Remove one

One of the challenges in my ongoing de-cluttering efforts has been the simple fact of having children – and, thus, all their toys, drawings, books and other precious things.

I am fortunate that one of my sons has a natural preference for tidy spaces, and actually enjoys tidying his room (although doing this consistently is a longer term project!) My other son is at the other extreme…

We recently rediscovered the spare bed in his bedroom by the simple process of sticking all the papers and bits and pieces covering it in a (large) box. Which left the question:

“What now?”

The thought of sitting down and working through it all on the spot was overwhelming. We were both already tired from the labour of moving it off the bed and into the box.

In addition to this, my son finds the decision-making process in tidying up to be very hard work – and I find watching him try to make decisions hard work! So in the interests of simplicity and an easy (and eventually less cluttered) life for all of us, we decided to try a new approach.

Rather then an exhausting mega-tidying effort of everything all at once, which leaves us all stressed and grumpy – and usually with plenty more left to do – we have started a more gradual process:

  1. Everyday my son chooses one thing to keep and one to remove. If he wants to choose more to keep that day, then he has to choose the same amount to remove.
  2. We keep doing this until all his papers fit in the designated underbed storage box – and possibly beyond then.

It is simple, and it is proving effective. He has very quickly got into the habit of it, sometimes even doing the job before he heads to school in the morning. It is one of a small list of jobs he has to do before he is allowed his daily computer turn, so there is a strong incentive!

Because it is a manageable size job requiring only two decisions (and the ‘Keep’ decision is generally easy), he’s not getting stressed and grumpy, so neither am I (about that anyway!), and we are slowly but surely making headway.

And because it is working so well for him, I have decided to do the same; though for me, it is just the ‘Remove’ part (I don’t need the incentive of the ‘Keep’ pile, so that can happen by default).

Everyday, I am removing at least one thing I no longer require.

It is a manageable chunk to bite off. And I am often finding that, once I start, I can easily remove more than one thing. Not everything is leaving the house immediately: I am amassing an op-shop pile for somethings and selling others on TradeMe. Some can go straight in the rubbish or recycling. The important thing is that the decision has been made.

And, perhaps most importantly, the double stress of clutter and fixing it all NOW is largely gone; which I suspect means I’ll make steadier progress 🙂

Why don’t you give it a try?


Trojan horse says  “keep it easy and you may make better progress”


Author: verdant1

belly dancer, mother, student, public servant, shaman, knitter, sister, feminist, gardener and a lot more...

2 thoughts on “Remove one”

  1. chunking things down is just a better way of looking at big issues. If you can break things down to small parts they are less stressfull than looking at one big problem! Love the idea and glad the little one is getting behind it!


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