Menu Close

Optimize Your Starting Line: De-Clutter

Sometimes you have to be willing to let go…

Having considered becoming proactive and taking your first steps into cleaning up, it’s time to De-Clutter. Whatever Room you’re in:

Ask Small Questions

Think Small Thoughts

Consider your attachment to the things that gather in a house. If you move often, you may already know where I’m going with this. When we move, everything we own takes on mass and weight. It has to lifted, padded and boxed, and fit onto the truck. It’s meaning gets reevaluated, or should be.

Don’t wait for your next move. Start now. Are you a collector or a discarder? A hoarder or disperser, or um, dispenser? A squirrel or whatever animal likes getting rid of stuff?

My father was a collector, like a squirrel, storing everything: “Even if I never use it, it’s still worth something.” He learned that from his
father, who lived through the depression.

When my father finally downsized, selling his house for a retirement community, we kids had to consider coffee cans full of random screws, washers, and bolts, jars of nails, a storage area full of stuff we hadn’t seen or considered in decades. We found a chandelier he bought in Mexico on his honeymoon. Still in the box.

My mother, on the other hand, wanted to “burn the house down and start over.” At one point she whispered to me, “The moment we leave the driveway, throw away all those old magazines. By the time your father notices they’re missing, they’ll be long gone. He’ll never miss them. He’ll never read them now.”

All to say, acknowledge your attachment to items. Do you hoard your childhood toys or your child’s toys because they hold the memory of that era?  Or the clothing that somehow keeps an old relationship alive?

Letting go of the past is hard, but all old soldiers eventually need to enter their rest. 

Thank the home as you leaveThe Japanese are known for personalizing objects, even houses. When a family moves, they will go from room to room and thank the house for certain memories, for sustaining the family in certain times.

I have done so myself, on two moves, thanking rooms in an empty apartment for keeping my children safe and happy.

You can do the same, along with those objects that have reached the end of their useful life.

You might consider keeping special items and donating the rest to another loving home.

As always, be gentle with yourself. Decluttering doesn’t discard the memory of that loved one or cherished moment. But it does give yourself permission to make room for new memories.

So, which things in your life are ready to retire?

If all that was too sentimental for you, here’s a practical question:  

How much money are you willing to spend to buy it again?"

If the answer is nothing, or near to it, consider how you might get rid of it.

Take Small Actions

Target one problem area, pull and sort everything out. Organize and discard items that have become useless. Discard the unmatched socks or that piece of furniture you never really liked but kept because you “spent good money on it.”

If they no longer fit into our lives, or if they cost us money to store (self-storage is a billion dollar industry), and if they make moving difficult, they are expendable.

An easy start: inventory your plastic food containers. Trash all those random, non-interchangeable containers and unmatched tops.

De-clutter Technology:

Your computer may hold a massive number of files you never access. Create an “archive folder” and start adding files to it. Then copy it to an external (USB) drive as a storage archive and delete it from your PC. Places to start:

  • Documents
  • Downloads folder
  • Pictures
  • Browser: delete browser cache periodically, and update passwords
  • Bookmarks: remove the dead URLs

Your phone

  • Photo Gallery
  • Messages
  • Voicemails
  • Contacts
  • Apps

De-Clutter Content:

Your distractions

  • Unsubscribe from newsletters
  • Disable most notifications
  • Uninstall unused apps/software
  • Deactivate old accounts
  • Cancel subscriptions

Your accounts

  • Email: delete everything over 6 months old from your deleted items folder
  • Drive/Storage: how many of those archive files will you ever really look at again?)
  • Social Media: I recommend getting off Facebook entirely but I understand why people stay on. Check your history and remove items that give away too much info about you or your family.
  • Bookkeeping: Tax information has only a 3-year lifespan. To be safe, keep 4-years and archive the rest.

De-Clutter your Home:

Places to consider:

  • Bedroom
  • Closets
  • Bathroom: discard all expired medicines and consolidate shampoos and soaps
  • Kitchen: discard expired food, or foods you no longer enjoy. Seriously, why do we hold onto things we know we won’t eat? 
  • Living Room
  • Car
  • Garage
  • Yard

And the Office:

  • Desk/PC: remove anything that could be misconstrued by the easily offended, or don’t represent you in the job you aspire to

For your consideration...

Your Kaizen Journey

Stay tuned for more. Until then, target another area, rinse and repeat.