Last month, I finished decluttering my kitchen. Well, I finished decluttering almost my whole kitchen. I ran into a roadblock when I got to my built-in desk, which doubles as my home office. There were papers, pens, photos, envelopes, coupons — current and long expired. Then, there was the junk drawer. Oh, the junk. So, I did what any sensible person who was on a decluttering mission would do. I called it quits and chose to savor the work in the rest of my kitchen.
Still, I was bitten by the decluttering bug, and the only solution is less stuff. So, I committed to tackling the rest of my kitchen this month. That meant that nothing was safe. No errant paper, no miscellaneous Post-It, nothing. After carefully combing through my office supplies, I was able to abandon 68% of the items that were currently taking up space in my desk.
So what did I ditch?
Office Supplies – I eliminated over 52 office supplies, and chose to donate all of them to students in need. In all truthfulness, I could not believe how many pens and markers I had squirreled away in various drawers.
My main desk drawer now contains:
- Two pencils
- Two pens
- A permanent marker
- One eraser
- One pencil sharpener
- Tape and tape dispenser
- One glue stick
- A handful of paper clips
- A handful of rubber bands
- A note pad
- Two packs of Post-It Notes
In many respects, this list seems far from minimal. However, it is important to remember that Mr. P and I are both teachers. While I do much more grading than he does, having these supplies on hand makes both our lives easier.
Coupons, Receipts, Store Flyers – I had over one hundred coupons stashed in my cabinet, many of which were long expired. In addition to coupons, I had current store flyers, plus I had dozens of receipts from shopping trips that I made over a month ago. They are all now resting in their graves within the recesses of the recycling bin. Obviously, this deep clean underscored the importance of reducing the amount of paper that comes into my home. In addition to ditching junk mail in the recycle bin before I come in the house, I also started using the Key Ring app to get rid of store loyalty cards and the Shoeboxed app for receipts. This exercise was also the final nudge I needed to finish enrolling in online bill pay for the last few bills that I had not previously switched.
Junk Drawer Junk – I cannot even begin to explain the clown-car-like experience that was emptying this drawer. As soon as I thought we could not have possibly jammed any extra stuff into this drawer, there was another handful. While many items were tools and parts that belonged in the garage or basement, there was also an abundance of unnecessary items. After transplanting the essential items back to their rightful homes, we discarded another 41 items.
Knickknacks – I do not keep picture frames on my desk, and I do not have much use for bric a brac in my office, especially since my office is in my kitchen. Still, there were five trinkets that I was holding onto more out of obligation than anything else. As a result, they are now being sold or donated. While it may sound a bit crass or unappreciative, I am not keeping things that do not add utility or happiness.
So what’s next? Ultimately, I gathered up 305 items in my office and was able to eliminate 209 of them. While I still have belongings in my four desk drawers, I also now have an entirely empty cabinet above my desk that fits my 2:1 tablet and purse.
Be it human nature, strategic marketing, consumer culture, or maybe a mix of all three, it seems that we are programmed to fill up every nook and cranny in our lives. I realize now how freeing empty space can be. As a result, I’m committed to spending the rest of 2016 creating more of it in the remainder of our house.
So Tell Me…How do you keep clutter at bay? Do you have any decluttering tips or tricks?