It is the beginning of January, so of course social media is flooded with diets, exercise plans, and tips to get organized. Everything promises fast results to make it more appealing. "How to Lose 25lbs in 6 Weeks!" "Get Toned Abs with This 5 Minute Workout!" "Declutter Your Entire House in 30 Days!"
No wonder people give up so easily on their New Year's resolutions. We can't expect instant results. We should, however, expect to put in a lot of time and effort to achieve goals.
I blogged about decluttering and organizing a few times early last year, but behind the scenes it was an ongoing process all year long. I keep a post-it note in my planner to tally up how many garbage bags of stuff I got rid of and by the end of the year I had purged 96 BAGS!
Stop and mentally picture that for a moment.
Honestly, my house is cluttered, but we don't live like extreme hoarders. I still don't feel like it made that much of a difference. Quite a bit of it came from our storage shed as I thinned out the amount of clothes and shoes that I save for hand me downs. I think I do see a lot of difference there (and a lot of empty totes!) I purged a lot of fabric and craft supplies, too. (GASP!)
Anyway, I did go through some really strong decluttering sprees, especially when it was time to switch out seasonal clothes, but mostly it was a slow, chipping away at one area or another. Sometimes I was intentional about working on one area per day, sometimes I followed a list, and sometimes it just depended on my mood and/or time constraints. I also participated in a Spring Fling where we worked on one room per day for 2 weeks. It was good to have motivation and accountability, but most of my friends fell behind schedule and didn't finish.
The popular 30 day decluttering lists are a nice way to start, but they don't leave much flexibility. Not everyone has the same problem areas in their home. Sometimes life happens and we need a little grace.
I have some different ideas...
- Find something that works for you. If you can do it all in a month and be done- GREAT! In the past, I have tried to focus on one room per week, but as soon as I get to the kids' bedrooms I tend to fizzle out and quit. I need to give myself some grace, admit if something isn't working, and start again. This year, I plan to focus on one room per month. I am not sure how it will go, but I am trying it! I have also found that I need to pace myself a bit. I tend to get a bit carried away and rip everything apart. For example, today I am cleaning out the refrigerator. Just the inside. I am honestly procrastinating washing out the drawers by writing this blog post, but I did get all of the old food cleared out. :)
- It is a continual process. I can declutter one area and a few months later it is a wreck. I have to continually revisit challenging areas and maybe even find a new way to store or organize things. It is OK to admit that the awesome idea I saw on Pinterest doesn't work well in my home. I may find that I didn't actually need something because I haven't used it since the last time I decluttered. Also, things keep creeping into my home and taking up more space. Which leads me to...
- Limit the stuff. I am trying to be more intentional about the things I bring into my home. Do I really need this? Can I "make do" with something else? What is the quality like? Is it really going to last? Dropping off 2 bags and the thrift store and coming home with 3 more totally defeats the purpose! I think the biggest key to preventing clutter is to not let it into my house in the first place.
- Build in some extra motivation. Maybe you are self motivated when it comes to cleaning. If so, disregard this one. I am not always feeling very industrious, so I need a little push at times. I keep my tally sheet post it in the inside of my planner cover. Seeing how much I have accomplished so far helps me to keep striving to up that number. I guess marking that little tally line is similar to putting stickers on a potty training chart! I also have some friends and family who appreciate decluttering as much as I do and we will text each other when we accomplish something awesome. Having people come alongside me to cheer me on is a big help. (Thank you!) If you need me to be that person, just send me a message and I will be glad to send you congratulatory gifs and stickers! Some people might like joining a facebook group for accountability. Some might want to buy a nice, new shirt to replace the 5 they threw out. Some might just want to take a nice bubble bath when they finish one dreaded area. I think is OK to reward yourself!
I am going to keep plugging away at my decluttering this year and I will probably share more about it on facebook, if you would like to follow along there. I know that I am not alone, so I want to try to check in with the rest of my fellow declutterers from time to time so that we can cheer each other on and lift one another up. (YOU CAN DO IT!!! The cheerleader in me never quits!)
Happy New Year!