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“Why are you throwing that thingy ding out?? It’s still good!”

This is the response I got when I attempted to throw out this old dusty doily, still in the plastic and never used, that we received as a present ten years ago. It became so much a part of the living room scenery that no one ever thought to throw it out or to give it too much attention.

There are a few steps necessary to get rid of clutter. Sometimes belongings can be so overwhelming and such a burden that you just give up. It’s not surprising that minimalism is sometimes a reaction to a prolonged exposure to clutter! Don’t give up! Remember that no one is going to clean for you, at best they will push things around or hide them from view in a cupboard so that you get attacked by stuff the next time you open your cupboard.

Therefore, here is what I am going to suggest as a start. First, decide on an amount of time that you are going to give to clearing unwanted belongings and stick to it!

Do not forget to reward yourself too. For example, ten minutes of work gets you 1 point, 5 points mean that you can buy yourself a new bathroom or kitchen accessory or bath soap/oil, 10 points means that you should go out to eat with a friend and have a celebratory brunch. You would be surprised how much can be done in ten minutes! Next time you have a basket of laundry that needs folding and you are procrastinating about it, fold the entire basket and time how long it took you. Not more than ten minutes for sure, and it helps clear that unsightly basket from your living room!

Now before you attack any space make sure that you have three baskets or boxes;
• One box for giving away
• One box for throwing out
• One box for relocating to another space in the house or for returning to someone else

Many times when you are cleaning, if you do not have those boxes you get distracted from the main task. You will sit down at the computer to check the charity hours for giving stuff away, then you check your email, then you take something upstairs to the kid’s rooms to put away, and then you start to do something upstairs etc. Before you know it, you are an hour into your work and you do not see any noticeable change.

So you are almost ready to get started, you have the three boxes or bags and your timer…

One last tip, try to get an impartial person or third party to help you with your task. They do not have to do the dirty work but they have to sit there and pass judgment on some of the items when you are unsure. Make it fun for them, bake some cookies, and make some yummy coffee to go with it. It is very important because something that has become ragged or decrepit can sometimes slip by us because we remember it in bygone days as new and eye catching.

A few years ago when I was moving overseas, my sister Deena came over to keep me company and to give me moral support (and to eat my muffins). She taught me a very valuable lesson. I had a huge doll collection, dolls from carnivals, childhood, presents etc. I did not know if I should keep Tweety or Sylvester, Barney or Bob the builder? So she said to me, “Devora, first decide on the number of dolls you want to own. Now, pick that number and the rest give away!” This was amazing advice! I choose the ten best ones (with her guidance, of course) and the other 30 (ha-ha) I gave away. I never looked back.

Let me sum it all up, again. These are the first steps to getting your home in order:
1. Designate an amount of time that is doable for you
2. Reward yourself
3. Have three spaces/boxes/bags for giving away, moving around and throwing out
4. Decide on amounts you can/should keep and then make your decisions based on that number or amount.
5. Have an impartial bystander who can help you make decisions without emotions

Now we are ready to begin.
To be continued…