Getting in the D (Decluttering) Mode: What Are Your Categories?

Within the next 10 years my husband and I plan to move to a retirement community. The high-rise is in the heart of the city, close to shops, entertainment, street fairs, and the skyway walking system. Though our move is a decade away we’re lightening the load now.

We’ve moved many times and are good at it, but we have too much stuff. I’ve watched television programs about getting organized and also researched the topic. Organization experts usually begin the process by establishing categories.

In her “Arizona Republic” article Kara G. Morrison offers some tips for going through “sentimental justmyfitness clutter.” She divides this category into sub-categories: photos, children’s art work, kits’ rooms (dolls, trophies, collections, posters, etc.), souvenirs, books, parents’ belongings, correspondence and documents. I’m sure the sub-categories could be divided into sub-subs if you chose to do so.

We have many items that fit into the “sentimental clutter” category, yet I’ve taken a simpler approach to decluttering. My categories are big stuff, small stuff, big areas, small areas. These categories help me plan my day and my time.

The big stuff category includes extra furniture — extra chairs and tables. Things that fit under the small stuff category include a flowerpot that belonged to my mother-in-law. The small stuff category turned out to be complicated because it includes heirlooms, hundreds of family photos, my childhood doll collection, vintage doll house furniture, and more.

The big areas are really big and include our mechanical room, which doesn’t have a spare inch, our home office, the garage, and attic above the garage. One day, when the attic stairway was down, my daughter climbed up and looked at the things we were storing. “You have everything in here but the kitchen sink!” she exclaimed. A minute later she called, “Wow, I just found a kitchen sink.” Clearing out the attic will be a challenge, that’s for sure.

Garage decluttering will be just as challenging. In addition to two cars, we are storing items we have received from estates, gardening tools, two bikes, bike tools, two work benches, work tools, supplies (screws, nails, bolts), cans of paint, paint trays and brushes, snow shovels and a snow blower that no longer works. My husband and I have decided to work on big areas in stages.

We helped our parents clear out their homes before they moved to retirement communities, so we have some experience to draw upon. But life experience doesn’t make the job smaller. We have lived in our home for 19 years and lightening the load will take several years. That is why we’re starting now. It’s been rewarding to give items to our daughter, grandchildren, and relatives.

Determining categories saves time in the long run. Your categories should fit your work style. List the categories on paper and items that fit under each one. Ask children and famiiy members if they are interested in family items. Each day, spend a little time in the D Mode, until the job is done.

Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been an independent jounalist for 30+ years. Her 24th book, Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, written with Lois Krahn, MD is available from Amazon. Centering Corporation published her 26th book, Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life and a companion journal. The company also published The Spiritual Woman and is publishing her latest book, Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss. Hodgson has two other new books out, 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey, available from Amazon, and Real Meals on 18 Wheels: A Guide for Healthy Living on the Highway, Kathryn Clements, RC, co-author, and available from Amazon soon. Please visit her website, click the blog tab, and share your thoughts with this busy author.

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