Do you have 20 minutes?
We tend to do this thing where we overestimate the time a decluttering project is going to take us. Not only that, but we group all decluttering projects together into this one, overwhelming, impossible, mountainous task. Nope. Doesn't have to be. Not only does it not have to be---it can't. The only way anything gets done is one step at a time. So, sure, you could spend 6 hours at once and get more done. Or you could spend 20 minutes and get something really great done and allow that to let you feel better / relieved / good about yourself.
I, too, still get overwhelmed and tricked into thinking that I couldn't possibly find the time to declutter a, b, or c. (Nope, my life isn't 100% decluttered all the time.) Case in point: I still have some old storage shelves in the garage that I could definitely improve upon...
I'd been storing two open crates full of framed photos that had been rotated out at some point, or there wasn't room for all of them on the walls, etc. But I haven't looked through these crates in at least four years and every time I saw them I'd be like, 'Ugh, I really need to go through those. BUT there are so many more important things to do, and when will I possibly find the time?!' You know the drill. We always put something else (or someone else) first, we procrastinate, and we think the thing's gonna take us all day and so we skip it altogether. Yet we find time to go catatonic on Instagram, binge Netflix shows, and have three-hour coffee dates in the middle of the day. (Which is not to say some of the time doing such activities isn't well-spent, but we all can try just a little harder, right?)
I mean, gosh, the inner clutter that we endure about these projects wastes so much more time than it would take to just do the darn thing.
So here's what finally got me to go through these crates: 1. Scheduling it in my calendar. Like, actually writing it down in there as an appointment. 2. Telling someone else I was going to do it at that time, for an extra layer of accountability. 3. Having the will to actually walk over to the bins and start.
I armed myself with only a sharpie and some post-its (my go-to decluttering tools) in case I ended up wanting to split the contents into different categories. But otherwise, I just grabbed the crates off the shelves and went to town picking up each item and making a decision, one by one. I didn't even have a donation bin on hand. I simply made a pile on the floor as I went through the crates, and I bagged up the donations at the end of the process.
This "huge", overwhelming project took all of 20 minutes. I was left with a donation bag full of old frames. I consolidated two open crates (ie. dust receptacles) down to one covered bin, which I was able to repurpose from somewhere else in the house. I brought two of the "keeper" framed photos back into my home to newly display again. And this process cut the storage space I'd been using in half. (I also moved one of those newly-emptied crates into my clothes closet as a drop area for dry cleaning and stained clothing.)
And what about the photos I took out of the frames that I donated? Great question. There were some photo albums being stored nearby, and I was able to re-insert a few of the photos. The rest? I simply slipped them into a folder and placed that folder inside the new bin, alongside the framed photos I'm keeping. Is that the perfect place for them? I don't know. Who cares. And would the ideal thing have been to declutter all the framed photos -- for instance, chosen to get rid of any and all that I'm not willing to immediately hang in my current space? I don't know. Who cares.
What I do know is that I feel better. And I'm pretty sure that's all that matters. I also know what I have again. I refreshed myself on what I own, where it's located, and even got a few "new-again" frames as a bonus. (One holds a photo of my parents, both wearing overalls, smiling in a wooded field. Seriously, it's adorable.) That knowledge / clarity / power / joy...is priceless. In 20 short minutes.
Small steps for the win.