Monday, November 19, 2007

Lighten Your Load

Mondays are for anything local that strikes my fancy. Some days are more local than others.

photo by theogeo

Fall is a traditional time of "nesting" for us at the farm. In preparation for winter, we like to get the house in order and take stock of what we have. This helps us plan during the winter. Right now, the clutter is overwhelming. Like most folks, we moved into the house with very little and the collection of stuff just grew.

We have now been in our house for eight years. Despite two yard sales and at least monthly drop offs to the charity trailer, we still have too much junk. How do I know this? Because it's all over the house. Everywhere. Did I mention, we have graduated to paths in certain areas?

I am tackling this cleanup job a little bit at a time. Each morning after everyone is fed and the kids are at school, I pick an area of the house that I can clean in about two hours. That's Tip one: Don't over commit your time. Spend 2-4 hours max per day decluttering.

Tip two: There are three categories: Keep it, ThrowAway, and GiveAway. As I go through each area, I put the GivaAways in a box and the ThrowAways in a trash bag. I am left with a pile of stuff I want to keep.

Tip three: If fills up more than half the space available, cull through it again. It's time for the hard questions. Do I really need the five half full band-aid boxes or can I consolidate the boxes? Do we need twenty plus scented soaps which we haven't ever used? That's a GiveAway definitely.

Tip four: Take care of the GiveAways and ThrowAways immediately. Several decluttering books I've read are not clear on this. I know how I procrastinate. And some of you out there do too. You know who you are. How do you think the house got so cluttered in the first place? As I fill up the GiveAway boxes, I can take them out to the car.

Our local charity drop off takes stuff until 2pm, so I have to leave the house by 1:30pm. This gives me a time limit, so cleaning up is not a never-ending task for that day.

This is really a 10,000 foot view, but these simple guidelines can get it done. If I know I don't have the time to declutter today, I plan for it the next available day. My challenge is sticking with it consistently. I also seem to have unusually generous friends, because no sooner do I clean up one area, then someone drops off a box of stuff they think I can't live without. My challenge is to find a good home for this stuff - which is not my house.

What are some of your challenges keeping your house cleaned up and tidy? Time? Toddlers? Generous Friends? Pack rat spouse? I'm curious to see what challenges you have encountered and how you overcome these challenges.
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