Are you tired of cleaning around things you don't use or enjoy? Do you feel stressed or overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in a room? Do you find that things just seem to "disappear?" You might have too much clutter!
We all accumulate clutter in our homes over time. From things that we're given as gifts, sentimental items, and random stuff we buy. Sometimes we end up holding onto these things for too long, or we have a hard time getting rid of them. This article will go over what clutter is, when it becomes a problem, and some tips that can help you declutter your home like a pro. Let's get started!
What is clutter?
Before we get into how to reduce the clutter in your home, let's define what clutter even is. Anything in your home that takes away the enjoyment of your home is considered clutter. When we declutter, we're taking the time to remove unnecessary items to make room for the stuff we love and enjoy.
When does clutter become a problem?
Did you know that your home has a significant impact on your overall wellness? In fact, studies show that the more clutter people have in their homes, the more stressed they are. Clutter can also make people feel embarrassed at the state of their homes, and in extreme cases, people may begin to suffer from depression.
In severe hoarding cases, dust and mold may become present, making it possible for other health complications.
Benefits of Decluttering
There are several benefits to decluttering your home and ultimately owning fewer things. Here are just a few:
- There is less for you to clean! Cleaning is already a chore, but it's even harder to remain motivated to do it when you have no emotional attachment to the things you have to clean around.
- Your home will become less of a stressor. Looking around at all the clutter in your home might cause you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or embarrassed. Once you start taking the time to declutter, you'll feel more in control and notice your stress levels decrease!
- There will be less for you to organize. Things won't just suddenly go "missing" anymore. You can easily move around your home and enjoy your space, and it will be easier to keep things organized, making them easier to keep track of.
- You might have a bit more financial freedom. The less time you spend shopping for material possessions and adding to your home's clutter, the fuller your wallet will be. Your credit card statements will be lower, and your home won't get filled to the brim with expensive things you don't need. When you declutter and pair it with a minimalistic lifestyle, you can build up your savings for other things, such as emergencies and fun adventures.
- You'll likely have more time and energy for hobbies and passions. With a clean, organized home and more financial freedom, you'll likely find that you have more time and energy to do the things you enjoy, which will make you happier!
- Moving to a new home will be easier. For those of you who plan on moving, whether it be some time soon or way down the road, you'll find it a lot easier and cheaper to move if you're not bringing along a whole bunch of unnecessary clutter.
How to Declutter
1. Create Goals and Set a Timeline for Yourself
Before you start decluttering your home, the best course of action is to develop a game plan. No matter how much stuff you have to go through, whether it be just one room or your entire house, it's a good idea to sit down and make a list of specific goals. This will help reduce any roadblocks and frustration you might hit down the road and make it easier for you to stay on track. Here are a few things you'll want to think about when setting your goals:
- Make a list of all the rooms you want to declutter and organize. You can even draw a map of your home if that's more helpful.
- Give each room you want to declutter a grade based on the amount of clutter. This will make it easier to prioritize your time. For example, on a grading scale of 1-5 (with 1 being the least cluttered and 5 being the most cluttered), a super messy closet with little to no walking room would be a 5.
- Only tackle one space at a time. You don't want to get distracted or overwhelmed. If you try to tackle too much at once, you might become too stressed and not finish the project.
- Set up a timeline. Setting completion dates for each phase of your decluttering project can help you stay on track and avoid frustration. Make sure you think about other aspects of your life that might affect the time you can honestly put into decluttering your space and choose timelines that are realistically attainable.
2. Create a Sorting System
Now that you've set your goals and created timelines for each of them, it's time to make a sorting system. You can create your own sorting method or use the Three-Box Method. This method is excellent because it forces you to make a decision for each item you come across, so you can avoid making a bigger mess. Here's how to use the Three-Box Method:
Get three boxes or bins and label them: Keep, Get Rid Of, and Storage.
These are items that are useful in your day-to-day life. After completing each space, empty this box and put the items in their designated homes. Consider storing these things neatly in a labeled container or drawer.
Get Rid Of Box
This box is for the items you no longer have use for. Once you complete each space, empty this box and decide what items you will donate or sell and which ones you will throw away.
Tip: Store items you plan on donating or selling somewhere outside your home. For example, a storage bin in the garage or (even better) the vehicle they'll be transported in.
Put in Storage Box
This box is for sentimental and seasonal items. After you complete each space, empty this box into storage containers. Make sure you label each container or put an inventory sheet on top. Then you can neatly stack them in a designated storage area.
3. Get Rid of the Clutter!
Now that you've created your sorting system, it's finally time to start actually clearing the clutter! Here are some tips for disposing of the items that make their way into your "Get Rid Of" box:
- Recycle Them: If you have recyclable glass, paper, and plastics, you can put them right into your recycling bin or in bags to take to your nearest recycling drop-off location.
- Donate Them: It can sometimes make it easier to get rid of things you no longer need when you know they're going to a new home where someone will appreciate and enjoy them. Consider donating things like clothes, shoes, and other household items that are in good condition. There are a number of charities that will accept these things. Do some research to see what charities are in your area and their guidelines for the items they accept.
- Freecycle: Consider posting your items to Freecycle.org or a Facebook resale group so that people in your area can come and get them.
- Garage Sale: If you have the time and are willing to put in the work, you could make some money off of your clutter by holding a garage sale. Check in with your HOA to see if there is a designated garage sale date for your neighborhood.
- Rent a Dumpster: Not everything you decide to get rid of will be in good enough shape to donate or sell. Depending on the amount of clutter you have to get rid of, it might be a good idea to consider renting a dumpster. Renting a dumpster is an affordable, no-stress option if you have a lot to get rid of.
Here are some of our top tips for decluttering your home:
- Start by getting rid of broken, unused, or duplicate items. Paper clutter and old clothes are also easy to start with.
- Only keep things you've used in the past year. Get out of the "maybe this will be useful in the future" mindset! If you haven't used something in the last year, get rid of it.
- Create designated spots for the things you want to keep. Everything needs a home, even if that home is in a drawer. Get clever with container ideas and drawer organization to maximize your storage space. If you end up with things that don't fit or don't have a home, it's time to reconsider if you really need them.
- Keep similar items together. When you start decluttering your home, it's essential to categorize things as you go through them. By keeping similar things together, you organize your home and ultimately make your daily life easier. Store each category of items close to where they will be used so you know where to find them when you need them.
- Use labels. While label-making may seem time-consuming, it's well worth the time and effort. When you add labels to your containers, it adds a visual element. Even if you can't see what's inside those storage bins, you know what items are in there because of the label. You'll thank yourself later when you're not making a mess by rustling through every bin trying to find what you need.
- Sleep on it. Once you've decided to get rid of the clutter, sleep on it. You'll know by the morning if there's anything you can't live without. Pull it out of the "Get Rid Of" bin and find a home for it.
- Clear off any flat surfaces. Countertops, tables, shelves, desks, and other flat surfaces are magnets for clutter. If you need to keep a few things out on the counter, that's fine, but make it a goal to free all of these surfaces from as much clutter as possible. You can do this by making space in drawers or adding small boxes or bins to shelves.
- Take before and after photos. Decluttering your home can seem like an intense task at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. In some cases, rooms might look worse before they get better, but if you take before and after photos, you will be able to see all of the incredible progress that you've made!
- Make decluttering fun! You can do this by playing music or a podcast while sorting through your things. Or you can ask a friend, relative, spouse, or professional organizer to help you. For some people, things are more fun and motivating when someone is there to help them.
- Recognize that the importance of a gift is the act of giving and receiving. Gifts are one of the hardest things for people to get rid of. You appreciate the time, effort, and thoughtfulness someone put into getting and giving you a gift, and you don't want to dishonor that. But if the gift isn't something you enjoy or need, it's ok to let it go without any guilt. What makes a gift meaningful is the transaction of love, which was already achieved when it was given and received.
- Shop for others. Instead of approaching the decluttering process with the mindset of finding things to get rid of, consider the things that you'd be willing to part with so that others can have them.
- Purge what you have before splurging on organization containers. Don't buy organization containers until after you purge. Otherwise, you risk organizing things you don't actually need!
- Ask a professional organizer for help. You can definitely work on clearing the clutter from your home on your own without the help of a professional organizer. You can even make it a fun family activity if you want! However, if you don't know where to start or need help for yourself or a loved one, reaching out to a professional organizer can be a great option. We can help you develop a plan if that's all you need, or we can help you go through every room.
Decluttering your home may seem like a giant, overwhelming task at first. But by using some of the tips listed in this article, you can make it easier, less stressful, and more fun! Decluttering isn't a one-time deal. Ideally, you should declutter every 3 to 6 months so it doesn't get out of hand. Add it to your calendar to make sure it stays a priority. Decluttering and organizing your home can be fun, and the benefits are well worth it!
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