Prompt Card Example from Declutter Deck™: Mugs
Set your timer for 60 minutes and take a before photo.
Step 1: Take Everything Out and Make the Pile
The first thing to do when sorting through all your mugs is to "make the pile." Line up each mug in single file order on the countertop so you can see what you own.
Declutter Your Excess Mugs, Get Rid of the Broken Ones, Then Use Your Favorites
This should be a relatively quick and easy prompt, unless of course, you have lots of mismatched and broken mugs. Mug collections are kind of like t-shirt collections. Most mugs are embellished with a sentimental saying and purchased on a whim. I for one, lover of less and a Zen lifestyle, am attached to my mug collection. While it’s not extensive, it has meaning to me. Even Marie Kondo would agree with what I’ve kept. My mugs “spark joy” when I drink from them. I have a few that are my favorites. I even keep a few favorites at my mom’s house so that when I visit, I have a mug that brings me joy and happiness.
To me, the perfect mug is slightly heavy and deep enough to leave room at the top near the brim, so my coffee doesn’t spill when I walk from room to room in the morning. And, most often, I prefer it to be white or a pale color.
At my house, I love my cow mug. The mug has a simple drawing of a cow on the outside, very plain, with a curved lip and is slightly heavy. I reach for it first thing in the morning. I used to have an “I Love Cats” mug that my mom gifted me, but it has since disappeared. My stand-in at home, when my favorite is in the dishwasher, is a blue and white mug my mom also gave me. She picks great mugs! I also love my oddly-shaped "Santa Claws" mugs - I bought two of them - for the holiday season. Recently, they've also become my go-to favorites. Between those and my other two, I'm set for the week.
I keep another of my favorite mugs at my mom’s house. It’s a Capricorn mug in white with black writing, that I purchased for $3.99 from the Pottery Barn outlet; it’s my go-to at her house.
My husband, on the other hand, loves his logo mug collection. It is full of mugs from the colleges our kids attended, companies for which he worked, and places we have visited. He also loves the mug our daughter made him for Father’s Day with pictures of our grandson on it. That’s his favorite and seeing him use it on Father's Day brought joy to my heart.
All these mugs are on the first, easy-to-reach shelf above the coffee maker. Those that are not quite as meaningful, such as a set from our favorite breakfast spot in Napa called the Boon Fly Café, are on the harder-to-reach second shelf. On the top shelf are some that have extreme sentimental value but are no longer usable (hairline cracks) and too meaningful to toss.
Step 2: Group Your Mugs – Your Favorites Are Immediately Apparent
The next step is to group by mug owner; we don’t use each other’s mugs because each one is special. Typically, I don’t touch the ones that belong to my husband and he doesn't touch the ones that are meaningful to me. Following the Marie Kondo rule that you only tidy what is yours except in common spaces, I treat these like each belongs to a specific person. Let’s face it, we both have our favorites, and those favorites are off-limits to each other - an unspoken rule that we have been following for our many years of marriage. When our kids were younger and lived at home, they had their favorites, too. Some we shared. No one touched the ones dad loved. Mine, except for my cow mug, were fair game.
Step 3: Edit
Chips, coffee stains that can’t be removed no matter how much scrubbing you’ve done or those that have lost their meaning, are reasons to let go. Gifts from friends or relatives that are just taking up space can also go. They are fair game to donate.
Chipped mugs can become a problem if overused, especially because hot coffee is poured into them day after day. Eventually, they will crack, and the coffee will spill. Let them go. If they are truly meaningful, take a picture of them. Or, if more than truly meaningful, consider putting them in your sentimental box.
If the mugs have a significant crack in them, I don’t donate them. I don’t want someone else to get hurt. I place these in the trash can. The only exception to doing this is if I want to use one for a planter or a place to put pens and pencils. If neither of these ideas resonates with me, I let them go.
Last step: wipe the keepers off to double check for stains. If there are tough stains on them, wipe them out with Bar Keepers Friend to see if the stains can be removed. If not, it’s fair game to let those go, too. It’s your choice.
Step 4: Return Everything to its Place
Time to put everything back. I once worked with a client who had kept literally every mug she ever received. She had, no joke, more than fifty mugs. Each time I asked whether one sparked joy, she said yes. She had trouble letting go of everything in her home, and mugs were no exception. She had a tiny kitchen and very little storage space. It was going to be impossible to put everything away in her kitchen if she didn’t let go of some things.
As a compromise, I suggested that we put most of her mugs in a box in the garage, keeping only the most special ones in her kitchen cabinet. We agreed that after six months, if she hadn’t needed or wanted any of the ones in her garage, she would donate them. A week later she called to tell me that she had already let go of the less meaningful ones in the box, and that by doing so, she was able to let go of a few other things in her home. She was becoming “unstuck” in her energy and ability to move forward. I commended her on her bravery.
Letting Go of Small Things May Start the Decluttering Process
Letting go of everyday mugs was a huge step for my client, and propelled her to confront other clutter, which was becoming a real challenge. The mugs were a breakthrough item. Although we were sorting komono, the fourth step in the KonMari Method®, she was finally starting to see how her past was holding her back. Eventually she revisited clothing and paper, the first and third steps in the KonMari Method®, which was a major step forward for her.
You never know what's tied up in memories and the objects that live alongside us in our home. Take the plunge to see if you can make your mug collection a true, meaningful part of your decluttering process.
Once you have put everything back, you’re finished. Adjust as necessary and take your excess mugs to your local donation collection spot.
Take an after photo. Then, you’re finished for the day.
(Instructions provided by professional organizers at The Uncluttered Life, Inc.)
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