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3 Ways To Reclaim Your Space With "Painless Decluttering!"

Updated on April 13, 2015
SheilaSchnauzies profile image

SheilaSchnauzies is a Miniature Schnauzer rescuer, writer, crochet designer, gardener, crafter, wife, mom & friend living in Omaha, NE.

Too Much Stuff? Me, Too!

You are SO not alone! The recent TV shows on the subject of Hoarding have served not only as a wakeup call to many people, but shown us how very prevalent the problem is. It's a "closet problem" - a deeply guarded secret, known only to those closest to us. It's painfully embarrassing. It makes us feel ashamed when our excessive clutter is revealed. And therefore, we close ourselves and our space off and isolate ourselves. This is not a good thing.

Sometimes life just happens. In my case, I had my things pretty well organized until we made a 500-mile move to another state back in 2007. The picture here is the disaster that happened when our "professional unpackers" randomly started to dump out boxes on the living room floor!! And as I was to find out later, they had packed in the same haphazard manner.

Another move happened in 2010, and I am still not even halfway unpacked from that move. With some help, I unpacked survival stuff only and brought down a few other items from the attic as I could.

Right about then my health took a major downturn and I was in severe pain from degenerative arthritis. It destroyed a knee and both hips and I was pretty much out of commission until I finally was able to have surgeries to replace them all. (The years 2010 through 2015 have been spent mostly dealing with eleven hospitalizations and six surgeries!) As I write this I'm recovering from a rotator cuff surgery I had in January. It just never stops! My days are largely spent in "survival mode," and despite sporadic attempts at unpacking, I never entirely get it done.

I have a dream attic in this new/old house! It was built in 1961 and the huge attic is virtually identical to the one featured in Martha Stewart's Connecticut home! It sure looked great empty. But now... the attic is a cluttered disaster full of my unpacked moving boxes. Not the organized craft room heaven I've always envisioned.

Now that I'm feeling better, it's time for one major unpacking and decluttering marathon. I've finished with the living areas. The next step is to go up to the attic and start getting rid of five sizes of clothing (I'm well on the way to losing 100 pounds)! The stuff just needs to GO. Then the rest of the unpacking... and finally, the last step will be the creation of my new craft workshop.

This will be a work-in-progress, one area at a time for as long as it takes. It will also serve as my public accountability to get it done! So... (deep breath!) come on in.

Painless Method 1: Photograph Your Treasures!

When I do cleanouts of specific types of things, like jewelry for example, you know what I've found helps me? Taking a picture of it. It takes a lot less room to "hoard" jpeg's on your computer than it does in your house! This especially helps if the attachment is purely sentimental and you just want to be able to look at the item, not ever use it.

Here's a great example from my recent jewelry cleanout. The pretty gold bracelet was broken. When I did wear it, I was constantly afraid that I would lose it. So why fix it? I never did. It sat in a box in a closet. I took it, along with the other items pictured, to one of those places where they buy your old gold. I was very sentimental about these things so I snapped this picture. (It also helps me to remember which items I sold so I won't go crazy looking for it years from now!) I was able to let go of the items painlessly and also made a few bucks for myself!

Painless Method 2: "Theme Decluttering"

I tend to collect little things in containers. Dishes, little bowls, boxes, bigger boxes... everywhere. Trouble is, although the mess is contained, you can't find anything. Every container has all different types of objects in it. One of my random containers might contain a lipstick, a crochet hook, a hand cream, a spool of thread, nail polish, a measuring tape, a hair clip, a piece of jewelry I meant to repair... you get the idea.

The relatively painless way I came up with to deal with this is what I call "theme decluttering." I go around the house and find every small container and dump every one of them out on a big table. (Do this when you will have time to deal with it unless you don't mind devoting a space to the purpose). Then I start reusing the containers as sorting bowls. All the makeup in one pile, jewelry in another, hair accessories in another... until you have built all needed categories.

After that, it's like working a jigsaw puzzle! I'll walk past the table, see where a given piece belongs, and toss it in the right bowl.

The whole project described above is a theme in itself: small containers. So you have major themes then minor themes. Once the items are sorted, it all makes sense and it's so easy to put that bowl of hair clips where they belong! Here is a pic of one of my jewelry sorts from awhile back.

Painless Method #3 - Reward Yourself With Your Stuff's Hidden Value! - You probably have NO idea what your stuff is worth!!

I tend to sort things out and find pieces I've forgotten I owned. Some of them pretty nice things with real monetary value! I had already gone through and sold some of my gold jewelry. Recently I challenged myself to get rid of some old necklaces that I never ever wear. They were hanging on a hanger in a corner of my closet. Prior to that, they had been in the same place in my former house for years. Time to go!!

I sorted it all, saved the pieces that had real sentimental value or that I particularly liked, and put the rest in a ziploc bag. I went to one of those places that buy silver jewelry with my little bag. I was absolutely amazed that this "junk" paid me $38!! I could take that $38 and buy one really neat piece of jewelry that I would actually enjoy! So that little experiment turned out to be quite painless.

This tired but loved Coach bag brought me $25 on ebay! This could even be profitable!

There are many other things around my house that are probably worth something if I took the time to investigate and market them. I'm just getting started!

Some of my favorite organizing containers on Amazon - You'll love how these make sense of your things!

The clear cases fit into the larger Organizer cases and once in there, the contents are all instantly viewable and accessible! I use these for all my jewelrymaking supplies - gemstone beads, findings, charms, etc. Nothing ever gets lost in them or comes out. I can't say how much I love them! Oh - and they are very durable! I've used them for well over six years and they're like brand new!

They are also great for sorting and storing your jewelry, nail art, nail rhinestones, and so much more!

In your kitchen or bath, they can handle all your small "this-and-that" pieces from the junk drawers!

If You're Gonna Keep It... Organize It!

If you decide to keep it, make a commitment to care for it properly and organize it so you can find it when you want to and it won't be screwed up from being thrown somewhere it doesn't belong!

A Word About Organizer Product Selection...

Be very careful before jumping in and buying whole organizer systems. Test them in person even if you plan to buy them online. You want whatever it is to be easy to use, simple, and something that won't end up just creating more clutter!

Martha Stewart's Attic... My Dream!

Mine is built just like it... except not finished, all my wood beams are exposed. I would like to finish the walls in at some point. I'll always leave the ceiling beams exposed because I think they are cool!

What Do You Think Of My Decluttering Methods? - Come On, You Can Tell Me!

Do you like the idea of the theme decluttering I use?

See results

The Mess My "Professional" Unpackers Left....

My Favorite Organizing Tools for Clothing on eBay - Can You Tell I'm A Joy Mangano Fan?

You can find Joy's Huggable Hangers online at HSN.com too, along with her many other ingenious products!

My Favorite Ways To Sell My Stuff

eBay is always a good standby for me, and I've had luck getting lots of items sold. A new find and one I'm really loving is called Listia.com . It works very much like eBay except you GIVE your stuff away in auctions! You can charge for shipping. People bid up the auctions with Listia points. You bank these points and then can use them to bid on other people's stuff - some of which is really amazing! So far I have gotten a complete new skincare set and several other things. Try it!!

Please Leave Your Comments In My Guestbook!

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    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 3 years ago

      Interestingly enough I have been doing this for years, BUT have not gotten rid of anything.. I purchase plastic storage container packed and labeled everything then stored the containers either in a closet or basement. I made up my mind since I have all these photos it should satisfy me... I have to start getting rid of these things, it depresses me and gets worse as I get older. I worry my daughters will just dump some of the valuable items. Anyway I will do it...it's a must.

      You like Opal, it must be your birthstone!

    • caffimages profile image

      caffimages 5 years ago

      Snap! We moved last November and have spent the winter emptying boxes. My partner had stuff in boxes he's had since the early 90's. We're nearly there now and can see the rooms for the clutter! I can sit and crochet in peace and space. Good luck with yours.

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 5 years ago from USA

      It's hard to pay attention to the decluttering tips when you have so many photos of your beautiful jewelry!! :-) You do have some great decluttering advice here, thanks for sharing! Nicely presented lens.

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 5 years ago from USA

      I love Listia too! I am JJNW on Listia. Shoot me a note! I like your ideas. Thanks! SquidLiked by a Giant Squid.