Without a doubt this is the hardest part of decluttering an area. It can be mentally exhausting because of all the decisions you have to make. This can take time and if we’re not in the right mindset, these decisions can be really time consuming. But there are a few ways to prepare for this step that will make it faster and hopefully easier.
Prepping to Sort
1. You need to be in the right mindset. This in and of itself is a separate blog post, but if you’re to this point in your journey of simplifying, you probably are in the right mindset for the most part. Just keep a few things in mind:
-My personal mantra: “Simplify your life, so you can pursue what matters most.” And in the moments its: simplifying this room/area/drawer/shelf/whatever
-“Decluttering is infinitely easier when you think of it as what to keep rather than what to get rid of.”
2. Go through and get rid of all the obvious trash. Getting the obvious trash on the surface the day before or right at the beginning gets those things out of the way so that you can dive into the real work.
3. You need to know how/where you’re going to sort. It can be space on the floor or counter space (if you’re doing something smaller like a drawer.) You’ll need a couple boxes or baskets or bags for the several piles that you’ll be making: trash, move, keep, donate, maybes.
4. Know where to donate. We’ve all seen the meme’s about driving around for months with a trunk full of donations. Know where you’re going to donate and add it to your schedule for the next day.
Now you’re ready to sort through all the things.
Trash. If you followed my prep steps, then you’ve already removed the obvious trash from the area, but there will be other things that you do not need to stop and consider, just toss it (recycle if possible).
*items broken & not worth repairing
*items broken & you haven’t repaired in 6 months or more since being broken
*items not loved & not worth donating (ugly, out dated, handmade, etc)
*papers/junk mail/ coupons
*worn out scissors/staplers
*old/used/damaged/unwanted craft supplies
*torn/stained/worn out clothing
*happy meal toys
*expired or never used beauty & bath supplies
Move. As in move within your home. Most likely you will come across items that belong somewhere else or to someone else. I strongly suggest having a basket or box to toss these things into because if you go to return it when you find it, its easy to get distracted and get off task.
Keep or Minimize?
This is the hard part of deciding what you keep and what you minimize. As you think through each item, here’s some questions if you don’t know the answer immediately:
*When was the last time I used this?
*Do I have something similar that is better?
*Has it served its purpose/done its duty?
*What’s more valuable–the item or the time & space that it takes up?
*Would I buy this item right now if I were in a store?
*How did I acquire the item?
In addition to those questions, keep an eye out for multiples and similar items. This is where in some areas you can really make headway in minimizing.
Also, really question the gifts, sentimental items, and memorabilia. Physical items represent memories and people and moments, but we don’t have to keep everything of every moment or every person.
Be ruthless with items that use the excuse of “someday” being useful. Many things are easily acquired or borrowed from others and do not need permanent residence in our homes and lives.
Also, for each space you’re in consider the Pareto Principle which generally states that we use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time. Figure out the 20% and get rid of the rest!
Maybes. Being a minimalist, I want to say DO NOT HAVE A MAYBE PILE. But I also live in the real world, where sometimes you just can’t make a decision. So have your maybe pile, but try your hardest to make decisions and keep this pile very small.
With this biggest and most difficult step of sorting out of the way, your home should feel lighter and you’ll be ready to move on to Step 4: Organizing.
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