  After 4 work/break sessions, you take a longer break (15 - 30 minutes).    But you needn't get that technical; you can use the commercial breaks of a tv show, or take a break between each drawer, or punctuate larger tasks with smaller "fun" things.      

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