Do you find it difficult to close your cupboards, get around your bedroom without tripping or find important documents in a hurry?
If so, you are at risk of drowning in a sea of clutter. What is needed is a good clear-out to free up space and restore your home to the orderly haven of rest and relaxation it once was.
Here are some tips to get you started:-
1. Do not panic. When you look at the task in hand (especially if you have allowed a lot of clutter to build up ) it is easy to feel overwhelmed and to run scared. Resist the temptation to put off the job or to have several coffees to prepare you for the onslaught. Tell yourself you are going to get through this chore by a step-by-step approach and by breaking it down into manageable segments.
2. Begin by targeting one area at a time. Start with the messiest room or closet - that way you are bound to see results. Set yourself a target for the day and then get to work. Sort through the contents and decide what should be kept, items that should be stored elsewhere, and things that you no longer use or need.
3. If you are keen to make some cash consider selling unwanted books, clothes, CDs on eBay. Otherwise pass them on to a charity shop or throw them out if they are not fit for re-use.
4. Enlist the family if a major overhaul is needed. Otherwise you could get into all sorts of trouble if you innocently remove what someone else regards as a sentimental keepsake/national treasure. Also, the “many hands make light work” philosophy will result in a reduced workload for you and a greater awareness of what constitutes clutter for the others.
5. Have a clear head. Approach the job with missionary zeal and a methodical attitude. Keep reminding yourself that the clutter which is invading your home is occupying valuable space which could be put to better use.
6. Be ruthless. Pruning presses involves listening to the quiet voice of reason in your head not always your heart.
7. Set a deadline. The greatest enemy of decluttering is procrastination. If your target area is the kitchen then give yourself a set time in which to achieve your task. You may need a few hours if you have built up a lot of stuff. Less demanding jobs such as clearing out your sock drawer, hotpress, or sifting through your collection of junk mail will take less time.
8. Remove unwanted items quickly. As you cast aside things you no longer need or use put them into a refuse sack and leave it in the hallway or porch ready for dropping off to friends/a charity shop/recycling. If it is within easy reach you will be tempted to have one last peek and maybe retrieve things that should be on their way out the door.
9. Have a system and adhere to it. Work on one area only at a time and be sure to finish it before you progress to the next section. Otherwise you will end up with parts of a few rooms decluttered and you will feel as overwhelmed as when you began.
10. Allow time for sentimentality (but not too much ). Clutter often has emotional connotations. You might want to keep every school report or pencil sketch from your grown up son’s schooldays. However, it might be more practical to keep just one and put it with other cherished keepsakes in a box bearing his name. Do the same if you have other children or want to retain precious items from your own childhood.
11. If in doubt about whether you should get rid of something or not ask yourself has it been used (or worn ) in the last year? Or does it fall into the useful or decorative category? If neither then there is little point holding on to it.
12. If you have a lot of now outgrown children’s clothes and toys consider giving them to a friend or family member with children younger than yours. If they are interested this could be a long term arrangement and will reduce your clutter while saving them
13. Resist the temptation to put items you are unsure of in temporary holding places. Otherwise you will use this space to hoard and more clutter will build up. Decide where things should go and then get on with your work.
14. Hallways and landings tend to attract school bags, coats, gloves, junk mail and odd socks. Aim to keep these areas clear by getting the family to put away their things after use.
15. Do not “store” items on the floor. Use storage boxes and shelves instead.
16. If your bookshelves are groaning with books you will never read again and you are keen to free up space for new reads take your old ones to a charity shop or secondhand bookstore.
17. As you remove clutter make finding the best place for everything your priority. Aim to store items close to where you use them. The things you use most should be stored in an accessible place.
18. A filing cabinet is perfect for bringing order to your home. Store bills, bank statements, receipts, important letters/documents, instruction manuals, school reports and personal letters there. It will reduce your clutter and make finding things easier.
19. When you have completed your clear-out vow to repeat the process regularly to prevent junk building up. The fewer items you have the easier it will be to keep your home clean and clutter free.
20. Think twice before buying anything new in future because you may already have what’s needed at home. With all the decluttering you should now find it easy to locate everything! And remember your aim is to stay clutter-free so the fewer unnecessary items you buy the better.