Whether you are striving to improve your living space to create a more cohesive living space, feel more in control, or just hoping to tidy up, we’ve put together some tips for how to best declutter your home–according to organization experts.
An organized home or office space can boost productivity levels and improve your focus. A tidy space can also make you feel more relaxed and allows you to spend more time doing the things you enjoy and less time worrying about cleaning or searching for misplaced items.
Continue reading to free your home from disorder, so that you can enjoy the items you have and reduce clutter from piling up in the future.
Set an overall goal. The first step to creating a more organized space or getting rid of excess clutter is to have a clear goal in mind. Do you want to have people over more? Is your messy home causing you stress? Is cleaning taking too much time? Are you having trouble finding things?
People instinctively look for reasons to hold onto things–not to get rid of them. When going through items to declutter and organize, ask if each item you debate holding onto fits into your goal. This strategy will help you to get rid of items that people typically hold on to “just in case.”
For instance, does holding onto that old tennis racket help your goal of cleaning the garage to make space for both cars to fit inside? Do you use it every year with family or friends or has it been sitting in storage for the last 10 years? While it can be hard to let go of certain items, following your goal can make letting go of unnecessary items a little easier.
Start small. Many people find it helpful to limit their initial decluttering to one room or one type of item such as clothes, toys, or tools. Begin your decluttering process by going through an area or item that has a direct impact on your daily life. This step produces quick results and motivates you to keep decluttering in other areas of your home and life. Organization experts often break their process down into one room at a time or one area to help people stay on task and see progress.
Take Stock. Figure out which items you have in order to get rid of the excess and get excited about reducing items that have no purpose. In order to create a designated space for everything, you need to know which items you have and what function they serve. If you have multiples of something, keep the item that performs best or is in the best condition. You might be surprised to find that you have 3 or 4 of the same flashlights or corkscrews and can pare down to the essentials to ensure a more organized space.
Designate Space. Find a home for everything in your home so you never have to stress about a lost item again. Knowing exactly where your scissors are located will stop you from worrying about buying another pair when the original is lost. Creating a “home” or designated space for each item not only allows you to locate items quickly, it also facilitates easier organization and a functional living space.
Push Paper. Organize paperwork, files, and documents that matter. Many people are afraid to get rid of paperwork for fear of needing it later, but there is an easier way to deal with important documents. Filing and organizing documents by year or category (such as health, taxes, payments, etc.) makes it easier to keep track of documents you need around tax time or the next time you need to update your records.
Another great way to keep your space free of disorganized papers it to scan and digitize records and documents and safely dispose of the originals. Trash shredders are a great way to get rid of documents and keep your personal information secure. While there may be some papers that can’t go digital, many can, and by keeping things on your computer or online you free up physical space in your home.
Sort Through the Sentimental. Keep sentimental items but know when to let go. Try starting with a shoebox to keep small items you associate with a special event or important person in your life. This memories box will help you store sentimental items in one place without taking over your living space. It can be hard to get rid of possessions that have been gifted or passed down to you from family members or friends, therefore, be sure to evaluate whether the item is special to you because its uniqueness or association.
If a sentimental item is small enough, place it in your memories box. If it serves a function, use it! Consider donating larger items if they don’t fit into your space and serve little to no purpose. You can also take photos of any items or mementos that are special and save the photo to reflect on and appreciate whenever you like.
Get Rid of Items You Don’t Use. While there are a many different ways to accomplish your goal, the hardest step is to be honest with yourself about items you realistically use in your home. If you don’t love an item and it doesn’t serve a function in your life, get rid of it.
- For Clothes:
After you wear and wash an item, turn its hanger backwards. This way you can quickly see which clothing items you regularly wear. It’s tough to get rid of clothing that you might wear someday, but with this method, you can determine how long it has been since something was last worn. For seasonal items such as winter or summer clothes, or special outfits such as swimsuits, use a storage organizer under the bed to keep things tidy and out of the way. Special event apparel items for weddings, interviews, parties, etc. are ok to keep as long as they are limited.
- For Toys:
If you find that you have an excess number of toys, games, or other hobby related items that are not in a designated organizer or bin, go through and get rid of items that get the least use. For seasonal items such as winter or summer toys, use a storage organizer under the bed to keep things tidy and out of the way. Donate to other kids in your family–cousins, nieces, nephews, and family friends will all likely appreciate that you are thinking of them. Consider donating gently used and new toys to women’s shelters in the area or holiday programs with gifts for children.
- For Household Goods:
Go room by room and determine if an item is in the correct place and has been used within the last year or serves a purpose. With everything from tools to kitchen utensils to decorations, you should return misplaced things to their designated spot or place them in your “get-rid-of” pile. This step has the added advantage of allowing you to see each item you own and prevents the frequent pitfall of purchasing items you already have.
Sell It. Have a garage or yard sale and invite friends and family to participate while also advertising online and putting up local flyers. List items on eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp, letgo, Decluttr, and other reselling websites and apps. This may prove difficult if you have a lot of items to get rid of, but for a few higher end or larger items, this can be a great way to get rid of unused stuff and make a little bit of money along the way. Even though the items you are getting rid of are sunk costs, it can be hard to ignore the initial spend, so selling items can provide a bit of mental relief as well.
Recycle It. Many electronics that are dated or broken can and should be recycled. EcoATM has almost 1,900 recycling kiosks in over 40 states to help you turn your old electronics into cash, and many other similar kiosk and bins take older electronics to responsibly dispose of them.
For miscellaneous glass, paper, and plastics, you can place these items into your local recycling bin for curbside pickup beside your trash. Otherwise, you should place these recyclable items in sorted bags and take them to the nearest recycling drop off bin or your local recycling center.
Donate It. There are a variety of options for donating items that are in good condition that you no longer need or use, and many charities provide you with a receipt so that you can claim deductions on your taxes. First and foremost, reach out to family and friends to offer the items to them. You might have a DVD they haven’t seen before or a sweater they like in their size. A friend of a friend may be moving into a new home or apartment and needs kitchen items. Whatever the case, it can’t hurt to offer. If you don’t know anyone who could personally use your items, consider listing them for free on the following websites and apps:
Various businesses and charities accept donations and use the profits from the item’s sale to benefit the community or raise money for notable causes. Some charities even allow you to directly donate goods such as nice clothing for interviews, school supplies, vehicles, blankets, and houseware and building materials.
Do your own research to determine which organization best aligns with your values and consider donating your items to help the community and declutter your space.
Consider donating your unwanted items to the following businesses and charities:
- Salvation Army
- Dress for Success
- Habitat for Humanity
Be Aware. Don’t let stuff accumulate with the thought of taking it to donate later or finding a use for it. The best way to declutter your home is to stop accumulating clutter in the first place. Each time you go shopping, go with a purpose. It’s easy to pick up extra items in the heat of the moment but using a shopping list or sticking to the “one in, one out” method helps keep your space free of clutter.
Get Help. While it may seem simple enough to go through your things and sort out what is taking up too much space, it can be a difficult process. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed but, with the help of an experienced team of organizers and decluttering experts, it doesn’t have to be. If you need help with your home decluttering or organization project, contact Ariel Assist to transform your space.