It is getting to that time of year when we all want to spring clean our homes, give everything a freshen up, with a new lease of life. We’ve all lusted over those beautiful, clutter-free homes in magazines and on the internet. Well now is your time to achieve just that!
Firstly, visualize how you want the space to look and keep that in mind while you’re working your way through. It takes time so schedule this into your week to make sure that it gets done. It’s so easy to put off otherwise.
Decluttering can seem like a mammoth task initially and feel quite overwhelming so take it slowly and tackle one area at a time. You could focus on one room before moving onto the next but if even that seems like too big a task, try setting a timer for 15 minutes and see how much you can declutter in that time. You’ll be amazed how much more efficiently we can sort things when we are up against the clock! Instead of a whole room you could even scale it down to one cupboard, drawer or shelf. You’ll feel such a great sense of achievement each time one space is cleared of junk that you’ll be raring to move on to the next one.
Remove the smaller items first. It is much easier to dispose of small items that can go straight into a trash bag, than to tackle the larger ones. You don’t even need to spend time opening boxes and investigating closets – just make quick, easy decisions at this point, grabbing the things in plain sight that you know you do not want anymore.
Next, the larger things which take up lots of space need to be the next to go and what a difference they will make. Although sometimes trickier to get rid of, they will show quick progress and motivate you to keep decluttering.
Once you have decluttered, organizing is key. Storage boxes, files and labels are your friends here. Get systems into place so that all your things are clean, useful and manageable. You don’t need to have a completely minimalist, bare home for it to be clutter-free and organized but a tidy home will give you a much greater sense of calm and control in your home – you’ll soon be reaping the benefits of many decluttering hours.
I’ve decluttered but what shall I do with everything?
Lots of your decluttered items will be destined for the trash. Make sure you shred any bills and important paperwork carefully before disposal, to protect yourself from any kind of identity fraud.
You may wish to consider selling items, via a garage sale or online. However this can take time to organize, meaning you’re stuck with all the items for a while, so you could also consider donating. This means you can drop the items off or have them collected much sooner, freeing up the space. It can be disheartening if you’ve spent hours decluttering to still be left with the items otherwise. Selling can be time-consuming too so don’t add to the burden by trying to resell everything. Perhaps just choose a handful of larger, more valuable items to sell on and donate the rest to a local charity.
If you have storage space at home, such as an attic or garden building, you could use these to store items that you really do wish to keep. Try to keep these areas organized as you go to avoid them being just a dumping ground for all those things you have no use for but cannot bear to part with.
However, storage space at home often comes at a premium for many of us, so outside storage is worth considering if you’re decluttering but can’t bring yourself to get rid of belongings completely. Not only does outside storage give you 24 hour access to your items but it can be an affordable way of keeping everything clean, dry and secure too. There are different sizes available too, which means you can choose one that suits your family.
So, now you’ve decluttered, what next?
The last thing you’ll want to do is steadily fill your home back up with more ‘stuff’. Firstly, try to embrace the simpler, less cluttered lifestyle and life within your means. It’s not a groundbreaking idea but by letting the size of your home dictate what you buy, you’ll feel so much more in control. So if your closet is at breaking point, choose something to give away before you buy something new. Not only does it tend to stop us buying unnecessary items, it makes us more mindful about our shopping and hoarding habits.
Have a place for everything. If you always end up with a pile of papers on the dining table or shoes in the hall, consider storage options. You may need more places for everything, such as a new shoe cupboard by the door or a file for the papers that are accumulating.
Try to get in the habit of putting things away as soon as you’ve used them. So instead of throwing your sweater on the chair, put it straight in the laundry or back in your closet. Instead of leaving a pen on the table, put it back in the drawer or pot from which you found it. These few seconds tidying up after yourself can make a huge difference to all the little items that tend to start piling up in our homes.
Not only is going paperless much better for the environment, it also means less clutter entering your home. Where you are able to, opt to have bills and letters via email. It will save you time as you’ll no longer have to file them away and you’ll have everything stored electronically for when you need them. It’s a no-brainer.
Cluttered homes do take focused time and effort to sort but once you’ve done it, you’ll never look back!