Today I’m going to share an incredibly simple way to get rid of clutter, but I need to be clear right up front: LearnDoBecome is not a website focused on de-cluttering.
It’s about strengthening families and architecting lives of excellence.
However, we’ve noticed that there’s a huge majority of our community that is so entrenched in “stuff” that dreams and family goals simply don’t feel attainable. We understand because we’ve definitely been there.
Today we’re going to fix that, and here’s what I want you to do:
Step 1: Pick a space.
I don’t care which space it is, but just ask this:
“What is one space that is full of clutter and driving me crazy?”
Maybe it’s the basement, the garage, or the master bedroom.
Do you have it pictured in your mind, in all its glory?
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.
You literally pull everything out of that first spot (something like a cupboard, a drawer, or a section of a closet) and put as much as possible into those three boxes.
You’re going to donate like crazy. (Why hold onto something you don’t use when it could bless someone else?)
You’re going to toss or recycle everything you can (yes, even that little mechanical do-dad you thought you’d repair someday).
And anything that really belongs in a different spot of your home is going to temporarily sit in the “To Put Somewhere Else” box. This includes the streamers that belong with birthday party supplies, but ended up in your kitchen cupboard. It also includes the screwdriver that is still sitting on the bathroom counter and the dishes that ended up on your nightstand.
If you’re having a hard time parting with your clutter, you may like Marie Kondo’s advice from “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Simply keep the items that “spark joy.”
Once you’ve put the majority of your stuff into one of those three boxes, you put what’s left (the best of the best) back into the original space, which will now seem huge and totally uncluttered.
Step 4: Empty the boxes.
When you have completed your de-cluttering session (even 10 minutes is helpful!), empty the boxes so they’re fresh for the next time.
I know this sounds overly simplistic, but it totally works.
Here’s a personal example…
I have a reading basket that had gotten so full that I never even used it anymore. It was driving me nuts, but mentally, I kept thinking I didn’t have the time to clean it out.
In order to personally apply what I’ve outlined above (and show you how easy this is), I made de-cluttering that basket a 5-minute project this morning.
I simply took everything out and put it into the three piles (to donate, to toss, and to put somewhere else), and then I put back the items I actually wanted to keep in the basket.
Five minutes. Now it looks so good.
I tossed/recycled the middle pile, put the two books to donate into our donation bags in the garage, and then assessed the “to put somewhere else” pile.
Interestingly, half of the pile are books I want to keep/put back onto our bookshelves. The other half are books/resources that other family members stuck in the basket and then forgot about. I’ll ask for their help, and then that little project is done.
Here are some questions you might have:
What if I have a hard time getting rid of things?
More on that is coming soon at LearnDoBecome because it’s a huge issue, but I would definitely recommend Julie Morgenstern’s books, SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life and Organizing from the Inside Out.
I would also highly recommend listening to the podcast we recorded together: “Secrets for What to Do When You Want to Keep EVERYTHING.”
The essence of these resources is that you can keep anything you love, but you need to understand what may be going on psychologically and train yourself to let go of all the stuff that is weighing you down. I know it’s hard, but if you really want to streamline your life, it’s possible to learn this skill.
What if the stuff I’m organizing won’t fit in a box?
Yes, that will happen when you’re sorting larger spaces. Simply create temporary piles and either label them with signs or make sure they’re clearly defined in your head.
What if the “to toss” pile feels huge and can’t be taken by our weekly trash truck?
If that is the case, CONGRATULATIONS! You may want to schedule a large-item pick-up with your city as soon as you see that’s about to happen. We get three of those a year, and it feels amazing to pile all those broken things up on the curb.
If I put a lot into the “somewhere else” box, won’t that just move the clutter around?
Initially it may feel that way, but here are a few things to remember:
(1) You are only putting things into that pile that you love and value. Alice Osborn, author of It’s Here…Somewhere, suggests you ask these questions:
- Do I like it?
- Do I use it?
- Do I need it?
- Do I have room for it?
The things you’re putting somewhere else are “keepers,” and you’ll have space soon.
(2) You’re going to put these things where they make sense. I don’t know why we do this, but we end up sticking random items into random places, and then we can never find them. As I’m putting things into better spots, I ask myself, “If I were to look for this, where would I go?” That question is super helpful.
(3) If you move that item to a spot you haven’t yet de-cluttered, it will feel like “one more thing” heaped onto the pile, but that’s only TEMPORARY. Once you get to that spot and do the 3-box sorting method, those items will be some of the select few that will stay.
Here’s the thing: You have important things to do, and clutter doesn’t need to stand in your way. There are much better uses for your physical and mental energy. I’m excited to see how this process works for you!
Your LearnDoBecome CHALLENGE: Take ONE space in your home or office and try this method today. (Let us know how it goes!)
Would you like more from LearnDoBecome?
If you haven’t yet attended our free workshop, COME! We can’t wait to help you out. Register here.
You also won’t want to miss the simple, actionable ideas in our free guide: Five Life-Changing Habits Most People Overlook.
Thanks for being with us!!
-April (& Eric)