After our wonderful 7 weeks in Vermont this summer, our family returned to Jersey and instinctively began to get rid of stuff yet again. We have spent the past 2 years seriously decluttering, yet somehow there was even more to do. After almost two months in a small cottage with mostly only necessities, the exercise seemed pretty fluid this time around.
Our eyes are open to a possible move, preferable to a smaller space (we believe that 1200 square feet for a family of 4 is just fine). In the meantime, we have labeled this decluttering spree “downsizing within out current space”. This way, the worst that happens is that we will have an extremely sparse room or two if we decide to stay. The best case scenario is that a move will be very easy and we won’t have to do much decluttering during the move.
When your home is filled with crap, trying to tackle it is overwhelming. Decluttering doesn’t need to be a planned event. Taking 5 minutes to declutter today is a great start. Try 5 minutes a day for one week and you will have made a large dent in your clutter.
Here are some great 5 minute ways to get started downsizing within your home:
- Create a collection box. Stuff you bring in the house after a long day often accounts for a lot of our clutter. This is because we put them in different spots — on the counter, on the table, on our desk, in a drawer, on top of our dresser, in our car. Designate an in-box tray or spot in your home (or office) and don’t put down anything anywhere but that spot. Mail, papers, change, receipts, anything in your pockets goes in the box. You can “process” what’s in the box as a designated time.
- Start clearing a starting zone. Designate one area to call your “clutter-free zone”. It does not need to be an entire room. It can be a counter, your kitchen table, or a small perimeter around your couch. Wherever you start, make a rule: nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Everything must be put away. Once you have that clutter-free zone, slowly expand each day until it envelopes as much space as possible! This is really challenging with kids, so try to get them on board!
- Clear off a counter. Making sure all flat spaces are clear of clutter is a great start, so start with one counter. Clear off everything possible, except maybe one or two essential things. Do you have a food processor that you use rarely? Put it in the cupboard. Clear off all the other stuff you’ve been tossing on the counter too.
- Pick a shelf. It doesn’t matter what shelf. A shelf in a closet or on a bookshelf is a great start. Don’t tackle the whole bookshelf — just one shelf. Clear all non-essential things and leave it looking neat and clutter-free.
- Schedule a decluttering weekend. If you really want to clear your schedule and take a day to do this, then go ahead! If you have a family, get them involved too. Get boxes and trash bags ready, and plan a trip to a charity to drop off donated items. You might not get the entire house decluttered during the weekend, but you’ll probably make great progress.
- Visualizea perfect room . When I’m decluttering, I like to take a moment to take a look at a room, and think about how I want it to look. What are the most essential pieces of furniture? What doesn’t belong in the room but has just gravitated there? What is on the floor (hint: only furniture and rugs belong there) and what is on the other flat surfaces? Once I’ve visualized how the room will look uncluttered, and figured out what is essential, I get rid of the rest.
- Put a load in your car for charity. If you’ve decluttered a bunch of stuff, you might have a “to donate” pile that’s just taking up space in a corner of your room. Take a few minutes to box it up and put it in your trunk. Then tomorrow, drop it off.
- Pull out some clothes you don’t wear. As you’re getting ready for work, and going through your closet for something to wear, spend a few minutes pulling out ones you haven’t worn in a few months. If they’re seasonal clothes, store them in a box. Get rid of the rest. Do this a little at a time until your closet (and then your drawers) only contains stuff you actually wear.
Who knows…maybe by downsizing within your home you will find that you free up space in an entire room. Maybe you will decide to repurpose that room. Or maybe that will be the hint that it’s time to buy a smaller home! I’ll let you know what we come up with…
If you haven’t checked out these sites yet, please do so! They are incredibly inspirational in every way: