Spring cleaning is a yearly ritual for many people, and decluttering is often goal number one. Unless you’ve specifically dedicated some time to regularly clearing out your home, chances are good that you’re in the same situation!
If you need help finding a place to start, try out these tips:
Start with 5 minutes. Tidying and decluttering feels like a daunting task, because let’s face it, it is. If you look at your whole home and start to think about the work ahead of you, it’s impossible to figure out how or where to start! So start with only five minutes, and start with one thing. Is your desk buried in maybe-I’ll-need-that junk mail? Is your family room exploding in toys and games? Begin there! Clear off one surface, putting things away or into a donation box, then clear off another. When your five minutes are up, you’re free – but you just might find you’re on a roll.
Fill one trash bag. Each time you take on a new space, set a goal of filling one trash bag with things to discard. If you’re going through a bedroom, this bag might be for donations, while in an office, it might be an assortment of papers and magazines to be recycled. Whatever the case, set that goal to rid yourself – somehow – of at least one trash bag.
Conquer the closet. One great, simple tactic for deciding what to keep and what to donate from your closet is to start by hanging all your clothing in the opposite direction. When you wear it and return it to the closet, hang it properly. After six months, you’ll be able to see which items are still hanging in the opposite direction. It’s an easy way to see clearly which clothes you aren’t wearing and are probably safe to donate.
The exception to this, of course, is when the seasons are changing and you might not need those heavy sweaters anymore. Seasonal clothing that will be used again should be packed away, either in the attic, in a guest room, or under the bed in a storage container.
Put away the “Maybe”s. If you have things that you might need later but don’t have a place for, that’s okay! Most of us do, unless we’re truly decluttering gurus. The important part is to put these things away. If your attic is overflowing, you need to downsize. If your closets are exploding, they need their own decluttering regimen. If you’ve put away a box of “Maybe keep” items and haven’t needed them in six months or more, they probably aren’t “Maybe keep” items anymore. They’ve become “Don’t need” items, and it’s time to move them out.
Remember: Being decluttered isn’t about not having things. It’s about having a place for your things.
Complete each task. No, really. Complete. No more garbage bags or boxes of donations sitting around the house, continuing to clutter the space we just decluttered. (And don’t leave it in the trunk of your car, either!)
It’s tempting to keep “Just that one box” as a work-in-progress, but it’ll hinder you more than it helps, and seeing it every day will serve as a reminder of a task undone. At the end of your decluttering session, bring those boxes and bags to the donation site of your choice.
Make an anti-clutter game plan. If you’re like many of us, you have certain ways in which you clutter. You might start with a clean, shiny office, but piece by piece, papers and bills and magazines move in. Before you know it, you’re back to where you were, and the cycle begins again. Take a stand and make an anti-clutter game plan. File mail into an In-Box on a shelf or in a wall hanger. If it’s important, open it and address it. If you think you need to keep it for a short time, leave it in your In-Box. After a week, if you haven’t used the information, throw it out. Designate a shelf for magazines, and if you discover you’re not revisiting them regularly, donate or recycle them.
Make a policy that you touch paper only once before making a decision: Keep or toss.
Keep giving. As you continue decluttering – and fighting the clutter that wants to return! – keep an eye out for opportunities to donate. Buying some new clothing that suits you a little better? Package up the old clothing immediately. Upgrading your office space? Have a plan for the old stuff. When you purchase new things with an eye on what you’ll do with the old, it becomes even easier to keep clutter from accumulating.
Any tips we haven’t thought of? Let us know in the comments!