Our lives build up a lot of experiences, memories, and stuff. For some of us, it almost feels as if our homes have been invaded by stuff — where does it all come from? And, more importantly, how do we fight back the tidal wave of belongings without drowning? Luckily, it’s always an excellent time to get into all the nooks and crannies of your house for some deep decluttering. With a few tricks and tips you can have a decluttered home that lets you breathe easy and live comfortably.
Tips for decluttering your home
In a perfect world, you’d be able to sort through everything. In the real world, it’s important to prioritize the things that negatively affect you the most or have the most room for improvement. Look around at your house critically.
- causes you stress?
- slows down your day?
- always frustrates you?
Tackle these areas first.
Organization of this process is important; without it, the process can seem overwhelming. If you’re having trouble prioritizing, or just need to declutter your entire home, set a schedule for yourself. Don’t try to make it too harsh or too fast; you can take as long as you need and enjoy your progress as you go. Look into a handy checklist or a four week ready made organization plans if you’re struggling with this step.
Make It Work For You
Decluttering doesn’t have to be purely for aesthetic purposes; you can also use the time to figure out what to sell in a garage sale or online. Just because it doesn’t have a place in your life anymore doesn’t make it worthless. Get a little bit of extra spending money and use it to treat yourself. If you’re moved more by the idea of doing good for your community than cash, see where your outgrown possessions can help. Donate to a worthy charity. Recycle.
Sometimes it’s hard to get rid of things because of the guilt or the obligation attachments. Break up with your old stuff, like the goal weight jeans that have been taunting you from the depths of your closet for years. That ugly lamp your mother-in-law gave you? Don’t keep it out of obligation. Everything you hang on to should be something that you actively use, or is a source of happiness in your home.
File It Away
Bills, junk mail, letters, photographs: the paper clutter can get nuts. Resist the urge to shred it into confetti and create a filing system. Make your system easy to understand and access so you can keep it going after your big purge. A filing system can free you from the precarious stack of mail next to the front door. If you’re a fan of electronic storage, look into scanning paperwork, photographs and important documents for safekeeping.
Clean While You Declutter
Decluttering your home often provides access to areas of your home you rarely see — or you rarely see this empty. Take advantage of the moment to clean all the weird or out of the way spaces. Checking the expiration date on everything in your fridge? Clean while you toss out those old yogurts. Organizing your kids closets? Vacuum that bit of floor you haven’t seen in years. If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned something, it’s time.
This might also be a good time to upgrade your cleaning tools, especially if your home has particular needs. If you’re not a fan of chemical cleaning, look into homemade cleaning supplies or eco-friendly cleaning methods. Have pets? Look for a vacuum cleaner specifically designed for pet hair. Hardwood floors? Might be time to throw out that old mop in favor of mops designed for hardwood.
Make It Fun
Let’s be honest: cleaning isn’t the most fun thing in the world. But like Mary Poppins says, a spoonful of sugar can make the medicine go down. Utilize your resources to make cleaning fun. Recruit your friends and family — bribe them with pizza, movies, or whatever motivates them if need be. Company makes a task go faster and more pleasantly. You can also make it into a game, or break everything into smaller tasks and reward yourself on each complete task.
Things to Avoid
No matter how determined you are, there are always a couple of ways things go wrong. Here are a couple of don’ts that can derail the whole process.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Budget your time and manage your expectations.
- Don’t spend money on organizing until you know for sure what you need. You might have a great idea to organize your closet, but you won’t really know how well it works until you’re done.
- Don’t put things down. If you touch it, put it away. Putting things down for later makes more work for yourself.
- Don’t forget to make a plan for throwing things out. Not everything can go in the trash.
- Don’t stop living your new de-cluttered life once you’re done organizing. Keep it up, so this summer you can spend more time on your tan.
Don’t let the prospect of getting elbow-deep in your clutter scare you; planning, determination and a little bit of fun can start your home on its transformative journey. And who knows? You might be so proud of your work you’ll be ready to launch into your next big home project.
Author bio: Brooke Faulkner is a writer and mom in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can check out more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek