Over the weekend, I shared on Instagram a set of pictures of some decluttering that I did in 31 minutes.
I know it was 31 minutes because I took the before picture, so I had a time stamp to compare to the after picture.
The feedback on the photos made me realize I should share them here, too. Especially since Instagram stories are only up for 24 hours.
In addition to clappy hands and happy faces, I got comments like: You really are a pro.
And “Wow.” And “31 minutes?!? I am so impressed!” And “this is why you’re famous.”
Now, I love compliments
as much as more than the next lady, but I felt a little bad about these.
I wasn’t racing the clock. I didn’t even break a sweat.
I just did the Easy Stuff. One easy thing at a time until the space I’d been avoiding for two years was clear(er).
Here on the site, I can explain more. So I will.
This clutter-catching space (ideas are forming on how to eliminate it) was too inviting when I needed to get everything out of the room when we had our floors replaced two years ago this summer.
I used to have a tall bookshelf next to this popular-in-the-1980s wetbar. (The house was built in ’79, so it was very trendy in its day.)
I have to assume that when I emptied the bookshelf, the nearby flat surface was too tempting to resist.
And I had to put the books somewhere.
It was justifiable. Having your floors redone isn’t normal life. Having to clear everything out of a room does require temporary spots for things.
Really. It totally does.
The thing I can’t justify is the “two years ago” part.
I decided not to bring the original bookshelf back into the room. Moving everything out helped me realize I like the room much better with less stuff.
I had placed a screen in front of this space, so technically, it wasn’t quite as big of an eyesore as it could have been. But I knew it was there. I’d looked at the space many times, felt overwhelmed, and chose to ignore it.
But on Saturday, I moved the screen. I took a before picture (even though I didn’t want to), and I grabbed a trash bag.
Since the vast majority of the mess was books, it was mostly a matter of moving them to the new (bought from a friend who was moving), small bookshelf eight feet away.
There was some trash and a few Duh Donations.
Really, the only thing I had to ask my decluttering questions about were the cobalt blue margarita glasses. And those were up on the shelves, not even in the piles.
When my brain started swirling with “But we don’t even drink” followed by “but they’re my favorite color” I had to stick with what I know.
If I was looking for margarita glasses, where would I look for them first?
There’s no answer because I wouldn’t look for margarita glasses.
They needed to go. I did experience the “but they’re so pretty” twinge, so I took a quick picture and posted them in a local Facebook group for $10 for the set of 8 glasses.
(I semi-dusted two for the picture.)
I went ahead and stuck them in the Donate Box, though.
The big blue crate of Homecoming mum supplies (it’s a Texas thang) was moved into an open storage space in the spot where our little bar fridge used to be (before it leaked and ruined the floor we ended up replacing).
31 minutes after I started (thank you timestamps on phone pics), I had this:
So much better. No screen needed.
A few extra over-explanations:
I hadn’t had any response on the margarita glasses after a few hours, so I removed the post. I just wanted to see if they would be easy to sell. In my experience, if an item I post for sale on Facebook doesn’t get responses immediately, it is unlikely to ever sell.
I’m not stating that as absolute fact, but it’s how I do things. I knew I wasn’t going to keep them. I’d have loved to get a little cash from someone who would adore them, but my goal was to get rid of them. Not to make money.
Since they were already in the donatable Donate Box, deleting the post meant I was done with those glasses.
I have made the conscious decision not to store things in the hopes they’ll make me money someday. I don’t have the space or the Clutter Threshold for that.
Have you taken any before pictures lately?
A few related things:
Just last week, I shared the reasons why it’s so important to take a before photo.
Here’s a post about my experience selling things on Facebook, and here’s one about how I’ve changed my perspective on selling things at all.
If you’re overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering, get my book: Decluttering at the Speed of Life. In it, I teach you how to declutter in a way that lets you make progress (and only progress, never a bigger mess) in whatever amount of time you have. You can make decluttering progress in 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days. And it’s written from the perspective of someone who has spaces like this in her own home . . .
In a newsletter last week, I shared another post with before and after pics of this same space, where I grasped the value of “better.” I guess sending out that newsletter reminded me I needed to work on this space again. (You can join my newsletter for free here.)
If you are on Instagram, you should follow me there. I don’t post constantly, but it’s so easy to put up quick pics like these.
Thank you for sharing the pictures in this post. The before & after photos are inspiring! I have an account on Instagram but I don’t get on there much.
Joni Gonzales says
Lol on using FB to check the value. We are currently doing the same with an old dryer. Giving it 2 days and then it goes by the curb! Great job btw!
Thank you for posting the pics here on the blog. I don’t have Instagram and articles like this really do inspire me to let go of things that are above my clutter threshold. (Every bit gone helps, right?) Thanks again!
I love what you do. I got rid of my margarita glasses within the last few years too. I figured if I made Margaritas I could drink them out of my regular glasses. Lol.
Marion Blakely says
Dana, so why do you have a parking meter on your counter? And if you put those pictures up on that empty shelf or the wall, you won’t get water spots on them.
Thanks for the inspiration.
Dana White says
Oh, yeah. The parking meter. I should have explained . . .
Those are margarita glasses?? I have a few from my grandma that we all called her dessert dishes. We don’t drink, but even after years of seeing people in restaurants drinking margaritas out of those glasses, it didn’t click until I saw your picture–dessert dishes just registered. Haha!
I will definitely have to make more of an effort to take before pics. It really does make a difference in my mindset. 🙂
Dana White says
I think they are! I could totally be wrong. But by the shape, and they’re very shallow, so not big enough for what I like in a dessert glass!
Helen Griffin says
I found your book on how to de-clutter and I love you! I was an English teacher & then a counselor for about 40 years. I love chats, books, music & people but have always fantasized about having no clutter. I’m on it now. I love your newsletter and pictures. I’m proof that it is never too late to get better in our “areas of anticipated growth.”
Good job Dana,
!. It is always amazing to see what progress (and only progress) can be made in a short time.
Are you attached to the blue glass jug? It looks to me like it makes a set with the glasses I.e mix the margaritas in the jug (Pitcher) and pour in to the glasses.
Dana White says
I’m definitely attached to the jug. But not sure where it will go when I “transform” this space into something else!
Julie in the UK says
Go on then, we’re waiting for the explanation of the parking meter. Please.
Dana White says
Oh yes, the parking meter.
Sabina Presley says
Dana, I had the extreme pleasure of meeting you at the Becoming conference in North Carolina. I can’t express what an impact you have made in my life and my children’s lives. I always assumed that everyone else had a perfect house and that I was just failing. Your honesty was so enlightening! Thank you for sharing you life and I’ve discovered that, thanks to you, I can do this! I’ve always heard, that in this journey of life, if you can impact one person in a positive way, you have succeeded! You’ve done great, take care of yourself, hope this note finds you happy and healthy, stay safe!
Dana, thank you for all you do. I think you thought it was overexplaining, but I would LOVE if you would (often) list MANY of the things you donate/discard because so many of us have difficulty getting rid of things like binders, lined (alraedy hole punched!) paper, organizing containers, interesting articles, interesting recipes, clothes, etc. So lists of your specific analysis of those things I would find VERY helpful — i.e., what was yourthought process for that particular item during a particular decluttering event. Thanks for your consideration.
I have been with you almost from the start and still come here almost every day. But only yesterday I started to read your first book and absolutely LOVE it! It is so nice to hear your unique “voice” again and read again about things stated here on the blog. It was almost 12 in the night when I put the book down – which was my justification to not do my dished. (I did do them at the start of the day, but I could have filled the machine up with some stuff laying around.)
BUT! Standing in my bathroom I got the urge. You know the urge… to declutter and to do SOMETHING! I did in fact end up working quite a bit on two shelves and did spend more time with it then I would have, if I had just put the dishes in the machine… 😀 But I love the way it lookes now and had another good go at several spots today.
Reading this blogpost was perfect today – your stacks look so much like my stacks!
I look forward to read more of your book – and would love to see more of these kind of posts on your blog!
Ooni Crafts says
We’re in the middle of a house move and both your books are my constant bedside companions (in a non creepy way of course) in dealing with the mess. Yes, I’ve bought BOTH your books and I love your wisdom. I personally don’t even sell stuff, i just give it away on FB marketplace and it’s so rewarding to see results quickly.
Now that I know you’re on Instagram, i’ll start follow you there, although I’m not very active on there. Thank you for your books and wisdom xx from England
Judy M says
Im a big fan and bought your “decluttering” book a couple years ago. I still haven’t read it through to the end (it’s that procrastination thing). But I knew from the beginning that this was the one book that might actually help me. I gave my others to Goodwill! Although I have much decluttering left to do, your method of doing it without making a bigger mess, is so much better than all the others, because it leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment. Love your videos too!
Oh my gosh! Just yesterday I grabbed a trash bag and a donate box and opened my hallway closet. I didn’t feel like moving, so my only goal was do the easy stuff. I filled both the box and the bag in about ten minutes! It was insane just how much there was and how quickly I was able to go through it.
Karen Jackson says
Thank you, Dana, for being so real. I used to feel like a failure with my house. Now, I feel motivated, energized and proud of the house God gave us. I believe we are to be good stewards of whatever is in our care. That even means throwing garbage away and blessing others with donations. Not only is my house changing from the inside out, but I am too. I thank God for you every day.
This is very encouraging. Thank you very much! When I saw the parking meter displayed on the bar I thought, “What a clever and original idea!”
I think you are extremely valuable to so many and I need your “Pep Talks & Advice”. I had a unique opportunity to start over when our house burned down to the ground 2 years ago. We lost every single thing we owned. I have been in our new home for 18 months. My office and spare bedrooms are starting to be “closed-door” rooms again. All the things that have to be done come from this office. I get it almost straight and then something really important comes along & it is impossible (for me) to keep it straight. Kids are grown, husband injured his back and it is all collapsing again. Please give me the strength. I am ready to give up. It is not so much the know how as it is the clarity of my brain.
Patricia Evans says
“I have made the conscious decision not to store things in the hope they’ll make me money someday.” Oh, my. This is the very root of the primary reason my house will never be decluttered. My husband collects, buys and sells political campaign memorabilia. His philiosphy is that all his “inventory is salable” and thus my entire house is filled with stuff that will end up in a landfill someday. He even rents offsite storage and that is filled to the brim. I’ve given up the battle and just don’t invite people into my house. I’m always embarrassed when we need a repair person to enter. He’ll never change.
Well done Dana. Thank you for everything you do for we slobs hoping to come clean.
Erin-Joi Collins says
Thank you for sending this out by email again. My vintage 1977 house also has a “wet bar”. Ours had become an area for cleaning supplies due to lack of other storage space and due to the central location outside the downstairs bathroom & under the stairs. We put a open wire shelf unit over the sink to hold the Swiffer-style items, floor cleaning supplies, and other general supplies. I am short so if anything is set in front of the shelf, I cannot reach anything. This helps keep it clear. The bonus is that I now have a definite home for all of the cleaning tools that are never in the room where I need them.
You crack my egg!
Oh yes, the parking meter. Lol
I have every book, podcast episode, etc and love all of it.
Thank you for being YOU, and making my world spin, in a weird and wonderful way.
Hugs (in my mind you are a friend although I know in reality we are not),
And about that parking meter????
Karla A Bannerman says
I’ve got both your books, and a pre-order on the newest one. Just starting, well not really, decluttering. I’ve been taking things out of my home for going on two years, started with Flylady, graduated to Clutterbug and now you. BUT you make sense, I do the dishes, 5 min pickup and sweep floors. A month or so I woke up and felt claustiphobic, and happened to see you on youtube, saw your books on Audible and saw as a sign. Well, in going through and getting rid of clutter, answering your two questions took a 8 foot pickup truck full to my missions store that takes donations. THANK YOU
Wow, Dana! You truly do rock! 🎸
I’ll be using your inspiration and wisdom as we pare down holiday decorations.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Laura Bee says
I took a picture of my two year messy counter. Two weeks ago. I guess it’s two weeks better. I keep going at it in 10 minute bits of time. Found a receipt from October 2020.