A mere 10 days ago, I shared my organizational shame with the world (or at least with the blog-o-sphere) as part of my participation in Org Junkie's 29 day Organizational Challenge.. In case you've forgotten…. it looked like this:
This was 12 years of accumulation into what I once affectionately called “Our Basement Dumping Ground”. But the time for change had come… and Laura from Org Junkie provided just the kick in the pants that I needed to actually tackle this long-overdue chore. (And if you'd like to gawk at more “before” pictures of my Big Basement Project, feel free to have a look-sie).
So in the last 10 days, Steve and I have started the decluttering process. The first thing that we “unearthed” was the furniture that we had stored down here… it was actually stuck in the middle of this great big mountain, and over the years more stuff was just piled around it. Now most of the furniture that we have stored down here is pretty nice stuff that is worth keeping around… but we needed to find a better way to store it in a more out-of-the-way location within our basement. So we started by emptying out one entire corner nook- ours is an old house that has seen many changes over the years, and so our basement has some odd nook areas that are actually coming in handy when tackling a project like this!
We tunneled our way in and dug out all of the furniture items, decided which ones to keep, and which ones it was time to find a new home for. We then stacked all of this into one clean and orderly corner nook. Then we spent another hour or two working on decluttering the center area of the basement. And for the first time in years- we can actually see the floor!
There is still a large amount of work ahead of us… but we are following this process:
1. Work from left to right
We start in the left-most area of a “section”, and we declutter every item, every box, every bin we find as we go- working our way towards the right. Nothing is left until “later”. We deal with each and every item as we reach it.
2. Touch every item and decide- keep, donate, toss, or relocate
Last week when I wrote about “How to Clean Out Your Closet” I talked about the golden rule of how to decide what to keep: you must either love it, use it, need it, OR want it… AND you must have room for it. If the item doesn't meet that criteria… it must either be donated or trashed. And there will be some items that meet your criteria of things to keep- but really do not belong in the basement. In that case, relocate them to their proper home!
3. Create areas for categories of sorted items
While eventually (before the end of this project) I intend to create permanent homes for all of these categories of goods that we want to keep, right now I have so much to sort through that I can't be concerned with what the final “layout” of the basement is going to be. So for now, we just used existing shelving to create sorted areas- meaning the only thing that is going on these shelves are items that have gone through our decluttering process and met the requirements for keeping around.
I have started small areas for things I intend to sell on Ebay, presents that I have purchased to give as birthday party gifts, items that I plan to donate to a birthday-in-a-box charity, items for camping, paper goods storage, candles and items for emergencies (hey- we've lived through two week-long power outages just since August!), items to be used in holiday decorating in our home, school supplies, and arts and crafts supplies. And then there is also a general pile of stuff we need to keep that does not fit into one of these categories- like all of these coolers and mini-fridge. It's okay that don't fit into a “category”… just keep them all together in one sorted and cleaned area.
By the way- everything that we have decided to donate, we have moved into the garage for now (thank goodness for the mild winter so my hubby can park his car outside!). We have reached out to our local Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization, and they will be making a stop here next week to pick up the first large load of goodies (and I will share a picture of out donation pile here next week!)
4. To declutter and sort, you do not need to buy anything!
This is not the time to go out and buy cute little containers! Until you have decluttered and sorted- you have no idea what you are going to need to store! So just focus on the sorting and cleaning. The shopping can come later… if it is even needed.
And you know what else is cool?
Starting on a big project like this is kind of addictive. And before you know it- you're giving the evil-eye to all of those cabinets and drawers in your kitchen that are out of control too. Just today, I took only 10 minutes to tackle this mini-project… to declutter this cabinet where we store our water bottles and thermoses for sports and school lunches….
Whoo hoo! Bring it ON!
So there you have it… 10 days in and we are on our way- and SO motivated to continue! Now it's your turn…. What's one area in your own home that you would like to tackle in the next 19 days? It certainly doesn't need to be as huge as this project. Do you have a closet or even a drawer in your kitchen that needs help? Then join me here! Leave a comment with what you are committing to declutter in the month of February- or head over to Org Junkie and link up your project too! We can do this!