The Five D's: Step 1 - Declutter

Step 1 - DECLUTTER

So, have y'all read The Five D's? In honor of the typical resolution to clean and organize your home, I've put together a little five-step tutorial on how to have a happy, healthier habitat this year.

The first step is to "declutter" the area. I noted in my introductory post that this may very well be the most important step. Honestly, you cannot have a peaceful, inspiring home, room, car, purse...if it is full of unwanted, unnecessary clutter. Old clothes, toys, books, make-up, shoes, bills, pantry items, electronics, craft projects, magazines, old socks...they've all got to be assessed, purged, and organized. So! Without further adieu, here are my thoughts on how to help us all declutter our lives!



First, take a look at this room...






How do you feel? Never mind whether or not it's your personal decorating "style". Focus on the crispness, the lack of clutter, the organization. Kinda nice, isn't it? Peaceful, cozy, relaxed...?





Now, take a gander at this room...






How do you feel? A little overwhelmed? Frustrated? Maybe even a little anxiety?


Truth is, the state of our home plays an enormous part in how we generally feel, the attitude we carry with us throughout our day, our stress levels, and how we interact with our family. Want a happier abode? Let's get started!


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It's My Party, and I'll Purge If I Want To!


First, you have to have the mindset that it's okay to get rid of seemingly perfectly good items. The problem is, if you don't use that item, then it's not good for you. This is a hurdle that I have been working on a lot lately. I have a difficult time throwing out, giving away, and donating items that are brand new, or in near perfect condition. I figure I'll use the item eventually, and maybe I would. The problem is unless it's something that I'll truly use and enjoy in the near future (aside from obvious seasonal items - which, by the way, if you don't use two years in a row, please donate or toss! You'll thank me later...) all it's doing is taking up precious space in my home and adding stress to my routine.


Ya Hear That Folks, We've Got Ourselves A Keeper!


So, now that you've decided that you really could stand to get rid of some stuff around the house, we need to create a system to get things organized into the proper areas. I recommend three heavy duty trash bags or two trash bags and one storage bin (for the "keeps"). One container is for items to keep/organize, one for items to donate, and one for trash. As you're assessing your items, if something can immediately be put in the proper place it's usually most efficient not to have to touch it a second time. Check out this great post from unclutterer.com for some great "getting started" tips on decluttering.



It's In the Bag


Things that are for keeps but will take some organizing or go in an out of the way place (ex. you're in the kitchen and you need to put a belt away in a basket at the top of your guest bedroom closet upstairs...yeah, maybe just put that in a bin for now) go ahead and put those things in a bin or bag. You can then take this bin from room to room to put things in the proper places later.

Items that are in good condition but may be put to better use by someone else, place in heavy duty trash bags or a few cardboard boxes to donate. Please make sure items are clean and all appropriate parts are included (sometimes I use plastic baggies and use masking tape to tape the little parts to the larger item). This may be a difficult process to go through when you're giving up items that you may even like in the name of a more spacious atmosphere. But don't give up! Trust me, if it's something that you haven't used in over a year, you will truly never miss it.

Stuff and junk that's gone into the "trash" bag gets immediately disposed of in your friendly neighborhood trashcan or dumpster. Easy peasy. These can include toys or games with missing pieces, clothing with tears or holes, old magazines (although don't forget to try and recycle!), etc.

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*whew*


Don't you feel better? Depending on your current situation, this first step may take awhile. In fact, this will probably be the most time consuming phase for me so that I'm sure I have purged my home of all the unnecessary "stuff" hanging around my pantry, closets, nursery, kitchen and office. But once this is done you'll have a nice clean slate to work with.


Be optimistic, but stay realistic. You aren't going to finish your whole house in a day, weekend, or maybe even a month. Don't worry! It will get done as long as you're committed and can see quick results. Start with one area or room at a time, and try not to jump around too much. You'll feel more accomplished and more apt to continue the process if you can see how your hard work is paying off.


Next step: DONATE


Yes, it's true that this step could be considered a "sub step" to "Declutter", however I thought it was worth mentioning all the great ways to donate and even sell your gently used items. I'll be including a lot of tips on how to know what will sell and where to donate. Also, a little emotional support for those of you who, like me, sometimes have a tough time getting rid of stuff that might be useful later on. Until then...

Happy Decluttering!

{photos courtesy of thefuntimesguide and housebeautiful}