You know the feeling. The overwhelming sensation that your stuff is slowly taking over your home. It becomes obvious when you have to shuffle around clutter constantly, or when you have to dust around things because there is just too much sitting around. Or even worse – when you can no longer see the floor of your closets, basement or spare room. Whatever situation best describes you, stop worrying. There is help! There are a number of resources available to help you clear out clutter. Here are just a few tips on how tame the piles.
You have to first pick a place to begin. Select one room in your house to start the project in, and only work on one room at a time. This is crucial, to avoid overloading yourself. What room you choose is totally up to you. Maybe you want to work in the most-used room in the house, or the one with the least amount of clutter so you can start small. Once you’ve made that first step, that concrete decision to rid your life of the clutter, you’ll be well on your way!
The next best piece of advice is to set limits for yourself. The clutter didn’t build up in a day, and it’s not going to go away in a day, either. Select one surface (such as a desk or table), one closet, or one corner to start with. Bring in a trash bag and two boxes. In one box, place everything that doesn’t belong in this room. It doesn’t have to necessarily have a place in its appropriate room yet. Your goal is to get your current area clear. Eventually, everything will find a place, once one has been emptied through de-cluttering.
A couple of good rules for getting rid of items are: If you haven’t used it in six months, have no emotional attachment to the object, have more than one of the same item, or know someone who could put it to better use – toss it! If it’s in nice shape, put it in the second box. This will be your “Give Away” box, which we’ll revisit later. If it’s dirty or damaged, throw it in the trash bag.
Unless you’re feeling very adventurous, stop after you’ve completed your first area. If you try to do too much at once, you’ll burn yourself out and not want to work on it any more. If you pace yourself, and understand that it won’t be an instant transformation, you’ll be pleased with the results every time you walk into this room, and you’ll want to continue. Maybe take a break for a couple hours, and then tackle another area. Or wait until another day. Remember that you’re pacing yourself, and you don’t have to feel bad about that.
Probably the hardest spot you’ll tackle will be your bedroom. This is especially true for us ladies. The bedroom is where all your clothes are kept (unless you have so many that they’re taking over other rooms). The rules are a little different for clothes. The time limit should be closer to one year (unless it’s a seasonal item). If it’s August right now, and you haven’t worn it since January of the previous year, it’s time. Chances are that you won’t wear it. Also, if you’ve had it for over a year and haven’t even cut the tags off, it’s probably time. Pull out each item individually. If you don’t love it, toss it. If it doesn’t fit, toss it. There is no sense in keeping clothes “just in case” you gain or lose the weight you need to make it fit. The only suitable excuse is if you’re pregnant or recently had a baby, and expect to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Also, if it doesn’t match anything and you haven’t been making a reasonable attempt to find it a mate, get rid of it. I know this is hard. Believe me, my closet is my least favorite place to de-clutter. But I always get the most satisfaction from it. The removal rules still apply to clothes, though. If it’s in good condition, put it in the “Give Away” box. If it’s stained or torn, throw it away.
Once you’ve completed your de-cluttering, it’s time to take care of those boxes. Throw out the trash bag, and don’t look back. You’re freeing your life of things that are weighing you down. Feel great about letting them go! As for the first box I mentioned, it’s time to find a place for these objects. Take them to their proper rooms, and make a place for them immediately. Don’t set them down somewhere, because they will begin another clutter build-up. Give them a permanent place, which should be much easier with the many empty spaces you cleared out.
The last box is the one that will make you feel the best. You have two options here. You can have a garage sale, and profit off of your diligent de-cluttering. Then use your earnings to splurge on something for yourself. You deserve it, after all your hard work!
If you’re not up for a garage sale, the next best option is charity. There are many, many places that would willingly accept and greatly appreciate your donation. Contact your local Salvation Army location, if there is one near you. Or look to local churches. Many of them have outreach centers, and if they don’t, they can probably point you in the right direction. Another great place to take useful items (such as clothes, shoes, toys, etc.) is a women’s shelter. They often house women who have been displaced due to abuse or unsafe living conditions. Many times there will be children present as well, who can benefit from your donation. Wherever you decide on, you can feel good knowing that you made a difference in your life, as well as the life of someone less fortunate.Now that you’re enjoying the benefits of a neat, clutter-free home, spread the happiness! Let your friends and family in on your secret, because everyone has a little clutter hiding somewhere. I truly believe in the saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.