I wrote a post a few years ago about dejunking our home and it went the way of the rest of our old posts (lost to a virus) but a bunch of people have asked me about it. So I figured I would clean it up and post it once again.
As a mom of 4 little ones, time is a hot commodity, especially now that the triplets are starting to scoot a little bit and are awake more often. Cleaning usually happens during cat naps and when I can convince C to help me out, and he’s pretty good about it if I make it seem like a game.
I’m not perfect at keeping things clean but I know for a fact that dejunking keeps me sane. When I have a ton of clutter and things I don’t use as often sitting around, it tends to give me a little bit of anxiety and makes it so I can’t think as clearly.
Here are my tips to make dejunking your home easier:
Designate a Dejunking Zone
Whether you find a box, tape off a section of floor or designate a room as the “dejunking zone”, start there. This seems like a no-brainer but as you start to get things out and decide to get rid of them, you might forget to take them to this zone and inevitably, those items might just migrate back to where they came from.
Another benefit is you can tell your family why you have these items here and get them to dejunk some of their own stuff. If you have small children and are planning on going through their toys, I would recommend keeping the zone out of their view. They might not play with something for months but when you threaten to get rid of it, the toy suddenly becomes their favorite of all-time. Save the tantrum and your sanity.
Plan one room at a time
Cleaning in general can be interesting when I take items to another room. Suddenly, I’m cleaning the toilet, then washing the laundry, taking out the garbage in the kitchen and making my son’s bed. Not one room is completely clean until I buckle down and clean one room and then move onto the next.
Know how much time you have and plan to get one room done in that time. Go through the drawers and organize the papers (or shred them). Keep your focus in that one room so you don’t get distracted by things going on in other rooms.
This helps you feel more accomplished because you’ve actually made some headway and will keep you dialed in to the things you should get rid of and the things you should keep.
Decide how many of each thing you’ll keep
When you have multiples of kitchen tools, donate the extras. If you’re worried you’ll need that extra one on the chance that the first one breaks, tell yourself you can always get another one.
Take a look in your closet. What clothes do you wear consistently and which ones have you not touched in years? Your clothing can be the hardest to decide on because of fluctuating weight or the hopes that you’ll be able to wear your favorite floral skirt again.
Make a plan and get rid of at least a few pieces of each size you have. Put the sizes you aren’t in now in a box and store it away if possible. The benefit of this is that you won’t have to go through dozens of tops or bottoms and when you make it down to your desired size, it will feel like Christmas because you haven’t seen those clothes in a while. Of course, if you need a little motivation, keep one piece of the smaller size so you can gauge your progress on weight loss!
How many handbags do you need? Shoes? Do you have socks with holes just sitting in your drawer?
Do you have way too many art/craft supplies? Sporting equipment you no longer use? Get rid of it!
If something is broken and has been broken for a while, get rid of it! Unless you plan to fix it within the next 48-hours, you probably won’t get around to it anytime after.
Set a time limit
There are two time limits you need to set. The first one is the amount of time you are going to spend on any given room/project. Maybe the area you’re working in is a little overwhelming–set a time limit on how long you will spend in there that day. You might want to give yourself an hour or so and then move onto something else entirely.
I know that if I’ve been trying to organize something for quite a while and am not quite sure how I want things to go, my brain feels like mush and I end up moving things from one spot to another to another until I haven’t made much progress.
Work hard for your allotted time and then come back and attack it with a fresh view a few hours later or in a few days. Don’t wait too long because your hard work might be undone as you stuff things back where they were in the first place.
The second time limit is to help you gauge whether to get rid of an item or to keep it. Tell yourself if you haven’t used it in a few months, in a year or since you moved into your home/apartment that it will have to go. Keepsakes can be exempt from this plan but you don’t want to have so many that it overtakes any storage area you have.
Be honest with yourself and if you can see yourself using these items again in the next few weeks and months. If not, it will be easier to have more space than to keep it hanging around and having to work around it.
Buy the organizers, label things
I’m a huge fan of all the organizer boxes and drawers and buckets. Get a few and start filling them, labeling them and putting them where they go. The advantage of that is if not all of the items will fit in there, you’ll have to pare down a little bit more.
When you label, figure out a system that works for you and your family. This will help them to understand your filing system and hopefully (fingers crossed) they will put things where they should go instead of just throwing them wherever.
Make a plan to donate the items quickly
Once you’ve gone to the work of cleaning out closets and rooms and drawers, you don’t want all of your hard work to go down the drain. Make sure to take everything in your dejunking zone to a local charity or thrift shop as soon as possible.
If you leave everything there for a few weeks, chances are half of the items will return to their former places, meaning you’ll have to do this all over again.
Get rid of it before you start to second-guess yourself on that sweater you’ve never worn but feel bad about not having worn it so you keep it in your closet for another four years. Take the emotion out of it and give it away. Chances are someone out there will actually wear/use what you are giving up!