Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Summer Decluttering

      Have you ever seen the show Tiny House Nation? It’s where individuals, couples and even small families actually move into a house which is a fraction of the size of their old place. What’s interesting is that before they could move into their Tiny House, they need to get rid of all the things that aren’t part of what they consider as essential in everyday living. They’re then tasked to fill out pre-selected organizers and challenged to trim down their stuff to the basics. To the surprise of the homeowners, they were actually able to reduce their things to those that they consider most important and necessary.

One of the homes in Tiny House Nation. Get the picture? :)

     Although I have no plans of moving into a Tiny House in the near future, I do want to reduce the clutter in my own home. I really want to have more space in my house and free up more room in our storage areas. Most of the things that I see around are due to accumulating things that I don’t necessarily need or have been replaced with a newer version. This summer I’ve resolved to do some decluttering and I am hoping that I’ll be successful! I’ve already started the process but it hasn’t been easy!
     Below are some tips that I use as my guide to help me achieve my goal.  

  1. Slowly but consistently.
   Declutter your home slowly with realistic targets. I wish I could say quickly but it just doesn’t work for me. The more I rush, the more cluttered my clutter ends up around the house! The key word here is consistently. As long as I get to declutter something every day for five days in a week - whether it be a few items or several, then I know my attempt to declutter has been good. I make one area, one closet or one category of items per day as my target. Your goal for the day or week will depend on how much time you have and how big or small your space is.

  1. Start with the easiest.
 Begin with the easiest things to dispose so you see progress right away and it encourages you to continue!

  1. Decide on how you intend to dispose of your extra items.
  Before you sort out your things, make sure you have a plan for how you are going to dispose of them. Are you going to give away your pre-loved clothes, shoes and bags? Or are you going to sell them? Don’t forget to prepare your plastic bags or boxes and label them if necessary.

  1. Be Practical.
   Keep only what you know you will use, and not what you MIGHT still use eventually (because then you might end up actually not using them anymore).

  1. Organize your closet.
    By organizing your closet with this as your guide: category, color, or frequency of use – you can more or less tell which clothes you are using often and which ones have been left hanging (literally). Time to dispose of clothes you have not used for at least a year.

  1. Re-arrange your book shelves and décor.
 By re-arranging your things, you might actually see what fits in or not. You might also discover some things that have been sitting on shelves for quite some time, just gathering dust or deteriorating. It’s a good way to also find things that you’ve been incessantly looking for in the past but couldn’t find then haha! Sell or give away books that you no longer need. Get rid of old magazines unless you need them for arts and crafts! ;)

  1. Don’t procrastinate.
  Boxes, boxes, and more boxes! I always have a problem with boxes. Toy boxes, appliance boxes, gift boxes, shoe boxes. You name it, I’ve kept it. For some reason, I think I need to keep them first and leave the decision to dispose of them much later. But not anymore. Most of these boxes I will never really use again… and until they get soggy, they just find themselves in my storage. Now I’m getting rid of them right away if I am absolutely sure there is going to be no need for them in the future. No more procrastinating!

  1. Throw as you go. (But only if you are super sure).
   Paper, paper and even more paper! Work papers, blueprints and plans, kids’ doodling papers, paid bills, bank statements, receipts... Just the many types of papers lying around the house that I need to either get rid of or sort! Out of all the things that I try to organize and dispose, this is the hardest because I have to look through each and every piece of paper to see if it is of any importance or not. Sometimes it even goes to the “I’ll think about it” box – at least for work papers, blueprints, plans and receipts. I would really hate to throw away things that I might need to refer to later on. And even in this digital age, architectural blueprints with my signature and seal are still required and will cost to reproduce, so I have to be more careful.
   With the rest, I just need to make sure the bills were actually paid and won’t be needed for future reference. As for the kids’ papers, I keep significant artworks and drawings in a big portfolio so the rest will be evaluated and if ok, will be thrown away already. My husband also suggested taking photos of the artworks that we really like but can’t keep so I can upload it to my digital album (good idea!).  
   And I just realized that if I throw what isn’t needed anymore right after going through them, then I save so much more time later on because I won’t have to go through a whole pile of papers all at one time! 

  1. Do not accumulate too much.
   I think at this point I may now have an excess of pillow covers and pillows. Time to give away some of them already so I can make space in my already crowded storage closet. 
   Same goes for bags and accessories. I now have to dispose of not just my bags, but the girls’ bags too. We usually receive a lot of cute bags as gifts and since I’ve noticed we are starting to have more and more, I have given away some of the older ones that are still in good condition but have sadly been forgotten. Time to cheer up other little girls!:)
   And what about shoes? How many shoes does a girl really need?? I would love to say a hundred, but that just isn’t true. I just need these types of shoes in at least one or two pairs: slippers, Fitflops (its own category, yes), rubber shoes, sneakers, boots, flats, wedges, sandals, high heels, platforms, kitten heels. Yes, that alone will amount to about 11-22 pairs of shoes – yipes! (Maybe I need to re-evaluate this list).
   I’m also trying to limit food purchases, especially ones that you can keep for a while (sauces, snacks, etc.). I have been quite the forgetful one and before I know it, I am looking at an expired food item! Args! What a waste! So I want to make it a habit not to buy too much so I won’t have to store too much. Also, with a healthier diet that promotes eating whole foods rather than packaged ones, fresh items are required. So this will hopefully help me out and lessen kitchen clutter.
   Give away toys you no longer use and throw away broken ones. And if you get those small toys and items from parties, yes, they clutter up the house pretty fast! I usually just give them away to other kids when I know the girls won’t be playing with them for long. Better to give away while new than used. Only keep toys that you know your kids will use often or everything else becomes clutter. Believe me, I know!
    And how about giving away 5 old shirts for every new one that you buy? :) Just think of a number that you're willing to work with (but not 1-0 please!) so that it will either stop you from buying more or you can make more space for the upgrade! ;)

  1. Go Digital.
  Just like what I mentioned about my kids’ artworks – it’s a good idea to take photos of some items that have sentimental value whether it’s a drawing or a gift – if you feel that it’s alright to not keep anymore.
   I’m also a book lover and have tons of books at home, but I’ve decided to buy mostly e-books on my Kindle so that I can carry all of these books with me anywhere I go, share them on my other devices, and not let them gather dust on the shelves! I currently have about 35 books on my Kindle Fire and I’m quite happy with it! Best of all, they don't take up shelf space! (Check out the Fire HD 7, 7" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB - Includes Special Offers, Black)  

     This summer I’ve been trying to clean out one closet or container per day – here are my categories:

a.     Clothes to give away (I rummage through one closet or drawer at a time)
b.     Seasonal clothes (I only have very few winter clothes so this was a breeze)
c.     Kids’ clothes (This is the toughest one so far - I've been going through the girls' clothes for the past few weeks and I'm still not done. I have to check which ones we can give away and which ones can be kept as hand-me-downs for Natalie. It isn't easy!)
d.     Kids’ artwork and practice sheets (I go through our artworks per container and evaluate them before throwing away or placing in our scratch paper container)
e.     Paper Bills (Although I've subscribed to paperless billing for some of our monthly utilities, we still get a lot of mail containing paper bills and bank statements - I already filled our drawer assigned for these so it's time to get rid of this batch again because they just keep on coming!)
f.      Work papers and blueprints (I have just recently sorted out folders and rolls of blueprints and parchment paper plans! Whew! Another set of papers though are waiting for me - the one by my work area! Need to get to work on this one because papers are piling up)
g.     Books and Magazines (I sort these out per shelf and since I regularly toss out and donate old magazines to our recyclables project in our community, I don't get stuck with a lot anymore. Now onto the books!)
h.     Bath products (Aahh, this one is quite tricky! I have tons of small lotions and three different kinds of shampoo! I like rotating products and scents so I kinda have a lot of bottles lying around, eeps! Time to throw out ones with very little products left inside which I have not actually finished completely and probably won't anymore!)
i.       Kids’ toys (This is a very challenging one! We've got a whole lot of toys lying around and we need to check each basket, container or caboodle and consult the little owners first before we can give away the ones that we no longer need)
j.      Shoes (I've been going through my shoes per shelf and this was one of the easier ones to trim down)
k.     Bags (I still haven't gone through my shelves to determine which bags need to go but I will do it soon!)
l.       Accessories (I will have to go through one drawer at a time for this)
m.   Home Linens (I have pillow covers, table runners and table linens that I keep in caboodles or plastics that are waiting to be sorted out)
n.  Kitchen Items (I have to clean out one drawer or cabinet at a time for old tupperwares, pans, place mats, and mugs)
n.  Uncategorized (Items which I did not categorize can be cleaned out as I go through each area)

You can make your own list too if you plan to clean out your home this summer! 
Happy decluttering! :)

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