**Post by guest blogger Gretchen Kingsley**
Wanting to simplify ones possessions or ones activities or schedule is the easy part of simplifying. We can all say we want something but actually doing it is the DIFFICULT part. It’s hard to part with things and it’s really hard to say “no” to others when you are trying to simplify your schedule. But if you can fight through this part, you WILL experience a calmer life.
I have downsized several times and it seems to be a never-ending battle for me. We got rid of things (mainly junk) when we moved from our 600 sq. ft rental home to our first (and hopefully only) house that we purchased. Since our new house was twice the size of our rental there was no need to make a thorough purging plus we were acquiring a few more pieces of furniture. We no longer needed to eat on the couch. We had a REAL table! We downsized again when we moved to Ecuador for a year and then prior to having our first child. Now, with the second on the way, and our junk room soon becoming our oldest’s new room, we are really having to make hard decisions about what is truly important to us.
Fortunately, with each purge, it has become easier and easier. Items that seemed to have so much significance no longer hold their same value. I’ve also had to be more realistic about my life. Will I really get around to making clothes for my daughter out of old clothes that no longer fit me? I can barely find time to make supper, let alone time to use the bathroom. How do I think that I’ll find time to sew? So away went the clothes and boy, is it freeing. Freeing to have more space and freeing to not have that pile staring at me, telling me I should find time to do things that I would really enjoy doing but just don’t have time for in my life. It’s okay. It’s only a season of life.
If you are like me and usually begin your decluttering by standing amidst your stuff, staring blankly and feeling completely overwhelmed, here are a few pointers on how to go about the process.
Use Boxes: Designate them: “Keep”, “Donate”, “Throw Away”, and “Unsure”. I need that last box. It is much easier for me to put something in the Unsure box than the Donate box if I’m really struggling over whether to keep it or not. If I didn’t have that box many more things would stay in the Keep box. I then return to it later that day or a few days later and can almost ALWAYS put those items in the Donate box.
Keep Your “Unsure” Box for Set Time: Some people need to keep their unsure box for a set time. I would recommend no longer than 6 months. If you haven’t used (or thought) about these items in that time, get rid of them.
Ask for Help: I’ve had friends, parents, and my husband go through things with me. It is so helpful to have someone who is not attached to your stuff tell you whether they would keep something or not. Just be sure to not ask for help from someone that is a hoarder!
Start Slowly: Start with one drawer, one box, one file. Any progress is good and you’ll feel so great after accomplishing just that one small space. If you feel like you’ve accomplished something, you’re more likely to go back for more. If you take on too much at one time, you may end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and you may procrastinate and never finish.
Set Deadlines: Write it down in your calendar. Determine that you want to clean that one file in one day and then do it. It feels good to cross it off your to-do list.
Take Photos: I have never done this but I have heard that some people find it easier to get rid of their collections if they take photos of each item. Then you still have something to look back on but it saves space. I think it is a great idea if you are really having a hard time parting with something.
Give to Others: It is much easier for me to give something to someone I know wants or needs something than to drop my stuff off at the local Goodwill. Have you ever tried freecycle.org? It’s a great place to connect with others in your area and give and receive things freely.
There are so many tips to help make the process easier but these are some of my favorite.
Do you have any favorite tips for decluttering?
This post was linked to Simple Lives Thursday at Gnowfglins, Your Green Resource at Live Renewed, Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom, The Homestead Blog Carnival at The Morris Tribe, Welcome Home Link Up at Raising Arrows, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, Titus 2 Tuesdays at Cornerstone Confessions, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, at Frugally Sustainable, WLWW at Women Living Well