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This fall I seem to have found a way to get at the various deposits of junk in the house. I call it “Declutter Hour.” I just take a little time and dig into the one area I’ve targeted and sort it out. It takes care of my autumnal restlessness and the various areas that have become eyesores, all at once.
Time to declutter
I can give you a great example of an area needing decluttering. Our main entrance is into the entry area in the kitchen. There are pegs for coats and hats, and a bench and boot tray below the hat pegs. The bench’s seat lifts to store gloves, scarves and such.
Over the years, the bench accumulated more gloves, a couple of hats, a backpack full of ammunition, three warped and scratched record albums, bungee cords, rope, and grocery bags of grocery bags. There were also socks, for some reason. And about an eighth of an inch of dust.
Okay, that’s awful. But to be fair, it’s not all mine.
To start, I just piled up all the new gloves. Then I got the grocery bags and random bits of trash and made a trash bag. Another bag took the socks and worn-out fabric items. That goes to the fabric recyclers. Still another bag was for excess gloves, hats and scarves in good repair to go to the thrift store. I also tossed in a pair of hikers that fit neither of us, for good measure.
My husband came along and I press-ganged him into sorting his gloves for me. He also put away the ammo and backpack, all the target materials that lay nearby, and told me the condition of the record albums. They were in bad shape so they went in the trash.
I washed the bench off to remove the dust and we put back what we were keeping inside the bench, except for some items that require a wash. Some of those will be donated as well, but they got very dusty.
Why declutter hour?
As you can surmise, this was a small targeted area and getting it done didn’t take an hour, including carrying various things to other parts of the house where they belong. That’s one reason I chose the bench. I didn’t want to get sucked into a big production today.
I have a large number of little target areas in the house. It’s been a long time, over five years, since we had a cat. But there were cat toys still hanging out in the living room. Also dating from that time, a big bag of medical paperwork from my cancer adventure. and a briefcase full of planning and zoning board stuff.
The cat toys were cuddling some town meeting booklets. The worst part of that whole scene was the four of eight booklets that were spiral-bound. But I had had enough of that dusty pile and ripped them into a bag for recycling. All told, it took about 45 minutes to reorganize and recycle everything.
Most of these little jobs don’t take long, even if you pick something up and immediately repatriate it to another part of the house.
If you declutter a common area and repatriate items to the rooms they should be in, you can think about them more easily when you do that room afterwards, because they’ll be in with other things of their kind.
Working out what goes where is essential in decluttering. Depending on what I have in my target area, I may have to have a trash bag, a recycling bag, a thrift store bag, or even a consignment bag for the posh stuff. Last week I put all the light bulbs into a bigger box because they kept falling out of the one they’d been in. It varies as to the content in the mess.
Any other thing that doesn’t qualify for a container, and doesn’t belong in the area being decluttered, is presumed to have a place to be elsewhere in the house. Since part of the point of this is to get me off the couch, I don’t mind going to another room to put something away.
Often I cannot sort or relocate certain things. On a chair in the corner of the living room was a pile of CDs, some without covers or boxes. I got my husband to collect them and put them in a spot of his choosing. He chose the room where he keeps random computer and photography stuff.
He also found some pictures mixed in with the CDs and found them a home as well.
Christmas trees and the aftermath of presents, a familiar “declutter hour” scenario for many, is faster with a bit of cooperation. Ornaments get put away, the tree re-boxed or tossed to the curb, the wrappings and packaging organized for trash or recycle.
While we don’t put up all that for Christmas, my sister-in-law and her husband put on a big gift session which we attend. Wrapping and throw-out packaging all goes right into a yard bag when it comes off the package. Similarly, they flatten all cardboard right then as well. All they’re left with is a tree. The recycling and trash are done.
My husband unilaterally took all his tools from summer downstairs again this week. They were in the kitchen because of the deck refurbishing project that we finished in July. He kept them longer to make a box for outdoor use. His cleaning up the entry area got me to do the bench.
He’s been attentive and cooperative when I hit stuff that’s his in my declutter hours. And in this way he knows where his stuff went, at least in principle.
Now if I could just get him to help me declutter his side of the closet. Some of his thirty-year-old shirts don’t fit any more. Come to think of it, I need to do that to my side too! How to break that down into hour-long chunks?
Maybe this winter… How do you declutter?