Here are some tips on decluttering your home that helped me when I was feeling overwhelmed by all my junk. I have accumulated stuff over a period of 32 years and now that I am living alone, I am facing the task of sorting it out and deciding what to keep, sell, give away or store. I have realized that decluttering can be cathartic and that there is no reason to hold on to items that I no longer need or want.
In a large family, clutter tends to pile up. Paperwork lies on counters, school homework on tables and clean clothing in piles. Four people or more living in a home can create a fair amount of chaos. When the kids move out, they often leave clutter behind. My kids always accuse me of throwing out stuff they want to keep. I have now stored most of their stuff in my garage and I am waiting for them to go through it so they can tell me what I can discard. Neither of them are married yet and until they have their own families, I guess I will have to put up with some of their belongings. Here are a couple of useful tips I found when scouring the internet for help in decluttering:
- Create a schedule – devote a certain time to decluttering every day, even if it is half an hour. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted from your task during this time.
- Start small – begin with one small area – organize one drawer, clear one counter or choose an area that frustrates you every day. A sense of accomplishment will motivate you to want to do more.
- Don’t have one major purge – just as clutter takes time to build up, it also takes time to bring it under control. If you have a major purge, you may end up regretting having thrown out so much and with such an approach, clutter does not take long to build up again as you have not really changed anything, except divesting yourself of some possessions. It is far better to establish new habits, find new ways to organize and create new routines.
- Strategies – I have found the method of using four boxes really useful. One box is used for items to be put away, another for items to give away or sell, the third for items to store and the fourth for items to be thrown away. After using the four boxes for a session of decluttering, take time to follow through and put away items, leave the second box in a spot ready for giving away or selling and put the third box in storage. Clearly mark the storage box. Throw the rest of the items in the trash can and empty it quickly before you change your mind!
- Good habits – I frequently lose my cell phone and my keys so I have developed a little routine. As I enter the front door, I immediately hang up my keys on a key rack. I hang up my jacket on another peg in the entrance hall and I have yet another peg for my purse. I take my phone out of my purse and place it on my desk next to my computer. I have also developed the habit of immediately sorting through the mail and throwing out unwanted items. I place the rest of the items in a folder on my desk.
- Every item deserves a home – One of the main reasons for clutter is because items do not have homes. If you have a home for every item and always return it to its home after use, you will always be able to find it.
- One in, one out – If you purchase a new item, like a new pair of pants, take the opportunity to throw out a pair you no longer wear. One in, one out. You can even build this up to one in, two out to really reverse the tendency to clutter.
I found that I began to feel much less burdened when I began to declutter. I couldn’t believe how much I was able throw away and I am still busy doing this, bit by bit. Somehow decluttering seems to have had a positive effect on my mind too. As I become more organized, so I feel less as though I am drowning and more like I have some control over my life.