Piles, and Tips to Get Rid of Them.

I wrote these lines a few months ago and never finished:

"Lately I feel like I am unable to escape the piles in my home.  The piles of laundry, the piles of papers that come home from school, the piles of mail, the piles of craft show stuff.  New clothes coming in, clothes that don't fit going out.  All the piles dumped all over the house needing weeding out and rehoming.  It is an inescapable cycle in my day, and I feel like I am always, always behind.

I don't know at what point I lost the time to take care of it all as it happens, or maybe it's just multiplied on itself slowly without me really noticing it, or maybe there is just suddenly more.  Either way, I feel the need to purge all the things from the house (and maybe wish there was a magic closet that could hold it all)."

That is real life, and it's been an unending cycle around here since I wrote that in frustration: clean it up, bring things in (or out), pile them up, repeat.

Last week I wrote about Marie Kondo's tidying book and the impact that's had on the way I think about things in my home.  (p.s. I just found out there's a follow-up book and I have it in my possession and once I actually read it I will tell you all about it.)  Her notion of keeping only those things that spark joy in you is so freeing and it's really been helping me rid my house of things we really don't need.  BUT, she also talks about the idea that your home has enough space to hold all your belongings and if you are overflowing, you have too much stuff, not too little space.

This is huge.  When we moved in, we added built-in bookcases in the living room, a whole wall of cabinets in the dining room, and additional bookcases in the smaller bedrooms.  We have closets in almost every room, and yet, there are still piles in the hallways, either of things that have no place or things that are going out and need to be dealt with (wait until the dump is open, photograph for ebay, wait for local pickup from Craigslist).  While I've been working on getting things out, the subgoal has been for the things we keep to have a home.

It seems that this is on a lot of people's minds lately- I've had several conversations with friends who want to get rid of the excess stuff in their house (and I keep recommending that book) so here's a few tips to help you get started:

1. Fill a box.  I'm offering this one up from Hello Neverland.  Kenzie is offering up a series of challenges for 2016 (you should go and check it out, I'm super interested in the topics she's picked) and the first one was to fill a box, any box, with stuff to toss or donate. (full post here)  Simple.  I was able to do that in one afternoon as we took on the overflow of books we've collected.

The box is hiding, but it was full of books.  The two white bags went to Goodwill with blankets and things we discovered in the back of Gus's closet, and the black one is trash.  Not bad for a few hours.

2. Need ideas of what to toss?  Take a look at this list from Popsugar.  There are 116 things you can get rid of.  Some are easy, like hair elastics that are no longer stretchy.  Some are hard, like old prom dresses (I still have three).  Pick 5, pick 10 and go throw them out.  You'll feel lighter if you do.  BONUS: Find one thing you have kept for "just in case" that you've had for more than a year.  Find something you picked up that you intended to make something out of.  Get rid of both of them.

3. Aim to tackle an area that is overflowing.  There is most likely at least one space in your home that has too much stuff simply because it's your catch-all and it's bursting but you keep trying to shove stuff into it.  Or is that just me?  We have one cabinet that holds all of the "stuff we don't know what to do with" and it drives me crazy because that's the one that I'll open and something will fall on my face.  I tackled that one first and got rid of a huge portion of the stuff in there.  Not only does nothing fall out now, there is room for the things that actually need to live there, plus some room to spare.

4. Make a plan to get rid of your items and follow through as quickly as possible.  Garbage and recycling are obviously the easiest.  If you have bags of clothes, take them to a donation receptacle or center as soon as you can.  Putting them on ebay?  Take photos as list them that day.  Do whatever you can to rid yourself of the piles or else they will just become part of the landscape.

5. As you're moving things out, clean the area that they were in.  We had a pile of books on a shelf in our mudroom, and when I cleared out most of them, I realized how gross the shelf was so I cleaned it before putting things back.  Just that tiny little action made me feel better about the space.  (Plus, less things, less stuff to dust!)

6. Put things coming into your home away right away to avoid them becoming the start of a new pile.  And if your stuff has its own space, it will be easy to do this.

Are you in tidying mode, too?  What do you find are the hardest things to get rid of?  Did you look at the list of 116 things?  What are you going to throw out?

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