With us spending more time in our homes there has never been a more important time to feel happy in your home environment. Research has shown that decluttering can help in providing a more peaceful, anxiety-free, confident mind set and it can also assist with improving decision making.
So don’t let your possessions rule you. Now is a great time to take control of your surrounds and establish a plan to declutter; giving you peace of mind and a whole lot of wonderful free space to enjoy!
A decluttered environment is also key if you are thinking of selling your home. Potential buyers need to see the space your home can offer without the clutter.
Organising and straightening up your space takes time. Remember, a big decluttering overhaul isn’t done in five minutes.
Here are 10 easy steps to recapture your lost space
- Set a goal to finish the task. Having a deadline will help you focus.
- Plan and organise. Check the date of the next council clean-up, as you may want to coincide with that. Decide if you’ll need helpers for the heavy stuff. Ensure you have plenty of garbage bags on hand and hire a skip if your rubbish is huge. Remember local charities will sometimes collect, so give them a call.
- Sorting, sorting, sorting. Ideally, select a large space for sorting and have four areas – the first is for throwing, second is for charity, third to be sold, online at eBay/marketplace etc and lastly things to keep.
- Be decisive. Identify the emotions attached to each item. Identify what is useful, beautiful, or simply nostalgic. Work quickly and decide the pile something belongs in. Don’t dally, move to the next item if you find it difficult to decide and come back to the harder things later. Your sense of achievement will grow as you see the piles grow.
- Get rid of it! Broken items you were going to fix but haven’t, duplicates of items; especially true when it comes to decluttering and organising wardrobes and drawers. Think about it – you don’t really need five black jumpers. Sort your multiples – decide what fits well and what’s in good condition. Keep the best of the best and donate or bin the rest. The golden rule; ask yourself if you have worn it in the last 12 months? If not, let someone else benefit from having it to wear. Having your wardrobe colour coded and rehung so outfits come together easily brings calm to the daily routine. The biggest rule to follow is if you aren’t going to clear it out within a week by selling or donating, then bin it. Don’t hold onto bags of junk. Get rid of it and move on.
- Keep only what you’ve used in the last year. You must get out of the mind frame of ‘maybe I’ll use this in the future’. The packrat mentality has to go if you really want to declutter. If you’ve not used it in the last year, you probably don’t need it. So out it goes!
- Focus on the task! Don’t procrastinate by looking at old photos, papers, children’s drawings etc. Place them in a plastic box and sort later. Try to stay unsentimental. You can go back later and cut back on paper clutter by digitalising your keepsakes. Store photos on both your computer and in the cloud for safekeeping.
- Label every item. Label-making may seem like a time-consuming process, but it’s well worth the effort when you see the finished result stacked in your neat storage areas. When you add a label, even though you can’t see inside the box you know what’s in there, saving you the time and effort of searching for items. Utilise existing furniture. There are a variety of storage containers/vacuum packing made especially for those underutilised spaces like under beds, bookshelves or the vertical space in your garage.
- Share the pleasure. Do you have something that was great but you no longer want or need it? Just think about how much pleasure someone else may get from it, rather than having it sitting collecting dust.
- Don’t give up. Remember the reward you will get by creating more space and the extra dollars you may have if you are selling items.
A place for everything
Once you have decluttered, create the habit of always putting items back where they came from.
Decluttering is just the first step. Keeping your home that way is where the real challenge comes in! Make organising part of your daily life by taking the extra step to return an item after you use it. If it had a home before, then put it back.
Now make the most of the space you’ve gained
Empty the room completely if you can and start from scratch. Take out excess furniture. Usually, excess furniture in your home gives it a cluttered look. Clear out coffee tables, shelves, or units that are full of rubbish. Clean walls and floors and add a fresh modern coat of paint to update your space. Then place your furniture in a different configuration to really transform your new-found space. If your handy, you may even want to update old wood pieces of furniture pieces by polishing or painting. Use inexpensive new, colourful cushions as highlights to update living rooms.
Place the favourite pieces you have kept into interesting displays. Show items so they can be seen to their best advantage. But always remember, ‘less is more’.
If you feel overwhelmed, expert help is always available. Just search ‘professional organisers’ to help you get organised.
The most important thing to remember is that decluttering isn’t a one-time event. Declutter on a regular basis to keep your home streamlined and looking its best.
Acknowledgments: Better Homes and Gardens, Stone, Jo Carmichael All Sorted Out