How to Declutter and Organize Even the Biggest Mess

First, it does not matter what the jumble of clutter is, as long as it is something in your home or office that needs to be organized. It might be your child’s room with five year’s worth of toys and clothes clutter piled high, or a filing cabinet that holds year’s worth of papers and odds and ends, making you ill every single time you consider the fact that sometime or another, you are going to have to open it to find something dwelling within! With a bit of fortitude though, these messes not only can be tackled, they can be completed with fantastic results in much less time than you ever imagined.

The system I use is quite simple to bring into play, yet provides almost astonishingly quick results. It can be done in blocks of time if the mess is seemingly insurmountable, in part because of the sorting system used. This is what makes it somewhat different from your typical sort and organize.

To fashion the system that will allow you to approach the decluttering and organizing without creating an even bigger disaster than what you already have, and most importantly allowing you to work through the mess as you have the time, gather an assortment of empty boxes or baskets to work the clutter through on its way to becoming organized. You will need to take into consideration the size of the mess at hand to help you determine how many and what sizes of baskets or boxes you will need. For example, using my two examples above, if you are tackling a whole room, gather a dozen medium to large baskets or boxes. If you are going to sort through a filing cabinet, cut that number in half. If the decluttering is going to need to be spread out over a period, do be sure the boxes of baskets used can be stacked easily. Note: If you are dealing with paper clutter, you should also pick up a three hole punch, and a couple corresponding three hole binders.

You will also need to be able to label the containers. Masking tape that can be written on with a marker is ideal. To start, label your baskets or boxes with suitable terms. For clothing or toys, you would use labels such as ‘clothes that fits’, ‘clothes to be donated’, ‘clothes that needs to be put into long term storage’, ‘clothes that needs to be stored off season’, etc. Try to consider as many different categories as possible. For paper clutter, some of your categories might be ‘need to keep short term’, or ‘need to keep long term’. For any paper clutter that does not have an obvious category to be put under, but you know that trash is not where it belongs, punch it with the three hole punch and place in a binder for the time being.

For all decluttering projects, whether a room, a filing cabinet, or whole areas, such as a basement or a garage, do make sure that you have several garbage receptacles about. It is too easy otherwise, to set some things aside with the intention of throwing whatever it is away, but by the time, you gather it up to actually place it in the garbage, we as human beings have a bad habit of deciding that maybe we can use it after all, and out of the pile it comes. Once in the garbage, that is where something stays. This is one rule that you should never break. Actually, once something is in a container that is where it should stay, unless you are moving it from a keep box to the trash.

As you sort, work in one area at a time. What I mean is, do not go halfway though a dresser, and then decide you will start to tackle the closet at the same time. Work methodically through the room, or object. Again using a filing cabinet as an example, do not try to weed through several drawers at once, picking out all of your tax forms per se, instead, go though one drawer, one file at a time, separating as you go.

If at the end of the time you have available, you find that you are not completed with the task, stack up the baskets or boxes, labels clearly showing, and keeping any that you might need to access in the immediate future on top (think clothing you wear) and remove any trash and discard promptly.

Once you have a grasp on what you have, take a realistic look at the space you have to put away the items you plan to keep. Now is the time to lose your sentimentality about things, and consider how much more your peace of mind is worth than any memory of an otherwise old and useless item might bring you. Do sell things if you feel that just tossing things in the trash is not the way to go. Ebay, rummage sales, and consignment shops are all good ways to get a little something back from your organizing and decluttering endeavor.

Before you begin to put away what you are keeping, give the area you emptied a thorough cleaning. It is also prime time to add storage pieces. Piling things back into a room without adding some sort of workable system will soon lead to just one more disorganized mess.

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