Have you used different decluttering methods over the years? I have.
I was like a surfer that would try wave after wave. Sometimes I had success. Sometimes I didn’t. But each time I tried a new decluttering method I learned a little more about what worked and what didn’t for me.
Some methods didn’t work at all me. While some worked fairly well, at least for awhile. Then for some reason they just didn’t work anymore. I don’t remember if I got bored or some lifestyle change happened.
It didn’t matter what the reason was, I still beat myself up for being a “failure”. Fortunately, new methods came along as my household grew (children and pets) right along with the clutter.
The Different Decluttering Methods
My life long decluttering journey started when I bought a book called “Clutter’s Last Stand” by Don Aslett. I was a young working mother. This book helped me see the clutter from a different perspective plus a sense of humor. I still have this book. It’s my go-to whenever I need a little humorous mindset change.
After that I moved on to “Sidetrack Home Executives” by Pam Young and Peggy A. Jones. They had an index card file system which helped me stay on track with what needed to be done when and where. Of course, this was ages before home computers and smart phones.
After a few years the index cards seem to gather more dust than bent corners. With two school age kids and all their activities, plus part time work, I started coming up with excuses not to follow those cards.
Along with the excuses came the guilt and blame game. I felt like a failure. Why did I struggle so much to keep the house under control? It seemed like all my friends were able to handle it all. What was wrong with me? I didn’t blame the method. I blamed myself.
Then Flylady came to the rescue. Her method was based on the Sidetracked Sisters but because the internet had come along, there was daily support through a computer screen. The work lists were simplified. She sent out daily emails to remind me what to do. Her book “Sink Reflections” was very helpful.
Again, that method worked for a long time, until it didn’t.
With Age Comes Wisdom
One thing I learned over the years was that I was not a failure.
What worked during one stage of my life may not have worked with the next stage. I had changed. My lifestyle had changed. But the decluttering method had not.
That didn’t mean I was a failure. It also didn’t mean the method was a failure. It simply meant that the method didn’t match my current life. I needed to tweak it to fit me or change methods.
It’s like surfing a wave. Sometimes you get knocked down. But when you keep getting back up you need to tweak or change what you did so you can do better the next time.
Changing the Mindset
After using so many different decluttering methods over the years I’ve learn some better habits. But it has taken me a long time to realize that letting go of the things you don’t use, need, or love will make any method a lot more successful. Which brings me to my own “downsizing” method.
Back in January 2018 my husband and I were looking to move to the west coast when he retired in April 2019 (he still hasn’t retired). We wanted to move closer to the ocean and warm weather year round. Plus I have one son and a sister and her family living out there.
I also knew if we did move I would be downsizing my square footage from around 3000 sq. ft. (which includes a mostly finished basement) to 1500 or less without a basement.
It was time to start letting go!
Over the last five years I’ve had to deal with both my mother’s household and my mother-in-law’s. Five years ago we sold my mother’s house when she was moved to a nursing home. Because she was still alive at the time it was a little harder to let go of her things. After she passed away over four years ago I still hung on to way too many things.
When my mother-in-law passed away last October she was still living in her condo townhouse. We had an estate sale this past spring before we sold the condo. By that time I had been working on my new mindset of downsizing for over a year.
This new mindset helped a lot when it was time to have the estate sale for my mother-in-law’s things. I kept only a few special (and small) items. The sale also gave me an opportunity to go though some of my own stuff, plus all the things I’d kept from my mother’s house. I took pictures of all the items. Now when I think about an item I look up the photo and the memories come back. No regrets for not having the physical item.
Current Decluttering Method
We may or may not be moving in the next few years. We’ve done a fair amount of updating over the past two years to get the house ready for the market. I’m enjoying the house with the updates and a lot less clutter. The downsizing mindset came in handy when buying new office furniture and family room furniture. Not only do I have fewer pieces but they are on a smaller scale so they should fit in a smaller home someday.
Whether we stay or move isn’t causing me so much stress anymore. I know there is a lot more stuff to declutter. But each time I let go of something I feel a sense of freedom that lightens my load.
For many years I’ve signed off each blog post with the saying “To a lighter load along the way”. I think I’m finally growing into the true meaning of those words.
To a lighter load along the way,
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