We’ve all got it. Too much ‘stuff’. It’s piled up over time and you want it de-cluttered but you just don’t know where to start. Here’s a guide to breaking down this task into manageable chunks, and getting you on the way to a clutter free home using the SECTIONALIZING method…
There are two basic ways to de-clutter; the sectionalizing method, and the itemizing method. It’s okay to do one or the other at different times, but don’t try to do them together. Today we’ll discuss the Sectionalizing Method.
Sectionalizing Method ~
With this method, you’re going to identify one very location at a time, and then collect every item from that area that doesn’t belong there, and move it to its proper place. Set a timer and promise yourself that for 15 minutes you will do nothing but relocate as many items from your defined space as possible. Don’t let yourself get distracted! For those 15 minutes you have permission to ignore everything else.
Your defined area can be any space, as long as it has clear boundaries. If there’s stuff piled on your sofa, then the sofa can be an area. If you have a 3-man sofa, and it’s really piled deep, your area may need to be just one cushion. You want it to be enough to get you a sense of accomplishment when you’ve finished, but not so large that you get overwhelmed and don’t finish.
So areas will define themselves, such as ‘the section of counter top between the stove and the sink’, or ‘the stuff piled on top of the microwave’. But others will need you to establish boundaries. For instance, if you have a long length of bookcase, you can put a piece of masking tape on either end of a two-foot section, and that section becomes a space of its own.
Similarly, if the floor of a room is too overwhelming to be attacked in 15 minutes, choose a section a foot or two square and just concentrate on that area. Put something (like a soup can) on each corner of the section of floor you’re working on, to mark it. Don’t even look at the rest of the room while you’re working. Nothing matters except the section you’re in!
Now, what do you do about your section? You’re going to take everything out of it. Anything that doesn’t belong there gets moved to closer to where it belongs. ‘Closer’ does not mean to put it away perfectly! It just means get it a step nearer to wherever it should be.
For example, if your ‘space’ is the kitchen counter, and you find a jacket thrown on it, you take the jacket to the threshold of the bedroom of the person it belongs to and drop it there. Don’t put it away. Don’t get sidetracked into folding it, or looking for hangers, or hunting down the owner of the jacket in person. Just get it out of the space you’re de-cluttering, and closer to where it goes.
The reason for this is speed. Your goal is to clear out the area you’re in. If you go all the way to the closet with that jacket, you’ll get sidetracked. You notice that something else has slipped of its hanger and want to pick it up. You’ll notice the outgrown clothes and start leafing through them thinking about a rummage sale you should have. You’ll linger in that room to talk to the person in it. You need to avoid those distractions! Just drop the jacket at the threshold and speed-walk yourself back to your area.
You should be moving fast throughout this 15 minutes. You’re going to zip back and forth between your area and whenever things need to be moved to. Be sure to remember that the trash can is a destination too! Put as much as you can in there. We’re all keeping a lot of things that we don’t need because we haven’t ‘gone through’ them yet. This is your moment. As you de-clutter, trash everything you can. That way, you’ll have less junk the next time around.
Make a realistic goal for yourself about how many sections you want to tackle. Once a day? Once a week? Just this once, and see how you like it? Every little bit counts, so start as slow as you need to.
For best results, start with an area you can see everyday. If your first area is a coffee table that you walk past often, you’ll get a little boost of enthusiasm every time you walk by and see it clear. If your first area is a space underneath the bathroom cabinet, you don’t get that encouragement as quickly.
The important thing is to start somewhere. Remember, your home didn’t get into this state in one day, and you can’t fix it in one day. But you can make a dent in it, one session at a time, until it looks the way you want it to.
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