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The Guide to Decluttering

Posted 8/25/2016

Out of sight, out of mind, or so the saying goes, right?
   Well, that's not totally true because you can only go on dumping the mess of daily life into drawers, piling it in the closets, or tossing it in boxes for so long. Sooner or later, the drawers will get stuck, the closets will become death traps and the boxes will overflow.

   So what's the solution? Starting out can be a little intimidating, we're hoping  we can help you with these tips!

Begin by clearing out what you can, finding a place for what's left, and creating a system for organizing the new things that come through your doors.
First, decide what to keep and what to discard.
This may seem obvious but, it's usually easier said than done. We all want to keep that first grade holiday card or best costume in preschool award, we have to learn to say NO to the parenting packrat. To decide what to keep and what to discard, ask yourself these questions:

  1.  Have I used or enjoyed this item recently?
  2. Does someone in the family attach serious personal value to it?
  3. Would I save it if my house were burning down?
  4.  Will I need it in the future?

If you've answered "no" to all of these questions, congratulate yourself. You've identified something you can get rid of in order to declutter your home. Well done, give yourself a hand.

Where to start decluttering your home.
Where should you begin? Wherever the results will benefit your family the most, really. If you normally enter your home through the living room, tackle that room first. If you come in through the garage, kitchen, or dining room, begin your job there. One room at a time and before you know it, they'll all be looking exactly as it did when you first moved in.
Start by bringing in five boxes or bags into the first room or entrance area. Fill one container with items that belong in other rooms, a second with items you can give away,  a third with items to be stored, the fourth with the items you plan to toss out or recycle, and the fifth with all those things you want to include in your next garage sale.

Don't plan to make your first decluttering session a marathon.
Don't loose all your spunk in one go because you're more likely to tackle a smaller job on a wednesday night than you are to give an entire Saturday up to declutter your home.  Instead, break down you job into small, manageable tasks. For example:

  • Pack up items you don't want but can be either donated to charity or sold at a garage sale.
  •  Go around the room starting from the highest point and working your way to the floor.
  •  Give each item you encounter careful consideration as to its usefulness or sentimental value to you and your family.  If you can bear to live without the item, put it in the proper box or bag.
  • Make a list of any large furnishings to be removed or relocated.
  • Make an appointment with your favorite charity to cart off the giveaways, or take the initiative and haul them away yourself. (Be sure to get a receipt for tax purposes.)
  • Recycle or toss broken or unusable items; If you're going the garage-sale route, check your calendar for a good Saturday or sunday in the weeks ahead and pencil in a specific date.
  • Put boxes containing items you probably won't need this year or next in the least accessible spots. Also, stash boxes containing items you may need in the months ahead in the most reachable places. Keep a record of what is going where in your storage area, so that you're able to get to items when you need them.

Now the fun part: Finding new places in your home for the keepers.
As your walls and floors begin to reappear, take a good look around the room and consider how to organize the keepers. Items should take up residence where they are most convenient for you instead of where they are traditionally kept.

  • Store batteries in the family room or the bedrooms where the kids toys are, instead of in a kitchen drawer.
  • Organize and store items where they are most convenient for you, instead of where you are traditionally kept. Example:  Put your frequently used pots and saucepans in the front of the kitchen cupboard so you don't have to rifle through the pie plates or sauce pans to get to them.

How to control clutter in the future.
Make these strategies a part of your life to control clutter in the future:

  • Place a catchall basket in your home's busiest rooms to hold keys, receipts, mail, and other items until you can find the time to organize them.
  • Place baskets at the bottom and top of the stairs to hold things that belong on another floor; take one or more items with you when going up or down like toys or dirty clothes.
  • When you bring home a new shirt, a kitchen knickknack, or a toy for the kids, resolve to store, recycle, give away, or toss another item that's past its prime.

Obvious, yes, but as you discover more logical ways to declutter your home, you may realize that you've been doing things the hard way until now.Do you have any other comments or suggestions? Let us know!