Looking for a simple way to streamline? Today’s lesson is going to give you a lift. I personally LOVE the 3-Box Method, so I’ll be sharing how this works in our home, and you can apply whatever you’d like!
In last week’s lesson, we encouraged you to Map Out Your Home and Life Organizing Plan. If you missed it, I highly recommend going back and listening. Or if you’re looking to start at the beginning of our Step-by-Step Home Organizing Party, just sign up at the link below–and then invite your friends and family to join in the fun, as well!
Okay, a little story: As a newlywed 20+ years ago, I remember vividly how demoralizing it felt to move our piles in circles around the apartment–to the kitchen, then the bedroom, then the living room…. It felt like I was constantly cleaning, and I didn’t know how to declutter.
Then I stumbled upon the book, It’s Here…Somewhere, and my whole perspective changed. I had been holding onto SO many things that I didn’t need…a broken CD player, my prom dress, clothes I never wore, dishes we never used…. This book helped me to finally streamline.
Streamlining–as opposed to organizing–is about letting go of the things that no longer lift you. And really, this can become a pattern for your LIFE: how many habits, relationships, expectations, etc. are you holding onto right now that you know you need to let go? The “stuff” you see around you is often only a symbol.
But as you walk through this process, please give yourself grace. Be gentle with yourself. Streamlining is so much more than just getting rid of the piles. You are transforming your LIFE.
The 3-Box Method
Step 1: Pick a space. This is where last week’s Home and Life Organizing Plan comes in! You’ve already created a prioritized list of the areas you want to declutter. Now that you have your list, calendar triggers can be used to help you check in with that plan.
I keep a simple list of places I’d like to organize this month in my planner. Then, if there are a couple of Next Actions that I’d like to work on during a given week, I add them to my Context-Based Next Actions List. Whether you keep this on paper or in a digital system, I encourage you to use what works for you! (If these terms are new to you, sign up for the free training at the bottom of this page….)
As you’re deciding how much you’d like to take on this week, please remember: decluttering is often exhausting work. You are making thousands of decisions—so acknowledge that from the beginning. You may want to take this slowly; but whether you go through your decluttering projects quickly or slowly, it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Step 2: Label three boxes. You’re simply going to get three large boxes (or trash bags, laundry baskets, or designated spaces), and you’re going to label them as follows:
- To Donate
- To Toss
- To Put Somewhere Else
Step 3: Pick one spot in the room and begin to work clockwise. As you start to work on a space, pull everything out. We’re only going to put back the things that belong there–the things that we go there to find.
Anything else will go into one of your three containers. As you sort through your things that don’t belong, I would encourage you to donate generously. There are so many things that we don’t use, but we haven’t gotten rid of yet because they seem valuable. Consider who could use that item or how you could give it to someone else in need.
Step 4: Empty the boxes. Empty your trash and recycling into the appropriate bins. Put the items to donate in one place until you can take them to the drop-off location.
For the items that belong somewhere else, I generally aim to have those things put away before I go to bed that night. I ask myself, “If I were to go looking for this item, where would I look?”
Then I put it in that location.
Now, if that item belongs in a cupboard that ALSO needs to be decluttered, make sure it’s on your prioritized list. Then you can set the item next to the cupboard until the time comes to streamline that space.
The idea is that as you take each part of your home, step-by-step, through this 3-Box Method process, eventually everything in your life will have a home.
You might ask, “But what about the papers? The 3-Box Method works well with decluttering a cupboard…but not so well with my papers.” That’s why we have a STEP Command Central!
With the STEP Command Central, we’ll walk you through a flowchart. We’ll teach you how to incubate, how to create a place for your Project Support Materials, and what a Tickler file is. We’ll give you a process that holds every single paper, idea, or project–and honors the nuances that are involved for each. In the meantime, take the papers to your office area. When you build your STEP Command Central, we’ll teach you how to process it ALL.
Now it’s time to get started. Pick your first spot, streamline that space, and then come report back–we’d love to hear your successes! Do you have other tips that help you as you declutter? Share them in the comments below. We’re SO grateful you’re here with us!
Our Bonus Resource for this lesson is audio pulled from a podcast about clutter, featuring Alice Fulton, author of “It’s Here… Somewhere”. Come sign up for the party so you can learn “8 Streamlining Steps” and “10 Clutter-Free How-Tos” to help you through this decluttering process!
- It’s Here…Somewhere by Alice Fulton
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
- SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life by Julie Morgenstern
- The Three-Box Method for Organizing Your Space
- The “Clean-A-Drawer” Challenge
- Closet (and LIFE) Clean-Up
- Using STEP to Fuel the Marie Kondo Method
- Secrets for What to Do When You Want to Keep EVERYTHING (with Julie Morgenstern)
- My Two-Minute Planner Tour
Are you excited to get started processing those piles of paper right away? Come learn four simple steps you can apply today to get rid of the piles! Then we’ll share how to get started in our Steps to Everyday Productivity Program, where you’ll set up the whole system–a STEP Command Central–to give each and every paper, project and idea a home!