March MAIDness Day 18 – The Problem with Decluttering

This entry is part 19 of 22 in the series March Maidness

there's a problem inherent in decluttering projects.  Here are two solutions to the decluttering dilemmas caused by the popular decluttering experts

The past couple of days in this series I have been sharing my decluttering ideas and routines. While I don’t have a perfectly clutter free home yet, the routines I have in place help to give me the peace I desire in my home.

I hope the ideas I have shared with you have been simple encouragement to you. Today’s post shares one of the big beefs I have with decluttering in my home. It also offers a couple of simple solutions to ponder.

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The problem with Decluttering

Almost every organizer and organizing book I have read recommends the use of baskets while you are working on de-cluttering.  The most typical set up requires:

  1. a box for trash
  2. a box for keep
  3. and a box for donate

I don’t mind two of the boxes/categories – donate and trash.  But what I found while I was de-cluttering using this system is I ended up with an entire box of stuff which needed to go into a different space than the space I was decluttering at the moment. 

I knew I wanted to keep the item. It just didn’t need to be taking up space in the room I was working on.  So, I would toss the item into the keep box (a.k.a. the other room box).  By the time I finished with my de-cluttering session, I would have an entire basket of stuff which needed new homes. Since I was on a time budget, I didn’t have the time to walk around the house dropping off all the items in their proper homes. 

I found as I was working through the house, I would collect these baskets in the rooms I hadn’t gotten to yet.  Once I got to my office – one of the last rooms I worked on – I had 3 or 4 baskets of random stuff to address. I created pre-clutter for my decluttering projects.

Where Decluttering Falls Apart

But what if I had stopped my de-cluttering journey after working on 5 rooms? What if I never made it to my office?  Basically all those baskets of “keep” stuff would have just sat in the office until I finally got around to them. 

What I am saying is, the basket makes me feel like I have de-cluttered one space. But if I don’t empty that basket in another space, I will just end up with a larger mess to deal with later.  I would just be transferring clutter from one room to the next.

Same clutter, different room is not decluttering.

The Solution to Clutter Transfer

What is the solution to the problem of the “keep” basket?  Two things jump to mind immediately:

Truly evaluate the items in the “keep” basket

Before you drop items in the keep basket make a decision about its usefulness.  The item is either useful or it isn’t.  It is either something you really want to keep and have a space for or it isn’t.  Don’t delay the de-cluttering you could do today by dropping it in the “keep” basket. 

Stop working a little early

Leave off work on your main de-cluttering project to allow yourself time to put away the items you have collected in your “keep” basket.  If you were planning on spending 30 minutes on one space, stop at 25 minutes. Walk around the house putting things in their proper places.  It makes the whole process of de-cluttering go a LOT smoother.

I know these simple solutions are just that – simple. But I these are the serious solutions to a real problem I have with decluttering. I simply don’t have hours to dedicate to decluttering the entire house in a weekend, or a week.

One more solution to Decluttering Problems

Small bites. Yep. Tiny decluttering projects simply will not produce box-sized keep piles. And tiny decluttering projects are more manageable for my often overfull schedule. You know me – I will throw that 15 minute timer on and go for it!

A tiny project produces a tiny keep box.

Got another decluttering problem – more than just motivation? Let me know your struggles in the comments. Maybe we can hive-mind a solution!

there's a problem inherent in decluttering projects.  Here are two solutions to the decluttering dilemmas caused by the popular decluttering experts

Series Navigation<< March MAIDness Day 19 – What I Learned from DeclutteringMarch MAIDness Day 20: Who’s Watching Your Homemaking >>

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