It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. While we’re at it, we should talk about all the other crap that’s in the room too. It’s time to simplify and declutter. Americans are the epitome of gratuitous consumption and we need to slow our roll. Whether you’re contemplating the sale of your home, or just thinking about a Spring cleaning, if you’re like, well, pretty much everyone, it’s time to declutter.
The first step is admitting you have a problem
I know, you’re in denial. You’re going to get to it right? You meant to donate the stuff ages ago. What’s that? You have to go through all those old albums and see which ones are worth some money? Yeah right. It’s time for some tough love, and I do mean love. Either you love it, or you leave it. That’s what decluttering is all about.
Get some professional help
I’m a good cleaner, but I tend to be the kind of person who thinks I can save everything for a time when I’m really going to need it. For example I was saving all my coffee cans for a while. I had 13 coffee cans on top of my fridge. I thought I was going to store stuff in them, or turn them in to bird feeders or something.
I’m not poo-pooing upcycling, recycling, down-cycling or bicycling. I’m just suggesting if you haven’t done it already, you probably aren’t going to and it’s time to get some clarity – internally and externally. The good news is that there is plenty of help. I would suggest you utilize it.
My good friend, Rhea Becker, otherwise known as The Clutter Queen will be happy to come and help you get though your mess, methodically, and without judgement.
Rhea is seriously one of the sweetest people alive (or dead). We have done some environmental activism and civil disobedience together – so I can attest that she is good people. Your initial, 30-minute consultation (by phone or in person) to discuss your personal decluttering and/or organizing issue is free. Once the scope of the decluttering or organizing project is determined (an office, a room, an entire house) she will arrange an in-person appointment to begin the work. The Clutter Queen serves clients in Greater Boston. Evening and weekend appointments are available. The Queen will work with you, step by step, to reduce your clutter. Not sure if you have a clutter problem? Take her test and see.
Take matters into your own hands
Can’t imagine the horror of having another human being seeing your mess? I understand. You’d be amazed what you can learn on YouTube. There are many different methodologies out there regarding decluttering. Two of the more interesting are Swedish Death Cleaning and KonMari. As with the rest of my life, I decided that if one is good, both would be better. I have been trying to be mindful of both practices while decluttering my home. I have been pretty lucky actually, as I have moved so many times in the last ten years – I had already gotten rid of many of my belongings and the detritus of life because I was tired of lugging it around. When I got divorced I had to move out of a house and into a tiny basement apartment, temporarily, making it impossible to have much at all.
I heard about Marie Kondo and her KonMari technique from The Minimalist Podcast, I think. I didn’t buy her books but I watched a few of her videos on Youtube. She’s a petite, demure Japanese woman who is so calming that I fell asleep watching her fold clothes the first time. She has a very special technique that involves dividing your belongings up in categories, putting them all in a pile in the middle of the room and going through them carefully.
Her website states, “The KonMari Method™ is a way of life and a state of mind that encourages cherishing the things that spark joy in people’s lives. Belongings are acknowledged for their service and thanked before being let go of, if they no longer spark joy. People are drawn to this philosophy not only due to its effectiveness, but also because it places great importance on being mindful, introspective, and optimistic.”
You may not buy in to the entire philosophy, but like the Catholicism I was introduced to at a young age, I kept the parts I found useful and set aside the rest for others to enjoy. I haven’t perfected the KonMari method yet, but I got the gist and I donated more than half of my clothing. I’m due for round two. I think I can cut my belongings in half again! It’s odd how attached we grow to everything from coffee cans to old photos. (I currently have 70,000 I’m sorting and dumping!) At the very least, this method makes it really easy to pick just the right piece of clothing without disrupting your entire drawer. I must admit, it feels really good too.
Swedish Death Cleaning
This method sounds pretty macabre, but don’t worry, it doesn’t involve a visit from guys named Sven and Arne and it’s not physically painful. Swedes practice a form of decluttering that is called döstädning — dö means “death” and städning means “cleaning.” The concept is to let go of all the things you no longer need or want, and keep just the things that are most precious or useful to you. You can try this method with or without The Clutter Queen – I recommend, with. This is the real deal. I’m not just talking about cleaning out your sock drawer, but rather your entire lifetime accumulation of clutter so your family doesn’t have to after you’re dead.
Making the case for decluttering
If I haven’t yet convinced you that you should simplify your life by decluttering your home, I have one last ace up my sleeve. Decluttering and staging your home before you put it on the real estate market will increase your net profit considerably, not to mention your home will likely sell quicker, and potentially with more offers, and better terms. It’s a no brainer. Realty Times has a total garbage article that agrees with me, but the numbers don’t make sense. I don’t care how clever their software is. This Forbes article has somewhat more solid numbers from the NAR and some other professionals. Staging is now a staple of the industry and for good reason. It sells homes.