Wednesday, April 12, 2023 / by Blair Hayes
Are you struggling with clutter? First of all, you're not alone - clutter affects over half of the population in the U.S.* Here’s some tips to de-clutter your home!
Step 1.) Do one small space at a time. This can mean focusing solely on your bedroom closet or that overcrowded drawer in your kitchen that barely closes anymore.
Step 2.) Remove everything from that particular space. You might be surprised by how many items that small drawer or that dark corner in your closet can hide. Aim to get your items in an open space with as much room as possible so everything can be neatly laid out and categorized. This lets you actually visualize just how much stuff you have and is imperative for step 3.
3.) Utilize the bin method. Now that you have everything laid out in front of you, grab some bins, boxes or whatever you have on hand and start sorting! Even if you don’t have boxes and bins, you can lay things out in piles. When it comes to creating categories, aim for middle of the road on how specific they are. For example, “clothes” may be too broad, while “hot pink short sleeve t-shirts” may be too specific. Example categories include accessories, handbags, t-shirts and sandals.
4.) This may seem counterintuitive, but don’t throw as you go! Get everything categorized first even if it’s stuff you’re sure you’re going to throw or give away. Decluttering involves a lot of decision-making which can be an overwhelming process. Therefore it is important to complete one step at a time so you are productive and stay on task. Deciding whether or not to get rid of items at the time when you are sorting can cause stress and overwhelm slowing you down or causing you to quit altogether.
5.) Once you’ve got everything sorted into categories, it is finally time to decide which items stay and which items go. Be sure to have a trash can/recycle bin and donation bin handy. Remember, the point of decluttering is to significantly reduce the amount of items you own. If your closet is overflowing there’s simply no way you are able to wear all the clothes, shoes and accessories you have. Not only will decluttering help you in so many ways, your donations could also help someone in need.
6.) Aim to spend no more than 15 seconds deciding whether or not you want to keep something. If you’re struggling with whether or not to get rid of something and your 15 seconds are up, create a “maybe” pile to come back to. Remember, the key here is not getting hung up on anything and keeping a steady momentum - think of Newton’s Law: An object in motion stays in motion.* You want this process to run as smooth and quick as possible so you don’t get overwhelmed and either slow down or quit.
7.) Once you’ve sorted through all your other categories, you can come back to your “maybe” pile. Another plus of returning to this pile after everything else is sorted through is that you may already be enjoying the benefits of decluttering after completing your first round, such as increased mental clarity, energy and encouragement to keep going. Plus, once you’ve done the majority of your sorting, you can see how much stuff you do have making it easier to know what you can get rid of. If you’re still struggling with whether or not to get rid of an item, try thinking of it this way:
7a.) If it’s something that holds sentimental (aka emotional) value for you, such as your favorite sweatshirt or stuffed animal from childhood, ask yourself, “Is it the actual item I hold dearly or the memory of it?” Chances are, you haven’t actually worn that sweatshirt or held that stuffed animal in a long time, or maybe you forgot about its existence altogether. This means that keeping it in your home no longer serves you. Maybe you have a picture of yourself with it in a photo album, and if not, you can always hold onto the memory of it. You can also snap a quick picture of it before adding it to your donation box or giving it to someone who will use and appreciate it.
7b.) You grab a certain article of clothing that you use to adore, and it was your signature look at a certain point in time. You haven’t worn it in years, but you still keep it in your closet because it might come back in style someday. When will that someday be? While some clothing trends are cyclical, others are not, and if it does happen to be in style again 20 years from now, what will the quality even be like? (Yes, fabrics do age and deteriorate.) It also may no longer fit once it is back in style, and it would be so much better to donate it or give to someone who needs it.
7c.) The answer may be more obvious than you think. More than likely, if you’re struggling with whether or not to get rid of something, the solution is to get rid of it. If you used or wore the item often, you wouldn’t have a hard time deciding whether or not to keep it. Also, if you forgot entirely about the existence of said item until you dug it up, it likely doesn’t serve a purpose in your life anymore and thus, should be tossed or donated.
8.) While the space you’ve tackled is empty, clean it out! You can finally vacuum your closet corner to corner and wipe down shelves or drawers. Reorganize the items you’ve decided to keep purposefully and neatly. Aim to create a system that will help you stay organized. You don’t have to have any containers at all to make it work, but if meticulous organization is your thing, by all means, find some bins and containers to sort your items. Remember that it doesn’t have to be influencer-style organized with matching containers, it just has to work for you. When creating your system, think about your most-used items and keep those at the front where they are easily accessible and can be quickly put back in their place once you’re done with them.
9.) Don’t underestimate the importance of this step - take the items you have decided to donate or give away to their new destination as soon as possible. While de-cluttering your home can bring you relief, it is also normal to feel loss and regret after getting rid of a lot of things. If it is already gone, you can’t dig it back up and shove it in your closet or a drawer. Being self-aware of these behaviors and reducing opportunities to re-clutter your home will help you end the cycle.
10.) Repeat this process as many times as necessary in your home! Know that serious decluttering may take quite some time, so give yourself grace and patience getting through it all.
Written by Blair Hayes, REALTOR®
Sources: 1.) https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-finds-54-percent-of-americans-are-overwhelmed-with-clutter-and-dont-know-what-to-do-with-it-300019518.html#:~:text=Survey%20Finds%2054%20Percent%20of,What%20to%20Do%20With%20It. 2.) https://www.britannica.com/science/Newtons-laws-of-motion.