September 19th is National Clean Up Day – who knew? So many people hate cleaning their spaces, because they don’t have “room to clean”. That’s because as a whole, most homes are filled with too much STUFF. In order to easily clean you’ve got to declutter your space. I realize that decluttering and organizing your home can quickly feel overwhelming and frustrating. If you’re afraid to get started because it seems like so much work, try doing fewer tasks at a time. When you take small steps to reduce the amount of things you have, it becomes less burdensome, and you might actually begin to find a sense of relief in letting go of stuff. The process will get easier and easier, and before you know it, you’ll have a neat and orderly space.
How to Declutter and Organize Your Home
1. Choose your starting point. Select a room or space in a room that you can tackle in a shorter amount of time, rather than choosing the most challenging one in the house. Once you’ve chosen your room/space, start early so you have as many daylight hours as possible to work on your cleaning and decluttering.
2. Basic sort. Go through everything in your starting room and sort out items you no longer want. Everything that you touch in the room should go into one of four categories:
- Things you want to throw away
- Things you want to donate or sell.
- Things that should remain where they are.
- Things that you want to keep but that are in the wrong room.
Use this sorting principle for every item in the room. When you’re finished, you should have four distinctive piles or areas in the room. Each item in the room will be in one of the four piles.
3. Remove trash. Simply taking all the “throw away” stuff out of the room is going to make a very large dent. Keep in mind that personal paperwork should be shredded rather than simply put into the garbage.
4. Remove donation items. Anything that you intend to sell, give away or donate should come out next. Store these items somewhere else in the house for now. Better yet, take them straight out to your car, and note in your calendar to take them to a donation center as soon as possible. Yes, you can always store them in another room in your home but that sort of defeats the purpose. You could try having a garage sale, and try to make a few dollars, but more often than not, your donation collection will just keep getting bigger and bigger and garage sale day won’t actually happen.
5. Sort the “belongs elsewhere” section. Do not simply move these items into another room; otherwise you’ll need to sort them again. Create a box or container for each room for which you have items. Make sure that you definitely want to keep them so that you can transfer them into the right room without having to sort them again later.
6. Organize what’s left. Now that you’ve removed large chunks of “stuff” from your room, you can organize everything that remains. When you’re only working with the things that are supposed to be in the room, eliminating clutter and organizing becomes much simpler.
7. Repeat this process. Continue steps 1-6 in each room until you’ve finished the whole house. When you handle one room at a time, the process is much simpler and less stressful.
Yes, it can seem daunting, and often at the beginning you may struggle with the what’s ifs, and the but I paid good money for this, or this item holds so many memories.. AND the dreaded holding on to gifts because of guilt.
- What if I get rid of this and I need it again some day. (Chances are if you haven’t used it in the last 6 months, you aren’t going to need it again.)
- But I paid good money for this. (But you aren’t using it, and it’s taking up valuable real estate in your home. Less can so often be so much more!)
- This item holds so many memories. (We make memories every single day. Removing THINGS won’t remove the memories. Yes, you can keep things, but set a limit. Instead of saving a whole box of baby clothes, pick one or two extra special little outfits, and be sure to check that they are not stained, and in good shape. And all those papers, cards, and art projects that your kids made in elementary school. Believe me – they won’t want them. HONEST TO GOODNESS. I’ve got 10 kids. I saved everything. Little hand prints done in finger paint in kindergarten /painted macaroni ornaments / reports on Florida history. 99.9% of the stuff that I so carefully packed away…nope, none of them want it. I wasted time, energy and SPACE on stuff that they now think is crap.)
- Gifts (Gifts are exactly that – they were given to you. They are YOURS. You can do whatever you want with them. Stop stuffing stuff into closets because Aunt Mary, might drop by, so you’ll need to put out whatever it is that she gave to you 20 years ago. Chances are she won’t remember. If she does and brings it up, say “we enjoyed that for so many years, and have now passed it on so someone else can enjoy it as much as we did”!)Once you’ve finished getting rid of excess clutter you can begin to put the room/space in order. Then keep on top of it. Take a few minutes each day to ensure everything you’ve used during the day is back in place so you can continue to enjoy your “new” clutter-free home. Once your home is clutter free and tidy it will be SO MUCH EASIER TO CLEAN!Big tasks can seem overwhelming. So, try breaking your decluttering challenge into smaller increments and before you know it, your house will be an inviting and well laid out home, that you will truly enjoy each and every day.