Friday, July 17, 2015

8 things that wont help you de-clutter.

ive spent a lot of time over the past several weeks talking about all sorts of things that can really help you in a quest for a minimal, clutter free home: ive talked about all the awesome benefits of purging, shared my method for de-cluttering without going insane, and even given you a handy list of easy places to start. but what about the things that wont help? 

since we have, oh, several years of very much unsuccessful de-cluttering attempts under our belts, i thought it might also be a good idea to look at things from the other direction. because, im just being real here: not only is there a lot of bad advice and misconceptions out there about living minimally, weve also made our fair share of huge mistakes in this department. so in an attempt to help you avoid unnecessary setbacks and the accompanying frustration, here are a few things that, as we have personally experienced, will not help you de-clutter: 

1. waiting for the right time. i hate to break it to you, but its never exactly the "right time" to do anything, especially big, not-entirely-pleasant projects like de-cluttering. if a big house purge is something you want to do, then you need to make it a priority, either by taking advantage of a chunk of free time (like a long weekend) or starting small and doing what you can when you can. if you try to wait until a time you think you can get everything done all at once, it will never happen. ask me how i know. 

2. unrealistic expectations. obviously everyone has a different clutter situation and a different vision for the end result. BUT no matter what those are, if you go in to things expecting your home to instantly look like a magazine spread, you are going to get discouraged and burned out when that doesnt happen. because thats not going to happen. because magazines are not real life and de-cluttering is kind of a lengthy process. because de-cluttering happens in stages and layers and there isnt always a "done". 

3. unrealistic timelines. much like unrealistic expectations, putting yourself on an unreasonable timeline is also a recipe for disaster. you have no idea how many times ive said "ill clean out my closet today" or "lets clear everything out this weekend" and ended up getting in over my head with a huge mess and not enough time to clean it up and more problems then i started with. it wasnt until we started breaking things down into small bite sized pieces that we had any success with de-cluttering. just think about it this way: the clutter didnt just appear all at once, so its not going to go away all at once either. 

4. more storage space. i used to blame a lot of our clutter on the fact that our apartment really doesnt have a lot of closet space and there arent a lot of places to put things away away. but the thing is, clutter doesnt come from the big stuff hanging out in closets, it comes from all the little every day stuff, and well, no amount of "storage space" is going to put that all away. 

5. cute little boxes and organizers. "a place for everything and everything in its place" is one of those things that really organized people say all the time, and i think a lot of us tend to interpret that as meaning each category of thing needs to be in its own container. which, in theory sounds really nice but in practice just means that youre going to end up with a lot of little boxes everywhere and in order to use anything you have to go find the right one...

6. "clutter catchers" ive mentioned these before, the letter organizers and trays and baskets that we leave around to collect things to put away "later". no, just, no. sure they make a nice receptacle for things you dont want to deal with, but they dont reduce clutter, they just displace the clutter by giving you an acceptable place to put it. 

7. books about organizing. books can be a wonderful resource when it comes to getting organized as far as inspiration and motivation are concerned, but i really, really dont recommend trying to follow one by the letter in an attempt to get organized. why? because every book, no matter how thorough, specific, or "life changing", is just one persons method. what works for them may not work (or even apply) for you, your situation, and your goals, and i can say from experience that trying to follow someone elses method for something as personal as de-cluttering is a sure fire way to drive yourself (and your family) crazy. 

8. not changing the habits that created the clutter in the first place. clutter isnt something that just happens out of nowhere, it builds up slowly as the result of bad habits. so even if theoretically you *could* instantly erase every speck of clutter and make your entire house perfect, if you dont replace those bad habits with better ones (dont worry i can totally help you here), everythings just going to go back to the way it was before. and faster than youd like to admit. 

long story short: paring things down and trying to live minimalistically is pretty awesome. but its hard work getting there. and like, well, most things, whether or not youre successful at it has just as much to do with what you dont do as what you actually do. 

have you survived a major home purge? do you have any advice on what to avoid? 

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