One of my major goals upon returning home was to declutter my life. I have, by and large, far too much stuff for only having been on this planet twenty years. I’m clearly a packrat – I have large amounts of trouble letting go of any memento of any sort. And after moving across the country for the summer, and back again, and then into my campus apartment, and back again, and knowing that I’ll move several more times in my life (including back across the country), I’ve decided to severely cut down on the amount of stuff that has to make those trips. (Also, Might Bargain Hunter has a great post on ways being disorganized costs you money.)
It’s not easy for me. I continually come across things that I’ve held on to for years and years. If I give an item enough thought, I usually end up keeping it. Still, piece by piece, I’m making progress, and I’m starting to formulate my plan of attack.
- Go through everything. Twice. There are a few important things that I can’t seem to find. And there’s a bunch of stuff that I would get rid of, if I just come across it. So I’m going through every drawer, every box, every shelf, and especially every pile and free floating object. I’m trying to put everything in its place, and if it doesn’t have a place? Well, I’ve grabbed a box and labeled it “Stuff I Don’t Know Where to Put.” There. Now it has a place.
- Burn, baby, burn. Useless papers, notes that we used to pass in high school, and especially junk mail is all going in one box. And the box will go next to the woodstove, where it will provide me the means to start fires for the rest of the season.
- Use my filing cabinets for files. Two filing cabinets have sat in my room since the 8th grade, but they’ve never really held files. Time to change that.
- Giveaway, Craigslist, and ebay. Just because I don’t need it, doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t.
- Start small. It would be just like me to put the “start” at the end. But it’s an ongoing process. I’m not the type of person who can go, “Ok. Today’s the day to clean and go through everything.” I have to do it in chunks. Today, I cleaned off my desk. Tomorrow, it’ll be something else. One box. The top of my dresser. Putting away the laundry. Starting small works because cleaning is addictive – I only stopped after the desk because I got to thinking that I should write about this. And it was 3am.
For now, that’s my approach. I welcome other suggestions on this topic, because frankly, I’ve never been very good at this.