when in doubt…

when in doubt… throw it out!

Monday May 2 is International When In Doubt – Throw It Out Day! Ok, I just made that up. I just think that we all need (yes, ALL of us!) to set aside one day to get rid of clutter – whether at the office, at home, or just in our heads. Life is too short to be overwhelmed by all of your things, and it’s way too short to bury your head in the sand about all of your baggage. We need to quit hiding behind all of our things!

Spring always brings with it inspiration to spring clean. There’s something about sunny days that make you want to open the windows and air out your home. And there’s something about letting the sunshine and fresh air in that makes me want to freshen up the house too. I find myself wanting to make a fresh start every spring. And that includes truly living a micro life and getting rid of some things along the way.

I think I’ve made a good start recently:

* I’ve replaced most of my books with a Kindle and am starting to slowly replace my cookbooks and other how-tos by having my husband download them on his Ipad.
* I’ve burned almost all of my DVDs onto our television computer (instead of having cable). I’ve thrown out all of the cases and put my backups in a zippered case.
* I’ve burned all of cds on to itunes, chucked all of the cases and store them in three small cd boxes in the closet.
* I’ve gotten rid of at least three clothing/accessory items for every new item I’ve bought.
* We’ve thrown out more than half of our photographs and are planning on scanning the rest.
* I’ve narrowed down all “memory items” (letters, yearbooks, mementos) to one small box in the closet.
* We’ve instituted a media-Apocolypse – deleted any tv shows, movies or music that we are just not that into. Itunes and my tv computer are running so much more smoothly now!

I would say that’s a good start with the big things that seem to take up the most room in the house. I also have daily, weekly and monthly decluttering tasks that I’ve added to my chore chart (used to be in a binder, now on my ipod!). I feel like so many people get overwhelmed by the daily decluttering, much more so than the huge overhaul projects that you see on home makeover shows.

I’m certainly not saying I’m totally right on all of this, or even that I’m perfect about keeping up on my routines, but I’ve found that some of these ideas work well for me and for my home.

Daily – I try to declutter daily by putting recycling in a little bin in my kitchen, throwing out all napkins, kleenex, and junk mail (though I usually recycle that too). Sometimes I don’t get to these tasks right away, but I’m certain to by the end of the day when I make a sweep around the house. I also try to put a few things back in their homes. Socks in the laundry bin, remotes back on the side table, any dirty dishes in the kitchen… I also don’t always get to the dishes, but I make sure there’s not a single dish lying around the house when I go to bed. Waking up to a few dirty dishes by the sink isn’t that bad. Waking up to a half-filled juice glass and day-old cereal bowl on the coffee table is no fun.

Weekly – I try so hard to have all of the laundry folded and put away by the end of the week. This is not really a strong point of mine, but it’s on the schedule! I almost always tidy the fridge once a week. I throw out old food, wash old containers from the week before, and wipe down the shelves. I love coming home from grocery shopping and having a place to put everything. No mystery foods in my fridge! I also recycle any weekly magazines or newspapers I get. Yes, every week. There are only so many articles in The Economist and The Denver Catholic Register that I’m actually going to get around to reading. This is definitely a situation where “When in doubt – throw it out!” applies.

Biweekly – I try my best to give my car a once over every other week. I’m not one of those people who lives out of their car, but sometimes I have a blanket all wrinkled on the floor because my dog attacked it. I also have a little garbage bag behind my seat that I empty when I take the time to tidy my car (there’s normally nothing gross in it, just wrappers or tissues or something, so I don’t feel bad about doing this only every other week). I also like to have a good look at all the puppy stuff around the house and clean and get rid of anything I need to. Old rawhide gets… well… old after awhile! In addition to these tasks, I like to really sort through any filing that I haven’t paid attention to in the last week or so. I clip coupons, sort them, file bills and recycle anything that I don’t really need.

Monthly – The first thing I do at the beginning of the month is get rid of magazines. My neighbor is always happy to take them! I am a magazine fanatic, so I usually can pile up at least eight or nine magazines for her a month. Every month, I also go to the Salvation Army. Throughout the month, I’ll bag up anything I see that is just collecting dust and is good enough to give away. After about a month, I’ve piled up enough things that it’s worth a trip. There are a lot of donation bins in nearby parking lots, but I find myself frequently getting rid of non-clothing items (useless kitchen gadgets, books, etc.) and they don’t always take them. If I’m ready to go to the Salvation Army, I also try to donate a few items for every thing I’ve bought that month. Last month, I bought a new pair of jeans, so out went and old pair that doesn’t fit right anymore. In addition, I go through my to-do list every month. I sort out things I’m really not going to get around to any time soon (polishing napkin rings) and make room for things I really want to do or need to do (sending old photos off to get scanned). I’ve tried to be pretty brutal with my to-do list because having too many things to do seems to overwhelm me.

Of course, these schedules only have to do with decluttering. Daily, Weekly, Bi-Monthly and Monthly cleaning routines are a whole different post altogether.

So, set aside a big decluttering day… let’s say May 2nd… and do your best to make decluttering part of your everyday routine too. There is no reason to feel buried under your possessions. Make room for the things you truly love and treasure – like your family, your pet, your friends. Keep your sights on what really matters to you!

Remember, when in doubt – throw it out!

2 thoughts on “when in doubt…”

  • Oh how I needed this. I am just not organized. Which is why I can never write an article for you since I am kind of a pack rat. Especially when it comes to fabric. I'm actually kind of obsessed. I think I'll make May 2nd my official throw out day. 🙂

  • I'm fine with decluttering, but as Thomas Jefferson said, "I cannot live without books." I would rather open a book and hold it in my hands instead of using a Kindle or other piece of technology. My books are kept in bookcases, so they're not all over the place.

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