Wednesday, February 23, 2011

De-Cluttering, One Step at a Time

It happened so gradually, so subtly. It crept up on us like a quiet ninja. It grew silently like moss on a stump. And then one day, quite unexpectedly, I tripped over something just trying to get from one end of the room to the other. And just like that, the scales fell from our eyes. My husband and I looked around us. We were shocked. We were confused. We. Were. Terrified. We had somehow found ourselves surrounded by piles and piles and piles... of crap. Junk. Sheer and utter clutter. How it had accumulated so significantly right under our very noses will remain a mystery to us. All we knew in that moment, was that we had to act. We had to take drastic measures before we, too, became buried and lost in a sea of clutter. 

So starting this past weekend, we have been working our way through the apartment. Our goal: get rid of as much stuff as possible, and properly organize what remains. It was overwhelming at first. I think anytime you start a project as huge as "de-cluttering your home," it can be daunting. Where to begin? How to begin? Will this project ever end? Will it ever start?! To answer these pressing questions, I fell back onto the wisdom, the genius, the HORSE-SENSE of a brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin, who taught us the best way to tackle a giant problem... is to take baby steps. 

So that's what we've been doing. One small project at a time. So far, we have taken four bags of clothing to Goodwill, one huge box of books to Half-Price Books, one large box of DVDs and CDs to a secondhand movie store, and about six full garbage bags to the dumpster. 

It feels so, so good to be simplifying our lives and organizing our living space. My goal is to never let it get that bad again! How's your living space looking these days? Could you use a day or two to de-clutter and organize your place? If so, go for it! You will feel so much better. One thing I can say is that messes do not get better on their own - only worse. 

Lastly, I'm curious, is anybody out there any good at maintaining a simple, organized, clutter-free home? How do you do it? Any practical advice to keeping up with it?


  1. Constant work in progress!!! We hit the same place you did a while ago. Okay, I shouldn't say "we," it was more like "me." LOL Patrick has always been much more organized than I.

    I found "FlyLady" (, and she discusses the "baby steps" concept too! One thing she does, that I try really hard to follow to keep the clutter away is to put out my "hot spot" every night. We all have them... that spot when you walk in the door and dump every thing there. It's that "I'll get back to that later" spot... and most people have a few of them! I know I do. I try really hard to "put out" my hot spot every night.

    When it comes to other stuff... I try to follow this something comes in, something goes out rule. Especially with clothes, (well shoes mostly), if I get a new pair, I try to get rid of a pair. With toys for the boys, I've been trying to make sure it gets a "home" RIGHT AWAY. Whether it be a box, a spot on the shelf, a basket, whatever, I've discovered if I make a home for it right away, it always has a "home" to go back to at the end of the day.

    With "decor" stuff... that can so easily turn into clutter... lol... I look at the stuff, and ask myself, "Do I really love this? Does it make smile?" So every time I clean it, it doesn't feel like "ohhh gosh something else I have to clean..." it's like I actually ENJOY dusting that stuff off, because when I pick it up, it makes me smile. :) (For example, I have our wedding cake topper on a shelf as decoration, and it doesn't feel like a burden to clean, I look at it and smile and think of our wedding... but for a while I had this little "happy birthday" decor thing, and it just felt like a burden to clean it... my bday is in sept, why do I need to look at something in march to remind me of my birthday? it wasn't make me smile anymore! so I put it away, and take it out when it is someone's birthday instead!)

    But, by all means, my house is FAR FAR FAR from perfect! I keep trying and working with it... but, our little joke in this house... I put the "pro" in procrastinate. :)

  2. We had to do this about a year ago and I have come up with a few simple ways to keep up with it! I went to Target and bought inexpensive folders, bins and crates for everything - toys, papers, books, etc. - and organized everything into them. Now we all know where things belong and I take 10 minutes or so every afternoon and evening to put everything back in their proper places. It has been working like a charm!

  3. Thanks for the advice ladies! My roommate in college had this phrase "A place for everything and everything in its place." I love that and I think I'm going to continue to strive for organization!

  4. I'm a new follower from MBC. Please come by my blog and return the favor.


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