In March I will have lived in my flat for four years. What?! Time has flown and I honestly can’t believe it. I moved into this one bed having lived in a three bed flatshare, with separate living and kitchen areas. I ran that flatshare so most of the belongings, including some furniture, came with me. My new flat has a cupboard in the bedroom that I use for storage. A luxury in London, but also a space that is really like Monica’s hoarder cupboard from Friends. Over the past few years I barely went in there. Occasionally pulling out my suitcase or Christmas decorations, always adding random bits I wasn’t interested in dealing with! I made an agreement with myself to use the random days between Christmas and the New Year to tackle the hoarder room and Monica cupboard.
Sorting out my closet got me all revved up for more spring cleaning. My sister had been attempting to sort out her flat for a month or so before I arrived in January. Her and her husband have a two bed flat and use the second room for his study and her sewing. However, this past year with the wedding taking up most of the headspace, the second room also became known as the hoarder room. Piles of stuff was creating a headache for my sister and I volunteered to spend a day with her tackling and sorting. In the end it took us two days and she was so over the moon with the results.
Have Someone Help You.
You will need a cheerleader, a friend who can keep you motivated as it gets worse before it gets better. They need to be in charge of the playlist, keep it upbeat and know when to put on some jazz. All physical lifting should be done by this person. You will be overloaded with emotions and having them lift the physical weight is incredibly helpful. Snacks and drinks are their domain as well. Make sure they know they are in charge of refilling the water glasses and calling the lunch break.
Start With The Visual Clutter.
My sister had her hoarder room and the wardrobe marked as the areas to tackle. I made her focus on the visual clutter in the room first. This was what was agitating her the most and could be seen from the front door. Despite my reasoning we did have a few minutes of conversation as my sister wanted to start with the cupboard. I understood. Clearing out the cupboard potentially gave the items in the room somewhere to go. I argued we didn’t know how much of the room stuff we were keeping. Why make room in the cupboard just to move the room items and not really deal with them?
Pull Everything Out, Create Your Piles And Act On Them.
Together we pulled everything out of the room allocating it to a space in the lounge room. Each space was given a final destination. Ebay/gumtree. Sewing/repairs. Donations. Trash. I went for the larger, heavier items, asking where they belonged as we went. For pieces my sister was unsure of we placed on the dining table for sorting later. This resulted quickly in approx. 70% of the items allocated and dealt with. I then sat my sister at the table to start on the rest. Whilst she was doing this I vacuumed and dusted the hoarder room ready for the return of any items.
Make Time To Finish The Job.
Finishing the job is often the last task that makes this job lag. We all have had bags of donations sitting by the door or in the car boot for months! After sorting out my cupboard I realised that none of the charity shops near me were open until the New Year. So, I too had a pile of items behind my couch that didn’t get moved until late January!
Throughout the first day with my sister I regularly took bags of rubbish down to the bin. Five in total. I know some people wait until the end of the day to do this. For me having these moments to change the pace and see progress helps keep the energy up. It is quite satisfactory throwing things into the bin and helpful to get outside for some fresh air!
Ensure that your process includes these final steps of getting rid of the items. Be realistic. It doesn’t have to be on the day but when would you really have time next? Spending a few minutes now driving to charity can be really helpful. My sister was driving me home, so we made the effort to do two trips to load up the car and got rid of all the charity items that night.
If The Job Is Big Be Flexible With Your Time.
When I cleaned out my Monica cupboard I split the time over a couple of days. This allowed me to stay motivated and ensure I got the job done. For my sisters flat, we decided to continue the next day instead of going to the beach. We were honest with ourselves that the likelihood of my sister tackling her sewing pile and getting all the items on ebay anytime soon were slim. Day two saw us sleep in, put on some music and whilst she repaired and sewed, I listed items on ebay as if my life depended on it! By mid afternoon we were mostly done and rewarded ourselves with a dip in my parents pool and cuddles with their dog Lizzy.
Say No To Family Donations.
The majority of items we threw away and donated to charity from my sisters’ home were items that had been donated to them from family. Moving in together and starting their teaching careers resulted in well-meaning relatives gifting lots! The reality was though that most of these items were not needed, a version was already owned or was obviously a relative trying to feel less guilty of getting rid of some family heirloom that was really junk. Upon reflection my sister and I were quite frustrated that we spend two days of our lives essentially taking items to charity that others couldn’t emotionally do. My sister now has a stronger sense to say no to these items or drop them straight to the local charity store on her way home.