Welcome to the sixth post in the Createyou86 Domestic Tourists November Blog Series. Clutter it might be something that you deal with every day, and you might not know how to avoid it. To plan a cross-country trip you can't have clutter. Here are a few ways that we got rid of the clutter, and packed for our trip.
I have dealt with clutter most of my life. I'm not a hoarder, but i like stuff, and especially paper stuff. This would explain my love for stationary, and other paper products (this started when i was little, and liked to play school or teacher. I would make fake tests on paper, and keep stacks of paper for later use). When i found the Filofax, and planner world i was in heaven. This gave me more reasons to buy stuff, and add clutter to my life. However, when we decided that we were going to be driving cross-country everything changed. In preparation for our trip i began to de-clutter my life, and my belongings. A Hyundai Elantra is not a large vehicle to fit tons of stuff in. In fact, it is relatively small. This made it so i had to pair down what i would bring with me that i had accumulated over an almost two year period of time. Here are a few ways that i did that.
1. Take Your Time
I didn't just throw everything away in one fell swoop to make room. I took my time. This meant starting about two months ahead of time, and cleaning out my things little by little. It sucks to throw out or donate things that you have grown attached to, but with enough time you should find it easier to get rid of the unneeded, and unwanted clutter. I started VERY small. I started with tiny post-it notes that i hadn't used in a long time or that there were only a few left of. From there i gradually eased into boxes that i hadn't used, and larger items that could be donated.
2. Divide, and Re-conquer
This means that you should take things from boxes that you may have been storing, and divide them into smaller boxes. When you get to the point that the items can't fit into the smaller boxes anymore maybe its time to get rid of them, or donate them. As i said in previous posts in this series, i paired down from 7 boxes to 4 boxes, and even considered less than that. While you are dividing the items name them out loud. This small action can give you reassurance that this item might be too big, and needs to go, or remind you that it is important enough to keep.
3. You Can Help
Are you keeping boxes of toys for your future grandchildren that don't exist yet? Chances are that popular toys will change in a couple of years. Some cool toys to keep would be (in my humble opinion) Tinker Toys, and Lincoln Logs. Those toys that you have been storing away could help a family in need at the holidays, or even a local shelter. Donating is the way to go when cleaning, and decluttering. You never know what someone else who doesn't have as many things as you would love to own. The same goes for clothing. Use the Salvation Army or The Red Cross to donate clothing that you haven't worn in the past year or so. I did this when packing, but gave the items to my neighbor who was around the same size as me. I saw her about a week later, and she said she had saved a ton of the clothes that i had given her, and donated the rest. I also made two trips to the Salvation army myself with containers that i no longer used, and other items like books. You can also trade in old video games, and systems at Gamestop for cash, or store credit.
4. How Many Is Too Many?
Do you have duplicates of things? Ask yourself how many you REALLY need. There is no way you will use 5 nail polishes mostly in the same shades in the next few months. Also how many Cardigans do you really wear when it gets cold. Do you need several black sweaters, or are two okay? Can you make some room by taking ten sets of Christmas card boxes, and putting all of your Christmas cards in one box? This is what i do, and it saves a ton of room!
5. Do I Love You?
I have a ton of things, but not everything makes me feel good. I find that it is easier to get rid of things that i do not have an attachment to. This applied for worn out shoes, clothes, books that i hadn't touched in about a year, and stationary items i though i might use one day, but really didn't need. If i held it in my hand, and had to keep it, i kept it, but if i got that "ehh" feeling it was a goner.
6. Guilty or Not Guilty
Guilt is something that most people feel when they are cleaning. With as attached to things as we get there is no question that this would happen. However, you are under no obligation to keep things that someone else has given you. Chances are you are only making it harder on yourself, because that person forgot long ago about that sweater they bought you for your birthday 15 years ago, that you have only worn once. This is something that has happened to me, but i would rather give that item a new home where someone will actually use it, and it won't sit in an unmarked box in the back of my closet because i feel bad for not using it.
7. Use A Planner
When i found the Filofax, and planner community i lost it. In a good way! All of a sudden i had a creative, and organized way to plan my months, days, and years. I put together sections for health, finances (bills), notes, blogging, to-do lists etc. This gave me an excuse to put my bills, invitations, etc. somewhere where they could be kept safe, and would not be forgotten about. Using a planner helps organize your world, and you won't forget where your bills are when you need to pay them.
Unfortunately in 2009 our family suffered a huge loss. Our house burnt to the ground, and many of the "things" that my mother had been saving since pre-school such as toys, or artwork (there were BOXES of artwork from myself, and my sister) were ruined. When the inspector went through the house he had to take count of everything in the house EVERYTHING (for the insurance company to be able to reimburse us)! You never really think about just how many things you accumulate over 24 years, but here are some examples, and we are by no means a hoarding family, and we regularly (at least once a year) donated items to The Salvation Army. My mother has worked for the Gap for fifteen years, and when you work there you have to buy the clothing that they sell (essentially you are a walking advertisement). Of the items that were not burnt or ruined otherwise here are a few of the things that the inspector counted.
Flip Flops- 30 pairs
4 Huge stacks of National Geographic Magazines (basement ruined by water)
300 Grateful Dead CD's (my dad's love!)
This was over 400 items without even counting any other items in the house!!!!! On the flip side this huge loss was actually a huge gain. The house was rebuilt, and new systems for organization were put in place. There aren't anymore stacks of magazine that nobody reads anymore, and the closets are much smaller so there isn't any room for unused clothing. My mom was able to save a few choice pieces of artwork from when we were little, and framed them for us.
All of these methods were methods that we used when planning our cross country trip. We hope that you find these tips useful.
What item (s) do you think that you have the most of in your home? Let us know in the comments below!