Sunday, 3 January 2016

Decluttering Demystified!

Welcome to 2016 everyone!

This is going to be a big year!  It will soon be the Lunar Year of the Monkey, and being a monkey myself, I have a great feeling of getting things done.  I've even given myself a headstart!

decluttering goalsetting cleaning how to tips help

This post is going to a bit different to normal, I just wanted to share something which I think other people might find useful, especially is decluttering and clearing away your excess stuff is one of your New Years Resolutions!

If anyone has seen my other, long-neglected blog about the journey towards being homesteaders that my partner and I started a couple of years ago, you'll know that something we're hoping to achieve is the purchase of our own land and the building of our own self-sufficient homestead.  So far we've gotten together a decent library of textbooks to start planning with and narrowed down some details like what size of land we'll need and what natural resources would be most useful for it to come with.  Other than that, everyday life has gotten in the way, and the renovation of our own home has come to an absolute standstill.

Nothing is going to happen if we don't make the decision to actually do something and start setting some goals and timeframes.

The first thing we need to do before we can plan our homestead, is to know how much money we'll have to play with.  The only way to know this is to find out how much I can sell my current home for.  So, we're going to call a real estate agent to come and have a look and give a valuation.  All straightforward so far, right.  Except for the mess.  And when I say mess, I mean a colossal mass of stuff and renovation half-done.  We're not quite in the hoarder category, but we do have way more stuff than our current home and storage capacity is built for.  Baby things when we have a 3 year old, craft items that are stuffed every which way with no coherent system, clothes that no longer fit or can't be mended, hallway cupboards crammed with the detritus of renovations, a bathroom still mid-reno (shower and bath, no problem, plumbing in the vanity, not so easy!), a backyard still dotted with piles of weathered firewood even though we have a heatpump and our fireplace no longer works, a laundry still haunted by dog fur from a beloved friend who passed away over 12 months ago.  You get the picture.  Too much stuff, and not nearly enough motivation have added up to a disaster zone of a house, instead of a comfortable home.  Certainly not a place you would invite anyone into, let alone a stranger who you need to see the best side of it!

So, I set a deadline at the start of December.  On Monday the 11th of January 2016 I will call the real estate agent I bought the house from and invite them to come and view it.  By then, it has to be decluttered, cleaned and as complete as possible.  Granted, not an easy task with Christmas craziness happening at the same time, full time work and still trying to be creatively productive with an energetic toddler to entertain.  There have been a number of near sleepless nights.  But we'll be ready!

I'll list here a few of the things I've learned while basically blitzing my house!  You'll probably find some familiar themes if you've spent any time reading blog posts about goal-setting and beating procrastination.

Firstly: Set yourself a clear goal and timeframe and communicate it to anyone it effects.  It's pretty pointless if you start cleaning like crazy, and you're partner and children are not on board.  They won't be motivated to help unless you tell them what you're doing and why, and that will just frustrate you.
For us, I had seen something which reminded my of our dream of homesteading, and I'd started looking at real estate web sites, but soon found it difficult to know what sort of price-range to focus on.  This then led to the idea of getting in the agent to give us a valuation on our current home.  I discussed this with my partner, and said I wanted to do it early in the new year.  I looked at the 2016 calendar, picked a date I thought would be challenging, but realistic, and we just went for it.
If you're looking to declutter or clean up, but don't have the motivation of selling your home or something similar, try planning a dinner party, afternoon tea or barbeque, some event where you are going to have people come into your home, and resolve to not close any of the doors in your house to hide a mess, because there won't be one!

Secondly: Work as methodically as possible.  I know for me, this is a hard one, because I'll go from one thing to another (I did this today actually!) without really getting much done.  If you start clearing out a drawer in your room, but then get distracted by doing the dishes because you had to go to the kitchen, then decide to clean out the freezer because you're in the laundry putting on a load of washing, then ... well, you get the point.  It's lot of running around and gives a feeling of being busy, but not really of achievement.
By focussing on just one part of your house you can get one room done in a day or two and feel that you've completed something.  Pick one room which feels like it isn't too much of a challenge, but definitely has things that you need to get rid of.  I started in my son's room.  He's 3 years old, but there was still a lot of baby things in his room and around the house.  Toy's he's outgrown or that are broken, clothes he's outgrown, strollers we don't need anymore, bottle sanitizers, baby gates, these are all things that were either thrown out or donated to charity or baby-bearing friends and family.  It cleared a lot of space in his room for the presents he received at Christmas, so he could actually set them up and play with them.  A few sentimental items were kept, and it's hard not to go overboard with this, which brings me to my next lesson:

Thirdly: be ruthless!  Haven't seen it for over year and not missed it?  it's gone.  Can't think of an immediate need for it? dump it.  Doesn't fit anymore? bye-bye!  Keeping things 'just-in-case' or because you might need it one day, we all do it, and I'll admit there wasn't much of my craft stash that went out the door, but the main thing to ask yourself when trying to sort out what to keep and what to toss is how easy/ cheap is it to replace if you ever do actually need it?  If it's not an expensive item, or it's easy to find something else that will do what it can, then get rid of it, it's only taking up space.

Fourthly: Keep at it!  Now that the finish line, and my bedroom floor, is actually in sight, it's harder to keep the momentum up.  We're now only a week away from my deadline, and I took a few moments today to take stock of what still needed to be done and the list is still pretty impressive, given that I have to work full time for the next five days.  Keep a to-do list running, and tick things off as you go, so you know what's still left to do.  Do something, even if it's small, every day to get closer and closer to your goal.

Finally: revel in your success!  As you can tell, we're not quite there yet with decluttering, but last year I set myself the goal of being a particular dress-size by a particular event.  And I did it.  It made me think of how rarely I've met goals I've set for myself like that.  Life gets in the way, and when not meeting our goals doesn't mean that we go backwards, that we're no worse off than we were, it's easier to let them go and not feel too bad about it.  But let me tell you, the feeling when you actually meet them, when you can look back at your past self and say a heartfelt 'thank you' is unbelievably good!  Pride, achievement and patting yourself on the back can help you feel positive about taking on bigger and more challenging goals.  It gives you a confidence, a knowledge about yourself that you can do the things you set your mind to.  And, sometimes, this is even more important than the goal that was accomplished!

So, go on!  What are you waiting for?  don't go back to Facebook or Pinterest.  Get up, right now, and put something away.  Then something else.  Throw something out, find a box or bag to put something in that you can donate.  Just get started!

Have a great 2016, I intend to!


2016 calendar tea towel digital print etsy spoonflower retro floral blue
Liliflora Pretty 2016 tea-towel calendar.  Available on Etsy and Spoonflower.

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