Thursday, October 28, 2010

A *Small* Declutter

I've been admiring the efforts of my friend Molly, who has decided to rid her home of 500 pounds of clutter. She is nearly there, with the last effort pushing her total up to 490 pounds of clutter removed from her home.

She recently posed a question to her blog readers, asking what one tip have readers taken away from her great de-clutter project. For me, that one tip is that it can be tackled one small area at a time.

I kept thinking of clutter as a big project, something that I needed to clear my weekend for, get a babysitter, call the garbage company and schedule an extra delivery. Not so, says Molly.

Take today, for instance.

I am home from work battling a sinus infection. I went to the doctor this morning and followed his directions exactly, including the "rest" part. So after waking from a 2-hour nap, I wondered if there was something else I could be doing with my time today.

I decided to tackle the upstairs closet, which usually holds toiletries for the family and other such supplies.

It became apparent that this needed attention after returning from our vacation last weekend, when I opened the closet door to put away the toiletries I'd packed with me on my trip only to realize there was no place to put them. How had I ever pulled them out of there in the first place? Where had they been sitting? Because there was no place for them now.

I resigned myself to throwing them in there on top of the other crap that had already collected there and tackle it later. Today was later.

I grabbed a garbage bag and began emptying.

Huh...cough syrup that expired in 2009. Infant Tylenol that expired in 2008. A mostly-but-not-quite empty container of body lotion, next to another almost-empty container of lotion. I always think I'm going to find a way to get that last little bit out but I never take the time to do it. Toss and toss.

I found four (count 'em, FOUR) different packets of 12-hour sudaphed, all of which had only a few pills left in them. I would always think we were out of stock and would get some more from the store. Apparently I did that four times, not including the time that I bought some on this past vacation, in an attempt to stave off the cold and ensuing sinus infection that I am currently suffering from. I consolidated all the pills into one box and tossed the other three boxes.

I found an industrial sized box of Lactaid pills, purchased when we thought Lindsey had a dairy allergy. My husband bought it at Costco, apparently thinking that 1) we would be able to get a 7-year-old to eat chalky pills and 2) that we would be dealing with this for a long time. Well, it turned out it wasn't a dairy allergy and now we have an open but mostly unused box of Lactaid pills. I didn't toss that -- I would like to figure out if we can find a way to give these to someone who can use them. The pills are in little packets; they would be perfectly good for someone else to use. If anyone has any ideas on what to do with my open but perfectly good Lactaid pills, I'm all ears.

Suddenly, I am at the back of the closet, which is still in its neatness that it had when I last organized this behemoth a couple of years ago. Could it be? Was this truly just surface clutter that we had piled in front of the actual supplies that we needed?

It was indeed. Now we suddenly can see all of the supplies that we have, all lined up in their little areas. Tooth care products in one area, eye care in another, lotions and sunscreen in another.

And, miracle of miracles, you can actually see the bottom of the shelves, where we could put MORE supplies if we ever found ourselves in need.

Unlike Molly, the consummate blogger who takes pictures all along the way, I only took a photo of the final neatness. And perhaps it doesn't look too neat in photographs, but you should've seen the before picture! And I am not weighing the clutter that I'm throwing out.

Total time?

Twenty minutes.

Maybe this weekend I'll find an extra half an hour to tackle the pantry. If I do, I'll be sure to take before pictures!


  1. I love that feeling!! For a while I subscribed to the FlyLady's emails. She is a cleaning/declutter guru. Her rule is to get rid of 15 items once a week until you feel your house is decluttered. Also, nothing new can come into the house unless you get rid of something else. That's tough, but it worked well in our teeny place in NY...half the size of our place now if you can believe it.

  2. Jenny, I am so proud of you. Not only did you finally go to the doctor, but you decluttered. My Friday is now complete (and it's only 9:30) :)

    Great job.