Cycles of Decluttering, Organizing and Cleaning
For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.
Original Blog Article written 2019.
A funny thing starts to happen around the end of December and carries into January and Feb. A cycle or wave of restless energy starts to pull us toward Decluttering projects. And then as spring breaks thru in March we start to want to Organize things and as the weather warms up we start to want to Clean things. This cycle repeats during the year giving us an A Phase and B Phase.
Months that these Phases typically occur:
A Phase: Late Dec, Jan & Feb
B Phase: June, July
A Phase: March
B Phase: Aug, Sept
A Phase: April, May
B Phase: Oct, Nov
For example, as you sit here in late December and start looking around your house you may start to notice some future Decluttering projects. Maybe you see a whole cabinet full of movie DVDs and realize you never use your DVD player anymore because of Netflix or other streaming services. And then you see all the music CDs (lots of money spent on those in the past) and again realize that with Pandora, Google Music, Spotify, etc. you never pop in one of those anymore either. And of course, all the books! Are the books just something to cover the shelves or something to dust since you read off a Kindle or listen to audiobooks in the car? All these items are becoming obsolete due to technology. And the question we all must ask is, “What do I do with these items now?”
If you have a “cabin in the woods/lake house/beach cottage” where you don’t pay for high-speed internet and you could take these items there and actually enjoy and use them, then get a box, load it up and plan to take it the next time you go. Easy Solution! If you don’t have a second home the next best thing you can do is donate them. The reality is that you will not go back in technology—they are not going to come back into use. So just like clothes that no longer fit, these items have lost their usefulness and need to be removed from your space.
Items to focus on Decluttering in A Phase: DVD, CD, Books as well as Paper Files, Computer Files, and Photos. These are all items you can do while inside during the long cold winter (Decluttering A Phase is late Dec – Feb).
***Keep utility bills, pay stubs, and bank statements for 1 year. Keep tax returns and documents for 3 years (more in some cases). Everything else can be shredded or deleted.
Also, consider unsubscribing to Catalogs and Emails. Catalogs are bad for the environment, take up space, and encourage you to buy things you don’t need. Call and ask to be removed from their list. The daily emails waste your time and energy to read or delete and they also encourage you to buy things you don’t need. It seems like there is a sale or a promotion EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you really do need something, search online for the item and you may find you get a better deal or at least have saved 15% of the purchase price by not spending unnecessarily.
Other items to Declutter include Over the Counter Medicines (check expiration dates), Lotions, Soaps, Cosmetics. Use them up and start 2020 with fresh new ones. And stop buying so much at one time! Costco has trained us all to have closets full of paper supplies, vitamins, shampoo, body wash. Most of us don’t live in Antarctica and if you start to run low, you can get more. If you really love certain items from Costco, share with family or neighbors or donate half to local charities that can use them.
While you are sorting papers and photos (online or prints) burn some of the “almost used up but still a little in the jar” candles that are sitting around. This will make the task seem more festive and you won’t have to clean/dust the jars once they are used up and thrown out.
Phase B items will be sports equipment, gardening, outdoor items, and school supplies/projects. I will do another Blog Post about these items when we get to that time of the year!
This may be a lesson that you have to tell yourself over and over when decluttering: “What you paid for an item has absolutely no bearing on whether it has a place in your life. Think only about whether you like having it around. It is the rule of sunk cost.” Barbara Reich, AARP Magazine article Declutter Your Life-Now.
A great example of this is an expensive engagement/wedding ring. If the marriage is unhappy and ends in divorce most women do NOT keep wearing the ring just because it cost a lot of money. All the money in DVDs, CDs, and various players are sunk cost. Clear the space these occupy and just enjoy your streaming sources and know that even newer technology is coming.
When you have removed items (Decluttered) then you can spend March Organizing. Putting items in new bins, labeling the bins, creating new files folders, etc. Anything can be a container so as you are decluttering, save bins, good quality boxes, even zippered clear bags that sheets, bedding come in. When you are ready to Organize having multiple size containers will help you fit your reduced, decluttered items, into the perfect sized container.
And when the weather warms up (April & May) you will be ready for a good Spring Cleaning of your home. And with less clutter, and nicely organized spaces you can clean faster and will see the results clearer.
You may want to check out some of my other Blog posts for more tips and resources.
B Phase of this repetitive cycle starts around June—it seems we want everything Decluttered. We want to wear fewer clothes, we want lighter meals, and as the school year ends, we want to put an end to those projects, classes, and schedules. We can then enjoy a summer of organized and planned trips, vacations, and outings. Even mowing the lawn with the straight lines and trimmed edges are in alignment with our Organized energy. And as we move into the fall season and holiday events we get back to Cleaning.
Depending on the size of your home and how much stuff you have accumulated, Decluttering can take 20 to 30 hours. It is best to block off 2 to 3 hrs of time for “sessions”. Put these sessions on your calendar just like any other important meeting or appointment. And imagine how great it will be when you can easily find a photo you want to share or find an article that you want to review. Getting rid of the unnecessary and unwanted helps us to find the items we do value sooner and with fewer frustrations.
And what were you going to do on that cold drizzly day in late January anyway? I’m guessing it wasn’t watching one of those DVDs!
If you need help getting started or want extra support, contact me at GCarter@Organized-Occasions.com, and let’s schedule a free consultation.
Books I have read and suggest to help with Decluttering and Cleaning:
Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K White
Clutter-Free by Kathi Lipp
How to Clean Practically Anything, Consumer Reports Books
Final Word—”Life will throw you enough messes, you don’t need to come home to one!” Barbara Reich, AARP magazine