Try decluttering a small space when you’re overwhelmed by chaos in the cabinets, closets and corners of your home. By taking a few minutes to make progress in a manageable area, you build decluttering momentum.
Hello, I’m Sandra and I’m a clutter bug. I have trouble getting rid of items that could in any way be useful, even if they are broken, obsolete or redundant.
Sometimes when I look at the clutter clogging my drawers, dresser tops and counters, I reassure and challenge myself with the thought, “We’re not quite ready for an episode of ‘Hoarders’ but I really need to deal with this.”
Blame it on busyness or blame it on high stress levels on multiple fronts, but sometimes the messes get out of control. Last weekend, my house was closer than usual to an episode of “Hoarders,” so I decided to do something about it.
Instead of starting a small DIY project as I’d planned, I spent the bulk of Saturday decluttering and cleaning. And boy, did my house need it. I focused on the dining room, living room and kitchen, which are all open to each other and to the entryway.
I hate to dust. With my daydreaming, easily distracted brain, I lose track of what to wipe clean. That’s why my ceiling fan sometimes looks like it sprouted gray fur. I didn’t dust everything, but I did tackle the furry fan and several other flat surfaces.
We have two exceptionally furry pets who shed almost year round. That’s why vacuuming often tops my chore list. I try to pair vacuuming and mopping. To be honest, I don’t always get to the mopping, especially when life gets crazy. We’ve been in the crazy zone for a while around here. This time, I mopped! Hooray for small victories.
I hate to clean, but I enjoy the results. Cleaning doesn’t baffle me like decluttering. I have a hard time letting go of stuff, and I don’t always see the best ways to organize spaces. My brain bogs down.
That’s when I remember the advice of one of my favorite bloggers, Dana K. White from A Slob Comes Clean. She says to not worry about organizing. Focus on getting rid of clutter. Then your space will be easier to manage. I’ve written before about how much her tips and her book, How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing with Your House’s Dirty Little Secrets, have helped me. If you struggle with disorganization and distracted housekeeping, Dana is soooo encouraging.
A quick decluttering win
With holiday baking and peanut-brittle-making season fast approaching, I tackled one of the most annoying drawers in my kitchen. It contains various hand-held kitchen gadgets like tongs, bottle openers, cheese and citrus graters and more corn on the cob knobs than I could ever use.
Half the time, the drawer would stick because a pair of tongs didn’t stay closed. It took me way too long to find a bottle opener or a pastry brush. I decided I would take a little time and make my life a little better.
When I declutter, I borrow from whatever philosophy will get me to take action. I like the idea from FlyLady and many others of setting a timer. You focus and work for a certain number of minutes. When the timer goes off, you have permission to stop.
My sweet Aunt Ann, knowing my challenges in the general housekeeping realm, sent me an official FlyLady timer. Thanks, Aunt Ann! I used it for this project, setting it for 15 minutes. I didn’t have time to re-organize my entire cluttered kitchen, but I could straighten this drawer.
A Slob Comes Clean also has useful strategies that work for daydreamers like me. She only has two decluttering questions when you pick up an item:
- If I needed this item, where would I look for it? (Take it there now)
- If I needed this item, would it EVER occur to me that I had it? (If not, get rid of it)
Also, Dana from A Slob Comes Clean doesn’t use a keep box. This, people, is the key for distracted folks like myself. She has a trash bag and a donate box, but everything that she wants to keep that goes elsewhere gets put away right away.
This was a game changer for me because I used to have keep boxes cluttering the corner of the dining room or crammed in my bedroom closet. Sometimes they sat untouched for a long time. To be honest, I still stash stuff in my closet that doesn’t really belong there. I want to keep it, but it either has no assigned home or won’t fit in the space I allocated for that category of items.
I digress. It’s what I do.
Back to my gadget drawer. I took 15 minutes to go through all the items in the drawer, toss anything broken and give away redundant items, things I never used and stuff I didn’t remember I had (see question two above). I gave away an extra wire whisk and set of salad servers. A cucumber coring tool (WHY DID I BUY THIS?) fell under the category of things I never used and wouldn’t think I had.
I spent another five minutes wiping down the drawer liner and washing the organizing containers. To save my sanity, I relocated the useful tongs that wouldn’t stay closed to the cabinet with the barbecue tools (question one).
At the end of 20 minutes, my gadgets had room to breathe. I opened and closed the drawer several times that evening, enjoying the delightful surprise of seeing each item inside instead of a crammed jammed mess.
That drawer is now a beacon of hope. It says to me, “You don’t need to live with a drawer full of chaos.”
I don’t know about you, but my world has been CRAZY lately. Taking a little time to control the clutter is a small way to reduce my stress.