I use a six tub approach to decluttering. You may have heard me mention it before. I think it is time I explained it fully.
When you’ve decided to declutter an area it is good to have a method to get you through all your stuff. The Six Tub Approach, as follows, is my recommendation. First, set aside a realistic amount of time for your decluttering session, and with that in place, you are now all set to go. In all of my client sessions, I use six decluttering categories to sort into. I use plastic tubs that I got at Bunnings eons ago, but you can use plastic bags, washing baskets, boxes – whatever you like. Just make sure you label them so you know which box is which. What follows is my method and it might work for you.
WellSorted’s Six Tub Approach
The six tubs to get you WellSorted are:
This is a pretty obvious one. It’s just a box for any recycling you come across in a decluttering session. It’s going straight into your recycling bin. (If you don’t recycle, or your area doesn’t allow it, skip this one!)
Self-explanatory! A tub for anything that needs to go in the bin. Having these first two tubs saves you sorting rubbish and recycling at the end of your session (if you’re into saving the planet like me).
This one is for stuff that belongs in another room. For example, if you’re working in the kitchen and you come across items that belong in the bathroom or bedroom, it goes In the Other Room tub. This stops you zig-zagging through the house and getting distracted from the area you wanted to focus on. You then bring the stuff in this tub to their homes (and correct room) when the tub is full, or at the end of your session.
This is for the stuff that can go to charity. It might also have things you’re going to return to other people. For example, a book you borrowed from a friend or a container that had leftovers to return to your mum. These things go in the Giveaway tub. Keep items to be returned to someone else in separate labelled bags so you don’t donate them by accident. At the end of your decluttering time, move these items into your transition station.
Depending on your home and how disorganised it is, this tub may not be necessary a lot of the time. When you’re working in a room, ideally anything you decide to keep will go into its home immediately. If you haven’t consciously given it a home, make one for it during your session.
So when is this box useful then? It’s for the areas in your home where you can’t get your hands on its proper home yet. For instance, the junk room is getting your attention, and the craft you’ve just found will go in the cupboard behind all the boxes you still need to sort through. This craft will go in the Keep tub. You then put it in its new home at the end of the session (if you’ve cleared the boxes out), or you create a labelled temporary spot for it, for example, a box that is labelled ‘Craft’. When the boxes are out of the way, it then makes its way into the cupboard to its forever home.
During my sessions working with paperwork, the Keep box is often repurposed for ‘shredding’.
I don’t know!
This tub is for the things that you’re taking a long time to make a decision on. The stuff you’re umming and ahhing over. Usually, these items end up being something that you’re not willing to let go of as they have sentimental elements. Alternatively, you’re just not sure where to keep it! So if something is taking a lot of your time and attention, it’s ok to defer this decision until later. Work through and focus on the items that you are able to make decisions on. Then, at the end of the session, you can reassess what you popped into that tub and make a final decision. If you can’t decide – it really means keep it. Give it a home.
The other way I find that the I Don’t Know! box is useful is when you’re decluttering your wardrobe. For instance, you know you have ten pairs of black pants (and you know you don’t want that many), you pop them all into the I Don’t Know! tub as you find them. Then you try them all on and choose the best.
If you’re thinking, “no way, this tub would be over-flowing!” maybe you need some extra help. My clients often call this tub the ‘Ask Virginia’ tub. During sessions, I ask lots of questions so things don’t end up there in the first place. If a client works through an area on their own, they put these items aside to have a conversation with me in our next session. We then figure out why they can’t let it go. So keep that in mind with this tub. A little thought is ok, just don’t get bogged down on these items if there’s other stuff you can make a decision on. If you would like more input, you could always ask in the WellSorted Facebook Group.
So there you have it, the WellSorted Six Tub Approach to Decluttering, the tubs and the process I recommend people use to get WellSorted. Would this help you or someone you know? Please do share it if you think it would!