I know what it’s like to feel totally guilty for dropping the ball on organizing projects (Oh, hi there, last year’s New Year’s Resolutions…*blows dust off the list*). No matter what has stopped you from busting your clutter, it’s never too late for redemption. Here are some practical tips to help you declutter and organize your home for good!
Step 1: Start With a Plan and Measurable Goals.
Resist the urge to dive in without a strategy. You have a better chance of keeping your project on track when you start with a realistic plan and measurable goals.
Instead of saying something vague like, “I need to declutter my garage soon,” try something more concrete, like “I will go through one box in my garage each weekend starting this month, throwing away or donating items I no longer want or need. My goal is to declutter the entire garage in six months. Next, I will organize the remaining items in the garage each weekend with the goal of completing the entire project two months later.” It’s easier to stay on track (and hold yourself accountable) when you create measurable goals.
Step 2: Eliminate Distractions.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you get rid of your kids/pets/work/etc., I’m just suggesting that you find a way to get some uninterrupted time to yourself so you can work undistracted.
Tackling a big decluttering and organizing project in the midst of your regular, hectic schedule may not work for you and could leave you feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. Realistically, you may need a babysitter or a day or two off work to make the time and space you need to get your house in order.
Don’t be afraid to do what’s necessary to create an environment where you can focus on working through your clutter. It’s worth the sacrifice – imagine how less stressed you’ll feel once your home is organized and clutter free!
Step 3: Purge. Sorry, You Have To Do It.
Sorry if this is a letdown, but it’s really hard to declutter without—you guessed it—decluttering. That means you have to take the time to sort through your stuff in the areas you identified in your project plan.
Try sorting by items, not by room, especially if you have like items stored in different parts of your home. If your goal is to streamline your wardrobe, pull out all the clothes in each of your many closets and storage areas (yes, we know you have many, and don’t forget those offsite storage places where you pay rent to house your clothes and other stuff, too).
Going through all the clothes at once will help you decide what you really need and what needs to be let go. Donate, give away to friends, sell or trash anything you haven’t worn or used in ages.
Step 4: Do It In the Right Order – Purge First, Buy Bins Later.
Wait on buying a bunch of storage solutions until after you’ve purged the items you don’t want or need. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good storage bin, especially those pretty, colorful ones—see, I’m getting distracted just thinking about how cute those bins will look all organized on a closet shelf—but let’s all stay focused.
You really won’t have a good idea of the kind of storage solutions you need (if any at all) until you have completed the purge. Go back and review Step 3 as many times as it takes to make you a believer!
Step 5: Organize With Your Lifestyle in Mind (Or Your Buyers’).
Think about how you use things in your home and make sure your newly organized spaces will work for you, even if it means changing the way you’ve been using some areas.
If you hate your basement and never go down there, don’t put your office or craft room there because you’ll hate using it. If your grandkids only visit once or twice a year, does it work for you to devote an entire bedroom to their toys when you could be using that space for your home office, therefore relieving your master bedroom of that big desk, computer, and printer? Won’t you sleep better if your bedroom is just a bedroom?
If you’re planning to sell your home, you’ll approach this differently—you should declutter and organize with your potential buyers' lifestyle in mind, not your own. Buyers want to see homes that are clean and spacious, so make sure your home will give this impression. Even if you still need to use your stuff and occupy the house while it’s on the market, it’s important to stage each room in a way that appeals to buyers.
Step 6: Give Yourself a Break.
Don’t beat yourself up for accumulating too much clutter or struggling to stay organized. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you probably won’t get your entire house organized in a day, either.
After all, it took more than a day to accumulate everything you have, so try not to set yourself up for disappointment by thinking you can declutter and organize all at once. Pace yourself. If you have a lot to get through, make your plan and stick to it, and celebrate the small victories to keep yourself encouraged.
Step 7: Know When to Call for Reinforcements.
Although I’m confident you can do most, if not all of this on your own, it’s possible that you could benefit from the help of a professional. There’s no shame in getting some help, especially when you’re really struggling to improve the quality of your life.
Consider hiring an organizer to be an objective voice of reason. Organizers can help you detach your emotions from your belongings and create a workable plan to declutter and organize your home for good.
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by Jennifer Westbrook | Main Stage Home Staging & Organizing