First Published Jan 2017, Updated May 2018
Ever feel you spend way too much time tidying up the house?
That not so fun activity of figuring where stuff goes and putting it back there. It could be clothes, shoes, empty used plates & cups, toys etc. The younger the children and the more pets you have, the more tidying up there seems to be.
But I just don’t like spending so much of my time sorting and putting stuff away! OK, who does?
I would rather spend my time reading, cooking, catching up with friends and family. Oh, there are so many other things I would enjoy spending my time on, other than tidying the house.
Does that make me a minimalist? Probably not!
Maybe like me, you too long for life to be simpler, and to have a home that doesn’t require so much effort and time on your part.
At the end of every year, I spend time reflecting on that past year and planning what I want to focus on achieving in the coming year.
So I made one of my main goals for 2017, to have a clean, calm and beautiful home.
An Overwhelming Mess
My reality though was a different story.
Here’s how I described my home at the beginning of January 2017.
“Our living room floor is currently a jumbled mess of Duplo blocks, jigsaw pieces – from more than one puzzle, Lego, board game pieces etc. Yes it is our long summer break here in Australia. So some would say more mess is expected with the kids at home most days.
But then what about the piles on my desk. There’s also drawers and cupboards, organised previously and now everything is just shoved in again. I could also mention the number of creative projects I have sitting there unfinished, waiting for someday.
In my home it feels like there are reminders all around me of jobs I need to get to… when I have the time!”
My Clutter Threshold
To let you know though, at that time friends (excluding my super minimalist friends) would in no way describe my house as cluttered or even disorganised. However, I knew how much effort it was taking to maintain that level of organisation and how exhausting it was. Of course there were the days and even weeks, that no one would see the piles and stuff everywhere.
But however organised I could make my home, as author, Dana K White, explains, I was living above my clutter threshold.
“I have a clutter threshold, and it’s unique to me. My clutter threshold is the point at which stuff becomes clutter in my home. When I’m living above my clutter threshold. there’s more stuff in my home than what I can handle and my house is consistently out of control. Living under my clutter threshold helps my home stay more naturally under control.” – Dana K White, Decluttering At The Speed Of Life
I was living with more stuff than I could comfortably manage and I had more to do’s on my project list than I could ever accomplish.
I also realised that the clutter was getting in the way of having a home I loved and physically making it difficult to finish renovating rooms. All that “stuff” was also restricting me from using my time in the best possible way.
30 Day Decluttering Challenge
I tried 30 day challenges and the one thing in, one thing out idea. I would be gung ho for the first few days and end up with my kitchen drawers cleaned out. But then I would get stuck and feel overwhelmed. I couldn’t figure out how a 27 fling boogie could help me when I had a whole house of stuff to sort through, and more!
That is, until I came across the marie kondo book.
Spark Joy Book
Thanks to serendipitously finding Marie Kondo’s decluttering book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, at the local library…
I decided I was going to put my whole house in order!
Finally, tidying could be a once only event!
It was the first time I heard anyone talking about sorting through the contents of your home in such a way, as to never need to do a major declutter again.
“Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?
Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again.
Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results.” – blurb for The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
It gave me hope to start decluttering my home because I knew there would be an end point.
Even though it felt like it, I didn’t have an infinite amount of stuff.
Where to start decluttering?
So in January 2017, I started with our clothing. Yes, I went through every single piece of clothing we had in the house – mine, the kids, all the clothes packed away for them to grow into, the clothes in the mending pile etc.
Related Post: Why I Recommend Decluttering at the Speed of Life
Then I went through all our books, the ones in the kids’ rooms, my room, the office, on the bookshelf, in boxes.
Then non-sentimental papers, and then through all the stuff in the kitchen, bathroom, living room etc.
Does it spark joy?
Anything I found that was no longer useful or beautiful, was discarded or given away. I planned to sort through every item in the house before the fun bit of organising it all, rearranging rooms and decorating, happened.
Related Post: 5 Simple Tips for Decorating Shelves
This approach hopefully would mean I would not need to declutter my house in a major way ever again.
I am going to say that again, because it sounds so good… no major decluttering ever again!
Konmari Before and After (Update May 2018)
You know what, it sort of did happen as I planned. I decluttered our clothing, books and papers, and made significant progress.
Then I got stuck, on the big category of miscellaneous items. Progress was painfully slow…
In retrospect, I think that was due to having a lot of pieces of furniture and large pieces of decor I needed to sell. I use to have a business from home restoring furniture for people and selling shabby chic style decor. I had collected A LOT of stuff!
I gave myself a goal, over about 5 months, of listing on a local buy and sell website 6 to 8 pieces a week. Some went straight away, some didn’t. Quite a bit, I listed as freebies, because having it gone was worth more than the small amount of money I could get.
After the bulk of the physical clutter was gone, I went through wedding photos and old albums from my childhood and my first marriage. The emotional stuff!
A year and 1/2 later, I can actually say the majority of clutter is gone. My house DOES NOT look the same, as it did back then!
Related Post: The Living Room Reveal – Before and After
I love my home now and I can honestly say, all of us do spend a lot less time tidying up than we use to!