Thoughts on Decluttering

4636 4636_ () 4636 4636 I just finished an article for Catholic Digest about clearing out clutter from your home. It will appear in the May issue (I think!) so be on the lookout.

In the meantime, I’ve got purging on my brain! For the article, I talked to several really smart women, one who had to learn to get organized in her home, another who has clutter-free living come with little effort. So after talking to those ladies and thinking about how to encourage others to de-clutter, I’ve been feeling inspired.

Today I tackled the dreaded Junk Closet (I wish I could give it a better name). It’s that closet that keeps the vacuum, the mop, the tools we need at the ready, boxes of manuals and old cameras, cords and all my clippings. A cacophony!

There is also a shelf in there devoted to school supplies and arts and crafts, and another for stationary and paper. It has the potential to be a nightmare, Nightmare Central is maybe what I should call it.

So here are a few thoughts I had today as I was purging that area, and again as I moved on to a few random drawers in the kitchen. Some of these are ideas from talking to different experts, some are just thoughts I’ve had (so don’t give me credit for all of these).

1. Don’t give yourself too much time pondering items. Go with your gut. Don’t think about how much you paid for an item. If you know you don’t use it, toss it!

2. Having said that, it might make it easier to have a good and worthy cause. Goodwill and Catholic Social Services are excellent, but today I was really motivated by a big yardsale put on by the Senior Class at our school. It was funny how much easier it was to put things in a pile that I knew would directly benefit them. I found stacks of un-used thank you notes, for instance (I kinda have an issue with buying paper notes), and I was able to put those in the bag to donate. Because they were in great shape but also I’ve had them three years so I am guessing I won’t use them.

3. As you go, you have three options: Keep, Toss, Donate. (This is in the article, but if you are wanting to give this a try now…). I personally keep two brown paper bags (because they can stay upright), or a box for trash that I eventually dump into a bigger bag. Then I can move faster than having to open the large black trash bag over and over. It’s important that whatever you are moving OUT of the house is in a shielded container. My boys have a way of sniffing out my purging efforts and getting really “attached” to All of the Things.

4. Keep it Simple, Sistah (K.I.S.S.). Don’t start by declutting your entire home. Start with that one drawer in the kitchen.

5. Stay tuned in to how areas in your home make you feel. Is this post getting weird? Kinda. Seriously, though, I know that when I open a certain drawer or closet door and the feeling is deflating, it’s time to purge. I don’t necessarily have time right there and then (honestly, it’s been at least a year since I’ve done anything significant downstairs, I just did upstairs during the big room swap). But at least you know what you need to do.

6. Really pay attention to what you’re doing. How many times have I sorted through a closet shelf only to basically leave everything as is. Today I noticed that in the box of manuals (I keep wanting to type Manuels, which would be awkward to have a box of), there was info for computers we had not had in years. Also, my Masters Thesis on a square plastic disc. I had to really think if I should throw that away until I realized a) I don’t have a computer that reads squares and b) it’s been published! So no need to keep.

7. Any other questions? Maybe a few could ask so I don’t feel like a dork. And if you ask if I have OCD, NO SOUP FOR YOU. 4636″>



  1. Mary Painter says:

    Biggest clutter issue in my home seems to be school papers. Do you have any great ideas for organizing important announcements, permission slips, artwork, and all the massive amount of stuff your kids bring home from school? I only have one still bringing home stuff, but it’s all I can do to stay on top of the paper mountain and keep things from getting lost. I have to brave the paper jungle every time I want to get something from the fridge, because that’s where the “important” stuff goes, but it never seems to get sorted, it just makes one more layer of insulation. It’s the one big area I have never conquered.

    • I have this bad habit of ignoring any paperwork around the house. So I’ve started putting important papers (info on field trips, etc) in my calendar (folded if need be) so when I turn the page of my weekly planner, the info is right there.

      For other less urgent but can’t be filed away, I have several clips hanging on those 3M hooks on the inside of our bookbag closet. So even if I don’t know exactly what is there, usually when I’m searching for an important paper, I’m pretty sure that’s where I’ve put it!!

      Hope that helps — loved getting to know your girl at the concession stand this bball season!

  2. #5 is awesome, and I so relate! There’s a bottom shelf on my computer desk that has become a catch-all and every time I look at it I get a sinking helpless feeling. There’s a corner of my kitchen that I refuse to look at for the same reason. It really only took me a few minutes but there’s so much more peace in those little corners now that I’ve just dealt with them!

  3. Great article!! As a Professional Organiser I loved it!! Xx