Recently I went to my home town where I have a rental property. The property used to belong to my parents and next to it, is a huge shed. I have never really used the shed. It stored lots of things from old ceiling bats to sheet music that my grandmother (who has been passed away for about 35 years) used to play on the piano. It has all been there since before my parents passed away almost 10 years ago. I have finally reached a point where I felt I could attempt to declutter the shed in a methodical and unemotional way. I set myself some guidelines about what I would allow myself to keep for 'memorabilia' and with the help of a friend, my son and husband set about decluttering the shed.
The night that I finished I was checking my emails and there was a post from a blog which I subscribe to detailing a great way to declutter. Now, I'm not sure it always works. In the instance of my shed, I haven't used anything in there for at least 5 years. There were a lot of memories in there though and this system just simply wouldn't have suited me right now for this declutter job. It certainly is a great idea for my email declutter and in my own home, I certainly use this method already with things like kitchen utensils and clothing.
The ideas come from a guest blog post on Zen Habits by Jeffrey Tang of The Art of Great Things. Usually, when we declutter, we take what we have and slowly and progressively go through it to get rid of 'stuff' or to simplify our lives. It is sometimes difficult to find the time to do this and also can be quite emotional.
Jeffrey Tang calls this the 'clean-slate approach'. Here's how it goes:
First step: Put away all of the clutter you are facing. If it's old clothes, put them away in a box. If it's emails, put them into a hidden folder. If it's old toys, they too can be stored in a storage box. Now the clutter is gone and you have a 'clean slate'. Notice you haven't yet thrown anything away yet.
Second step: Continue on with your life. If you find you need something you put away, go get it out of the storage item. Otherwise. leave your items stored.
Third step: When the time is right, sell, donate or throw away the items in storage. You know you don't need them and by now there is probably less emotional attachment (if any) to the items that are stored.
A simple and succinct way to deal with clutter, simplify life and a time saver as well. Something I noticed after we cleaned out the shed was a heightened feeling of being free. The issue of clearing the shed, knowing a little about what was in there, was obviously weighing me down. Sometimes areas of our homes weigh us down with clutter as well. So now when I have to declutter, instead of having to allocate a time in my diary, I will find it much easier to tackle the declutter jobs.