Decluttering and Organizing your Home
The truth is that over time we can accumulate “stuff”.
Maybe you're not a hoarder. Most of us aren't...but there are a select few people, such as myself, that have quite a few things lying around, which can makes us look like borderline hoarders.
Some of our belongings have sentimental value; some are just interesting and some we just plain don't know what to do with.
They are usually tucked away in "catch all" areas- bookshelves, cupboards and closets are the most messy and cluttered locations in a home because items are out of sight and out of mind.
Now, don't get me wrong - of course there are things we should keep – but we can never find them because of all the clutter! You can't throw out all of your bills and papers...but do they really need to be stacked in piles all around your house?
Decluttering doesn't have to be intimidating and you don't have to throw out Aunt Milly's diamonds because they take up room in your jewelry box.
The key is to be objective, use common sense and take baby steps. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day and your clutter didn't magically appear overnight, either!
Make your living space will feel much more open and inviting by using some of my helpful decluttering tips listed below.
Organizing Some of the Worst Areas:
Do not get overwhelmed! Start in one room and then go from there.
Well, hold on now, bookcases are meant to hold stuff like books...right? Yes, they are, but have you ever taken a moment to think how many books are too many, and how many unused, non-sentimental items do you need?
I challenge you to critically evaluate the contents of your bookcases. The reason for this is that sometimes they are an easy place to put things that can't go anywhere else, or you just don't know what to do with it - whatever "it" is.
Unless you plan to read the book again, use it for reference, it's an heirloom like the family Bible or it's full of pictures of your kids – do you really need it?
If you don't know what an item is or how it got there in the first place, toss it or give it away.
Can't throw it out? Most libraries welcome book donations, as well as magazines. I bring my magazines to read at various appointments and like to leave them for the next patient to enjoy- just be sure to remove your name and address before leaving it in the office.
Cupboards have an uncanny resemblance to bookcases in that they hold quite a bit of miscellaneous stuff. This includes cupboards anywhere in your house.
- Bathroom cupboards are often a treasure trove of expired medicine bottles, old makeup, broken hair dryers, partially used toiletries and so on. Dispose of old medications properly and then throw the rest out.
- Kitchen cupboards are full of things that don't get used. Do you have an entire cupboard of old mugs donning cheesy sayings? Or how about duplicate pots and pans (some that have never seen the light of day), mixed in with boxes upon boxes of expired Rice-A-Roni and stale crackers? Pack a box of usable items and take it to the Salvation Army. Toss expired food, as well as partially consumed food that has a questionable appearance, in the garbage.
A closet can be a scary place – and not just because of the monsters your children think supposedly live in them. The scariest part just might be that you will never know what is lurking in your closet because it is stacked and packed full.
You definitely have too much "stuff" in your closet if:
- You dread opening the closet doors for fear of falling items,
- You have to pull everything out to find what you are looking for and then are left with a mess to pack up again,
- Or you know you have one "somewhere in there", but can't remember where you put it and don't want to go on an all-out treasure to find it.
Save yourself time and energy by cleaning and organizing closets often. Disorganized closets have perfectly fine items in them that never get used because of all the junk they are buried under!
Does your closet have clothing hanging in it that hasn't fit you in years, you haven't worn in a year, or is damaged and thrown on the pile of clothes in the corner?
If so, then there is a problem.
1. Start by trying on everything...and I mean everything. Now, just because it fits doesn't mean you should keep it.
2. Take a look at yourself in each item of clothing and ask yourself "can I make an outfit with this?" or "will I realistically wear this to anything in the future?" If the answer is no, then put it in a separate pile.
3. Once you are done trying on your clothes, go through your "no" pile. Don't lose your resolve! Those clothes are in the "no" pile for a reason. After all, do you need your old prom dress or that pair of shoes that were really expensive and cute, but one of the heels broke last year?
4. Donate what is still in good condition and throw out the clothes with no hope. Same goes for shoes and ties.
If you are hesitant because your closet is starting to look rather sparse after decluttering, just think of it this way- now there is more room for new clothes!
Sure, maybe you need a couple old towels to clean up unsightly messes and to dry your car after you've washed it, as well as a sheet to cover the back seat of your car for when you take the dog to the vet. What you don't need is an entire shelf of single sheets when your bunk bed has been gone for years, or ten towels with holes in them.
Sometimes our linen closets serve as extra storage for bedspreads and blankets, some of which might be holey or have gone used because they have faded over time and you no longer like them.
If you hang on to any types of these things, it's time to let them go.
Steps to Start De-cluttering
Grab some bags and boxes to start sorting through the items in your chosen location.
Label your sorting bins to suit your needs. Keep in mind that you can donate to organizations and get a tax break for your unwanted and unused items. You can also have a garage sale and make money on your dust collectors.
Whatever you do, your house will look cleaner and tidier and you save time cleaning.
Some label ideas to get you started are:
- Belongs Elsewhere
- Garage Sale
- Give Away
Some things to remember while decluttering your home:
- As you get started, keep in mind that throwing things away is part of the decluttering process.
- If you're having a hard time getting rid of things because they are still in good condition, donate them so someone who needs them can use them. The Salvation Army has thousands of donation drop off locations across the country. They accept a multitude of items ranging from clothing, food, books and even household items such as furniture.
- Be really decisive (picky!). You can do it! Once you've made the decision to get rid of something, don't second guess yourself.
- As you sort through the items, put small items that you will be keeping in a glass jar or box so they won't be scattered about and can be easily identified.
- As you come across misplaced things, put them back where they "really" belong. You might have to think hard to get kind of creative, but trust me, it's worth it. As an example, my family has collected a few rocks from various vacation spots. They don't belong tucked away in a drawer or closet. We put them in our garden so we can reminisce when doing our spring planting and barbecuing.
- Picture your house clean and organized. Focusing on a clean space will help lessen the feeling that everything is something you can't part with.
- Make sure to thoroughly clean the items you decide to keep as you go, as well as the space they were stored in. Wipe it down, dust it out and vacuum it up. This will help you feel accomplished at the end of the day because you won't just have the same stuff lying around- it is now clean stuff!
- Don't waste your movements (or time) as you put things in your sorting bins. It is easy to get distracted so try to stay on track or else you will never get anywhere.
- As you put things back in their rightful spot, make sure to group like items together. This will ensure you'll have an easier time finding the things you need, when you need them.
A Clutter Free Home Feels Wonderful
Decluttering will save you time on cleaning and dusting, and you will actually be able to find the items you need....which will reduce your stress level.
I think you deserve to treat yourself with a new outfit for doing something that should have been done years ago.
If you want a freeing experience, start the decluttering process today!
Image courtesy of spykster, CC BY Flickr.