5 Easy Steps to Freedom

So the plan is hatched and nothing is stopping me now.  We have just come to the end of a holiday weekend and the majority of my time has been devoted to my “other job” – writing, blogging and enacting my own decluttering plan.  On Friday night after work I made a start on my own slash and burn (Steps 1 & 2) – and today I  start my 20 minute steps.


The task ahead

The task ahead

My "work" space - can't wait to tackle this one!

My “work” space – can’t wait to tackle this one!

There actually is a workbench under all that.

There actually is a workbench under all that.


Before you read my plan let me share this with you – a paragraph from Julia Cameron‘s “The Artist’s Way”.

“By tossing out the old and unworkable, we make way for the new and suitable.  A closet stuffed with ratty old clothes does not invite new ones.  A house overflowing with odds and ends and tidbits you’ve held on to for someday has no space for the things that might truly enhance today.

“When the search-and-discard impulse seizes you, two crosscurrents are at work: the old you is leaving and grieving, while the new you celebrates and grows strong.”

Looks quite tidy - but I could lessen the load.

Looks tidy – but I could lessen the load.

Now read the plan below – right to the end. Spend time digesting each step, especially Step 1. (This is the crux of the whole plan).  Do some planning on paper first if you need to – don’t be afraid to write down your reasons for decluttering, or what you want to achieve – be specific.  Describe how you may feel about throwing out or giving certain items away,  and how you would like to feel after you have achieved this.


5 Easy Steps to Freedom – Making decluttering fun – not a chore!

Step 1. Question yourself.

  • Generically Why did I start keeping “stuff” in the first place?  Place importance on your reason, think about it, be kind to yourself if it’s a trauma, and try to unload any possible unhappiness.  Write it down – it really helps to put it behind you.  If you can let go of the unhappiness then it’s easier to let go of the “stuff”.
  • Specifically – Look at each item and ask, When did I last use that? (Now it depends on your end goal as to how brutal you are here) You could say that if you haven’t used it for one year then it goes out – I tend to think that one year is a little severe but whatever the limit you arrive at – stick to it.

Step 2. Decide which areas are to be tackled.

  • Have a good look around your home, sheds, garage, studio and garden spaces. Decide which areas you wish to clear out.  Drawing a plan of your home helps, using colours to shade the different areas that need attention.  Make a list of the tasks required to declutter each area, leaving it in a prominent place – and tick off each area as you go.  This helps with motivation and you can actually map your progress – the more ticks the closer to your goal. Wow!
  • Discuss it – with your family, or just yourself!
  • Commit your decision to paper  – as in “I, Cate Walker, commit to completing the tasks listed to successfully declutter my home.”   Sign and date it.  Place copies of the “pledge” around the house – in the areas that need work.  (Committing to paper actually makes you accountable to yourself)
  • Don’t spend TOO much time on the decision-making progress – it doesn’t have to be perfect, there’s room for flexibility, as long as it doesn’t distract you from the action required.  Remember, procrastination is the enemy.

Step 3. Allocate regular blocks of time, and commit to ridding yourself of a certain amount each time.

  • The 20 minute rule!  Here you need to be realistic.  There’s no point coming home from work intending to spend 3 hours each night clearing out the garage and expecting to succeed.  You won’t!  Think small blocks of time and a specific target each day.  I am thinking 20 minutes each evening – smaller blocks of time are achievable, you can always extend to 30 minutes or even an hour if you’re “on a roll”.  But always do the minimum 20 minutes.
  • The 5-10 item rule!  Allocate how much you wish to get rid of in that 20 minutes.  Aim to throw out at least five items each time – or ten if you like, but stick to that number.   When I say “throw out” I mean remove from your property – either in the rubbish bin, to the charity bin, sell on e-Bay (or similar) – do not relocate to another box or room.  If you think somebody else will benefit from your “trash” try the following ideas – hospitals love old books and magazines, your kids may be moving out of home and could use the old armchairs or excess mugs and glasses, or the local patchwork group could use some of your excess fabrics.
  • This is totally achievable!  Each night you can easily maintain your goal of 20 minutes/10 items – imagine what you can do in a week, or a month!

Step 4. Photograph your progress.

  • As you are progressing so quickly – and painlessly, because you have planned it so well – it is surprising how quickly you forget what it all looked like before you started.
  • Use the photographs as motivation to keep you going  – and as inspiration for others to follow your lead.

Step 5. Celebrate.

  • Invite your friends around to celebrate your achievements – you will be amazed how many more people you can fit in your house and garden!
  • But…remain true to the habits you have formed to achieve your goals.  Maintain your free space and mental freedom to try other more enjoyable pursuits.
  • Finally, give yourself a treat – paint that old chair you have been “getting round to” for years – your workbench is now clear to do the job, and you have room to put the chair in your study, in a nice sunny corner.  Now you can sit in your “new” chair, complete with the cushion you made, and read a book – with a clear conscience.  Ahh!


So what do you think?  Sounds easy – and it will be lots of fun.  Imagine all the things you will rediscover – and the memories that will go with those items.  Some memories will be good, and some not so good.  But don’t waste time on this – keep going.  Getting rid of the bad memories will free your mind for the new happy and fulfilling ones.

I can’t wait to begin!  And I’m looking forward to being accountable to all of you by updating my progress on this blog.  Keep following me.  If you know someone who could do with some help in this area of their lives share this blog with them.  But the best example is to do it yourself – then they will notice the difference in you.  Good luck!

Please share your thoughts on the plan, or any great ideas you have, in the comments section below and connect with me via Facebook and Twitter.  I would love to hear of your progress as well, and how it worked for you.


2 thoughts on “5 Easy Steps to Freedom

  1. Pingback: Counting seconds – or making them count. | Start a Conversation

  2. Pingback: I Love Decluttering! | Start a Conversation

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