Clutter makes our living spaces untidy and unmanageable, & contributes to an overall sense of disorganization in our lives. Start a decluttering project that could change your life!
If you are living in a home that you feel is untidy and has too much stuff, you probably know already that you need to de-clutter.
But de-cluttering is not as simple as it sounds. There are so many reasons why we cannot successfully de-clutter our homes and our lives. We get attached to our stuff, we feel that we need it, somebody gave it to us, or we may need it one day.
Have you ever said any of those things about stuff that you know you should really be letting go of?
Why do you need to Declutter?
The short quick answer to this is that you will know if you need to de-clutter. If you feel that you can never keep your home tidy, if you feel that you have too much stuff in your home, and if you feel like there are no longer adequate storage spaces for all your things, you know it is time to de-clutter.
You won’t just wake up one day and think “I need to de-clutter today!” It will be something you have known for a while, but for whatever reason you just haven’t acted on it or done anything about it.
How to start a Decluttering Project
If you start thinking about all the clutter in your home, and all the things you need to get rid of in some way, you will become very overwhelmed very fast, and you will likely abandon the entire project. Therefore it is best to start small and do things gradually.
Designate one thing to de-clutter at a time. Start small – a drawer, a cupboard, or a closet. Don’t rush it – take your time to get rid of the clutter from that one space – trash it, donate it, recycle it, or give it away.
Once you have done one de-cluttering project move on to the next. You may feel that it is moving too slowly, but if you do go fast you will not only get tired of it, but you also won’t do a great job.
Successful de-cluttering is not just getting rid of your stuff. It is also re-designing the storage space it was in, so that it doesn’t clutter up again, and it stays neat and tidy. It takes time to successfully plan a great storage space that will work for you for many years.
Decide on Your Current Decluttering Project
Make a list of all the things you need to de-clutter in your home. Your list may look something like this:
Kitchen junk drawer
Kitchen cutlery drawer
Under the kitchen sink
Under the bathroom sink
Master bedroom walk in closet
Kids toy closet
All those things I listed above are common areas of everyone’s home that can get untidy and unruly.
Taking your list, choose one thing from that list to start on. As I mentioned previously – start small. Choose a small de-cluttering project first.
Devote Time to Declutter
You don’t have to have a hard stop time/date for your project, but it does help to have something of a goal to work towards and keep you on track. Smaller projects can be done in a couple of days, or a weekend. Larger projects need longer, perhaps weeks or months.
Taking into account what you will be working on de-cluttering, decide on a time goal. For instance, if you are going to organize and de-clutter the space under your kitchen sink, you may need a week or so to do this properly, although this is probably a job that could be done in a weekend.
In deciding on the time needed, and your time goal for this project, think about what needs to be done for the actual project.
If I was re-organizing and de-cluttering under my kitchen sink, I would need to first of all remove everything under there. I would need to clean it, perhaps mop up spilled liquids and generally clean it all over.
I would then have to decide if I will put contact paper or something down on the cabinet floor. I would then need to go through everything I removed. I would throw away cleaning products and things that were out of date, that I no longer use, or things that I just don’t like/want.
I would then need to re-design that space so that it stays neat and tidy and works for me going forward. That might involve buying special shelving, or bins to fit under there to store things in. Once the space was completely cleaned and redesigned, I would then need to put back the things I was keeping.
As you can see from that project all listed out step by step above, time would be needed not just to do the actual work of cleaning, but also in re-designing and re-thinking the space, ordering or buying products needed such as shelves, bins or contact paper, and re-organizing.
Whatever project you decide on, make a list of all the steps involved. That way you can buy or order things needed for that project ahead of time, so that it doesn’t hold you up.
Redesigning under the sink should really be a job that could be done in about a day realistically. But that would be rushing things if the space is to be redesigned, and products bought and placed.
How to Decide what Items to Let Go of
One of the biggest reasons that people don’t declutter very well, or at all, is because they are so attached to their stuff.
We all have things such as an item that someone special to us gave us – that we don’t really like, but because they gave it to us we keep it. Or something of sentimental value (I wore that dress on our first date). It may have been an expensive item that it seems a shame not to use or keep. It could be something that you have because one day you just may need it.
There are so many reasons that we can all come up with regarding our stuff.
Ask yourself these questions when you look at your things:
Do I already have an item like this, or another of the same item that does the same thing?
Is this item broken, does it need repair? Is it worth repairing?
Does this item help me in any way?
Has the expiration date passed on this item? Is it no longer fresh or good to use?
Am I just keeping this item for the sake of it?
What to do with Sentimental Items
While going through each decluttering project, when you come across sentimental items I always think it is best to not do anything with them straight away. Instead I put these items aside. I carry on the decluttering project and I keep the sentimental items aside in a place while I consider what to do with them.
There are many ways to deal with your sentimental clutter:
Take a picture of it. If you really are going to part with that item, take a picture of it. Sometimes having a picture is just as good as having the real thing, and takes up a lot less space!
Re-purpose it. If you have a dress that is too small for you, but you wore it on your first date with your husband and it means a lot, but it is just taking up space in your closet for instance. Sometimes re-purposing something can give it a new life.
Could you turn the material of that dress into a cushion to keep on your bed or chair, where it will always remind you of that dress you wore and that night? Could you turn it into a smaller dress for one of your children, or use the fabric in a quilt you are making?
Take a deep breath. If you really know that you need to get rid of that thing that is sentimental – sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and do it.
Create a different space for the object. If you keep old wedding invitations, bus tickets from your travels, old menus etc, you could consider putting them into a scrapbook so that they are neatly filed, and available whenever you want to look at them.
Trash, Recycle or Donate?
Wherever possible I prefer to donate items, as long as they are in good condition. The best items for donating are clothing, small electrical items, furniture, books etc.
If your recycling laws allow it where you live, recycle what you can, especially plastic.
If the item is broken or no longer works, it is probably best to just trash it. Unless it is plastic that can be recycled.
Just Do It – just Declutter!
Finally, you just have to do it! If you have been thinking of de-cluttering for some time, just go ahead and do it! The sooner you do it, the sooner you will have an organized space, and the sooner you will feel clearer-headed and better about your space.
As I mentioned, start small and tackle one project at a time. Play your favorite music as you go through a closet or drawer.
Take time to think about and remember where that object came from, and who gave it to you. Feel good about donating items to organizations who are in need. Decluttering doesn’t have to be horrible and tedious – it can be great exercise in reflection.
Clutter makes our living spaces untidy and unmanageable, and can also affect us mentally. Un-cluttering your home, and therefore your life, will put you back on track!
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