Many of us start out each New Year with a pledge to declutter. This may be to declutter our homes our offices or even our lives. As a Realtor, I can certainly testify to the fact that decluttering your home will add value to it as well as giving you, a sense of achievement and well-being.
When your home is filled with clutter, deciding where to start can be quite daunting. So here is a great strategy for getting it done. Try the 5 minutes a day system.
Baby steps are important. For most of us five minutes will barely make a dent in the pile, but it’s a start. You will feel awesome once you have made that first 5 minute investment. Tomorrows 5 minute project will be easy and the day afters even easier.
If you are overwhelmed by your clutter, here are some great ways to get started, five minutes at a time.
- Designate a spot for all your incoming papers. We often drop them in different spots — on the counter, table, desk, in a drawer or even left in our car. Make this the first place papers land and keep them there until you have time to process them. Mail, receipts, school papers, warranties, manuals EVERYTHING. Then you will always be able to find it and it is all in one location when you are ready to process them. Simple!
- Clear in zones. Pick one room to work on at a time and one location in the room to clear at a time. A countertop in a bathroom or a kitchen may be your starting point and move out from there. Remember, 5 minutes a day is ok if that is all the time you have. The only rule you need to abide by is once it is clear of clutter you cannot put any new clutter on it as you move to the next area.
- Plan for a decluttering weekend. You may not feel like doing a huge decluttering session right now. But, if you take the time to schedule it for later in the month, (you can get psyched up for it) and if you have a family, get them involved too. Be prepared by gathering boxes and garbage bags. Pan a trip to the ReStore or Salvation Army to drop off donated items. You might not get the entire house decluttered during a weekend, but I expect you will make a great dent in it.
- Once the small clutter is dealt with it is time to tackle the bigger things. Look around your rooms and identify 5 things that do not really fit, and find places for them. These should be things that you actually use, but that you just seem to put anywhere, because they don’t have a designated storage place. Take a minute to think about where would be a good spot for each item and then always put them there when you’re done using them. Do this for everything in your home, a few things at a time.
- Create a “maybe” box. When you are decluttering you know exactly what to keep and what to throw away or donate. However there is always some stuff you don’t use, but think you might want or need someday. If you cannot bear to get rid of that stuff put it in the “maybe” box. Store the box somewhere hidden, out of the way. Now here is the important part of this process, put a note on your calendar six months from now to look in the box and see if there is anything you really needed in there. I expect you will be able to part with it all by then.
- Use a 10-day list. Clutter is an accumulation of things we do not need but bought anyway! We do not want to put a huge effort into decluttering, only to reclutter immediately by buying more stuff. Every time you want to buy something that’s not absolutely necessary, put it on the list with the date it was added. Make a rule never to buy anything unless it’s been on the list for more than 10 days. Often you’ll lose the urge to buy the stuff and you’ll save yourself a lot of money and most importantly clutter.
- Teach your kids (or grandkids) where things belong. Start teaching them the habit of putting things away and you will be doing them a huge favor for their futures. Of course, they won’t learn the habit overnight, so you’ll have to be patient with them.
- Clear out your medicine cabinet. If you don’t have one spot for medicines, create one now. Go through everything, the outdated medicines, the stuff you’ll never use again, the tatty looking Band-Aid, the creams that you’ve found you’re allergic to and the 10 year old sun screen. Simplify to the essential.
Learn to love the uncluttered look. Once you’ve gotten an area decluttered, you should take the time to enjoy that look. It’s a lovely look. Make that your standard! It will de-stress your life and if you decide to sell your property it will enhance its value and saleability.