Naturally, we asked why 27, why nine? My friend didn’t know the thinking behind the formula, but not being numerology specialists, we all decided we’d run with the idea without analyzing it. I committed to finding 27 items a day and by the tenth morning my local library had about 50 books to add to their annual book sale. A local charity-run thrift shop had a couple of bags of clothing and other odds and ends. Plus, my recycle bin was filled to the brim!
I’ve repeated the 27 x 9 challenge a few times since, and I just finished another “getting ready for fall” go round. Once again I end up feel lighter. Without question, counting out my 27 items is both fun and freeing. For one thing, I don’t have time right now to set aside a few days to carry out the major clutter-dumping, reorganizing-my-life project I’m always saying I need. I can cruise through the house and pick up 27 easy-to-dispose- of-items in a matter of minutes, at least for the first four to five days. By the ninth day, however, it can be trickier to part with some things.
By the way, a book counts as one item, as does the old T-shirt you toss in the trash. But throwing away 27 pieces of paper or junk mail is, let’s say, a stretch. I’d never attach a pejorative like “clutter” to a book, but eventually it comes time to pass on a few you can bear to part with.
So, a couple of weeks ago in the course of nine days, I cleared away many things, including the quick-start easy stuff: two full boxes of paper, including paper copies of drafts of my own and clients’ books, which are now published and on sale. Why had I kept them so long, anyway? I also added a box of old makeup and first-aid items that should have been tossed the last time I did 27 x 9.
Over the next few days, the library got more books and the thrift stores got two of my most favorite coats. Too bad they never fit well. In other words, liking them a lot didn’t make them wearable. I also threw out a bag of clothes not good enough to give away. If they aren’t good enough for a thrift shop to sell, I asked myself, why am I wearing them? Just because I work at home, how many “wear around the house” sweaters do I need?
My kitchen cabinets are lighter—I mean, really, I like flowers, but when will I simultaneously use a dozen glass vases? Some of these flower shop vases should never have taken up space in the first place. My latest de-clutter challenge probably took less than an hour total.
Here’s a 27 x 9 bonus: Even a fast trip around my house always leaves me profoundly grateful for my life. Everywhere I look I see evidence of a life of love and adventure and work I love. I have cherished items brought back from wonderful trips or on fun shopping excursions with my daughter. My lovely home speaks of special people, places, and things. So, next stop, organizing what’s left.
What's your favorite strategy for decluttering the chaos?
Virginia McCullough is at work on ALL IN THE PAST, Book 1 of her new three-book series for Heartwarming, this one set in a small town on the fictional Bluestone River in north central Illinois. Like her other books, the series tells stories about characters who could be our neighbors and friends struggling with everyday life issues. LOVE, UNEXPECTED, Book 3 of Virginia’s Two Moon Bay series, was released in May 2018, and the entire series is available through all online retailers and the Harlequin Books site.
Virginia has called many places home, but now lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where she writes her novels and nonfiction books and coaches other authors looking to create a fulltime writing business. Her other award-winning romance and women’s fiction titles include THE JACKS OF HER HEART, AMBER LIGHT, and GRETA’S GRACE.