Have you decided to start the New Year with a cleaner home?
One of my New Year's Resolutions is to de-clutter my house. Get rid of junk. Actually have some spare cupboard space and be able to find things that are A) what I am looking for at the time, and B) not covered in dust at the point of retrieval. Or even worse, mold. Or mushed up food. Or some other substance that I dare not give the sniff test.
I'm ready to de-clutter. Rubbish bags? Check. Fabulous plastic containers from the Warehouse that are both see-through and stack perfectly? Check. Dozens of Huggie Nappy Boxes, AKA the only good thing about having had a child in nappies for the past 4.5 years? Check. Corner of the garage earmarked for things to go to the Salvation Army? Check. Motivation? Um .....
First, I need some rules of engagement. Terms of Reference for de-cluttering. A criteria that I set to enable me to make tough decisions about what to keep, and what to move on. Otherwise, I'll end up keeping an entire box of bubble-wrap just in case I might need it one day. Otherwise, I'll never throw out that manky stained t-shirt that someone gave me as a gift in the late 1990s.
So, I've decided on the following Rules of Engagement:
1. The 6-month rule
Have I used the item in the last 6 months? Can I, right now, think of a specific time I will use it in the next 6 months? If the answer is no, get rid of it.
2. The soppy rule
Does this have sentimental value? If so, is it unique? If it is a manky old t-shirt, would a photograph of it suffice to tick the 'awwww I remember that' box? If it has no sentimental value or a photograph would do, get rid of it.
3. The tragic demise rule
If I were to die and someone in my extended family were to be sorting my stuff, am I embarrassed about the idea of them finding this object? If the answer is 'yes' - and it's not something that you actually use - get rid of it. The tragic demise rule is also useful for helping decide where to de-clutter first - which part of my house would I be the most embarrassed about?
4. The when-my-kids-are-old-enough rule
Is it an expensive item that you really do hope to use one day once the kids are older? If yes, keep it. This rule covers all of those items of my footloose and fancy free days like tents, backpacks and bedrolls for hiking, One day, I tell myself. One day ...
5. The affordability rule
If I get rid of this thing I never use now and I decide in a year I did want it, can I afford another? If yes, and the object doesn't meet any of the other criteria, get rid of it. Adios, massive unused umbrella and the rest of your ilk.
6. The storage rule
If you were to move to the other side of the world, and all of your stuff had to go into storage, would you want to store this item for 5 years? If not, get rid of it. I wish I had used this rule when I did move to the other side of the world, and came home to a storage box filled with yucky old towels and old clothes that I will never wear again.
7. The memory rule
When you stumble upon an object, do you think:
A: "I'd wondered where you were"; or
B: "I'd forgotten about you."
If it is B, get rid of it.
8. The manky rule.
Even fabulous things with massive sentimental value go manky sometimes. If it's gone manky, get rid of it. Take a photo, then say your fond farewells. I know, this is hard to do. One of my favourite dolls from my childhood now looks like she has caught a face-eating infection while in storage. Sob. But, there is no point in keeping her, not really, sad as it is.
So, there are the Rules of Engagement. Now, time to get started ...