Home & Family

A Mini-Guide to Decluttering your Home


It’s not uncommon for people to bring items into the home they intend to use or wear. Unfortunately, things can pile up quickly. Introducing too many material things into the homes and not decluttering creates large piles around the house of useless or impractical items that take up valuable space.

Clutter produces negative conditions for our home. Not only does it lead to untidiness, but it also makes organizing, cleaning, and finding things difficult. Having too many possessions provoke discomfort and make us feel overwhelmed. We may feel concerned about what others think of our messy living spaces. And, in worst-case scenarios, we may stop inviting friends and family over altogether due to clutter. This signals that we have lost control over our possessions; however, it is never too late to regain control.

Getting rid of clutter can be a challenge for some people, physically, mentally, or both. If so, consider asking someone close to you to help or hire a professional organizer with good credentials. The chances are that decluttering will require some lifting and carrying of objects, so be sure to line up the help you need. For those with emotional ties to possessions who have a hard time decluttering, addressing the condition with a medical doctor before beginning can help. Often clutter is an offshoot of depression, and the condition may be medically addressed using therapy, medications, or other treatments.

There is no shame or blame in having clutter, even in extreme cases. Getting a home up to safe living standards or simply having the home operate more smoothly are admirable and attainable goals. Getting started can sometimes be the most challenging part; that is why a step-by-step decluttering and organizing plan is a must.

Three important tips before getting started:

1) Commit to stop bringing new objects into the house during the process to avoid negating your hard work.

2) Focus on one room at a time and finish that room before moving on.

3) Stay positive and keep your eye on the rewarding feeling you will have in your newly organized space.

Helpful supplies:

  • Nine sturdy boxes for sorting
  • Paper/marker (to label boxes)
  • Large, sturdy trash bags for garbage disposal
  • Heavy-duty plastic gloves
  • Face mask (to prevent dust inhalation)
  • Vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies

Clearly label nine large boxes:

DONATE (For items you wish to give to a charitable organization)

TRASH (For items you wish to toss) Line the box with a trash bag.

GIVEAWAY (For items you wish to give to friends or family)

RELOCATE (For misplaced items that belong in another room)

RECYCLE (For newspaper, plastic, glass, etc.)

SHRED (For personal papers that need to be destroyed)

REPAIR (For items that need to be repaired that are worth fixing)

UNDECIDED (For items you need to think about)

*SELL (Optional – for yard sale purposes or selling online)

If you are overwhelmed with sorting, reduce the categories to four rather than nine. (Trash, donate, relocate, undecided)

Clear a space in the room for the boxes. It is most handy if they are accessible from the space you are decluttering. If you have a lot of clutter, you may need extra donation boxes.

Begin in one small space, such as a junk drawer or bathroom. Start with a bathroom drawer or the medicine chest. Decide what to keep, toss, donate, etc. Keep only what you need or use and things of value (such as a valuable coin collection) or special significance (such as your wedding album). Everything else goes into one of the boxes.

One must carefully decide whether items are worth the space they take up. Ask these questions when decluttering:

1) Do I use it?

2) Do I wear it?

3) Is it financially valuable?

4) Is it significant?

5) Does it work or serve an important purpose now?

Yes = keep it. No = donate, give away, or toss.

Set realistic goals each day and be proud of your progress. Keep organizing, and soon you’ll have a home that is calming, more attractive, organized, and effortless to clean.

(Next, read Twelve Best Organizing Tips from a Professional Organizer)

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