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Major, rapid declutter: Tried and true methods, please!


Ravin
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Once finals are over, I desperately need to do a major declutter. I want to do it quickly, or it drags out and doesn't happen. I want it down to "if we're moving cross country on a budget and downsizing."

 

How do I do it? Our school area, kitchen, closets...it's all just too much!

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I am all ears here!

 

While I declutter, it is like a never ending cycle. I would love to hear ides on how to do it quick. (I imagine it is like pulling off a wax strip, the result makes you happy but the process can sting a bit!)

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The problem is, what about stuff that isn't actually garbage but we don't want? DD wants to hold a garage sale, I detest not recycling and wasting things, so want to at least sort out recyclables (paper, lots and lots of paper...) and take stuff to used bookstore/Goodwill, etc.

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We have good luck with the "put away/throw away/give away" system.

 

Mark boxes or what ever with "put away", "throw away", "give away" and sort into those categories.

 

The major key is then dealing with each box.

 

When "throw away" is full take it all out to garbage/recycling. When "give away" is full take the box to the car and start a new box or bag up the items and put it in the car. When the trunk is full take it to Goodwill. "Put away" is the hardest. When this box is full put everything away. If an item does not have a home, make a home or re-evaluate keeping that item.

 

We are due for a purge here too!

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The problem is, what about stuff that isn't actually garbage but we don't want? DD wants to hold a garage sale, I detest not recycling and wasting things, so want to at least sort out recyclables (paper, lots and lots of paper...) and take stuff to used bookstore/Goodwill, etc.

 

I'm the same way regarding recycling and donating.

 

In my area garage sales don't raise much money so I wouldn't bother. However, if I did want to have a garage sale, I would hold it immediately after de-cluttering so that items were not staying around the house after I'd already decided to part with them. Otherwise, I would possibly decide to keep some items and life would still feel cluttered. After the sale, I would plan on donating everything that night.

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The problem is, what about stuff that isn't actually garbage but we don't want? DD wants to hold a garage sale, I detest not recycling and wasting things, so want to at least sort out recyclables (paper, lots and lots of paper...) and take stuff to used bookstore/Goodwill, etc.

 

I understand your sentiments on this, but honestly, this is what sinks my ship. I can sort piles quickly, but if those sittings aren't immediately removed, and the kids help items start to migrate between them... back to square one.

 

There have been a couple of times before very-short-notice relocations that required me to do super fast decluttering. I used two piles only: trash and give. The give stuff went straight to my vehicle's cargo area. Once full, I made a quick trip to Goodwill and then came right back home to continue the process.

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This is how I do it. I go through an area (say a bookshelf or a closet, etc) and pull EVERYTHING out. I go through each item, and very quickly decide on sell/donate/trash/keep/relocate. For the stuff I am going to sell, I set an amount, say, $20 (whatever it is worth it to you to go through the trouble of selling). If I can get $20 out of it, then I will sell it. I take picture and I list it on a facebook sell/swap group with my details, the price and where they can pick it up. It goes into a big box waiting to sell/pick up I just take pics and list as I go along. Anything under this amount that I want to get rid of, but not trash, goes in a huge donate box I have. When the box is full, it goes to the goodwill drop off (or you can call AmVets to come pick it up). I bump the sell stuff up a few times, if it doesn't sell, it goes to donate as well. This way I get extra money with not too much hassel but keep moving quickly through the house and don't get bogged down by stuff I want to see. Garage sales are too much trouble for me but the swap group I can handle. Trash gets trashed obviously and keep has to be able to reasonably fit in the space with room to spare. Relocate is for stuff that we are keeping but that should be stored in another part of the house. I have found this works best for me and I get a lot done. So far I have gotten rid of over 1500 items this year! I didn't even know we had that much stuff that could go, but we do, and so much more.

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I actually just moved across country and took only what fit in my van, I don't recommend it but it was a good decluttering lol.

 

I like to do the 3 bin system. I take 3 bins one for trash, one to donate and one to keep. I go back through the "keep" bin and try to get rid of more. I do this room by room till I am done. Then I do clothing last. I keep 14 outfits, 7 pajamas in rotation everything else I bin up, donate or stash in closets.

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Sort your stuff into bins, trash bags, boxes, in the following categories: Put away, give away, trash, possibly one for recycle. Get the stuff out of your house as soon as you can. I have never, ever, seriously regretted anything I gave away or threw away.

 

I would not hold a garage sale unless you have help and are VERY motivated, and have a set date for the sale. It's so easy to put stuff aside "for the garage sale" that never happens, thus not solving the clutter problem.

 

Also, don't fall into the trap of "I have to give this item to the perfect person". If you can give certain items to specific people within a short time frame, great, but if not, donate it to the thrift store.

 

Perfection can be your nemesis. I speak from experience!!! I want to do a perfect job, find the perfect home for certain items (I got over that one!), etc. etc. You don't have to do it perfectly to make progress! Progress, not perfection, is my motto.

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I'll add this. None of these great ideas will do much good if you don't stay on top of it once you're done. We weed out constantly and always have. We always ask the question "Will we take it when we move?" If no - it goes. Either donated or sold. Anything that had no value was tossed out immediately anyways.

 

You must stay on top of it or you'll discover you're right back to where you started soon enough.

 

I sell things cheaply too on C/L. No point of overpricing them so they sit around and never move. I look at comparables already posted and sell about 80% cheaper just so it moves fast and it's gone.

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I understand your sentiments on this, but honestly, this is what sinks my ship. I can sort piles quickly, but if those sittings aren't immediately removed, and the kids help items start to migrate between them... back to square one.

 

There have been a couple of times before very-short-notice relocations that required me to do super fast decluttering. I used two piles only: trash and give. The give stuff went straight to my vehicle's cargo area. Once full, I made a quick trip to Goodwill and then came right back home to continue the process.

 

Yup. Don't use piles -- use containers (boxes, bags, etc.) that you are willing to get rid of. Once a container is full it must be moved immediately -- do NOT let it sit around.

 

Another thing to try to declutter a space quickly is to remove EVERYTHING from that space (might as well clean the carpet, baseboards, etc. while it is clear). Triage as you put stuff back -- you may only put back stuff you truly need or want in that space, and only as much as the space will NEATLY hold. Once the space is adequately filled anything left over must be dealt with immediately, being put away elsewhere (ONLY if it belongs there), given away, or thrown away. Then you pick the next space and repeat. NOTHING left over from a later space gets to move into a previously decluttered space, or you will find yourself just moving stuff from room to room and never finding homes for the strays.

 

It's painful and a hassle, and I desperately need to do it, too. Right now I'm working on the 20-year accumulation of boxes that I moved temporarily to the garage (to clear the spare room for my Dad's visit). DH is giving me until end of May, and then he's getting rid of whatever I have left sitting in his garage.

 

Hmm, the weather has cleared, so I had better get back on that tomorrow!

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Then I do clothing last. I keep 14 outfits, 7 pajamas in rotation everything else I bin up, donate or stash in closets.

 

Yes, exactly! 2 weeks of clothing for the time of year (just in case something comes up and you don't get to laundry for a week). Add in one or two (no more!) special occasion outfits and a couple of exercise or special purpose clothing (swim suit and such), and one or two coats/jackets for the time of year. That's it! You don't need 36 pairs of shoes. You don't need 48 pairs of panties. Sort through, choose the things you like and would wear most often, and ditch the rest.

 

With my recent (and continuing) weight loss I am being forced to cull through my clothing soon. I will end up buying new things, since mine aren't fitting any more, but I'm waiting until the full heat of summer sets in -- if I buy new long pants now I won't be able to wear them long, and then they won't fit come next fall. So, only new shorts and stuff for hot weather now.

 

It really is an eye-opener -- I've been wearing some stuff long past fatigued, simply because I didn't want to waste it. Well, they are worn past giving away, so I'd say I've gotten my money's worth!

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First of all, if you are wanting a major overhaul, it will not happen in 15 minutes. It will take ATLEAST four hours to make good, visible progress in a very cluttered space. So, the first step should be commitment to time and dedication to push through.

 

Second, my first step is not to jump into what am I trashing/donating/keeping but to sort into LIKE piles. All papers in a pile, all clothes into a pile, etc. In each room, make your specific piles of like items and SORT everything.

 

Once everything is sorted it is then easy to purge the overly abundant or nonessential items. THEN decide if you are going to trash or donate. Personally, I don't advise yard sales, garage sales, etc. because more times than not, it becomes another source of growing clutter piles and typically isn't followed through with. IF you must sell to get money for items such as curriculum, put it in labeled boxes and have it in a designated storage place such as a garage shelf, etc.

 

eta: also, don't attempt full house all at one time but pick ONE room or space at a time. After you have purged, donated, sold your items, seek out empty storage containers and develop an organizational system you think you can maintain being that your previous system was obviously not working. Just trashing and starting over won't solve all your problems. You have to find the root and then choose to do things differently :) Always try to use old boxes, etc. before you buy new organizing boxes and systems. 9 times out of 10 you will tweak your system and improve upon it for a good month until you are happy with the flow of it. It took me a good YEAR to get a good flow for my homeschool closet/space and had it working like I wanted it to! Also, don't get discouraged! You can do this!

 

etaa: If you get overwhelmed and have the means to hire a Professional Organizer, do it! They can help you create a customized organizational system, keep you motivated during the project and help you maintain it afterwards :) Being that I am an Organizer, I have to mention that option ;) Best wishes!

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This is how we've done it:

 

Trash: Use black trash bags, once it goes in, it goes away

 

Donation: A. Take boxes to your car immediately after packing. B. Invite a friend to help you take it away (did this a few times when we moved last) - My motto was, if you want it, please take it. It was like my friends got to attend a free garage sale. C. Host a give it away party. Invite friends over for coffee. Have a table or whatever filled with donations, invite them to take what they'd like for free - did this on the move before last - it was great

 

Those maybe items - give yourself a deadline, like a week to decide. If it stays, it must have a "home" in your house. A box in the corner doesn't count.

 

Cherished heirlooms you may not want to give away, but don't want to see: Box them up and store them. Allow yourself only so much space.

 

Garage sales can be a big pain. Unless you are desperate for money, donate. That being said, I'm having a garage sale in a few weeks and I'm not happy that I need to (for the money, not because of the stuff)

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If I bring something into my house, it must have a home, I make it a home if one doesn't exist. So make homes for everything you want to keep, make homes immediately, if I don't have a specific place for something it becomes clutter. You can get cute bins, totes, and baskets at the Dollar Tree in cordinating colors. My mom is messy and I see her get bogged down while cleaning and she runs around getting nothing accomplished. Pick a room and stay there until it is clean/decluttered. Threaten your children with death if they destroy the other parts of your house while you're cleaning :).

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I just spent last Sunday really culling curriculum- then made a giant well organized list for sale, then posted it everywhere I could think of locally. I made a lot of money, and it's going to be really easy to post what's left on -line. I'm doing a second list, along with a ton of household items. I'm approaching this like I'm moving across country (we aren't) but we are putting our house on the market soon. We have fewer people in our house than ever before and I'm no longer saving hardly anything for "grandkids" (i.e. a chuck of the "library" we had left from the fire is going, too). I'm saving hard to find stuff, the brio train, and that's about it.

 

I am giving things away when it seems appropriate and it will bless someone else.

I'm working on it continually becasue we have several major things coming up.

 

I'm using the back of our suburban for storage for things going to goodwill. That way it's out of the house and it's all gathered in one place.

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I watch a few episodes of Hoarders. Works like a charm. :D

 

 

I love this, Diane! And it's true.

 

I help others organize.

I use the same techniques above. But, my clients have an added bonus of someone who takes their stuff immediately. I think this is key. If you want to do a yard sale, find the space to keep all the sale stuff *before* you start anything. I do the 3 box/bin thing, too. I take the boxes to my car as we're filling them. It's amazing how quickly spaces clear out.

 

The key is not to sit and think about things. If you can't make a decision in less than a minute, have a "think about it" pile/box and move on. (Keep it small though!)

 

Please don't think you'll be done as quickly as you hope it will. It took time to collect all that stuff and it will take time to process it out again. Set small goals and congratulate yourself when you make it. "I want 4 cabinets in the kitchen decluttered by tonight." for example.

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I'm VERY weird and radical when I clean out. But, my system works for me and my house stays tidy.

 

STEP ONE - Preparing for the Purge:

The day (or 2) before I tackle the room(s), I go to the local furniture store and request three BIG boxes (like what a recliner came in; I have to collapse them or they don't fit in my van). I set them up (on my front or back porch ---whichever is nearest -- and I have been known to set them up outside the window of the room I'm working on). I label one "DEAL WITH" the next "FOR THE NEEDY" and the last one "TRASH". These labels will make more sense after step 3.

 

STEP 2 -- Setting up the Receptacles:

I get out my 2 pack-n-play (baby playpens) from storage and set them up in the room I'm about to purge/clean/tackle.

 

STEP 3 --- Piling it up

I take out EVERYTHING in the room and pile it in the 2 pack n plays. And, I mean E V E R Y T H I N G. Every item in each drawer, everything....

oftentimes the 2 pack n plays don't hold it all. I have an enormous MOUNTAIN in the middle of my room; this FORCES me to deal with EVERY item in a timely fashion as I can't have this heap in our way for long.

Now back to my box labels..."DEAL WITH" means that when I'm finished sorting out the mountain of stuff in the middle of the room, I'll still have to DEAL with these KEEPERS. Most of the stuff I can DEAL with quickly right then and there, so the DEAL WITH box is for the things that will take my time to deal with each ---- i.e. filing papers, sewing on a button, putting a game piece in the right box, etc. The "FOR THE NEEDY" label helps me feel better about relinquishing stuff --- i keep in mind that it's going to the Goodwill and that perhaps some person may NEED it more than I do. (I realize not all Goodwill shoppers are NEEDY; I'm not "needy" per se, and I'm a Goodwill-a-holic).

 

STEP 4 --- Clean

So after I have my mountain stacked up, and before I sort it all out, I then CLEAN everything == I clean the room --- sweep, dust, vacuum, mop, clean fans, vacuum out the drawers, etc.

 

STEP 5 -- Sort

I sort EACH item from the mountain. Most items can be put up right then and there and don't have to go into the DEAL WITH box. The DEAL WITH box is for things that are more complicated/time consuming. I try to GET RID of non NEEDED items and keep WHAT we USE. If I am in a hoarding mood (finding it hard to part with stuff), I have been known to hop on YOUTUBE and watch a Calcutta India poverty clip (or the like) and this radically helps me put things in perspective and I'm in the right frame of mind to keep what I NEED and to let it go as in the grand scheme it's really NOT a biggie.

 

STEP 7 ----

I dump the trash box and my husband eagerly loads the Goodwill stuff

 

STEP 8

Once my pile is GONE, I vacuum where the pile was (and now everything IN the room is exactly where it belongs and there's NOTHING in the room that isn't supposed to be there).

Then I go to the dreaded DEAL WITH box and start taking it item by item.

 

This is usually a 2 day process for me (sometimes 3), but we can't handle more than 3 days of the mid-room mountain.

 

 

 

(can't believe i typed all that!)

 

Strange, but it works for me. :closedeyes:

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The way I do this is a bit of work but seems to be the best way I've found for us.

 

I take every single thing out of one room. I clean the floor and baseboards, window sills, doors and door panels. Then I put back the furniture emptied of all items if said furniture has drawers. Then I put back what ever else belongs in the room. Everything else either goes to the room it belongs in or the trash. I'm a big believer in "crap is crap", and I don't want to saddle strangers with my garbage.

 

When one room is done I move on to the next room. This process takes 2.5 days and a few crockpot meals. I have all cleaning supplies on hand prior to starting.

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I agree with Parrothead. I empty the room, clean it, and then "restock" with only what actually belongs in there. Items that came out of the room, but don't get stored in there, are put back in their rightful spot. Anything that doesn't have an immediately apparent spot is trash and goes in the trash can. I have, so far, dejunked my mom's kitchen, basement, and two bedrooms. Each room took me approximately half a day...except the basement. The basement took a week and two attempts (the first attempt was thwarted when she dragged all the crap back in rather than dealing with it *glare*)

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I think you might need to lower your standards for "saving" everything and not throwing things out. If you have tons and tons of stuff, it can be hard to get anyone to take it. My husband no longer has the patience to go here and there trying to get thrift stores to accept donations. It is really unfortunate but there you are.

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I do throw a lot of stuff away. However, I did make some donations the last two times I purged. My rule for that is: it must be really good stuff (stuff I would buy myself if I still needed it - so nothing torn up, in need of fixing up, etc) AND I do not take it in to be "accepted". We have a church run thrift store with a drop off spot. I drop it, let them handle it. If they don't like my items, they can toss them in the dumpster because that's where they'd be going if I didn't donate them (again, not that they are not good items but I refuse to hang on to something for forever just because its in good shape). I had one yard sale this summer before we moved. It was worth it. I made around $400. That said, it was a major, moving out of state purge so there was a ton of clothing, housewares, and some furniture. If it was a normal "dang this house is a mess" purge, I wouldn't have had so much stuff and it wouldn't have been worth saving stuff for a week and sorting it, pricing it, and getting up at 5 am to sell it. I'd say if you can't have the yard sale within a week, and aren't prepared to chunk what didn't sell, then you are better off to bite the bullet and discard it now. I'd find a donation box for as much as I could (some may only take clothing?) and then just dump the rest. Honestly, once you've added up how much you just threw away, it will be an effective measure against impulse buying "Do I need this or will I give $20 for it today and have to pay $5 to leave it at the dump a year from now?"

 

I also only recycle what I can fit in the can for that week (we have weekly pick up). If the cans are full, that item is now trash. My mother holds onto stuff, throwing the items into corners to await the can being emptied, then it's full immediately from the backup, then she's back to having crap in the corners of her house. It isn't worth it, to me, to live with what really IS trash (not dirty trash, but trash none the less) in the nooks and crannies of my home.

 

Edited for typos (thanks so much, autocorrect LOL)

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Ghee, it sounds like your mom needs a second recycle bin!

 

I got the floor of the kids' room done, at least on the side of the room between the beds and window. It was mostly all clothes DD was supposed to try on to see if fit for the semiannual clothing rotation, DVD's, and garbage. The DVD's are in the TV room waiting to be checked for discs and put away (a task I assigned to DD), the garbage is in the can outside, and the clothes are all in the laundry room awaiting washing (laundry is a little backed up because of the mess).

 

I also got the SCA garb off the craft table that had been piled there since it was washed after Estrella War (so since early-mid March), and the bins that hold the kids' garb are now in their homes in the garage. My bin will follow as sono as I dig the lid out of the van (which isn't completely unpacked yet from that trip--I was only bringing things in as I had the chance to clean/sort/organize them).

 

I did throw away many things I'd normally try and sort/put away (such as beads that were on the floor). .

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I have supplied her with 2 fifty five gallon trash cans. IMO, 110 gallons of recycling is plenty ;) she doesn't want to crush the items, though, she could probably fit everything in if she'd stomp water jugs and break down boxes.

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One thing I learned from Hurricane Sandy taking about 1/2 or more of our stuff is that I don't care about stuff anymore. I actually like my house a little more sparse, no clutter, easier to clean. The only things that I was really sad about was losing most of my books but I have gotten over it. Other than that, the only minor inconvience is that 4 of our dining room chairs also got destroyed so we only have 4 chairs in the house not counting the computer chair so sometimes we have to eat on the sofas if we have family over.

 

At least when or if our house ever sells , moving will be easy as all we have is some furniture, clothes, some personal items. No junk, no stuff, no clutter. And we have not brought any more stull into the house. We like it now junk free.

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I told DD my goal was to have us down to what we'd consider worthwhile to take with us or store if we wanted to live in an RV for a year.

 

Sometimes I miss living aboard ship. All I owned were my uniforms, a few sets of civvies, a few other personal items (a homemade afghan my mom made for me being the largest), and some books. Well, OK, and some SCA stuff I kept in a locker at the rec center...okay, I've always tended to fill up the available space with my stuff. But I liked it when I had less space to fill. DH talks about getting a bigger house, and really, while an additional bedroom would be nice, more square footage just equals more stuff. I can't seem to convince him of that, though.

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I'm on a procrastination/break from doing some decluttering and cleaning right now. This thread was very timely so I don't spend too much time on break. I'm motivate to get back at it now!

 

I have no tips for quick and major overhaul that hasn't already been shared.

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