Clutter is not trash. That’s what makes it hard for people to clean it up.Clutter is comprised of both wanted and unwanted items. People feel overwhelmed by a messy room because everything is jumbled together, and they don’t know how to begin to separate things. Then, their best efforts to declutter get derailed when they stop to consider what to do with each, individual item. Store it, donate it, trash it? Now is not the time to make those decisions. First, the decluttering must take place. Here is an easy way to tackle a cluttered room:
- Trash. Carry around a large trash bag and gather the obvious trash. Soiled napkins, empty envelopes, junk mail, old food containers, used anything. Concentrate on picking up items that should go into a waste bin, including ash tray contents.
- Clothing. Now carry around a laundry basket and put in all the scattered clothing items. Do not be concerned whether they are clean or dirty. If the item was sitting on the floor, getting stepped on, it now is dirty whether you wore it or not. At this time, do not be concerned whether you plan to donate the items or not. Just collect the clothes. You can weed out the clothes to donate after you’ve washed them. It’s the nice thing to do. Put the filled laundry basket next to the washing machine.
- Dishes. If you have dirty dishes (coffee cups, etc.) then collect those and place them in the dishwasher right away.
- Paperwork. Collect and stack all the paperwork. Place them on the desk or in a folder. Do not be concerned about separating the paperwork into categories like bills etc. Keep all paperwork together and you’ll go through that at a later time when it is time for pay the bills.
- Like items. Now, look around for multiples. Clutter-prone people tend to collect more than one of the same items. Look around and go on a hunt. Keep all the candles, books, CDs, nail files, photographs and such together. Some multiples are unnecessary, but if one must collect them, it is better to keep them together in the same bin or drawer. If you can relinquish some of them, place them in a bag for donations.
- The rest. The remaining items will be easier to see now, and the decision to donate or keep becomes easier with these items. Use a donation bag and be generous! Employ this rule: A keeper must be deeply loved, hold family sentimental value or be used regularly. Everything else gets gifted to others who will use it. The keepers should have their own designated place in the house or room.
Remind yourself that the best things in life are not things. Even memories are not held in tangible items but in your heart and mind. Avoid bringing things into the house. The Japanese have an old proverb: “The more you have, the heavier your burdens will be.” A minimalist lifestyle is liberating and better for your mind, body and spirit…and the planet Earth.