We all do it. We collect something. Pretty pillows? Anything with a cat picture on it? Cozy blankets? Mugs? Vases? Table cloths? Napkin rings? You name it, one of us collects it. Chances are, we've been collecting our whole lives without being aware of it. Personally, I was obsessed with Barbie Dolls and had to have each new one as it was available; and their matching outfits; and shoes; and purses. My brother loved toy cars. Didn't matter the style, colour, or model. The more the better. There were boxes and boxes of toy cars in his bedroom. However, I can't say too much about his collection considering I had my Barbie collection in a suitcase. There was no way on earth it would fit into one of those teeny, tiny doll cases! The point is, most of us collect without even being aware of it. More often than not, the things we collect become clutter. They generally don't serve a real purpose, we don't use them, we like them when we buy them but don't 'love' them, so we toss them somewhere in our homes....and there they sit. Before you know it, we've bought more 'stuff' and tossed it somewhere else in our homes, or on top of the other stuff we've collected and haven't yet found a purpose for. A few favourite places for storing our stuff are closets, attics, basements, under our beds, spare rooms (this room often becomes the main target), and then it spills over into the garage! Sound familiar? News flash – you're not alone!!! The good news is now that you are aware of it, you can start taking steps to clear out the clutter and start living a stress free, relaxing and organized life. Choosing what to keep is the toughest part. We hang onto things for many reasons: sentimental value; in case we need it later; it's worth a lot of money; and so on and so on. There are an unlimited number of reasons (excuses?) why we hang onto 'stuff'. Those are the hurdles you need to conquer in order to calm the chaos in your lives and invite the calm in. In one form or another, we all pay to live in our homes whether it's by rent, mortgage, or property taxes. Why waste money paying for space that isn't usable because we've filled it with stuff? When you look at it this way, a lot of things come into perspective. Clutter = losing money and causing stress. Organization = saving money, time, and your sanity. I have ten basic questions to ask yourself when you start the decluttering and organizing process, however, today we're going to focus on the top three.
Is this something I use regularly?
If not, is it something I love?
Am I keeping this out of obligation or expectation?
If it's something you use regularly, chances are it's not clutter. But please don't leave it lying around the house! Choose an appropriate place for it and put it back when you are done using it. If you have multiples of the same item (or different items that can do the same job), choose the one you want to save and donate the other ones. I can guarantee there is someone who can put it to use instead of letting it sit in a basement 'just in case'. If it's something you rarely (if ever!) use, donate it. Don't waste precious space and money on something you will probably never use. Face it, if it's been sitting there for this long without being used, odds are it will keep sitting there for years to come...and more years... and more years. Take a look in your bathroom cabinets? Any bottles of nail polish you haven't used in forever? Samples of products you threw in there years ago and never used? Old bottles of hair products that have been sitting there so long that the shampoo is nothing more than a glob of gunk? Get three baskets ready and label one Save, next one Donate, and the last one, Trash. Put items in the appropriate basket. Do you love it? I mean really, really love it? Does it make you smile when you look at it? Do you feel happy just by looking at it? Then keep it! If not, let it go. Let someone else enjoy it. We buy things we 'kind of like' at the moment, but tell the truth – would you buy it this very moment if you saw it in a store? No? Let it go. I just realized I sound like the theme song from a very popular movie! Sorry. Hope that song doesn't stay in your head. But then again, maybe that would be a good thing. You could sing the song as you're working away! Let it go, let it go....... (You can thank me later!!) Guilt. Such a strong emotion. Guilt wins the medal for being the number one reason for hanging on to things we don't need, and in a lot of cases, don't want....but can't bring ourselves to throw out. This is a tough one, but it is doable. Take a look at the first two questions. Answer honestly. It's not an easy thing to do, but try and put emotions aside. Make a decision based on your answers. If you use it, keep it. If you love it, keep it. If you keep shoving it in a closet or the basement, let it go. You will always have the memories of the person who gave it to you, the things you shared. Those are priceless – not the item attached to those memories. What about those souvenirs from high school and university days? Concert tickets? T-shirts that you will never wear again? Throw them all in a bag and...you got this....Let it go. You didn't collect all of this stuff in a weekend and you will definitely need more than a weekend to deal with it. Be brutal, be tough, but don't beat yourself up. Don't overwhelm yourself by thinking it all needs to be done right now. Step by step. Last week it was your sock drawer. Why not try the bathroom cabinets this week? Then apply the same principle to the rest of the bathroom and linen closet. Check out our Pinterest site where you can find inspiration from thousands of great ideas on organization. You've got this! Here's a little suggestion to get you started. It involves wine. Bet you're paying attention now!