All the ‘incidentals’

Ok, so you’re decluttering…and when you’re done sorting through a bin, or a shelf, or an entire room you are left with a pile of things you just don’t know what to do with, or where to put the items, or if the items matter to someone else in the house, or maybe even whether the items are worth keeping.

I am all about very quick decisions when it comes to decluttering. Pick up an item and decide within seconds if you really want to keep it. Usually, people can decide that quickly if they truly want something or not – even kids! So, I always limit my decision time when I am decluttering an area. The thing I love the most about this process is that I don’t have to be hung up about every little item. The decision making is more streamlined. The easy things I want to donate, or toss or keep are obvious and satisfying to deal with. However, this quick decision making has a downside; it ends up creating that dreadful miscellaneous pile…or the ‘bin of incidentals’ as I like to call it.

The room, drawer, shelf, or bin may be empty and sorted and now looks like something to be proud of, but the work isn’t finished quite yet…

I still have my random bin of incidentals

So, now the process requires moving individual items to somewhere else in the house to merry up sets of items or requires some help from others in the house. If you declutter in a similar manner you may end up with a bunch of bins over the course of time that have this incidental stuff to ignore for another time. BUT, that creates the anguish inside you that adds stress and chaos! It’s the hidden drawers that you never want people to accidentally open. Or the random bins that other kids pull out on a play date and there are literally items in it you didn’t even remember or believe that you bothered keeping! Because you never went back to deal with them right away! If you speed declutter like I do, it is absolutely critical that you sort through these random spaces as soon after decluttering the area as possible.

Bring everyone who may belong to the items into an open space and give each person a small bin (big enough to hold some of the items from the bin of incidentals. Have an extra bin for DO NOT WANT items. At this point it doesn’t matter whether the stuff will be donated, trashed, or recycled – it’s more about the rest of the people in the house making quick decisions about their stuff too.

I like to empty out the bin of incidentals, either by dumping it, or pulling out larger items and letting everyone look for anything they see right away that they want to keep. I like to encourage everyone to have the opportunity to say they don’t need it or want it, or that they want to keep it. After going through the bin of incidentals, everyone may end up with their own random bin to deal with. I then try to encourage everyone else to deal with their bins right away too. No delaying! They may even find they want less once they start trying to find new homes for their kept items.

Some may say that creating this bin of incidentals is just doing the job twice, but I beg to disagree. I feel like this way I don’t get bogged down in the initial process and can achieve that big impact I am so wishful for. AND, I then have a small bin of random things to deal with, rather than feeling like I have an entire room, or HOUSE to deal with! It breaks down the job into small, easier to handle projects. It’s so much easier to sort through a small bin in a few minutes, than to know I have to do the whole room in an unknown amount of time, and leaving what kind of mess behind me as I go…

It’s somewhat of a tedious process, and if you are good at dealing with bits of clutter right away, you may not have as seemingly insurmountable job ahead of you. But if you have a tendency of neglecting some of the clutter, or just stashing it away quickly if people are coming over, then I recommend this process.

I could probably speed it up by getting rid of half the stuff in the bin of incidentals before sharing it with anyone in the household, but I really want to drill home that we keep such useless things sometimes. Not all of it is useless garbage, and the family usually clears out half the bin pretty quickly either to keep or get rid of. It’s funny to see how long it takes everyone to look through the unwanted remaining bin items. At this point it is literally useless bits, but you can see the thinking behind their eyes. You can actually see them thinking it out, then saying “yep, there’s nothing else to keep!” Fantastic! Then, I encourage everyone to celebrate!


Thanks for coming home!

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