House & Home,  Self-care

Decluttering: My Next Step

Many days you can find the house renovating shows playing on my television while I am doing dishes or sorting through stuff. I love the people who say that their house just isn’t big enough for them any more, or it doesn’t work for them any more. When I watch home tour, many times I see a lovely home, but a lack of knowledge about how to organize stuff, a general need to paint, or the need to re-floor several spaces. Seldom do I see a home that just won’t work.

Enter “the house renovator” to listen to the needs and figure out how to make the house work. In a sense, that person is a professional organizer. I often side with the person who is going to “make the house work.”


You can search for professional organizers in your area and hire someone to come in and organize for you.

How fabulous!

Um, yeah, NO!

When I was a kid, my mother bought in a “professional organizer” of sorts, my cousin, to help me go through the stuff in my room as an activity when she was babysitting. When she spoke, I listened. “You want this,” she would say and find a place for it. “You don’t want this anymore,” and that item would either go in a garage sale box, donation box, or get thrown. It was great for my mom because she didn’t find herself fighting with me, but unfortunately, it didn’t do anything for my sense of order.

I can see the need for a “professional organizer,” but once again, if I hire someone else to do it for me, I will probably find chaos worming its way back into my life, and my home will be out of order again.

Enter “the researcher” side of my personality. “Google” how to get organized and you quickly pull up around 508,000,000 entries on the subject. 508,000,000 people and articles that want to tell me how to get organized, want to help me get organized, or want to sell me an organizational product or service. WOW! Everything from “how I changed my life to get organized” to “# habits of organized people” to “organization hacks.” I could read for days, but until I take action and figure out what works for me, I will still be living with a disorganized home. With all this help, how can I possibly NOT get organized.

“Everything in its place” is a great idea, and so is “Thinking about you routine and organize accordingly.”  As a person, I have been told I am very organized. I keep lists and a calendar with me at all times. I laugh. The me people see is organized, but behind the scenes, I am a chaotic mess.

I have my reasons. I can’t throw that away because it might be worth something some day. I can’t donate or sell something because I might need it. I can’t throw out those first drawings my kids made. You get the picture.

I grew into this naturally since my mother and my grandmother were like this. I blamed their saving on the Great Depression and the various recessions over the years. I have saved things because my grandmother and my mother saved them, but the things they saved that might have been worth money in the past are worth little to nothing now.

For example, I have a variety of silver plate flatware (what I grew up knowing as formal silverware) that has decreased in value over the past 20 years. For the most part, people don’t entertain like they did in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. At least I don’t.

I have decided that 2019 is the year to tame the “paper tiger” and simplify the vast amount of “stuff” I have accumulated over the years. There just isn’t enough space to display everything I have so much of it sits in boxes. There just isn’t enough space to store everything I have collected over the years so all I am doing is storing stuff.


Why indeed!


What do I do with everything?

There are so many methods to help you de-clutter and simplify that just the research can be mind boggling. Many articles seemed repetitive and others so complex they were mind boggling. So, here’s my take on de-cluttering, simplifying, and purging.

The ideas come from helping others, my mother, and my life experience. In fact, I had been planning on simplifying and purging before we moved from Illinois to Tennessee, BUT when one has only a 4 week time span between finding the house and the moving truck’s arrival, tossing stuff in a box to sort through later seemed the quickest way to go. When the moving company finished packing the truck, we found they had left enough stuff to warrant three trips back to rent a trailer and fill the bed of the truck.

Many of the extra boxes and the boxes that weren’t urgently needed got stored in the garage and the small barn out back.



Before we found a house and began packing to move, I had set up boxes in my basement to help sort through and simplify my stuff. I have ONE basic rule:

  1. Once an item goes in a box, I CAN’T change my mind on it.

BOX 1: Donate to Disabled American Vets

BOX 2: Donate to Goodwill. (We don’t have a local Salvation Army Thrift Store.)

BOX 3: Possible donations to the local community theater. (Those things that could be used for costumes or odd props.)

BOX 4: Donate to a friend. Before we moved, I donated most of my Christmas dishes to a friend who collected them. She was ecstatic.

BOX 5: Sell.

BOX 6: Shreddable paperwork.

BOX 7: Save, but a home needs to be found.

BOX 8: Family history information and pictures.

BOX 9: Items that can be used in crafts and re-purposing projects.

BOX 10: File-able paperwork.


My first task as I go through boxes and drawers and cabinets is going to be to ask myself why I saved the given items. Many things were saved because they belonged to my mother, my father, my grandmother, or my grandfather. Other things were saved because my kids made them for me as gifts. Some things I bought or received as gifts.

  1. I use it/wear it often. Great! Find a home for it with things like it.
  2. I use it/wear it at least once a year. Great! Put it in the correct seasonal place.
  3. It should be part of the family history information. Move to the bonus room family history boxes. (Organizing family history artifacts and information is a project for later this year or next year.)
  4. I got it as a gift but I’ve never used it.
    1. Will I use it? Yes? (Find a home for it.) No? PUT IT IN THE CORRECT BOX.
    2. If I wanted to have one, would it be expensive to get a new one? No? PUT IT IN THE CORRECT BOX.
  5. I don’t even know why I have it. PUT IT IN THE CORRECT BOX.
  6. It’s broken and repairable. Will I repair it and use it? Yes? (Find a home for it.) No? PUT IT IN THE CORRECT BOX or TRASH IT.
  7. It’s paper and more than seven years old. PUT IT IN THE SHRED BOX!
  8. It’s paper and less than seven years old. Is it necessary to retain for taxes? PUT IT IN THE CORRECT BOX

Instead of tackling the WHOLE garage in one day, I have given myself permission to only address ONE box. If my momentum motivates me to tackle a second box, great! If not, one box is enough.

But there are two rules here.

  1. After going through one box in the garage or closet, I empty boxes # 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
  2. When boxes 1 through 5 are full, I tape them shut and label them and put them with like boxes.
    1. Enough donation boxes and I will deliver them
    2. Donations to friends may have to wait to be delivered
    3. Sellable items will wait until I have everything organized
    4. Shred items

I figure that this will be a two, even three, month project; then, I can work to sell the items that can be sold.

Thanks for reading.


As you move through your day-to-day activities and responsibilities, please remember to

Live Life –

Keep Things Simple –

Look for the Positive –



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