Personalized home organization
Entrepreneur, mom, & wife
The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is a quick read. If you like a lot of personal stories, you will enjoy this book. If you’d prefer to just understand Swedish Death Cleaning and how you can apply it to your life, read below. I have read the book and pulled out the important topics that I think can be used to declutter your home.
Swedish Death Cleaning is the process of going through all your belongings and deciding how to get rid of items you do not want anymore. The goal is to decide what has value. When something has value, you need to decide whether to keep it yourself or pass it on to someone else.
The other goal is to create organization in your home so your life can run more smoothly. When your home is cluttered with items that are no longer valuable to you, all you will see and think about is the clutter. When you get rid of items, you don’t have to think of them anymore. You want your home to be a reflection of your life.
When you die, your children or someone else will need to go through your belongings. One goal of Swedish Death Cleaning is to lessen the burden on whoever needs to go through your items after you pass. After someone is gone, it is so much harder to get rid of items. If you have taken the time to go through your items and let your family know what is valuable, it is a lot easier for other people to know what to keep and cherish.
When you’re getting started, it can be overwhelming if you have a lot of things. But it is easier for you to go through the items yourself, rather than leave everything to a family member that will assume everything you owned was valuable and they should keep it all.
When it comes to starting, keep in mind, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Decluttering and organizing your entire home will take time. When you decide to get started, create a schedule for yourself – maybe one room a week or every two weeks depending on how much time you have. Write your schedule down in your planner or put on your calendar. This will help you stay accountable to following through with your decluttering project.
A good place to start are storage areas, like a basement, storage closet or off-site storage. These places may contain items you didn’t even know you had. If you run into those items, I encourage you to get rid of them. If you didn’t know you owned it, you won’t miss it when it’s gone.
If you’re going through a storage area and run into emotional items such as photos or letters, put those to the side. These are items you want to look through near the end of your decluttering journey for two reasons. The first reason is the emotion may be heavy and hard and slow you down. At the beginning, you want to use the positive energy from decluttering, not focus on the emotional weight. Second, decluttering emotional and sentimental items is hard. You want to save these until the end when you’ve had a lot of decluttering practice on easier items.
As you’re decluttering your house, you want to create a home that you can keep tidy and organized. Think about this goal as you work through the main spaces of your home.
A good place to start when organizing your main areas is clothing. Most people don’t have a lot of emotional attachment to clothing (other than a few items). Go through all of your clothing and decide whether to keep or donate it. As you go through your items, think about your current style and size. If something doesn’t fit, get rid of it. There is nothing more frustrating than having items in your closet that don’t fit.
As you’re decluttering and organizing, create a place for everything. This will help you keep your home tidy.
When decluttering your home, a place many people get hung up is finding the perfect home for each item. Sometimes, it’s best to just donate an item in general, rather than hold onto it for the right person. When you hold onto an item and wait for the right person, it slows down your progress. I always suggest just donating it to get rid of it if you can’t think of a recipient right away.
And, if you have a person in mind to donate an item too, do so with no strings attached. You don’t want to burden the recipient by forcing them to take an item they don’t want.
The next section in the book talks about different categories and how to handle them. Most is typical of decluttering books. There are a few topics that are pretty funny. Margareta talks about making sure to get rid of items “that will shock or upset your family.” She suggests getting rid of these items. I personally would love running into something “shocking” from my parents after they pass away – would probably make me laugh!
She also talks a bit about man caves, which in Swedish are called mansdagis, which means a male kindergarten. As a female, I find this quite funny.
One topic I do think she addresses well is photographs. Especially in a digital age, it is nice to have physical photographs. Margareta does point out, if she can’t name everyone in the photograph, she gets rid of it (she is currently the oldest member of her family). If it is a sentimental photograph and you do remember who is in it, you can always write on the back who it is and the year, if possible. I think the most fun of photographs that you don’t think will be passed on is to look at them.
I love the idea of a “throw away” box if you are decluttering in your later years. These have things you wish to save for yourself but would have no value to someone else. For Margareta, this included some letters and memories from traveling – items she enjoys looking at but wouldn’t have value to anyone else. This is helpful for her children to know they can get rid of this box without any guilt.
Margareta refers to this as her little black book. But, Gretchen Rubin in her podcast has talked about an End of Life binder. They are similar things. These are records of items your family would need to be able to access after you pass away. This can include passwords and usernames for websites that your family would need.
Decluttering your home can happen at any time. It doesn’t only have to happen at the end of life. But thinking about it in terms of when you pass can help you make decisions on items.
If you’re ready to declutter your home, check out our room by room decluttering guide for you house. Bonus if you take the tips from this blog post and apply it to your decluttering (like putting it on your calendar).
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Wildely Organized 2024
Based in Houston, TX, Wildely Organized offers compassionate, professional in-home organization services that empower families to live functional lives in a space they love.
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