If you have inherited the pack rat gene, like I have, you know how life can be an ongoing battle against collecting and storing too many things. If you’ve ever gone to a storage auction, you should know it’s fairly common and that you are not alone. Learning how to de-clutter and organize your home is a fairly simple concept. Some people do spring cleanings to discard old or broken items from their homes while others prefer to free themselves from clutter every day. It is not difficult to get started and once you do, it is an extremely gratifying experience.
Beginning the project is the hardest part for the hoarder in us. There is a certain comfort in keeping things around the house, “just in case” we need it one day. This is how we end up collecting stuff that never gets used. Of course, there are items that we genuinely require or that are likely to come in handy one day. If you find that the things you have around the house are in use on a regular basis or have sentimental value, then, it’s only a matter of organizing your space.
Clearing your home of sentimental belongings that have been passed down from earlier generations may not be possible. Antiques and collectibles are also difficult to let go of, even though you do not have the space. Being surrounded by clutter can make you feel claustrophobic and also promotes the idea of living in a cluttered environment. So, how do you free up space in your home or office, while also retaining the heirlooms or collectables which you do not use very often?
Keep reading for some tips on how to declutter your space.
Start with one room at a time
Unless you are moving, it is generally hard to simplify an entire home at once, and approaching it in this way can be overwhelming. It will stop you from organizing anything before you even start. There have been many a time where I have taken everything out of a closet, laid it out on the floor, only to become overwhelmed, and put it all back. If one room seems overwhelming to you, start with one closet. The important thing here is to complete what you set out to do. So think about what you want to tackle carefully. Once that closet or room is completed, it can serve as the inspiration to do the rest of that room, and then the other rooms.
The biggest thing in any room is the furniture; it should create a comfortable path to walk around the room. Now of course you want your family and guests to have something to sit on, so only get rid of furniture that does not sacrifice the comfort and livability of the room. Pieces of furniture that have no purpose (for example, that extra end table or plant stand) are a good place to start.
Keep the essentials
Look at each item in the room, and ask yourself if it is truly essential; if it is not, toss it! Also, for sentimental belongings, ask your self if it has a real emotional attachment. You will know the difference. If it does not have real sentimental value, then kiss it goodbye.
Get rid of things you do not like
Get rid of odds and ends that you do not like. Sofas, end tables, chairs, art work all hold energy and, if everyday you are walking by your couch, for example and you have no regard for it, your emotional state takes a hit. This may not seem to be a big deal, but if you surround yourself by stuff that you do not enjoy, it adds up and leaves you feeling drained. Holding on to things just to have them will cost you peace of mind. De-cluttering can be an emotional process, as some items have “sentimental” value. However, some of those personal effects too, must go.
Separate your stuff into the following piles (this works especially well for clothes):
3. Throw away
Take the “maybe” pile, put it in a box and store the box in the attic or basement. If you don’t use anything from that box within the next 6 months, donate or throw the stuff in it away.
Every item has its place
Make sure there is a specific place for every item that is left. If this means that you need to go out and buy organizing trays, crates or racks then do that. Leaving odds and ends haphazardly strewn across the room (yes, this means in the attic and basement too) creates a cluttered look. Try to pick logical spots that are close to where the item is likely to be used. We recently de-cluttered and reorganized our entire basement, and it looks fantastic.
Keep floors and flat surfaces clutter free
Find a place for or remove anything that is stacked or stored on the floor. This helps to open up the room and organize your space. Do the same thing with all other flat surfaces: counter tops, end tables, tables, hutches, dresser and furnace tops, etc.
What about the walls
De-cutter your walls from framed pictures and artwork (especially if it is not artwork that is meaningful to you). You can even leave some walls completely bare. Bare walls can be clean and refreshing.
As you go through the process of de-cluttering your home, it might begin to appear vacant and empty. Try not to think of it in terms of what you have given up. Think of it in terms of what you have gained. You won’t be spending as much time cleaning, dusting, taking care of and even looking at stuff, which gives you more time to enjoy your life.
Once you have simplified a room, take a moment to enjoy how crisp, clean, refreshing and peaceful it is. Now don’t you feel much lighter? Over the next few days, weeks and months you may discover that there is more for you to de-clutter. Repeat the above steps at least twice a year, or more often if the desire strikes you.