thoughts on decluttering & cleaning :: the beginning stages

i am a hoarding packrat. it's really hard for me to get rid of things. granted, i've gotten better over the years, but i accumulate much, much quicker than i purge. however, with the baby coming, i have to give up my craft room and move everything into the living room area and the garage. so i've been looking around for ideas on how to go about this daunting task.

ali edwards mentioned organizedhome.com on her blog, which has some helpful tips (mostly on the bulletin boards). one of the boards mentioned this site: apartmenttherapy.com, which is pretty cool. they cater to small nyc apartment dwellers, but i'm looking forward to finding some great tips on minimizing fashionably. they also had a contest for the smallest, coolest apartment back in early may (check the bottom of the may archive from may 2~4). i can't believe people live in such a small space! then again, necessity breeds ingenuity and i'm sure the small space helps them to carefully choose the items they acquire. maybe less space is actually better??? i've thought this a lot, because sometimes i think my solution is to move into a bigger house -- more space, less clutter, right? but who am i kidding?! i don't clean as it is; how do i expect myself to clean an even bigger space? and i know i'd just fill up that extra space in a matter of weeks or months. so i think my answer is to stay small (we're currently at 1,300 square feet) and do the following:

step one is to cut the emotional attachment i have to things and simplify. a lot of this stuff weighs me down because it's all over the place and i feel bad that 1) i'm not doing anything productive with it, 2) it takes up so much space, 3) i spent money on it, and 4) i feel guilty about getting rid of it.

step two is to purge, purge, PURGE! i've saved so many things over the years, thinking that i might need it sometime in the future. but after a week, i've already forgotten about it. what good is it to me if i don't know it's there, and it's taking up valuable space in my house?

a prime example is magazines. i love magazines; i used to have lots of subscriptions and i would save every issue. but old magazines take up lots of space, collect dust, and i never go back to them because i've forgotten what articles i want to read again (and even if i remember the article, i have too many issues to flip through to find it!). so i've stopped the subscriptions, i rip out articles from any magazines i purchase (with a coupon or at a discount store), and i get rid of them asap (either by recycling, giving them to friends, or selling them on ebay). i try not to keep the ripped out articles too long either because i'll forget i've filed those away too. and now i just read magazines at my mother-in-law's because she still gets lots!

step three is to start and stick to a routine of cleaning. one of the posts on the decluttering board at organizedhome.com had a simple list of things to do each day. i'm going to try it:

1. Wash and get dressed
2. Make your bed
3. Load or unload the DW or empty the sink (ideally, you will have gone to bed with the sink empty and clean. If not, do that now)
4. Do a quick cleaning of the bathroom -- swish the toilet, wipe the mirror and sink. Put things right.
5. Sweep the kitchen floor if you didn't do that before you went to bed.
6. Start one laundry. Do NOT start another load until this load is dried, folded and PUT AWAY.
7. Set a timer and spend 15 minutes tidying up the public rooms -- no more. But do this every day. Your efforts will add up.
8. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Set a timer and spend 15 minutes DECLUTTERING. This does NOT mean neatening up. It means taking two bags around with you and throwing trash in one and donation items in another. Keep nothing in your home that you do not have an immediate use for or, alternatively, that you don't love to pieces. Get the excess out! This will make your life much, much easier now, and twice [as] easy when the baby comes. Remember, you are doing this for yourself. Not for your mother. Not for your DH. Not for the baby. It's going to make YOUR life easier.

well, it's a good start that i'm thinking in an organized fashion about decluttering. but instead of sitting here for an hour typing about it, maybe i better go and try to implement some of these steps. i'm off!

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