Friday, May 22, 2009

The Great Purge of 2009 (Part 1)

I've been occupied recently with a huge decluttering, de-junking, organizational project, which I like to refer to as The Great Purge of Ought Nine. I received a lot of comments on my Facebook status message, whenever I updated it to say I was working on decluttering my home. It seems like clutter is a common problem and frustration for many of you. (It feels good to know I'm not alone.) So, I thought I'd depart from my usual themes on this blog (i.e. art, movies, music, literature) to chronicle and share my journey through the piles of junk and clutter to an organized and serene living environment. Hopefully you can pick up a few pointers along the way, or at least be inspired to tackle your own projects.

Before I start, I must give a few words of credit and appreciation to the book, It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh, which I used as a guide during this process. It was practical, straightforward, easy to put into practice and worth every penny. You can read my previous review of it here. Another resource is FlyLady, who has written a couple of books and also has a website where you can sign up for her newsletters and automatic e-mail reminders. I have not personally tried the FlyLady's material, but she seems to teach similar techniques and was recommended to me by other decluttering friends. Now, onto my story...

The Great Purge of Ought Nine actually began with the Great Flood of Ought Eight, when our plumbing burst under the slab of our home, which lead to a leak. As the plumbers chased down the problem area and source of the leak, they had to move furniture, tear up carpet, and cut holes in my drywall in three different rooms of my house. Then came the construction crew, to shove our precious things around even more so they could repair and repaint the walls. Once the chaos subsided and I started to put things away, I remembered the book I'd read about decluttering and organizing your home, and decided that if I was going to have to touch all our precious things (i.e. junk) anyway, that I might as well take the time to go through it and decide what I wanted to keep, what needed to be tossed and what I should sell in a yard sale. My goal or reward that I decided upon for motivation (other than having a functional decluttered home) was to have a giant yard sale to end all yard sales, and use the proceeds to buy some newer furniture that at least matches, or if nothing else, to purchase some new draperies that don't look like they came from the 70s. (Disco!)

First up was the garage. My husband and I live in a state with one of the highest car theft rates in the country. We've have had our cars stolen twice and broken into a couple of times when we lived in an apartment. So one of the main things we were looking forward to when we purchased a home was being able to lock our cars up in the garage at night. Consequently, we've been motivated to keep our garage clutter-free, so that we can fit the cars inside. It didn't make sense to us to have two cars worth thousands of dollars sitting outside, giving precedence in the garage to a mound of junk that altogether probably isn't worth $20. (Think about it.) However, there was a significant pocket of junk in the little alcove by the water heater. It needed some clean up and organization and I wanted to make room to start stacking the boxes of junk for the yard sale.

I went through our outdoor Chistmas and Halloween decorations, throwing what was broken or faded, or past its prime. Then condensed what we had into nice storage boxes. I sorted through boxes of junk that had been dropped off by various family members because they thought we "might be able to use it". One of the rules in Walsh's book is to not let your house become the dumping ground for all your relatives' stuff, which they can't muster up the courage to throw away themselves. That's a rule I need to take to heart. I also called my brother and told him to come and get some of his things that we were storing for him. I organized what few gardening supplies and tools we had onto a little shelf, along with the few car maintenance supplies we had. Lastly, I set aside some of the nice clean cardboard boxes, so we could grab one and fill it as we decluttered the house. I even pulled the cars out and swept the garage. It was a good feeling, and I was on a roll.

Next was the laundry room (or what some people would call the mudroom). This had also become a dumping ground for all kinds of odds and ends. I organized and consolidated the laundry supplies. I went through the assortment of keys on our key rack (it looked like we were a family of janitors, we had so many keys) and threw the ones I knew were no longer needed and labeled the ones that were important. I took the pile of rags and towels I use for cleaning, sorted and kept the best ones and threw the rest. This was also the last resting place for all our shoes, since we take our shoes off when we first come in the door. So I sorted the ones to keep, the ones that could be sold, and tossed the rest. Lastly, I organized the shelves of household cleaning products, including our tool set and other boxes full of household repair items. I must admit, I got the giggles as I lined up our cleaning products in nice neat little rows, since I felt like I was channeling Mr. Monk. It's amazing how much more functional this room is now. I didn't realize how much extra time it was taking me, when cleaning the house or the bathrooms or whatever, to dig through the shelves to locate my cleaning products.

Everything in its place, and a place for everything. Experiencing immediate results and benefits of the decluttering certainly helped me keep up my motivation to continue the process through the rest of the house. Next up... the kitchen.


Laura said...

I loooove household organizing! Just ask Dan, he's witness to the stacks of plastic bins that hold EVERYTHING in our house (even the pantry!) Oh, how I loooove it! I'll get an "itch" to purge a space about every month (usually the fridge or pantry) and I always feel awesome after I'm done. :)

One area I need to do very soon is the kid's playroom. They've outgrown the baby toys and I need to get all the Lego's into one container all together. :P I'll probably pass on having a garage sale and give the toys in good shape to another family. If anyone will have them that is.

One tip I read many years ago regarding cleaning supplies is to put them all in a large bucket so you can grab it and take it from room to room while you clean. I've got two, one upstairs in our master closet and one downstairs in the laundry room. I've really appreciated having everything together (comet, windex, lysol, paper towel roll, swiffer duster.. even all the brushes I use to scrub sinks and showers.)

Congrats to you on a job well done, and keep it up... the less you have to pack move to Anthem the easier it will be to unpack when you get here!

D.L. White said...

I'm a very organized person. I love having a place for everything and everything in it's place. So it was driving me absolutely UP THE WALL that my house had gotten to the state it was in. (I'll be blogging more about that in later posts).

In the past when we've done mini-declutterings, we didn't bother with the yard sale and just donated the stuff to charity. This time around, I kinda need the money NOW instead of when I get the credit on my tax return.

I like your bucket idea! I can see how that would be especially handy for a two-story house.

And yes - that has been motivation for me too - less to pack when we move!!! :)

chandy said...

You've been busy! Good for you! I think you need to post some pictures of these disco curtains, though!

D.L. White said...

You actually want to see the polyester, textured, multi-color-flecked, 70s curtains? It's embarrassing enough that I'm blogging to the whole universe about decluttering my junky house. Photographic evidence of any kind (including the presence of ancient curtains) will not be included in the blog posts. ha ha

Now you know why I was asking you a few weeks ago how you made the curtains for Ethan's room. I'm one step away from throwing blankets over the windows...