Whether you are downsizing for a cross-country move, shamed by a nomination for the show Hoarders, or simply taking control of your living space, de-cluttering your home is always an intimidating proposal. I myself have began countless organizational projects only to give up out of frustration mere hours later. The results of a finished session, however, can illicit such a cleansing and satisfying sensation that suddenly the whole ordeal seems worth it.
Here are four tips that will make your next organizational session quicker and less painful than ever before:
1. Set a Timeline.
I like to make an itinerary for my Spring Cleaning. For example, I may decide to go through my cl0thing on Monday, organize toys and games on Tuesday, and tackle the kitchen on Wednesday. Depending on your situation, you may opt to go for a man-to-man strategy (task by task) or zone defense (room by room). I always leave one day for a miscellaneous project, since I am bound to discover an extra job that needs doing at some point. Breaking my clean-up into smaller tasks helps me to avoid getting overwhelmed, and setting deadlines keeps me focused. Having a tangible end point to look forward to each time I begin to clean makes everything feel more manageable, as well. It also prevents the guilt that can come with leaving a job half-finished at the end of the day.
2. Start Small.
The first place you organize should be somewhere that is easy to manage and will have a noticeable impact. For example, your entry way or mud room is likely the first place you see when you enter your home, and it is often the biggest mess of all. Seeing it clean will help to motivate you and build your confidence in your organizational abilities. Your starting point should be an emotionally simple one, as well. If you choose to begin your de-cluttering by throwing out your daughter’s old baby clothes, you will probably get nothing done for the rest of the day. You will also be primed for sadness and nostalgia when you approach easier places to organize, making each room more daunting than it has to be.
How to Declutter from the Inside Out
3. Invite a Friend.
Bribe her with baked goods, wine, or whatever her deal is. Put on her favorite music and get to it. Having another set of eyes can give you just the reality check you need to ditch those neon checkered wool pants that are two sizes too small. It will also be nice to have a shoulder to lean on when you come across something difficult – a box of old love letters or your son’s now-forgotten security blanket.
4. Get Creative and Recycle!
There are some things, like the blanket mentioned above, that we no longer have a use for but can’t bring ourselves to throw away. Thanks to the moms of Pinterest, however, there are thousands of ways you can give them a new life! Make a quilt out of your old sorority t-shirts, or turn your wedding dress into a pretty pillow with a beautiful story behind it. For every item you can’t let go, there is a new place for it somewhere else in your home.
As Wayne L. Misner said, “Keeping baggage from the past will leave no room for the happiness in the future.” By parting ways with things that no longer serve you, you are making room for the things you really need – such as simplicity and calm. Free your living space from chaos, and you will revel in the peace that comes with a streamlined home. You won’t even miss all those boxes full of old, ill-fitting blue jeans.