Ever feel a bit hung up on the fact that you don’t live in a minimalistic domestic haven?
Let’s face it, between our actual interest in de-cluttering and the amount of time and energy we expend earning the money to acquire all this stuff, why on earth would we want to get rid of it all?
Pair this with the time, energy and emotional drains perceived to be associated with going through the de-cluttering process, I don’t find it at all difficult to understand, when my clients eyes glaze over, or vaguely start to roll back into their heads, as soon as the topic is raised.
If you are planning on selling your house, or even moving to a new rental, this process is a necessary evil and all the eye glazing and rolling has prompted me to come up with a plan to help people move through this process and I would like to share it with you here, so here we go:
1) Don’t get overwhelmed
Yep, I know, easier said than done, right? Well actually, it is a lot easier to control how overwhelming and big the process of de-cluttering feels, as long as you follow a few simple rules.
a) Allow more time than you think you’ll need to complete each area you are working on and the whole house.
b) Break the process down into small, manageable pieces and never think about the next area to be tackled until the current one is complete.
c) Starting to feel out of control mid-process? Revisit a) and b).
2) Write down your plan and diarise time
You don’t need to spend a mountain of time on this step, but as with all things, having a good plan at the start will get you where you want to go a lot more quickly, simply by keeping you on track.
Start by listing each area or room you want to work on and then break each area or room into a sub list of what needs to be looked at.
Next, re-order your list into a logical sequence. Start with the least used or least cluttered rooms to build confidence and set a pattern before moving on to larger, more cluttered rooms.
Finally, mark time out in your diary to tackle the items on your list. By setting aside specific time, you will always be moving forward toward your goal, even if it is sometimes only a short amount of time you can dedicate to the task.
Remember, in 10 minutes you can deal with the contents of one drawer and that’s one drawer you can cross off the list!
3) Gather your equipment
Before you start, make sure that you have everything you need to do the job. It will save you a lot of time in the overall process, if you don’t have to stop what you are doing mid-way through.
Sturdy, reasonably sized moving boxes are perfect to protect the belongings you choose to keep and store. Remember, as it is actually the items you want to keep that will be going in these boxes, their practicality for the purpose is important.
A selection of different coloured garbage bags are perfect to use so that you can easily identify the items that you wish to give to family or friends, donate to charity, advertise for sale and throw out, once you have sorted them.
A cleaning kit including all the basic essentials such as cloths, all-purpose spray and a vacuum cleaner will enable you to give each area a thorough clean as you go.
Finally, having a good quality permanent marker on hand to label all those boxes and bags will save you having to open each one when the time comes to retrieving something.
4) Start sorting
Now for the fun part! Referring back to the plan you made earlier, start at the beginning.
Remove everything from the cupboard, drawer or surface you have chosen to work on and give the area a good clean and dust, wipe or vacuum, as the situation requires.
Turn your attention to the pile of items you removed from the cupboard, drawer or surface. At random, pick up each item, one at a time and place it in a packing box or garbage bag according to its ultimate destination. The only items that should be returned to their original place are those that are regularly used (no – you cannot keep it all and claim that you are de-cluttering!).
Now here is the Secret…Handle each item only once.
Do not put anything down until you have made a decision about what to do with it and definitely do not pick anything up again once you have put it down.
If you are really struggling with the decision making process, this ‘rule’ will become your best friend. It’s funny how quickly we can reach a decision when faced with the frustration of carrying around the 4000th kinder artwork produced by child number 3 for two hours, whilst trying to cook dinner for the family and obviously, there is nothing to be gained from second-guessing your decision once it’s made.
5) Deal with it
As soon as you have completed one area, deal with the boxes and bags you have sorted. Move the items you have elected to store to a central point (the garage or a storage facility), take the charity items to your preferred charity bin or drop off location, deliver or arrange collection of items your are giving to family and friends and immediately throw out rest.
Don’t give yourself any room to change your mind and undo the wonderful progress you are making.
Get out your list and diary and cross off the time you have spent and the items you have completed.
Give yourself a pat on the back for the progress you are making and maybe even consider giving yourself a little reward, just don’t make it something of the clutter producing kind!
Do you have any other decluttering tips that work for you? Please share in the comments below.
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