Where Does It Go?

We just got back from a trip to visit family two states away. After we unloaded the car, the kitchen (the room closest to the garage) was covered with stuff on every counter and all over the table.

I used to leave things like that until I had the energy to tackle them, but that was years ago. Now that I’m so used to living in a small house, I know we have to get that stuff put away ASAP. The best way to do that, I’ve learned, is to ask one question about each item: Where does it go? Then we take it there.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds if you haven’t designated places for everything. The hats and jackets go in the closet, but if you’ve stuffed other things in there, there will be no room for them. The empty drink cans go in the recycler, if you’ve got room in there. The dirty laundry goes straight to the basement, where the washer is hopefully not covered with stuff so you can run a load……you get the point.

This trip we brought back some family albums an elderly uncle gave to us. They’re sitting on the coffee table in the living room right now, but a place will have to be found for them; they can’t stay there. We need to come up with an answer to that question, don’t we?

“Where does it go?” is the question that will solve all your clutter problems, but only if you answer it, and fairly quickly.

 

 

 

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New Decluttering Book on the Way

I’m afraid my blogging has suffered because I’ve been so busy working on my new book, which I’m excited to say is almost finished. It’s in the final editing stage right now, so it won’t be much longer before it’s published.

Like my other books, it’s related to decluttering. Until you go through the process yourself, I don’t think you can truly understand just how liberating it is to get rid of things you don’t really need. My goal is to help others understand just how wonderful it feels to be free of too much stuff, and to live in an uncluttered home.

In a culture where accumulation of stuff is a sign of prosperity, it seems like someone has to become overwhelmed with their clutter and sometimes even forced to downsize before they consider lightening their load.

So they begin to declutter their homes, but get stalled out in the middle of the process. There’s a common reason for that; the solution is the subject of my new book. So stay tuned!

 

The Boring Sister Wins This Round

My sister is getting ready to sell her 6-bedroom mansion and downsize to a two-bedroom condo. For most people, this would mean spending weeks or even months going through everything, deciding what to donate, what to sell, what to pitch and what to allow in the new place. That’s how it was for me when I moved from our 5-bedroom house to a tiny ranch.

But that won’t happen to my sister. She has plenty of furniture in the home she’s about to sell, but she’ll sell most, if not all of it, without a backwards glance. As for the personal belongings, well, she doesn’t have that many.

You see, my sister is the opposite of a hoarder; she rarely keeps anything. This was predictable way back when we were kids sharing a bedroom. Her twin bed was always neatly made, with just one cute little doll or stuffed animal on the pillow as a decoration. Meanwhile, my bed had at least half-a-dozen dolls on it.

Her side of the dresser held a little ballerina statue and a hair brush. My side was covered with belongings and mementos of all sorts, starting at the imaginary line in the center and running out to the very edge. She often looked at my side of the dresser and said, “You’re such a slob!”

I disagreed; I just loved all my stuff, and I had lots of interests, which automatically translates into lots of stuff.

As a budding writer, I regularly used a toy typewriter I got for Christmas. It was parked on a card table in the corner of our room that I used it as a desk. Like most writers, I was also an avid reader; my Nancy Drew collection took up most of the space on our little bookshelf.

Of course, I had other toys besides the dolls on my bed. I had lots of Barbie dolls so they could talk to each other, and naturally they had lots of clothes, and they needed a furnished Barbie house, which I also had. Then there was my love of sewing, which let me to collect fabric remnants, sewing tools and a collection of patterns.

Meanwhile, my sister had very few belongings because she had very few interests. I don’t remember what she did back then besides fight with me over the sorry state of my side of the room. I do recall that she took ballet lessons, but other than that I think she mostly watched television. To her complaints about my being a slob, I usually retorted that she was boring.

She still is, to be honest. But she’s got the edge on me now, because her move from the mansion to the condo is going to be the smoothest downsizing ever, I just know it.

You Love It Now, But…

In the early 1980s, my husband and I bought a lovely Oriental rug that graced our dining room for many years. It was a big purchase for us, back when we had two incomes and no kids, and we really loved that rug.

Yesterday he asked me whatever happened to that rug, and I couldn’t remember. We bought it for our first house, but it didn’t really have a place in our second house, which was fully carpeted, and so we put it in the basement, and then…what? We must have gotten rid of it during our big downsizing ten years ago, but neither of us remember what we did with it.

It’s funny how you can have possessions that you love a lot, that you don’t think you’ll ever get rid of, but then you do, and over time you forget what even happened to them. This is an important point to realize and remember when you need to declutter your home, because you’re forced to, like we were, or because it just really needs to be done, and you’re having a hard time letting go of things.

The truly important things in your life are people, not things. Everything else is expendable, and someday you won’t even remember what you did with most of your stuff. I wish I’d known that when I was younger; decluttering wouldn’t have been such an enormous, time-consuming project!

Photos and Memories

Today a catalog arrived in the mail. It was filled with nostalgic items for people of a certain age…like me. When I got to the page where you can buy all sorts of candy that was available when I was a child, the color photos of the different packages of candy brought back good memories.

And that reminded me of what I did when we downsized and gave up so many of our belongings: I took photos of the items I loved but couldn’t keep. When I look at those photos, all the memories linked to those items come flooding back, and it’s lovely.

So if you dread decluttering because you have a hard time letting go of sentimental items, remember you can just whip out your phone and take a photo of each beloved item. You don’t have to hold something in your hand to bring back memories: a photo will do, and it takes up a lot less room.

Turning Clutter Into Cash

When I get rid of clutter, I want to be rid of it, to not see it again, sometimes because I’m afraid I’ll change my mind, and other times because I just want to consider my decluttering effort a job that’s done and can be checked off my list.

But I did invest in all those things at one point, and I can see why it would be wise to sell some of the things I’ve decided to give up instead of just donating them wherever. This article about turning clutter into cash has some great ideas. Will I do it next time? We’ll see! How about you? Have you done this before, and was it worth the effort?