“Empty the Area” probably sounds simple enough and it is. But I want to explain why I single it out as a step rather than combining it with “Pick Your Area.” I could say, “Pick your area and empty it” but I feel compelled to put it as a step in itself because of the importance.
When you empty a space, no matter how big or small, you’re able to hit the reset button.
If we don’t completely empty it, things get looked over, left behind, avoided. To me, if I’m going to spend time decluttering and I know the end I have in mind, I’m going to go all in and emptying the space you’re working on is the best way. Here’s why:
First things first. When its empty you can clean it. Whether its just a quick swipe of a desk drawer, or a deep clean of your kitchen cabinets, cleaning is easier when there’s nothing there. So go in with the mindset of giving it at least a quick wipe down.
When we remove EVERYTHING from an area, we have to truly consider each item. If we pick it up, we have to acknowledge it and make a decision if we want to keep this item or not. Otherwise, we subconsciously think it belongs to that drawer or room or space and do not give it a second thought. So, emptying the area makes us decide (which I’ll go into detail about with the next post). Also, we usually come across items that we forgot we even had, that had we not emptied, we wouldn’t have unearthed. For example, you’re cleaning out the bathroom sink or mirror storage area. Pulling out every bottle and sample, you find ones that you’ve forgotten about or are so old, that its easy to get rid a few items due to never using them.
For the items we decide to keep, emptying the area makes us think about whether this is the best home for those items. Things that you think will go back in the space and therefore were tempted to not take out, may need to be relocated somewhere else. For example, you have a desk in your bedroom. As you’re cleaning out the drawer you come across scissors that are fine to be in the desk drawer. However, you mostly need them when you’re in the kitchen, so maybe they’d be better housed in a kitchen drawer. That’s where you use them most so you only occasionally have to go from your bedroom to get them for something there. So, in general, don’t just store things because “that’s where its supposed to be,” think about your home and the flow of your lives and store things that best suit you.
My last and perhaps best reason is because seeing something emptied is freeing and motivating. Sometimes decluttering feels weird and spaces look empty, but sometimes that emptiness is a breath of fresh air. Spaciousness can be a beautiful thing. Just because we have a room or shelf or basket, doesn’t mean if has to be filled to the brim. Use that time of emptying out an area to be inspired with how it can be.