Friday, April 9, 2010

Reduce Clutter Theme for April: The Kitchen!

It's time.  Spring is here, my seedlings are sprouting, and my kitchen needs an overhaul so that I can invite health and nourishment into my home this season!
No cupboard, drawer, nook or cranny is safe from my organizing bug.

Here's a peak into some of my messes.  I can't even remember the last time I pulled out any of these cookbooks.  I usually look up recipes online or by using the Whole Foods ap on my phone.  These books are just taking up space and collecting dust.  I'm excited and I plan to take it slow as to not get too overwhelmed.  Little steps each day and uh, breathe.  Will you join us?  

Reduce Clutter; Create Space Spotlight Interview #4
*Note:  So I made a little blogging boo boo.  I posted this awesome interview below with Erin, and unfortunately I put the wrong photo up.  Poor Erin stopped by for a visit only to find out that I had replaced her face with someone else!  It was purely an accident and luckily Erin has a great sense of humor.  We both are laughing about it, but I wanted to give her the space she so deserves.  This post will stay up through Monday. Enjoy her inspiration!  (Sorry, Erin!)

Meet Erin.  She is an explorer who is committed to creating more space in her life for what matters most!  Enjoy her inspiration and humor as she shares how reducing clutter is bringing her a new found sense of motivation and peace.
(Photo courtesy of Erin Reece) 

Why have you chosen to join the "Reduce Clutter; Create Space" challenge for 2010? 
I've been feeling overwhelmed and unhappy with the state of my teeny tiny townhouse for years.  It stresses me out and has kept me from having people over.  The straw that broke the camel's back was the night my house alarm malfunctioned and three hot police officers showed up to make sure I was OK.  I was so embarrassed by the mess that my new motto became "The house must at all times be presentable enough for three hot police officers to come over".  In order to fulfill that promise I made to myself, I knew I needed to streamline and live a more minimalist life.

What does "clutter" mean to you?  
In my world, clutter has categories.  First up is the stuff you don't use which includes:  The stuff you bought that you wound up not using, but kept out of guilt.  The stuff you bought because it was an awesome deal, but you don't use.  The stuff that you used to use, but don't anymore.  And finally, there's the stuff that has a memory or emotional attachment - stuff like ticket stubs, programs, etc. 
The second kind of clutter is the stuff you want to keep, but haven't put away.  For example: the large pile of old photos I've never put into an album.  Once I put them into an album, they cease to be clutter.

The third kind is mail-related: catalogues, magazines, advertisements, etc.  This one drives me BATTY.  I stop at the recycle bin after getting the mail so I can dispose of most of this immediately.  (Unless it's something I want to read, of course.)
(Photo courtesy of Erin Reece) 

What kinds of reducing have you started?  
My bedroom has been fully decluttered, including a complete closet and dresser re-organization to accommodate the fact that I'm a visual processor.  I need to see my clothes to remember that I have them.  I've completed small projects that I've been putting off for months.  (Installing those damn Comcast digital boxes comes to mind.  It wasn't hard, it just took a long time.)  I cleared the worst closet in the house (The Closet of DOOM, if you will) where I had previously put everything I didn't know what to do with.  And I've tackled my bookshelves. 

Have you noticed any new space being created as you let things physically, mentally and emotionally go?
My bedroom is the only room that is truly done and it is my favorite room in the house.  That is no coincidence!  It is so peaceful and lovely in there and I've effortlessly created new habits to maintain that feel.  For example, I used to store my clothes on the floor, in a pile.  That has been my system for most of my life.  Now I put them away simply because my organized closet makes me so happy.  I started opening my blinds every day as well (for a plant I moved into my room) and the natural light gives the room a cleansed feeling when I get home at the end of the day.  And I'm making my bed regularly for the first time in my life.  That one still baffles me!  Where did this bed-making version of me come from?  I'm changing in ways I did not expect.

What's been the easiest part for you?
The only thing I'm particularly good at is rifling through my clothes and pulling things for Goodwill because I've done it many, many times over the years.  (The result of multiple moves.  Nothing like being forced to haul your stuff around to inspire you to get rid of it.)  I also find it easy to get rid of things.  I'm so exhausted by all my STUFF that sending it off to Goodwill has become more fun than keeping it.
(Photo courtesy of Erin Reece)

How about the hardest?
Sitting down and figuring out how to organize things and where to keep them.  This is the first time I've tried the visual closet organization and it took a little while to puzzle through how to set it up.  I'm still not convinced I've put some things in the best place and I'm still working on creating better "processes" for myself.  For example, the process of "getting home from work".  Where do I want my coat to go?  What about my shoes?  Where do I put the mail and my purse or laptop bag?  This stuff has required a lot of thought and furniture movement.  I had no idea I'd have to think so much, but it's nice to create new habits to get around my old lazy ways.

Any surprises so far?  
I had no idea that a peaceful room would feel so good AND be so motivating.  I've never been a neat person, but the way I have maintained my bedroom for the last month is shocking.  I feel genuine motivation to keep it organized because it makes me so happy.  I'm hoping that will extend to the rest of the house once I'm done decluttering.

What are your intentions for joining other "explorers" on this journey?
I'm fascinated to hear about other people's experiences and ideas.  I'm especially open to organizational tips and tricks because that has been the hardest part of the process for me.  I love that you (Shannon) have created a community for declutterers to come together.  There is a lot of motivational power in groups of like-minded folks!

Any tips, thoughts or suggestions you might want to share with others who are interested in starting to "reduce clutter" so they can "create more "space" in their lives?
A lot of this process has involved being really honest with myself about who I am and then trying to outsmart myself.  As I mentioned above, I'm working on creating better processes for myself for the stuff I do every day that has the potential to create clutter.  Also, I've had to figure out how to motivate myself to do all this hard decluttering work.  A friend told me there are two ways to get unpleasant tasks done: All at once or a little at a time, consistently.  I'm more of an all-at-once girl, but the task has proved to be bigger than a couple of dedicated weekends.  So I've morphed my declutter time to extend through April (my parents will be visiting and they get to help with some of the heavy lifting tasks.  Also the garage, where the spiders live).  I generally only declutter on weekends, recognizing that I need a break during the week.  Giving myself dedicated declutter time has helped keep me focused.  In fact, I really wasn't feeling it last weekend, so I gave myself the weekend off.  Who says it's a race?  All that matters is getting to the finish line by the end of 2010.

Thank you, Erin.  Knowing that you are out there working magic in your home gives us the courage and determination to keep on clearing!

Your Personal Reflection:  Are you ready to let go of more to make space for what matters most?
Join the challenge and share your journey.


  1. this is wonderful! those spaces look so inviting!
    I went on a wild 'chucking/sorting' spree last week.. man does it feel good!
    The heavy energy that clutter holds is incredible! it's so insidious.. creeps up.. then when you get rid of it.. oh so light!!
    Umm.. yep keep it all clear for hot fireman.. hot UPS not sure if I've seen one of those yet..hehe
    Lovely work Erin.. and I love yer wee gerbera behind the ear! a delightful goddess touch!
    Thanks for putting together a fab interview Shannon!!
    Cheers , Helen

  2. Erin- I LOVE YOU!!


  3. Yay! You are absolutely right. It's not a race. And the more you do, the more you want to keep going. Well done! I agree with Helen. Now you can invite those hot cops back....

  4. Great interview. I am excited about the kitchen challenge. I already cleaned out the freezer! Oy, piles of freezer burnt "ready-to-serve" stashed in the back! I was not pleased with all the waste my clutter had created. I vow to stop overfilling the freezer and to keep better inventory!

  5. The picture of Faux Erin was totally awesome! I think it increased my Internet Mystique. Hee hee!

    Thanks everyone and thanks Shannon... and my mom just left last weekend, so my house is almost done! My mom was a fantastic help, with organizational ideas I hadn't thought of and she provided great motivation. Decluttering when someone is helping makes it go so much faster!

  6. keep bringing on the stories! i'm loving them! i'm telling you, ever since i de-studio-ed my house, i've felt as free as a little birdie!

  7. great interview! sorry i missed the faux erin pic. please to call me too when hot cops return. can't wait to see the results of all your hard work!


Thanks for sharing!