What you do at the beginning of the year sets the tone and direction of the new year. This year set your intention to take the 12 Months of Clutter Clearing Challenge. Commit to clearing your entire home of those things you no longer love or use.
Sound like a tall order? It is! But, it can be done following the 12 Months of Clutter Clearing Plan. Each month you focus on clearing one specific area.
January-Your bedroom closet
Why your bedroom closet? Your clothes are an extension of you. Ideally they should reflect who you are today. If you want to be clear about who you are and what you want, the best thing you can do is clear your closet. Also, once your closet has been tackled, the rest of the bedroom will be much easier to clear. A clear bedroom can have a profound positive effect on your health because your body is exposed to its energy for at least 6 to 8 hours every night.
Eeeew!!!! Yuck!!! Why do the home office so early in the year? Normally I would recommend that you deal with anything that has to do with paper further along in the process because paper can shut you down faster than any other kind of organizing. But, the home office is usually the heart of organizing finances. It’s a good idea to be grounded regarding finances as soon as possible in a new year. If you have volumes of paper in your home office that you just can’t make yourself clear because of fear or overwhelm, consider getting help to do it from a friend or professional. Or, you could clump all paper to be cleared in boxes that you set aside until later in the year. Once the distracting paper is clumped, focus on clearing out other items (old software, manuals, office supplies, etc.) and setting up the home office for ease of functioning.
The kitchen is the heart of the home. It is a high activity area. Working there will clear out old food stuffs that are past their expiration date and create a space where positive interactions are possible.
The garage is a clearing project many people tend to avoid, probably because it’s a big, complex area and because it’s usually a dirty job. But, clearing the garage before the season when yard tools and recreational equipment will be used makes the process of accessing those items more appealing. And, why have that stuff if you can’t access it? Because the garage is a big job, break it down by section. For example, work on tools one weekend, recreational equipment the next and so on. Or, you could look for items from the entire garage to clear the first weekend. Then, the next weekend reorganize the items that are left. If the job is still too daunting, get help at least to get started. Once you’ve broken through the overwhelm you may be able to finish on your own.
Whew! May is an easy month because it’s the Mother’s Day month. Since women often take the lead with clutter clearing, I wanted to be sure that they get a bit of a break this month. Linen closets are usually not as challenging as other closets, unless you also keep toiletries in them. Clear out those nasty, ragged towels, unless you use them for bathing dogs. And, get real about the sheets! If they are looking paper thin, it’s time to invest in some new sheets.
The utility room is another challenging place to clear. Like the garage it’s usually a multi-function work and storage space. That creates complexity. And, I’ve found that many people are seduced by cleaning products. They often have multiples of products that do the same thing. Decide which products you actually use and get rid of the rest! Also, make sure that all products are visible. If you can’t see an item, you won’t use it.
Bathroom closets and cabinets are another haven of products that once seemed like just the thing for your hair or nails or teeth, but that in actuality were used just once or twice and never used again. I’m not sure why they don’t get thrown away immediately. Perhaps because they cost money or because you hope they’ll miraculously work better the next time. Clear out those stagnant items!
Unless your child is incapable of getting rid of things or is too young to make decisions, I recommend that clearing children’s rooms involve the children at some point in the process. Involving them is an excellent way to teach them not only how to clear clutter, but that it must be done from time to time. They will learn that some of their belongings are temporary residents in their room. Once they have outgrown them, they should be released. Clearing a child’s room with the child is also an excellent opportunity to teach him/her the idea of community service. The child is blessed to have all they have. When they are done with their toys, books and clothes they then have the opportunity to pass them on to others who are less fortunate.
Hall closets can become dumps for miscellaneous items. Don’t know what to do with something? Throw it into the hall closet! Check those spaces for what is actually used at some point during the year. Clear out faded flags and hats, coats and gloves that never get worn. And, what about the boots that litter the floor? If you have games in your hall closet, are they still pulled out and played? How many vacuum cleaners do you have in there? Which one works best?
Like the garage, the attic is a huge daunting project. But, feng shui teaches that the attic is the area of your hopes and aspirations. If you clear the attic, you get clear about what you want and you make space to get more of what you really want. Is it worth facing the nightmare up there? You bet! If your attic is packed tight I recommend that you first look for big “Duh!”items. Those are the things that are no brainers for pitching–for example, the two Christmas trees you haven’t used in a decade. Clearing out those items will loosen up the space, making it possible to think more clearly. Once a few sizable items have left the space you’ll be encouraged by your progress and feel more enthusiasm to release more. Put all small items and paper aside to deal with last. Don’t get bogged down with the minutia! By the way, books NEVER belong in the attic. They can’t be accessed for reading there and the temperature extremes will ruin them. If they are so unimportant that they end up in the attic, give them away!
Guest rooms either become dumping grounds, multi-purpose rooms or stagnant spaces for things that don’t matter much. Clearing will help you get clear about what you really want that room to be. The energy of every part of the house affects the energy of the whole and what happens in your life. Clear the dump. Clear and reorganize this multi-purpose room. Release the things you no longer love or use that made their way to your guest room. Clearing the guest room will also make it possible to have loved ones stay with you during the holiday season.
December is too busy a time to do any big organizing projects. But, you will be pulling out your seasonal decorations. When you do, notice which items you use and what stays in the boxes. Pitch those decorations that haven’t emerged from their boxes in two years. Clearing your decorations down to just those that actually get used will make the prospect of decorating next year much more appealing.
Some of you may be wondering what you do during the month assigned to the garage if you don’t have a garage. Or, if you don’t have children, what do you do in August. What about the basement? I don’t have a basement (yeah!), so I didn’t include it. But, if you do have a basement, you can substitute it for clearing out children’s rooms if you have no children or the garage if you have no garage. You may also choose to tackle the basement instead doing one of the other areas that you know won’t be difficult for you to squeeze in during another month.
My intention in setting specific goals each month is to help you focus your organizing efforts. It’s very easy to be distracted by the noise of clutter all over the house. If you choose to take the 12 month challenge, commit to tackling and completing that one area each month. If the area is too big to do by yourself, get friends, family or professional help to make it happen. And, remember that it’s ESSENTIAL that you maintain your day to day organizing processes and systems in addition to your monthly clearing project. If you don’t, you’ll be creating a new nightmare while you’re clearing another.
Having a monthly clearing goal will also help you pace yourself. Once you feel some of the benefits of clearing you may be tempted to do massive clearing all at once. Clearing too much too fast will shift energies to quickly. This can result in chaos in your life or physical illness. Pace yourself by limiting your clearing efforts to one area per month.
What is most important is that you do some clearing each month. My suggestions are just that — suggestions. Feel free to tailor this plan to work with the realities of your climate, your energy and your family situation.
If you take this challenge, I would love to hear from you about your progress, challenges and how your life changes as a result of your commitment to clearing. Clearing your whole house will transform your life. It takes courage to take on this challenge. Be open and ready for big changes!