Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Organized
Top-Level Declutter Tips
Okay, the pep talk wasn't enough. You're experiencing pangs of distress at the thought of decluttering the electric pasta machine.
Even though you haven't used it in the four years you've had it, you can't bear to part with it--or with seventeen dozen other must-have, don't-use kitchen toys.
These back-up strategies can help would-be declutterers with more desire than willpower.
If "Dare to dump it!" falls short, try these secondary methods to boost yourself over the dump-it hump.
Box And Banish
You can't, just can't, part with that set of Twelve Days of Christmas cookie cutters. Despite the fact that you bought them the year your 15-year-old was born and have never used them since, you just know that someday you'll create an heirloom to be treasured by future generations using only salt dough, red ribbon, and these very cookie cutters.
You need to break the thrall of this particular fantasy before you can dispose of the cookie cutters. So, you'll box and banish--a painless method of breaking the ties that bind this and every other compelling kitchen daydream to your limited cabinet space.
Place the cookie cutters and every other pang-in-the-heart item that you don't quite use but can't really part with into a large box. At the end of the kitchen declutter session, seal the box with packing tape, label it "Kitchen Declutter" and date it. Take it to the attic, garage or storage area and leave it there.
Come back in six months to a year. Have you opened the box to retrieve any of these items? Missed them? Experienced even a brief tug of the brain-pan on their behalf? No? Without opening the box, take the entire thing to the thrift store drop-off and give yourself a pat on the back. If you have made a mistake, you've reclaimed it already, so go ahead and donate!
Box and banish provides a simple way to derail declutter distractions without undue anguish. By building in a breathing space between getting decluttered items out of the kitchen and getting them to the yard sale, you've broken the sentimental attachment to the ... to the ... gosh, I can't even remember!
That, m'dear, is the point.
Focus On Giving
For some, barriers to decluttering rise upon foundations of economics. Phrases similar to "But I paid $____ for that rotary meat slicer!" or "But this teakettle might be worth something someday!" interpose themselves between you and the decision to declutter.
Both concerns are grounded in notions of value, so trump them by reaching for a higher one: charity. That teakettle may--or may not--have an eventual economic value, but to a family living on the edge, it can provide immediate comfort in the form of hot tea on a cold night.
Calm money-related declutter jitters by finding more direct form of giving than a yard sale or thrift store. Call the local battered women's shelter or facility for the homeless and ask if they accept household goods.
Kitchen basics are desperately needed by families in transition, who often move into housing from the street, with little more than the clothing on their backs. Knowing that your surplus items will meet an immediate, true need can get you over the obsession with what they might be worth someday.
And you will help. Consider this: these families don't have the luxury of possessions to declutter!
A Final Solution
Finally, there's a never-fail, if drastic, solution to kitchen decluttering. Some have this thrust upon them through a remodel or repair job, while others embrace it as a fell-swoop method to get the job done.
It's simple. Go to your kitchen. Remove every blessed article from every drawer, cupboard and shelf. Place these items in lidded boxes, and move them to a nearby storage area.
Meal by meal, retrieve from the boxes only those items necessary for that meal and return them to the kitchen.
Making mashed potatoes? The peeler and the potato masher come out of the cold and into the kitchen for good.
It's a good way to sift out surpluses of multiple items: a family of four may find only six out of sixteen dinner plates are required in their new, lean kitchen.
After several weeks, this method absolutely separates the sheep from the goats. Items in active use are in the kitchen where they belong, and the "goats" are already boxed and ready to be moved out.
For would-be minimalists, this is the declutter method of choice. For others, it's like taking bad-tasting medicine: it's drastic, but it works!