One of my resolutions for 2011 is to declutter my life in every way possible. I’ve got physical junk piling up in my home and digital junk piling up on my computer as well as being pushed at me all the time in the world of fast-paced digital consumption that we live in. It’s a bit too much to handle all in one go, so I’ll take these three things one step at a time…
Let’s Get Physical!
To combat the clutter-creep in my physical world I plan to make heavy use of the guide called Sell Your Crap (Affiliate link) created by Baker of ManVsDebt that I reviewed earlier in the year. The material in the guide makes decluttering physical junk far easier and a lot less confusing than I tend to make things on my own. Baker lays out exactly how to sell your crap, what criteria you should consider when choosing a sales platform and what price thresholds to think about when deciding between selling and donating.
The most important part of this guide for me is the section detailing at what point you should throw away things or donate them; when does the effort of selling outweigh any benefit of simply decluttering by donating or even trashing your junk. I tend to hold onto things far too long because I personally see value in the stuff but when I get right down to it and am honest with myself, no one in their right mind would pay for some of the junk I have kept and while I thought I may have a use for it eventually, it’s been years and whatever it is hasn’t been touched.
After reading through the guide and getting some inspiration from other minimalist figures around the web, I am starting to see how funny some of my actions have been and I’m actually realizing when something around my home will no longer be useful so I can then part myself with it. It’s kind of a liberating feeling and I’m excited to really clean house during January.
Another idea from Baker is to simply take pictures of your physical possessions that are sentimental but not useful. With most things like that you can still get the same nostalgic feeling when you look at a picture of something that you do when you look at a physical thing itself. Not only do I think this is a great idea in terms of decluttering but I also get more use out of things when they are in digital format. I can post the pictures of old school projects on Facebook to share with family or just archive them for later viewing and they don’t take up precious space in my home.
For the kitchen, I plan on using the “cardboard box test” as described on by Peter Walsh (yes, I am aware of Oprah). Put all your kitchen utensils into a cardboard box and when you need one of them, reinstate it back into its proper place in the kitchen. If after four weeks, you haven’t taken a utensil out of the cardboard box, you don’t need it.
As for the rest of the house, I’ll use a system similar to what law enforcement use for abandoned roadside vehicles; when I discover something that I haven’t used within a time frame that my memory can span, I’ll slap a sticky note on it with the date. If I use the thing, I’ll remove the sticky but if the sticky has been there for more than two weeks, I’ll put the item in the discard box and get rid of it in one way or another.
And lastly, I plan to create a system to stop the clutter from accumulating. I know I’m a pack-rat and that’s something I have to live with but unless I plan ahead and kill the rat in me before he takes over, things will get just as bad as they are now. I will not be appearing on Hoarders, thank you very much.
Do you have any tips for combating clutter in your physical life?
Image by sindesign