This holiday season, I spent my time in an unusual fashion. After two years, my room got a makeover. Sure I can sweep the room, empty the trash bin, dust furniture from time to time and organize the closet but what it really needs is a good amount of RE-EXAMINATION. Yes, the operative term is re-examination. It is really difficult to throw away things that have some sentimental value and it is good to reminisce once in a while, but thing is it accumulates every day. Imagine if you save one thing a day in a year. After that one year, you’ve got 365 things. You’re room probably looks just like mine before the holidays: A L A N D F I L L !!! Question is, do you really need all of those things or are you just keeping yourself from throwing junk? Ask yourself this and if you answered yes to both of these questions then it is high time to re-examine not only your things but also that habit of yours.
Rule #1 Ask someone to be your cleaning companion.
“I won’t be a cleaning companion for someone so why would anyone want to be a cleaning companion for me?” This is true for most of us. We would do anything just to get away from cleaning. Since I was young, I would make excuses not to perform my chores. It’s not just a habit but a part of me. (Wow! I sound so proud of myself.) I realized that I should stop this mindset or else, I will be buried in my landfill. Going back to the cleaning companion, there is always that one person who would be concerned on the trash can you call your room. That person might be your mom or dad who yells at you to clean your room, your best friend who always make it a point to remind you on what a disgusting person you are, or someone who is generally concerned that you might be growing mushrooms in the amount of dust accumulated in your room. That person could possibly help you to re-examine if what you have is for keeps or just plain trash.
Rule #2 Reality Check: You need a LOT of Trash Bags!
You need to prepare your cleaning tools and equipment. You know your room more than anyone so you should know on what to use. A broom and a dustpan will not do. You might need rags, a mop and even a vacuum cleaner. Make sure that you have enough trash bags and boxes to use. Use gloves and face mask to protect yourself from harmful chemicals and dust. You also need a marker, sticky notes or paper and packaging tapes to help you label and organize.
Rule #3 Classify. Categorize.
There should be a system in cleaning and it is up to you to make those. For me, boxes are for donation or for keeping and trash bags are for throwing away. Make sure that your system works for you. Otherwise, it will just be all for nothing.
Rule #4 Cleaning is an emotional process. Be objective.
You might think that the candy wrapper your crush gave to you when you were in Grade 4 is worth putting up in a frame but your cleaning companion might say otherwise. Things with sentimental value are just things and will not be a substitute for the real relationship.
I would say that the photo albums and the picture frames are the most difficult to put in the trash bin. I confess that I have not yet put mine for the garbage truck’s taking. I don’t know what to do with it. Should I throw it away and let scavengers discover me and my family’s pictures? (Those pictures could be used by someone else right?) Should I put it in a box and let dust accumulate over it through time? I really don’t know. If I have the energy, I would scan, save and shred. I don’t have that energy so I might just put it in a box. If you got a suggestion, I would like to hear of it.
Rule #5 Keeping things should have an expiry date.
We keep things that it may be of some use in the future. Ribbons, paper bags, and shoe boxes to give you some examples. Sometimes we use it, sometimes we don’t. If you’re that creative, you can see the potential in things and really make something later. But if you keep it, let’s say for one year, and don’t have anything planned, then it’s time to give it up.
Rule #6 If in doubt, you don’t need it that much.
As a follow up for Rules 3, 4 and 5, letting go of things might be too hard for you. But if you ask yourself if you need it or make use of it and you said no or maybe, then it is time to dispose of it. This might be useful for the things in your closet. If you like bags just like me, you know you cannot use all of them. You can categorize it according to your usage intention: will always use, will use occasionally, or will no longer use. There will always be someone who needs that item so you can give it to your cleaning companion as a reward or you can always put up a garage sale.
Rule #7 Make your own rules.
Cleaning is a journey. Learn from it. Remember it is also a re-examination of your room, your things, and you. As you go along, you might end up throwing away those things that have a piece of your heart and history but it is up to you to make the decision on what to throw away.
I hope you learn something from this. Have a clutter free New Year!!