Do you find yourself surrounded by piles of papers, unread magazines, and books you are holding on to in case you may want to read them in the future? Is your closet bursting with clothes, half of which haven’t seen the light of day in years? Do you feel like you are drowning under an uncontrollable mess? Take charge and declutter your life right now.
Living under piles and tiptoeing down that small path through personal possessions just to reach your bed is not only unhealthy for your body, with dust mites, possible mold and more, but also detrimental to your mind. Clearing your physical space will also free the clutter from your mind.
Decluttering will not only make you healthier, but all of the clean, open spaces will also make you happier.
The hardest part of decluttering your life can be letting go. You have to decide what to throw out and what to keep. Some stuff is cut and dry. Old and broken? Chuck. No longer used? Recycle or give away.
What about the blurred lines? You may place personal value on items, like that misshapen clay horse your 36 year old son presented to you in kindergarten. At 36, chances are he may not even remember it. Does it make you happy? Keep it. But if you find yourself under a mountain of these meaningful mementos, it may be a sign to let go.
Tackle Your Clutter in 15 Minute Intervals
If you are facing a daunting mess of ginormous proportions, you may feel like giving up before you even start. Don’t! Tackle your clutter in smaller chunks of time. Set a timer for 15 minutes and work on clearing a room. When the alarm goes off, walk away and do something else. You can choose to return later for another 15 minute stint, or just do 15 minutes a day. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in those 15 minutes.
Don’t Let Yourself Go Off on a Tangent
It’s so easy to find that marble rabbit statue your Aunt Elsie gave to you and suddenly wonder how she is and end up in a two hour phone conversation catching up. Stop yourself from going down that rabbit hole. Focus on clearing your clutter during your allotted time. You can call Aunt Elsie later.
Declutter Your House Room By Room
Go through each room in your house methodically, one at a time. Clear the items that you no longer need or use from drawers, closets and under beds. Make a stack of things you use and things you can recycle or give away. When you are done, box up the recyclables and stash in your car to drop off at the local thrift store. Then put back all the things you are keeping.
Go through each room from one end to the other
Clear a work space for yourself and declutter your chosen room starting from one end of the room, making your way to the other. Don’t jump around. It will only add mess upon mess and have you throwing up your hands in defeat.
Declutter Your Wardrobe
Clearing out your wardrobe
Keep two big trash bags or boxes on hand when you go through the items in your wardrobe. In one throw all those clothes that are soiled, damaged or too worn out. You will be throwing these away. In the second box place all those clothes that you haven’t worn in more than six months, except for season items like jackets and scarves/swimsuits and sarongs that you will be wearing for that time of year. Donate the second box to a charity shop or thrift store. You you are going through your kids clothes, pass them on to a family with kids younger than yours.
Keeping a seasonal wardrobe
Still facing too many clothes? Consider having a seasonal wardrobe to free up space in that closet and in those drawers. When you are facing warm weather, pack up the winter coats, scarves and long sleeve shirts. When the temperatures take that winter nose dive, break out the winter wear and pack up those shorts and swimsuits. Place a dryer sheet or two in the box when storing clothes to keep them fresh smelling. It also helps keep moths at bay.
Declutter Your BathroomHomeBNC
Dealing with old products
Go through all of the drawers in your bathroom, and the space under the sink. Toss out any old products that you no longer use, like that neon pink hairspray from two Halloweens ago. Do you have a bunch of those little hotel shampoos? Combine them together. Use organizers to hold cotton buds, cotton balls, toothbrushes and makeup. Throw any old makeup out.
Cleaning your medicine chest
Remove all the medicine from your medicine chest. Throw out everything that is out of date. Have a box ready to chuck the old medicine Have half a bottle of diet pills from two years ago? Toss. Clean out the chest and replace only what you use. Most medicines can be safely disposed in the trash, but some have substances harmful to children and pets. If you are in doubt, the FDA provides guidelines for disposing medications safely.
Tidying Your KitchenHomeBNC
Clear your kitchen counters
Keep your counters clear. Have an espresso machine collecting dust? Consider selling it or put it in a cupboard. Remove anything that you don’t use on a daily basis. If you have any item in your kitchen that you haven’t used in over six months, stick it in a box to donate, sell, or recycle.
Invest in storage containers and organizers
Consider purchasing organizers for your drawers and storage containers for your food. Putting the sugar, flour, coffee, and tea into tidy, clean, matching containers will make your kitchen look more organized and uniform than leaving everything in their original packaging.
Keep the kitchen clean
Clean up your kitchen anytime you are making a meal. Put away spice jars, toss out empty boxes or jars. When you cook a meal, wash the pots and pans immediately after use and store before sitting down to eat. After a meal, clean up, washing dishes and putting away any condiments, leftovers, etc. When you or someone else walks into a clean kitchen, they are more apt to throw their trash into the bin and place dishes in the sink.
Dealing with Paper PilesTeaching2ManyDigently
Sorting your mail
Tackle your papers by throwing out the stuff you don’t need and organizing the rest. Deal with mail the moment it comes in the house by chucking out the junk mail. Any bills open and write the due date and amount on the outside of the envelope (give yourself leeway if it is to be mailed or your automated system takes a few days). Place bills in a basket according to due date.
Using a filing system
Keep a small filing system with different folders, labeled accordingly in which to place important papers, and items required for end of year taxes. Paid bills should be placed in these folders as well.
Keeping track of your kids’ papers
Have kids? Make a file for each of them in which to put important school papers such as teacher information, class syllabus, report cards and progress reports. Any papers they give you during the year can be stashed into these files.
The moment school is out for summer, go through these folders and chuck the papers. You child doesn’t want to see his fifth grade math test when he’s 25, even if it was a A. If there are items you simply cannot part with, like that incredible report on Jamestown or that painting that looks like a Picasso, store in a ‘keep’ file.
Handling boxes of photographs
Scan your old photos and store digital copies on a flash drive or external hard drive- just in case that computer crashes. There are companies that can take all of your old VCR home movies and make them into easy to store digital copies too. Purchase an organizer to keep them safe and dust free.
Dealing with laundry
Have a laundry basket located in each bedroom, in which everyone should place their dirty clothes. Make it clear that only clothes in these baskets will be washed, not the items strewn over furniture or dropped onto the floor. Stick to this and eventually when those favorite jeans are dirty on that important day, they’ll get the message.
Do never-ending piles of laundry occupy every free chair in your living room, threatening to topple over? Deal with laundry each load at a time. Fold the laundry as you remove it from the dryer or line. This saves massive amounts of ironing as well. Then sort it in one location and put away the clothes there and then, placing stray socks in a drawer to be sorted weekly- ther are always stray socks! Ideally, you can get each family member to put away their own clothes too!
So, you’ve cleaned your house. Congratulations! Now how do you stop that clutter from piling up again?
Stop bringing it home!
Before you swing by that yard sale to pick up the china ballerina figurine that catches your eye, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you really need it, or do you just want it?
- Will it bring value to your life now?
- Will it be valuable to you in the future?
If the figurine is a priceless find that you plan on unloading on eBay, go for it. However if you want it just because it’s cute, stop yourself. Don’t bring it home. You can always stick all that money you save from unnecessary purchases in a jar and opt for a memory-making clutter-free vacation instead!
Feel really painful when letting go of stuff? It could be an illness.
Do you have feel physical pain when parting with possessions? Hoarding is a real illness. A psychological disorder. Hoarding puts an emotional, financial, and social strain on you and your family.
If you have a real inability to let go of possessions, you may want to seek professional counseling.
|||^||Zenhabits.net: 18 Decluttering Tips to Help You Start Clearing Your Mess|
|||^||Zenhabits.net: How to Declutter an Entire Room in One Go|
|||^||ADAA.org: Hoarding: Basics|