Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom – Decluttering When You Didn’t Really Mean To

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom


Have you ever decluttered when you didn’t really mean to? I have, and I’m here to encourage you to embrace these accidental declutterings, no matter how annoying they are at the time.

What do I mean? Here are some times I got roped / fell into decluttering when I had absolutely no intention of doing so.

Audra recently opened the door to the craft closet, sat down right in the doorway, and started crafting. Eventually, she had every sticker that we own in a heap in front of her. I kept trying to ignore the mess, hoping that she’s just scoop it all back up and cram it back into the drawer from whence it came. But no. Eventually I heard, “Momma, will you help me pick up?” Of course, I had no interest in this project and felt a bit resentful that she’d made a big mess and wanted me to help clean it up. Eventually, I sat down next to her and started sorting the stickers: Ones I might use; ones no one will use; sheets with no stickers on them at all. In the end, there was a much smaller pile to go back into the drawer plus a smallish pile to take to school for the younger grades that have craft corners.

Another time I decluttered without intending to was about a month ago when I washed all the window screens on the enclosed porch and got water all over the porch as well. While I don’t have a lot of clutter on the porch, there were a few things. Things that are now elsewhere. As I sweep the porch clean of water, I decluttered too. Those two air mattress that I’ve been meaning to try (and try again) to find the leaks, they were aspirational clutter that was never going to happen and they went into the trash. The “box of fun” (outdoor toys) got reduced so that what was left actually fit into the box with the lid closed. I got the go ahead from Audra to sell the gymnastics mat that’s been living on the porch, and I pressed my mother about whether she really, truly was ever going to use the folding chairs on my porch. Since the answer was, “I guess not really,” off they went to the thrift store. Between the decluttering, the clean screens, and the scrubbed floor, it looks much better out there!

My last example is not my own. When you have friends coming for the holiday or weekend, I know you’re going to clean, I know you’re going to bake and cook, I know it’s likely that you’ll even take off work for a few days. Do yourself and your friends a favor, and declutter the space they’ll be using too. It’s so nice when you visit to be able to use the closet or drawers. Decluttering them now will help your friends feel more comfortable and welcome later. (A shout out here to my cousin Rilee who does an excellent job of prepping her guest room so that everyone is happy and has what they need. Hi Rilee!)

When you stumble into that quagmire that is an unexpected decluttering opportunity, don’t curse it! Embrace it!

Today’s Mini Mission

Have the, perhaps dreaded, conversation with the grandparents about giving gifts of experiences or at least not so many material gifts to your children so your home isn’t overrun with toys.

Today’s Declutter Item

Basketball Collectable

Eco Tip for the Day

Dress appropriately to lower or even avoid the need for artificial climate control. In the winter wear comfortable warm clothing inside and at least lower the thermostat. In the summer dress in light natural fibre clothes and at least raise the thermostat.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. Now this is a great thought, Cindy. I’ve had a few of these times and I hope to have more. I’m finding that I will use every excuse to declutter that comes along. It really feels so good to have so much less.

  2. Ah yes. Son#2 is coming home for Christmas. Must do a declutter in the guest room.

  3. I’ve had decluttering happen to me. My daughter destroying something I thought was precious (when she was much younger and I quickly realized the thing wasn’t precious – she was and is). “Losing” something at a friend’s or relative’s house. No particular item sticks out in my mind so I suppose those items weren’t precious or even necessary.

    I did, however, unintentionally clutter a pair of jeans once. For some people, not a big deal but at the time I only had two pair (both of which I wore). In a fit of getting rid of clothes, this pair of jeans ended up at the bottom of the giveaway pile and were, well, given away. There is a moral in that story somewhere about making sure all the clothes you know want to keep are put away before decluttering. And not left draped on the seat of the chair where you decide to fling the items you plan to donate. 😀

    • I did that same thing Rachel! I had two nearly identical pairs of corduroys, except that one was too small. I accidentally decluttered the right size pair and kept the too tight pair. I realized the next day and went to the thrift store with the tight pair. My plan was to basically swap out my pants – steal mine back, if you will. They must have been purchased immediately, though, because even though I made 2 or 3 trips, I never saw them. I was sad.

  4. Just happened very recently 🙂

    I was looking for specific crafting instructions. I knew I had a good number of books on all sorts of crafting so I searched my bookcase for them to look through and see whether one of them was helpful before I would go out and eventually buy some new book to guide me. I discovered that most – but not all! – of the crafting books were on one shelf. Some were hidden in a weird corner of the bookshelf. In order to make them all accessible (and therefore potentially useful) I had to shift things – and with the shifting some decluttering came along.
    Though I had been annoyed by my many books lately and have been trying to declutter them one more time (I have done it many times before and I am sure that I have almost halved the amount over the course of some years) I just couldn’t get a grip on it. The shuffling did it for me.

    Actually, I think rearranging/organizing an area that maybe has been neglected for a while often sparks some (sometimes unplanned) decluttering for me. Well, sometimes not. But that’s absolutely okay, too, if the goal was to organize and straighten only anyway …

  5. Yes, this has happened to me more than once, decluttering when I did not necessarily intend to at that exact moment. In the long run though, they were areas on the to do list anyway, but probably through procrastination, had not gotten done yet. So for me, I like when I am forced, at times, to declutter. Seems to happens a lot when I am looking for something and I realize that getting rid of stuff in a particular area or zone (like my work desk/office desk) will help me find things quicker. On a normal basis, I am still on the hunt for items to get rid of each day, but when I push myself to declutter or deal with an area that I am avoiding, I feel relieved when it is done. It can actually be very energizing.

  6. Not an accidental declutter but I was thinking hard yesterday as to what to get rid of and it dawned on me….I have a slow cooker and a george foreman steamer that I never use. And its market day at the church this Saturday so I will donate them…I also found two playstation 2 controllers in a drawer…we no longer have a playstation 2 because it broke!!

  7. Great post Cindy! I dare say this has happened to me many a time over the last three years. Just the other day I was looking for a pair of earrings to wear and decided to declutter the ones I rarely if ever use. I found five pair to donate. Which reminds me I must go up and photograph them right now and then take them off to the thrift store later this morning when I go to do my shift.

    • I also just put my own lesson into practice. I had everything out of my desk drawers to rearrange them and found 2 dics with photos on them from vacation in 2008 and 2009. Rather than put them back into the drawer and moving on with my project, I downloaded them onto the computer, as I should have done years ago. We go to the same place at the start of every summer, and it was fun to see the kids so much younger.

  8. Great post – I can remember several occaisions where I have been looking for something – especially in early decluttering days and especially in my sewing cupboard – where I’d end up with half the cupboard pulled out, find the item and decide to carry on and sort out the rest. Fortunately my cupboard is no longer an avalanche risk and what is in there is stored in shoe boxes and I write on the end what is in each shoe box so its pretty easy to find everything but even now occaisionally as I’m looking in one of the shoe boxes I’ll decide I’ve seen something unused too many times and out it goes.

  9. I started a habit of decluttering something if I had to move something. That is if I had to move a box to get to another box, then that first box automatically gets searched through.
    If I’m seriously pressed for time…then that actually has worked to my (decluttering) benefit because I waste no time hemming & hawing about should I keep it or not. I’m forced to make instant decisions based solely on first impressions/conclusions.
    Haven’t regretted that method yet.

    • “If you want something done give it to a busy man.”
      I don’t know who this quote is by, I heard it sometime somewhere. But it stuck with me as it certainly is as true as the 80/20 rule. Deadlines also work great for me (real ones like one time chances such as flea markets or special donation days or visitors coming… unfortunately selfmade deadlines aren’t nearly as efficient).

      • My “fake” deadlines aren’t as compeling as real deadlines either. We’re too smart ot be fooled so easily!

      • Ideealistin, what a great quote! Boy you are correct in that self-made deadlines can be fudged with. I have found that setting an audible timer really forces my self-made deadlines into more concrete ones.

    • Great idea. I try not to store things two deep just so I don’t have to dig. I have enough storage / little enough stuff, that this plan usually works out for me.

  10. I’ve been doing a lot of this lately – my husband has been doing repairs and painting in the house, so I seem to be perpetually clearing out closets and corners so he can get at the areas he’s working on. This works well for me, as I have a hard time getting started, but once I’ve begun, I can work for hours.

    There’s a lesson in there, isn’t there? Great post, Cindy.

  11. Great post Cindy! I have been decluttering, but it was not by accident. I have been thinking about decluttering some things for quite a while and one day I sit down and start sorting things out. But sometimes I just go and put something away and realize I could do without some of the stuff that is a wardrobe/drawer/cabinet. I just would like to tell you that the giver of the “alternative gift” (which I was so pissed about last Saturday) guaranteed to me that is a very useful gift and that she is well aware that I would just trash any useless stuff (I did ask what she was giving and did say I was pissed that it wasn’t clothing). So let’s wait for Christmas to see if I am going to like it (even though it is for my husband) 😀 😀 😀 .

    • you know how to keep the story exciting… I am sooooo curious now, what she will give 😉

      • I’m with Lena. I hope it’s a good gift. Does she know that 100 of your blog friends will be judging this gift? That’s some pressure!!


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