5 Steps to Start Minimizing

Project Eliminate // 5 steps to get started
Hi! Welcome to week 1 of Project Eliminate! If you're new here, checkout last week's pre-week post for a little background and links to all related posts. I officially start eliminating (does that make anyone else think of bowel movements? I might need to think of a new phrase) tomorrow, but I'm jumping in today with my goals for the next five weeks and some tips and resources that might help you with your own simplifying.

The Minimizing Plan

As I mentioned in my monthly resolution post for Minimizing May, my plan is simple:
27 days, 27 areas, 27 things
That's one area each day (I'm taking breaks once a week for Sabbath), and at least one item from each area that will need to be let go of. I plan to get rid of lots more than that, but this will hold me accountable to constantly be asking myself, What can I let go of today?

More specifically, I'd love to see improvements in the following areas:
front closet - everything is a big jumbled mess; the kind that you crack the door, throw something in and shut it real quick before it all flies back out at you

kitchen - Ian's been getting into the bottom cupboard and drawers, so more and more is being shoved into the top cupboards; it all needs a fresh start

laundry closet - limited crafting space is overflowing with items I didn't want to make a decision about right away

hallway - this whole area is our current "outbox" getting in the way of our walking, nevermind that it's a terrible eyesore; it all needs to be cleared out

hall closet - this has needed worked on since we moved in; it's a jumbled mess of tools, medicine, a large unused quilt, and rarely used cosmetics

kids' closet - outgrown clothes have been shoved to the bottom of the closet and Christmas stuff overwhelms almost half (I think I might have convinced Daniel to let us get rid of the tree)

kids' bedroom - toys are overwhelming again and new bookshelf is still in box

our bedroom - our clothes need reevaluated, Daniel needs some shelf space for a few non-hanging items, and our office stuff is difficult to get to

our bathroom - after almost 6 months of happily no 'pooing and over 3 years without tampons, I'd say it'd be okay to get rid of my almost new bottles of shampoo and conditioner and a 3-year-old box of tampons

Getting Started Minimizing

Here is some more information that helped me and might help you too. I may expound on some of these items in the next couple weeks, but here's the basics...

1. Create a landing strip. (And learn to say "no.")

Before we dive into our high school sweaters or our child's outgrown onesies, we need to address the issue of the steady stream of stuff that flows into our homes. Give-aways, hand-me-downs, thrifted goods, new-with-tags items. The flow needs to be stopped, or our efforts in eliminating will be stifled. This includes two parts, one concept {a} I learned from Max and the other {b} I learned from Bea (yes, in my imagination, I'm on a first-name basis with these two):
{a} Create a landing strip--a front door filter to grab our most-used items when we leave (shoes, bag, keys), set down the items most commonly brought home (shoes, bag, keys, mail), and reconsider items before they make a semi-permanent addition to our homes (previously mentioned give-aways, hand-me-downs, etc.); and

{b} Learn to say NO--reconsidering our own "needs" (no, we don't need a tenth purse), refusing unnecessary give-aways (no, we don't want another free pen), reevaluating our hobbies (no, we don't need to tempt ourselves with a third day-in-a-row of "window" shopping).

2. Set up an outbox.

An outbox is simply a place (closet, hall, basement, landing strip) to put items that might or might not need to be gotten rid of. This is so important to making quick and effortless decisions as you work through each area. You pick up an item and if for any reason it doesn't belong, it goes in the outbox.

Within a week or so you can usually return to the outbox and know what needs to be done with everything. Either
{a} you still love it and/or need it and it will be returned to it's proper location in your home; or
{b} you didn't miss it or need it and it needs to be gotten rid of (donated, sold, gifted, trashed). It's like trying out letting go of things before hauling it to Goodwill and committing to your decision.

3. Start a home style tray.

This is the collection of images that remind us what we're striving for--clean, organized, clutter-free. Whatever spaces make us think I could live there, should be included in this inspiration board. We can clip from magazines and glue into a scrapbook or pin to a corkboard or Pin images to a designated board on Pinterest. Eventually these images could lead us to more detailed design ideas, but for now we'll be inspired by their cleanliness, organization and lack of clutter.

Here are three of my favorite sources for home inspiration:

4. Reference a resource or two.

Some of us need a little more detailed how-to from the professionals. There are countless blogs, Web sites, books at the ready. Here are some I've enjoyed:
Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
The Joy of Less by Francine Jay
The Fast and Furious 5 Step Organizing Solution by Susan C Pinsky

The 20/20 Cure on the Apartment Therapy blog

Web sites:
Real Simple

5. Document progress.

Any major change or endeavor needs a group of supporters cheering us on. Let's share our progress with our friends and family on Facebook, talk about it with our coworkers, and, of course, blog about it sharing the link below. We don't have to struggle through this alone, and we certainly need a well-deserved "Nice work" when all is said and done!


also see:
new? start here...
project eliminate series
simplifying home series
monthly dose of simple