Is It Time to Declutter?

Have you watched Tidying Up, the new series featuring organizing expert Marie Kondo?  Kondo, the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, visits people in their homes to help them work through their clutter using her Konmari method, leading to a more organized, fresher feeling home.  Kondo's principles include holding every item you own in your hand and asking yourself if it sparks joy (essentially, does this item bring you happiness?), getting rid of what doesn't (and thanking it for its service to you on its way out), and then folding and organizing what's left in a way that allows you to see what it is you own.

For as many people that you find that love Kondo and her methods, you will find those that thing they are silly.  Do people really pull out everything they own and handle each thing, and do they really thank items for their service??  Even if you can't get on board with all her principles (though she explains why she does things they way she does and it makes complete sense) some of her tips can be really helpful with those items you might be a little wishy-washy on.  While her method is more of a marathon than a sprint, if you really want to declutter your house, it's a great place to start.

Some people can't stand having extra stuff around (too much junk on my kitchen counter aka "the dumping ground" makes me feel anxious), while other people may not even notice things that have been hanging around for awhile - it just doesn't bother them.  So how do you know if you need to declutter?  Ask yourself these questions:

1. Can I easily put it away?

This one is a huge indicator of us having too much stuff and knowing it's time to clear things out.  I bought some new socks the other day - there is a particular type of Nike socks I have fallen in love with and buy new colors when I see them - and I haven't yet put them away because my sock drawer is too full.  I need to go though it and get rid of pairs that are buried underneath that the elastic is probably crispy from years of non-use so that I can put the new socks away.  (If you need me today, this is what I'll be working on.) If you bring something new into your home and it sits on the counter for a week because you don't have a home for it, it might be time to declutter.

2. Are my storage areas too full?

The other day I realized I had been fighting with one of my kitchen drawers for about a week. Every time I needed something, I had to move a bunch of other things out of the way.  And rather than fixing the problem, I just kept moving things from one side of the drawer to the other to get what I needed, annoying me every single time, until one day I went to open the drawer and I couldn't.  After a few minutes trying to push a strainer down and back and out of the way through a 1/2-inch opening, I finally got the drawer open and decided to weed through it right then.  If putting things back where they are supposed to go is challenging, it might be time to declutter.  

3. Do I have storage areas that I don't really know what's in there anymore?

I was folding clothes in my bedroom and I looked over at my nightstand and realized that I have very little idea what is in those two drawers right now.  I could name a handful of things - spare glasses, cough drops, a book light - but I bet there are at least twenty things in my nightstand that I have long forgotten about.  The same with some of the bins in the basement, or the boxes that moved to this house with us nine years ago that hold things we've never taken out.  If what's in your cabinets is a mystery to you, it might be time to declutter.

4. Do I find that I'm buying things that I didn't realize I already have?

Guilty, particularly on groceries.  Oh you mean I already have three spare bottles of cooking oil hidden in the cabinet behind other things and just wasted money on a fourth bottle?  Yep, I've done it.  Every few months it's a good idea to look through those cabinets and baskets of commonly used items - food, toiletries, paper goods - and see what you already have in storage.  It helps to group like items together, and for small items it may be helpful to tape a list to the inside of the cabinet door - I have one for extra spices, which I drew up when I found three unopened jars of cinnamon.  This will give you a quick reference of what you've already bought.  If you're wasting money on duplicates, it might be time to declutter.

January is a great time to go through your clutter.  New gifts need a home, it's cold and you're stuck in the house, and it's time for new year's resolutions, so motivation is at an all-time high.  Start small - choose one cabinet, drawer, or basket to weed through and call it a day.  I bet even that smallest bit of tidying will make you feel better.


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