In light of recent events and government recommendations pertaining to COVID-19, many people have decided to stay confined to their homes. As we all adjust to this change, it could be an excellent time to declutter and organize your house. Having a clean, calm house can not only improve your mood, but it is an important step if you are preparing to put your house on the market. For most people, the hardest part of decluttering is starting what feels like a daunting task. Below are some tips to help you begin.
Make a Plan
Prioritize certain areas of the house and schedule them in your calendar. Make realistic goals so you don’t become frustrated and then stay on task. Most people accumulate clutter in storage areas - basements, attics, garages and closets - so these should be first on your list. After picking out an area or room to declutter, divide the space into zones. A zone can be a set of shelves, a corner of boxes, or all the drawers in a desk or dresser. Ideally, you should complete one zone before moving to a new one.
Item by Item
Once you’ve broken up your designated space into zones, take everything out of that area. This means empty out all the drawers, dump out everything from bins/boxes and clear off flat surfaces. Then you can evaluate each item to decide if you should keep it or get rid of it. There may be a few items you decide to store in a new area; just be sure you aren’t moving clutter from room-to-room in the process. Typically, you should plan to get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year. Old toys, broken gadgets, half-finished projects, holiday decorations and the like can go. Clothes, books, and furniture are great items to donate or even sell (if they are in good condition). From an environmentally-friendly standpoint, it’s best to donate or recycle anything you can rather than taking everything to the dump. Once you’ve decided what’s worth keeping, group like items together so it’s easy to stay organized.
Maintain Your Organized Space
After you’ve worked hard to clean and organize an area, be sure to prevent clutter in the future. There are a number of ways to avoid re-cluttering. Before you buy something new, be sure this is something you will use several times. For things you may only need once, consider renting or borrowing. If you decide that you do indeed need this item, make a habit to then donate or toss an old item (especially if the new item is replacing or upgrading an existing possession). Make a point to clean and declutter a little every day, maybe fifteen minutes or so; it’s much easier to spend a little time everyday tidying up rather than carving out hours of your weekend every month or two to “catch-up.”
Decluttering can feel overwhelming even when you have a plan with realistic goals. Sometimes, deciding to let something go can be difficult. There are only a few items that increase in value over time; most of the time, your possessions are sunk costs and you should evaluate them based on how useful they are to you, not how much you spent on them. If the concern is paperwork or photos, consider making digital copies to store electronically. If you are on the fence about keeping a particular object, store it in a bin with the date on it. If several months go by and you haven’t needed it or, also likely, don’t remember what you put in the bin in the first place, get rid of it. Sometimes, finding a friend or relative who wants the item can be the only push you need to let it go.