Heather Marshall on July 10th, 2008

I am a naturally messy person. All my life, I have left a trail behind me: shoes, empty cups, hair clips, clothes…. I’m extremely forgetful, and picking up after myself is one of those things I often (and most easily) forget.

Getting married has not made me neater. I always thought it would be like, “I Do” … *POOF - I’m a neat freak* …. but that really doesn’t happen. I wish! Instead, I had to come to grips with the fact that my messes will not suddenly pick up after themselves, nor will they get any better over time. Now, they had never done that before I was married, either… but it didn’t matter - my room was my own, and if I wanted it messy, that was okay by me. No one else had to see it.

For the past two years I have struggled to control the Mess Monster. Every time I would clean the house, a few days later clutter would appear. Within a week, you couldn’t tell I had straightened up at all. I had never really grasped the concept of “Maintenance” - little clean-up jobs here and there to maintain the neatness that I had worked so hard for.

A few months ago, I was given a Woman’s Day magazine (May 2008) which contained an article entitled “Get Organized in 21 Days - How to spruce up your space in less than 20 minutes a day.” WELL, that got me fired up! I was like, “Twenty minutes! I can DO that!” Now, I will confess that it didn’t quite work - it didn’t take only 20 minutes, and it wasn’t done in 21 days, BUT the idea of it worked…

The first part was to make a plan. I made a list of all the areas I wanted to tackle: the hope chest that became a shelf containing every type of clutter imaginable; the bookshelf overflowing with books, CDs, DVDs, and papers that won’t fit anywhere else; the refrigerator that hasn’t been cleaned out since before I was married (gross); the kitchen counter that contains appliances, jars, and food boxes that never got put away after dinners were made - along with recipes, junk mail, and pens that never seemed to find their proper place. Once my list was made, I was ready to rock!

Next, I hit the most used areas, where the clutter was most visible. Forget the inside of closets, I hit the countertops and coffee tables first. It’s amazing the difference that made! Whatever didn’t have a place, I put in a large shoebox to deal with later (instead of shuffling the pile onto somewhere else). I also decided that if I don’t use it, I don’t need it. I quickly filled up a large bag with items to take to Goodwill. Forget sentimentality, I needed to declutter! I spent about an hour decluttering each day, or more if I had the energy, and I’m still not completely done, but my house has come a long, long way.

What I learned from my decluttering project was this:

  1. Just a little bit of time working on something will eventually get it done! You don’t have to wait until an entire day is set aside in order to clean. That rarely works anyway (I tend to get burnt out quickly on days I try to do that)… Instead just an hour (or even a half hour!) a day can have your place clean in no time!
  2. Making a written plan keeps me on track! It’s amazing how easy it is to get distracted on other things, but a plan can help you focus. I’ve even gone so far as to schedule out my days by the hour… realistically planning in breaks and lunch times as well. I’ve become much more productive this way, and my house has stayed decluttered for much longer periods of time!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still not a neat person. I still leave my shoes around the house. Just the other day I counted TEN pairs of shoes that I picked up - 10! - and they were all mine, too. But my point is that I’m striving. And when my husband comes home at the end of the day and there is a place for him to sit on the couch, with no shoes to trip over on the way - I can be glad in knowing that I am one step closer to being the wife after God’s own heart that I long to be.

God bless, and keep striving! I’m going to go pick up my shoes….

Related posts:

  1. Striving For the Goal….
  2. What Makes a Good Wife - Part 2
  3. What a week this has been!
  4. Tried & True Keys to Being Productive
  5. Are You Striving To Encourage Your Husband?

8 Responses to “Striving to Declutter”

  1. I am so glad that I am not the only one who is naturally messy. I would love to be the neat freak that my mother is, but it just didn’t come through in my genes, especially now that I have a little one baking inside me.

    I will try harder to write a plan down though!

  2. I think I missed the neat genes too… It seems that my mother and sister have them, but they missed me by a mile! So I’m left striving…

    A plan really does work, though! I also ran across another blog today whose focus these weeks is on clutter - namely, decluttering. You may want to check Kim’s blog out at:


    Keep on striving!


  3. LOl you both made me laugh for the “neat genes” Iam so there with you! I must say having my children has defiantly helped me in keep things more organized, I’m clean like i dont mind the dusting and scrubbing of things, but I have clutte everywhere, Toys, shoes, papers, laundry needed to be put away etc! Kitchen always has stuff around!! My mom is a neat freak, always has been and always will be and has always tried to get me to “understand” how “easy” it can be……yeah right? Are you serious? I try and I ahve gotten better but I defaintly am not there!!! Thanks for writing on it!!

  4. Jeannie Juillette
    August 1st, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    I too have that horrible disease its called stacking…LOL ; my biggest problem lays when i am cleaning one room, I find something that belongs in another room i take it to that room straight away, and find things to do in that room… taking me away from the initial room. So the saga continues.. Nice to see I am not alone.

  5. Jeannie, that’s so me! Jason laughs when I move things from one stack to another… and I definitely get sidetracked easily, too.

    Guess what I just discovered, though? A whole FORUM on women like us! Go to http://www.FlyLady.net for tips on how to keep your house clean and your clutter in check. I’m sure I’ll be blogging on my progress - I’m on baby step #1 right now!!!!

    Keep on striving!

  6. Jeannie, so you won’t get distracted by going to other rooms, try bringing a basket with you and putting anything that doesn’t belong in the basket while you’re cleaning/decluttering. That way you stay in the designated room and when you’re done for the day just carry your trusty basket around the house as you put things away.

  7. That’s great advice, Adriane! I think I’ll have to try that. :)

  8. Hello!

    This entry speaks right to my heart =)…I actually wrote about my own experience with this! It was for my friend’s school project, and you can read it here:


    Happy decluttering!

    Many blessings,


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