My friend emailed me yesterday looking for advice on decluttering in the new year saying, “I know that is something you have worked really hard for over the last few years.” I emailed her back, but thought I’d also share on here some of the things I’ve done and learned from over the past year or two.
The new year is a fresh start and a great time to get organized, declutter, and get your finances under control – hopefully some of this might be helpful for you as you make your plans and goals for the new year. (What? You’ve already made all your goals by the second week of January? Impressive.)
Decluttering + Ending Slob-dom 101
How I Learned to Stop Being a Slob and Start Cleaning up After Myself. During my spring break several years ago, I read a book that would change my life forever. It’s called The Joy of Less (written by Miss Minimalist) and I highly recommend that you don’t read it unless you want to get bitten by the decluttering bug. I wrote about the main things I learned in that post, but still. Read the book.
Reducing your wardrobe
I went from 134 items in my wardrobe to 33 items for three months. Instead of ballooning back to 134 items, I hover somewhere around 55 or 60 now. This endeavor, such a seemingly arbitrary challenge, made my life better in many ways. It refreshed the way I viewed my clothes, the way I viewed my closet, and I even ended up getting rid of my dresser last week because I have a small enough wardrobe to just fit in my (so-not-a-walk-in) closet.
The start of Project 333 – Why I did it and how nervous I was.
Project 333: 3 Weeks In – It turned out to not be so hard, after all.
My 33-Item Wardrobe – What I wore for the three months.
Downsizing my Wardrobe: What I Gained & What’s Next – What happens after a radical wardrobe challenge?
Interesting in your own Project 333 challenge? Here are the guidelines.
Cleaning Closet Clutter
In January of 2012, I did a series on my blog about cleaning out my closets. Wait, that makes it sound incredibly boring. That’s okay: I’M SURE IT WAS. Ha. But, if you’re looking for some cleaning inspiration (I might look back at the after photos to remind myself how things should look) or just are a bit of a voyeur, check them out:
The Daily 7 is a great tool for daily cleaning – it’s 7 tasks to do every day that don’t take much time but reduce your weekly burden of cleaning. It’s a tangible way to learn to clean as you go. They are: Make Beds Right Away, Do One Complete Load of Laundry, Empty All Garbage Cans, Keep Your Kitchen Sink Empty, Clean Up After Yourself and Help Children Do the Same, Bathroom Wipe-Down, and Before Bed 10-Minute Clean Up.
Here is the chore list Mike and I use. Or are supposed to use.
What I Use to Clean – the products and household cleaners I use, mostly green, cheap, and easy.
Buying less stuff
Buy Nothing Month – Periodically, I’ll take a month to fast from buying things. Practically speaking, it’s great for our budget, but it also realigns my mental attitude towards buying things as soon as I want them or justifying purchases of things I probably don’t need (and won’t want after a week or two). Here is a brief explanation of my own guidelines for myself, but I think everyone does it a little differently.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that Buying Stuff Doesn’t Make Me Happy.
Also, here is a post about how I created our budget. It’s 2 years old, so the numbers aren’t still entirely accurate.
Mint.com. I love it. I LOVE IT. There’s an app and the website is easy to use and really helps me see where our money goes. My favorite part is looking to see if we’re living within our means by going to “Net Income” under Trends. So many numbers and graphs and it’s just a dream for number nerds like me.
Sell the stuff you’re getting rid of to make the process even sweeter.
A great blog about this sort of thing is Small Notebook.
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(This post makes me feel like I’m giving the impression that I’ve figured it all out: I have NOT. I promise. I’ve just been able to change our apartment so much and finally keeping our apartment relatively neat has brought me so much contentment that if sharing it helps it click for even one person, I’ll be thrilled.)