This is a guest post from my friend Jesse over at Slowing Down.
I admit, when David asked if I was interested in writing a guest post for Simple.Organized.Life. I jumped at the chance. Then, once I sat down to think about what to write I was a bit flustered. I mean, this was going to be my first guest post and I wanted it to be good!
I started by working out topics, then proceeded to dump each one in turn, thinking that there just had to be something “better” I could come up with…until it dawned on me…the whole point to this blog, and my own as well, was to chronicle the processes of – and share ideas relating to – Simplifying our Lives. So why not just start with the basics…
How I began to simplify my life
Many posts have been written, here and elsewhere, with practical tips for decluttering your home and life. What I find missing from many of these posts is real world, practical, “I’ve done this and it works” type tips. So what I’m going to do here is summarize the basic process I used to begin paring down my STUFF in preparation for a transcontinental move that’s coming up really, really, really soon now. But that’s for a different post on a different blog.
I followed these 5 simple steps when I was just starting out, and find that they are still the best idea when I get stuck starting a new room, closet, or aspect of my life:
1) Pick one small area to start with. I started with literally one section of one shelf, approximately 2’ long. Yes, I strongly believe you should start that small.
2) Get yourself 2 boxes. Size will depend on the size of the shelf, drawer, etc…Mark one DUMP and the other DONATE. Write todays date on each one as well.
3) Take EVERYTHING off of or out of the selected location, and deposit it unceremoniously – or with great fanfare, it’s up to you – on the floor.
4) Now the fun begins: Pick up each item one at a time and put it in one of three places, back on the floor (in a new location to avoid confusion), in the DUMP box, or in the DONATE box. I found that roughly the same number of items went in each location once I got honest about it.
5) When you finish sorting, replace the remaining items. Now step back and admire the newly de-cluttered space, then close up the boxes and move them to a corner somewhere out of the way. In 30 days, when you realize you haven’t missed or gone looking for a single item out of them, WITHOUT opening, deposit the boxes at the appropriate location (dump or charity).
There are other tips and recommendations I can make now that I’ve tweaked this process, but this is the basic outline that worked for me. With some minor changes, this same series of steps can work on your digital life, your garage, or even your mental clutter – but again, that’s for another post. I’ve used this same process when helping others start to Purge, and I’ve heard from others who have used this rough outline, and they all agree that having the steps written out this simply really helps you get started. Who knows where it’ll lead you, but one things for sure, you’ll enjoy the journey a lot more without all the STUFF cluttering up the route!
One suggestion for us ‘older folks’ who hate picking stuff up off the floor to start with. When I declutter, I pile everything on the bed, the table, or a workspace… Makes it soooo much easier to sort thru. Plus if I put it on the bed, it HAS TO be done that day before bedtime 🙂
Great tip Marci, and I totally agree – that can help out a lot!
Nice post I must say I find that it works better for me to just go the whole hog. I’ll purge my workspace by dumping everything in my study on my desk and power through the pile. Once you’ve started you just can’t stop 🙂