One of the rules of engagement we have learned from Colleen is to constantly be weeding out the things we no longer need. That’s what we are doing when we “declutter one thing a day.” With her Monday Mini-Missions she has been good to give us items to consider decluttering so that we don’t even have to really think about it if we follow them. Our work is already planned for us.
I began to think about this when a friend from church asked me to help her with decluttering. Her husband was just placed in an Alzheimer’s group home and she is well aware that many of the items in her home will no longer be used. The house is cluttered due to taking care of her husband and trying to deal with his disease. She may move to a smaller house and closer to her husband’s group home. She wants to begin the weeding process. She especially wants to be rid of the clutter that accumulated while having the day to day care of her husband. I tried to come up with a list of mini-missions that would help her without overwhelming her.
After explaining to her the idea of decluttering one item a day and looking for things that are broken, soiled, the wrong size, no longer used, or seldom used, this is what I came up with. Oh, I also explained the idea of having boxes where she could accumulate things to toss, sell, repair, or give away. I explained these could be dealt with along the way as time permitted.
- Start with storage areas first. It took me a great amount of thought to decide to have her tackle this first. But I realized that all the clutter on all of the surfaces in the various rooms had to go somewhere and if it needed to be kept it couldn’t go into a storage area if it was already full. I know that Mom & I used to be guilty of the habit of just stuffing something in a storage area when people were coming to visit or the mess got too overwhelming. How many times have you cleaned up the house by putting it all in one room and closing the door? Her first week’s worth of mini-missions was to go through her garage storage cupboards one cupboard a day. The second week’s missions were to go through her pantry, the guest closet, the huge linen closet, the guest room closet, and the large set of storage cupboards in her laundry room. Like most of us, when we open a drawer or cupboard we tend to declutter whatever is there not just one item. I told her that was fine but it really was okay to do one item a day. She was to repeat these mini-missions until she felt the storage areas were ready and she could move on. This would give her some working area where she could store her decluttering boxes until it was time to move them out.
- Next she was to go through each room, one room a day, and start putting the clutter in the room where it belonged. She didn’t have to put it away yet. She just needed to have it in the right room. Again I thought about this long and hard. I realized that getting the clutter to the room where it belonged helped me to know if I had too much of that item and helped me to know how to put things away in that room when the time came. I again told her to do this until all the clutter was properly distributed.
- By this time the clutter would have been transferred to the proper room. The storage areas should be decluttered of everything that needed to go and she should be ready to start doing the nitty gritty item at a time decision making. Her first room to declutter completely was the living room. For her it would be the easiest, would give her a good handle on how to go about the process of really decluttering and would give her a public room in good shape. I told her that for each room she tackled there was a formula to follow. Again I told her to do this as many weeks as it took to get things decluttered.
- Day 1 – declutter the surfaces of furniture (magazines, books, nicknacks, etc.)
- Day 2 – declutter the floor (rugs, storage items, piles)
- Day 3 – declutter the storage areas (drawers, shelves, closets, etc.)
- Day 4 – declutter the walls
- Day 5 – declutter the furniture (do you really need it all?)
- Day 6 – declutter anything else that might be specific to that room
- By this time the house should be in pretty good shape for the time being. She should be able to go through each day and find one thing more to get rid of but the house would be in visiting condition and she would not feel the weight of the mess on her shoulders.
I am hoping that this will give my friend an easy way to declutter without being overwhelming and yet with results she can see. She is being slow and careful about making any decisions about moving so she doesn’t have to go too fast until she decided whether she will move or not.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter something that has been sitting in a storage area for quite sometime but still isn’t being used.
Eco Tip for the Day
Choose water based latex paints over solvent based paints when painting your home. Never use lead-based paints. (Tip curtesy of Greenpeace USA)
For a full list of my eco tips so far click here
It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow