Max’s De-Cluttering Advice

by Katy on July 20, 2008 · 4 comments

Since joining The Compact (buy nothing new) in January 2007, I’ve worked very hard on one particular project:

De-cluttering my house and my life.

I live in a five bedroom (one bathroom) house with a full basement, so there’s room for a lot of stuff. And stuff it we did. Sports equipment, toys, clothes, books, furniture. You name it — I had it. 11 years in the same house was taking its toll. It had gotten to the point where our home was next to impossible to keep clean, and having people had become extremely anxiety producing.

Something had to give.

It’s taken an enormous amount of time and effort, (19 Goodwill donations in 2007 alone!) but my house is looking pretty good now, and having people over is (mostly) a breeze. It might not be your idea of perfect, but it works for us.

Max, one of the frequent, (and most entertaining) posters on The Compact Yahoo Group wrote up some specific advice for people just getting started with the decluttering process. He generously agreed to let me excerpt some of it.

Just start with something small–a kitchen drawer for example, that you can clean during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV show. Try and clear one square foot of space every day, not a whole room or even a whole closet. If you are busy you will never find the time to do a big purge in one fell swoop. Just chip away at the problem.
That’s why ten things works for me. It took me five months of getting rid of 10 things to initially see a difference in my house. Don’t bring anything new in! Keep a tally so you don’t cheat! Ten things a day is 3650 things a year!
You are not happy with the clutter. With every single thing you get rid of, remind yourself, “I am one step closer to happiness.”
Oh, and set a TIMER! I set a kitchen timer for every chore because I’m a child, so racing the clock makes things easier. Clean your house for 15 minutes every day. Try and sort as much stuff for donation as you can in that time. You can endure just about anything for 15 minutes.
I have read many, many books about de-cluttering, and I like How Max’s advice is very simple. No fancy three-box system, no blasted worksheets.

It’s simple:  “Get rid of ten things” and “Clean your house for 15 minutes every day.”

Who here can’t follow that?

Who here doesn’t want to be closer to happiness?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs Green July 20, 2008 at 11:38 pm

That’s great advice – thank you to you for sharing, and thanks to Max for spreading the love.

One question I ask myself when I get to those really hard to throw out things, such as books, cds and sentimental objects is ‘Does this represent me now or in the past?’. It’s amazing how ‘in the past’ we are living and that really helps me to release things with love so that I can be in the present.

Don’t know if that makes sense, but it has really helped me to get rid of things I was just hanging onto, for the sake of it.
I’ve allowed myself one box of ‘history’ stuff because I think my daughter might like to take a look through someday, but that’s it. The rest is on its way out.

I’ve been thinking recently just how much TIME it takes to take care of all our stuff. With keeping tidy, ordered, clean and then looking for lost things because there are too many other things in the way. it seems utter madness sometimes; especially when you know you can’t take it with you.

It sounds like your decluttering is going really well – it feels great to have a clearer space to play, doesn’t it?

Mrs G x


Jolyn July 25, 2008 at 8:23 pm

I have been going through a de-cluttering phase for the past few days – and it’s been great! My husband and I live in a tiny one bedroom apartment so there’s a lot of incentive to get rid of things we aren’t using. It feels good to know that you’re making good use of your space – it makes us feel like we don’t need a bigger apartment.


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