De-cluttering and simplifying

Photo by: sindesign

I’m usually not much of a neat freak, but I’m suddenly feeling overwhelmed by having too much stuff lying around. I think part of it is the realisation that we are moving countries again in a little over nine months and I know how busy I’m going to get as we approach that milestone. We moved to America with very little stuff and somehow it seems like our house has filled up. For people who profess not to consume much I have to wonder where it has all come from.

I also have the office to myself all week as most of my work colleagues are off at a conference. It’s the perfect time to get into those cupboards that have not been touched since I moved in. When I first arrived I took a quick peek, saw stuff there that was over ten years old and decided not to deal with it. Now I’ve been here for over two years and have never looked in those cupboards again, which means there is a fair chance what’s in there is not needed. It’s all going. I’ll recycle and reuse what I can, but the rest has to go.

Here’s how I tackle the job of de-cluttering.

  1. Start clearing a starting zone. I start clearing just one area. Usually I pick the space in the room that’s easily accessible like a counter, table or desk and which has the most impact when it has been cleared. Just seeing that first area looking neat and clutter free is enough to motivate me for further excursions into the chaos.
  2. Clear off counters and shelves  first. Next I choose the obvious counters and shelves. I clear off everything possible, except maybe one or two essential things. I just do one shelf or counter at a time and when each is done I reward myself with a cup of coffee or something similar. I find breaking this task down into manageable chunks makes it bearable (Just).
  3. Create boxes or piles based on where the ‘stuff’ will go. I use piles like: Trash, Recycling, Sell or Give away, Relocate elsewhere in the house. Then as I finish each area I take the piles away and deal with them appropriately. Leaving them to another day is fraught with danger as they just become clutter in another form.
  4. Clear drawers and cupboards. I find my drawers and cupboards are the places where stuff has been lurking unnoticed for a long time. Therefore, these tend to be the big jobs. I’ll tackle these after all the visible areas are looking neat. I use the same system as for the visible areas, but I tend to be more cut-throat. If this stuff hasn’t been used in the last 12 months, then there is a good chance it is not needed. I try not to get attached to stuff and look at it logically, but this is not always easy. I always think I’ll get back into a favourite pair of jeans one day, but lets face it, they would be better off being of use to someone else.
  5. Create a list. I have a defined period of time in which I need to reduce the amount of stuff we have. I certainly don’t want to be packing up crap we don’t need and shipping it back across the ocean. So, I’m going to write myself a list of all the areas that need dealing with in the next few months. Then I just have to find myself some motivation. Hopefully this current frenzy will last for a good period of time.


  1. I’m in the decluttering mood too! I went through my closet and tossed at least 30% of what I had. It feels SO GOOD. Now I’m worried I won’t have anything to wear, even though I only wore 50% of what I had, if that.

  2. Please feel free to come and declutter my place when you get back to Australia. It will all be waiting for you in 9 months time. 😉

  3. I’ve been getting into the decluttering lately too – such a feeling of relief when it’s done, it’s a bit addictive…

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