I'm not too keen on the title of neat freak, but if you were to ask my husband, before you'd finish your question he'd tell you that's what I am. Over the last couple of weeks I've made some huge progress with decluttering our apartment and I tell you, it's a weight off my mind. I'm the kind of person who gets anxious if I have too much. Watching TV shows about hoarders gives me heart palpitations. I genuinely feel better when I am living off of less and getting back to the basics. Is that weird? Please don't tell me I'm the only one.
The way I look at it, the less you have, the less you wash, the less you dust, the less you stress. So while I was spring cleaning our apartment, I made a mental note of the system I've been using for years, which will hopefully give you the nudge you may need to declutter your own space -
1. LESS IS MORE - Admit it, we all live way above our means. We all have too much shit and we don't use half of it. And I'm not just talking about the stuff you can see in plain sight. No. It's the scary places we to turn a blind eye to where the serious purging needs to happen - the bottom of our wardrobes, under our stairs, inside our cupboards, under our sinks, behind our couches and in our desks. But once these places are in order, it makes things exponentially easier.
2. EVERYTHING HAS ITS PLACE - One of the easiest ways I find to not only keep my apartment tidy, but also to declutter, is for everything to have a home. This may sound obvious, but if everything has it's own place to go, when you're finished with it, cleaning up is simple. The desk in our living room has one drawer dedicated to each need - the top drawer is for office type supplies; pens, paper clips, post-it notes and business cards. The next drawer is for techy accessories such as the mouse, Raspberry Pi, USB cables, wireless keyboard etc. Then a drawer for husbands PS3 controllers and accessories, and another for my camera and camera stand, etc. Once everything has it's own home, it makes clean up so much quicker. Another trick is to introduce a chuck-it bucket into your tidying routine too. While everything is being assigned a home, this is a perfect time to weed out the items you realize you don't use and a great opportunity to recycle or donate to charity.
3. BABY STEPS - It is nothing short of overwhelming to think of your entire home when it comes to de-cluttering. You have to break it down and tackle one room at a time. From there, you break it down further. I started with our bedroom. First I started with my closet. Specifically, the top shelf. Then I went through my clothes, then the bottom of my closet. From my closet alone there were 6 pieces I wanted to donate to charity, and 3 boxes to recycle. Then husbands closet - top shelf, clothes, bottom of closet. Another section of our room done! Then I moved to the bedside tables, then any remaining storage in our room. Break it down to one section at a time and one room per weekend, otherwise you'll get overwhelmed and give up.
4. DON'T HIDE IT - As you're decluttering, set aside the items you no longer need. You'll find there'll be loads of items to either be recycled or donated. For us, we had a lot of books, clothes, DVDs, ceramics and knick-knacks. This next part is very important - don't put these items out of site. Don't hide them in a cupboard and don't put them into a room you don't use. Dedicate a space and leave them where you can see them. For us, it was our dining room table. Our entire table was full to the top. Yes, we can't eat at the table at the moment, but because of that and the fact that it's so unsightly, it's forcing us to pick away at the pile. It's in our faces. My eyes bleed just looking at it. Therefore we're donating and recycling a lot faster than if we hid it all away. For you this dedicated zone may be a spot in your front hall, a corner of your garage, a table in your living room or a bag hanging on your front door. Assign a donation zone, put the things you want to get rid of in this place, and the sicker you are of seeing it, the faster you'll get rid of it.
5. DONATE - Every single day for the past 3 weeks, I take a plastic carrier bag, grab whatever I can from our donation zone / dining room table, put it in my bike basket, and on my way to work I leave a bag in one of the charity shops along my route. Every single day. We've donated and gotten rid of so much in the past 3 weeks. Imagine how much easier it would be if you take the bus to work, or a car? Think how much you can fit in a car! No matter how small, each bike basket counts.
I hope these little tips and tricks inspire you to tackle that scary side table or crammed cupboard. Don't be embarrassed, we all have one. Or five. Just take it one room at a time and remember ...
To conclude, my favouritest quote for many years that keeps me going -
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
- William Morris