Does this picture look like a space in your home? With my client’s permission, I am sharing a before photo of his basement. This is 50 years worth of stuff piled into a room and forgotten about. He put it off for many years and finally was ready to get things sorted out.
There is hope to getting an area like this cleaned up and usable again. My client made decisions, enlisted my help, and stayed focused to de-clutter the room.
Are you ready to de-clutter?
Follow these eight steps and watch change occur before your eyes!
Eight Steps to De-cluttering:
1. Ask yourself important questions
You need to be clear and honest with yourself. These questions can help you get to the heart of your issue.
- Do you want to have clear tables and counter tops?
- Do you want to stop tripping over stuff?
- Do you want to be able to find things?
- Do you want to put your house on the market?
- Do you want to save money by no longer buying things you already own?
- You want to live with less?
- Do you want to have guests stay in the guest room?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
- Do I feel too embarrassed to have friends or family over?
- Is a relationship being affected?
- Do you want to avoid leaving your family the burden of dealing with your stuff?
- Do you want your children to learn to live with less?
- Have you worked through some of your grief?
Get in touch with what you want:
What result do you want to achieve as a result of de-cluttering?
- Do you want a relaxing, spa-like bedroom?
- Do you want a kitchen with clearer counters so you can prepare healthy meals?
- Do you want only products that you use on your bathroom counter?
- Do you want to have a dining room ready at a moments notice to have friends and family over for dinner?
- Do you want to see the horizontal surfaces free of stuff?
2. Write out a simple goal or mantra.
Make the statement feel good and motivating:
- De-cluttering will allow me to sell the house more quickly.
- When I tackle a small space I feel great.
- Donating one bag of items feels good to me.
- Having a clearer counter is relaxing.
3. Gather a few supplies.
Post-its and sharpie markers to label items
- Trash bags labeled trash
- Clear/white bags, or boxes labeled donate
- Boxes or baskets to store items in places where you are not working
- A dust mask or gloves, if that makes you feel better, especially if you have allergies
4. Start small.
Pick a place that you will likely see a difference if you just do something. A drawer, the top of a closet, a counter, a shelf, a chair, a side table, or one step is a great place to start.
5. Set a timer.
Twenty minutes is a simple way to begin. You can do less time or more time if that suits you. I offer two approaches for working through a space: begin at one end of the space and work clockwise around the space processing each item (keep, trash, donate, return to someone) or play “treasure hunt.” A treasure hunt is when you grab items that jump out at you that are immediately identified. For example all things that you definitely want to donate or trash or that lives somewhere else in the house. Bag or box up these items accordingly. You can mix up the approach- JUST GET STARTED.
6. Process the items.
Ask yourself questions as you pick each item up. For example: Can I live without it? Is it still good? Could someone use it more than I can? Will getting rid of it help me reach my de-cluttering goal? Am I keeping it because I feel guilty?
7. Check in.
When your timer goes off, ask yourself should I continue or stop? If you stop, then gather up the box of items that live somewhere else. If you are able to put the items in their home, do it. If this is not possible, then put them near where they will live in the future. Put the donations in your car and schedule a time to drop the items off (preferably the next time you are passing by the donation center.)
8. Make an appointment with yourself.
Schedule your next de-cluttering session. Congratulate yourself for getting started! Well done! E-mail, call or text me your accomplishment. I will be your cheerleader!
Before you start your next session, read your goal or mantra to remind yourself why you want to de-clutter. Then follow steps 3 – 8. Focus on seeing improvement. Don’t get hung up on being perfect. If it is better than when you started, then you have made a positive change.
Here is what your space can look like after working diligently on your goal.
You will have items donated, recycled, tossed, returned to others and moved to other areas in your home. The items you decided to keep in the space will be organized so that you can find them the next time you are searching.
You got this!
Lynne Poulton is a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®) serving Northeast Ohio. She is a Licensed Social Worker and prior to starting Wholly Organized!®LLC in 2012, she spent 14 years working for a non-profit social service agency. Lynne partners with people of all ages to address the physical and emotional clutter in their lives to make room for what matters most.