pillow purgatory

I have old pillows, taking up space in my closet. Taking up the whole right side of the top shelf, in fact. But there they stay, even though Brandon and I have both bought new pillows. I have a hard time throwing away things like that, even though I know pillows have a sort of “end date” when you shouldn’t use them anymore. I feel like they’re not “broken”, so it’s difficult for me. I realize that there are gross things that move from your head to live in your pillow(after a certain point, anyway). I get that they often get yellowed with sweat over time. But for some reason, I cannot throw pillows away. I already feel guilty for not donating them, but I know that’s kind of gross.

So, they sit in my closet. In limbo. Pillow purgatory.

Try as I might, I can’t focus on what I should be focusing on. The space left by the lack of pillows. The opportunity to store something useful there. The chance to get something off the floor and put it away. We have far too much Stuff hanging out on the floor, I should be excited to have that space. But I just keep staring at the pillows, and end up sliding that closet door closed every time.

Are there items in your space that you feel guilty about getting rid of, even though you know you should?


deleting electronic clutter

E-clutter is just as important to clear out as physical clutter. It’s probably worse because much of the time, we don’t even realize it’s there. It’s that mailing list that you delete without reading every month, the site that you signed up for to two years ago because it sounded fun, the sites that you bookmark and then never look at again. I don’t do giant sweeps of my e-clutter, because that would be overwhelming. But every so often, I trim a bit. Like this week, for instance.

I took 15 minutes, sat down at my computer, and dug in. I had a couple ideas where to start, so I unsubscribed from two big sites right away(and deleted the bookmarks). My Pinterest boards took a bit longer, but there were a couple boards I never even looked at, so those went first. I even went into a board I was still interested in, and deleted some specific pins. It all counts. Even a single pin being deleted is progress.

Try not to put yourself down, or tell yourself that it’s not enough. It is enough, for today. My tweets are little pats on my back. I’m not good at self-congratulating, but this is my way of being accountable to not only my friends, but myself. I can look back and say, I did that.

before and after: anita’s office

Last week, my friend Anita put a call out to social media to help her declutter and organize some spaces in her house. I caught word of her needs and gladly volunteered myself to assist. We spent a lovely Saturday afternoon going through her upstairs office, and I feel we accomplished a lot of good. She came out of it very happy and with a lot of Stuff set to leave the house. And soon!

We started by setting out two boxes(one for items to keep and one for donation), some garbage and recycling bags, and some iced tea(for yumminess!). We picked through the piles of things that had been placed there in the past because they had no other home at the time. When we got to the closet, the door could be fixed and put on its track again. The room looks more put together with that fact alone.

Anita has told me she is planning to buy some shelving to put in the closet so the vertical space is being used functionally. I’m excited to see this in the future!

Closet Space – Before
Closet Space – After

Moving on to the desk, she went through everything quite quickly. It can be really fun when decluttering choices aren’t difficult! She was so motivated by the experience, she mentioned she was going to hit on one more spot in the office after I left.  There is still dust to tidy up and organization of items she’s keeping, but this was a huge step to being able to find items when she needs them and I’m really proud of her!

Desk Space – Before & After

If you’re nervous about starting a decluttering project, or overwhelmed at the sight of it, it’s okay to ask for help. Many people just need someone there to keep them motivated. Try not to get stressed if you can’t decide if something should stay or go. You can absolutely have a “Maybe” box. Keep it for a specific time – write a due date on it if you need to – and if you haven’t used it by that point, it’s definitely time to donate or sell it.

take five minutes

Take five minutes.

300 beautiful seconds where you can feel efficient and quick on your feet. Declutter a few objects. Clean some spots. Put away things. Whatever is going to make you feel accomplished at the end of that time.

And when you’re done, take five minutes and watch this cat clean a table.

This cat is a decluttering expert.

It’s okay to feel this way sometimes.

Congratulations on doing those five minutes!

Try to do this every day, or every other day. You’ll notice a big difference soon enough.

styling objects

Last week, I talked about levels in organizing collections. I only touched on it a bit, but I’d like to delve more in detail today. Although there is a time and place for symmetry, it is generally more visually appealing to organize small collections in groups of odd numbers. This is usually seen on bookshelves, but can be anywhere you want to group items, like a mantle or coffee table.

Of course, I’m not just talking about numbers of objects. Height and depth should also be a factor. Experiment with placement and shapes. Triangles are more dynamic than straight lines, for instance. As you can see below, this bookshelf uses both horizontal and vertical triangle shapes, while still leaving ample white space for the items to pop.

Custom Made Gold Bookshelf With Glass Shelving
image from CustomMade.com

This next image is from an article from The Everygirl, called “How to Style a Coffee Table“. Now, you don’t always have to get so fancy, but I usually clear off the day-to-day stuff before guests come over and pretty up my coffee table a bit, so maybe it’s a nice sometimes goal.

Here, they’ve created visual interest one could see both sitting beside the table and looking at it from above. I also appreciate the use of the space underneath the table as additional storage space. I myself am using some space under our sofa for books, and since it’s a neutral colour, the books get to show off a bit.

image from The Everygirl

If you find you’re having issues, just keep moving the items around until you find something that feels comfortable. Or, you could also buy an uneven shelf and play with levels that way. I think the next time I’m in the market for a bookshelf, I will look at something more visually interesting than what we have now. It’s not bad, I’m just getting bored. Often, I will contemplate a new space plan for the living room. It would be interesting to see what we could do without cutting off the space from itself. As much as I like the wide open space we (sort of) have now, I do want to experiment with creating “mini-rooms”.

And of course, with the above picture, now I’m wondering if a Lucite coffee table would be completely insane, or perfect for making the space look even bigger.

retro modern house with black and white interior palette thumb            Retro Modern Property With Black And White Interior Palette interior design
image from ION Decorating

just show up

Nike was right. Just do it. Just show up. Just, um, git’er done. It’s a tough pill to swallow, one I force myself to take every so often. But ignoring anything(clutter, mess, weight gain) doesn’t make it go away.

Most people get overwhelmed with organizing. They don’t know where to start. Even if you start with one item a day, it still counts for something. Place a bag, box, or basket anywhere that will be in your daily field of vision and then fill it. Fill it up with things you don’t use anymore, things that don’t match with your decor tastes, things that you know could have a better home. And when that receptacle is full, donate it. Or sell it. Or regift it, if they are new enough items. Basically, get it out of your space.

Like weight loss(a battle I am forcing myself to face), the process starts small. You may not see results until weeks or even months. But if you don’t start now, you will never get to that point.

Just remember I’m telling myself this as well right now. I should have bought a stationary bike months ago, and let that slide for far too long. I’m holding myself accountable to you, and tell you that since I have decluttered enough, I now have the proper space for an exercise bike. I’ll go shopping this weekend, and with luck, I will find a bike that fits both the space we have here and my budget.

simplifying can be painful

Yes, simplifying can be painful. Our society has trained us to believe more is better, when in actuality the opposite is true. We grow up with emotional attachments to objects that do not deserve space in our hearts and minds. But we can get past this. You can get past this.

Often the process alone is scary enough for most people to not start at all. That’s what professional organizers are for. For a lot of people, they’re not only hired for their expertise, they’re hired for support. Sometimes moral support is all we need to get going.

If you’re thinking of organizing soon, but are not sure how to begin, consider hiring a professional organizer in your area, or asking a friend to be there when you declutter. A friend that supports your choices and is a safe bounce board for ideas and suggestions can make the process more comfortable.