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Declutter Your Space

Quit holding on to, and forcing yourself to live in, old junk.

 

*Creative License Disclaimer. Declutter is too a word.

Think about this: In eighty years, you’ll be pushing 105 years of age. This proposition is not that unbelievable. Think of all the scientific advances that now exist and continue to be discovered. But you know, 105 is hella’ old. You will die eventually and your grandkids are going to inherit boxes and boxes of your stuff. For their sake, you really need to start decluttering. Now.

I know. It’s a pain in the ass.

Tossing stuff isn’t really all that fun, despite what our moms think. Looking at all you’ve accumulated, realizing you don’t want or need it anymore and tossing it into a trash bag is challenging. But it must be done! One day, you’ll buy a house and thank me when it’s time to pack up and prepare for that move.

Personally, I find it hard to set a time to clean. Motivation has to strike out of nowhere. But when it strikes, carpe … clean ‘em?

Step 1: Prepare

You will need:

  1. Trash bags (for junk tossing!)
  2. A wet rag (for dusting!)
  3. Awesome music (for rocking!)
  4. A tasty beverage (for thirst quenching!)

If your place is really dusty or you’re allergy prone, wear one of those painter masks that can be purchased at your local hardware store.

Step 2: Begin Decluttering

You don’t have to be a hero. Don’t fool yourself. There’s no way you’re going to declutter your entire basement in one afternoon. Select an area of your room, office, closet or basement and tackle that specific space. In a month or six when you’re feeling motivated to clean again, choose another area.

You have to move fast when you’re tossing old stuff. If you dilly-dally, you’ll become nostalgic and you’ll find a reason to hold onto that paper you wrote in the 8th grade. So look at your junk (not that junk, dude), ask yourself whether you really need it—like really need it—and then toss it. If you can’t decide, toss it in an Undecided Pile. If your split instinct is that you don’t need it, rip that shit into a billion pieces and eat it. Otherwise you’ll find yourself doing some late night Dumpster Diving.

Let’s say you’re organizing your bookshelves. Do you need that book? No? Toss (aka donate to a local school or library). Do you need that old magazine? Duh, Jennifer Aniston is on the cover. Keep. Do you need the box of the wireless router you bought six months ago? Toss!!

(This photo was totally not staged for the sake of this article)

Dust as you go, otherwise you’ll be too tired in the end and you’ll skip this critical part of cleanup. Who knows when you’ll get around to this space again?

Your grandkids don’t need to inherit a box of cell phone chargers. Plus, in eighty years, cell phones will be built into our skin and will stay perpetually charged from our heartbeat. The future is going to be awesome.

Throw out those chargers, high school papers, three-dozen pen caps, empty box of staples; three metro passes with 32 cents on them, and that coupon for toothpaste that expired six years ago, and the Valentine’s Day cards from 2nd grade, even though the one you loved got away …

(It’s not too late, Jenn!)

Step 3: Actually Toss

Remember, if you dwell on items, you’ll come up with a reason for holding onto your junk. You don’t need it. Seriously. You don’t. See that trash bag? Toss it right now!

Drive to the other side of town and give a homeless guy five bucks to drop it in any random Dumpster. That way, you’ll never find your old treasured junk.

Okay, congratulations. You’re done. But just because you cleared out a space doesn’t mean you need to fill it with other shit. It’s okay to embrace less is more. Don’t run out and buy a bunch of crap to fill up the three empty shelves on your bookshelf. Instead, rearrange your bookshelves, using the empty shelves to showcase your collection of rare cereal boxes. Really? Google Count Dracula Star of David. General Mills done goofed.

Step 4: Organize

Now that you’ve decluttered and dusted, it’s time to organize. You used to toss your keys, cell phone, and Hlaska card case on the table in your foyer (you know, that area around your front door). It looked messy. Grab yourself a nice leather catch-all like this valet. Have a place for everything.

Are your magazines piled on top of books? Yeah, they are. Put magazine collections in holders, racks, or boxes. Your bookshelf will look a helluva’ lot more organized.

If you have a place for everything, not only will you be less inclined to misplace things, but it’ll also help you keep your place clean. I tend to toss my mail on the coffee table. Doesn’t look particularly nice. If anyone wants to buy me a leather mail organizer, I’d keep that next to my catch-all. No? Fine. Your loss, I would have sent you an awesome thank you card.

Step 5: There is no Step 5

You’re done.

You’ve decluttered, cleaned as you worked, and had an awesome playlist to distract you from the fact that you actually spent the last two hours cleaning.

Because, you know, cleaning sucks.

About

Kenneth Suna is a writer and full time, self-employed stock trader who lives in Washington, D.C. His first novel, Roman, was recently published. Follow him @KennethSuna.

 
  • JM

    Dude, are you from northern California? I rarely see “hella” anymore….

  • http://www.itsamiracletheyaintdeadyet.com Kenneth

    nope – DC. Just thought hella sounded funny.

  • Adam

    Well now I’m inspired to start tossing some junk today! I don’t think I need to hang on to old video cards and other 10 year old computer parts, considering I haven’t actually owned a desktop in about 5 years.

  • Josh

    I decluttered last weekend…and totally hung on to the GQ with Jennifer Aniston on it.Props!

  • http://femaven.blogspot.com femaven

    I actually find going through scrums on my clutter is pretty affective. It lets me brick up the mess into managable chunks.

    I’ve heard many places take old cell phones and will donate them to shelters for victims of domestic violence.

  • ella

    These are great tips but the question is, how the heck do u stay clutter free if you’re a clutterer to begin with? oiiii

  • Mark

    Don’t know, but the more clutter I seem to accumulate the more productive I become. Maybe I’m just weird!!

    -Mark

  • http://www.urbansophistic.com Troy

    If you guys are seriously cluttered, check out this great blog:

    http://www.unclutterer.com

  • Gianne

    These are definitely useful tips and I hope it can help me then…

  • http://jshev.com Jason

    This is great. I used to keep way too much, but once I started cutting down, it became so much easier to maintain.

    Books were a huge one for me. In my first big attempt, I gave about half the books I had to the local library. It seems like a big step to take, but I hadn’t even opened any of them in over a year. Let’s be honest – we’re never going to reread that old copy of Catcher in the Rye.

    Another big, bold step to take in decluttering one’s life is to do the same with their clothes. Took a couple attempts, but dropping off 3 huge bags of clothes at Goodwill has a pretty liberating feeling.

  • Yumigee

    Thanks for sharing this article.. I like reading it .

  • http://www.francoseduction.com Franco

    Another terrible source of clutter are all the kind of newspapers brought to the door. I have a bag put in a strategic place in the house. When I see the newspapers they are put into the bag straight away and the regularly thrown into the trash. For this to work one needs to do it “straight away” Waiting for too long wastes already too much time!

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