How to Get Rid of Clutter
How to Get Rid of Clutter in your Home
I come from a family of certified pack-rats.
We had several junk drawers and even a whole junk room in my house when I was a kid!
Before my Mom reads this and gets mad, I should mention that my parents were hard working, frugal and their free-time was short.
So the vacuum cleaner that worked perfectly well except for the busted wheel would not be thrown away or fixed, but added to the growing pile of junk hidden behind closed doors…
So don’t feel bad if you have a monstrous pile of junk looking at you right now.
We’ve all been there (some more than others), but as one that has been there and that must be constantly vigilant to temptation and backsliding herself…
I’ll share my organizing and cleaning secrets to help you get rid of all that clutter.
Of course, cleaning up clutter takes time and it can be hard work. But stick with it and don’t get discouraged and tackle each item one by one.
Are you ready to clean up your clutter? Let’s get busy and organize it!
Make a Plan
Decluttering is much easier if you divide the job into sections and address each area separately and on its own. You’ll be more organized and each section will be completed more quickly. This helps to make some quick wins that will help to keep you motivated too.
Decide what area you will be tackling (drawers, cabinets, closet, or an entire room), and then take a few minutes to think about how you are going to go about cleaning it all up.
Do you need everyone in the house to leave you alone for the day, or do you need helpers to pitch in to get the job done? If you only have 2 hours free, don’t start a job that can’t be completed in less than 4.
Figure out how you work best and make the plans necessary to execute your plan. It can make a huge difference in how easy the job ultimately is.
Set a Date and a Time
Decide exactly when you are going to tackle the job and pencil it into your calendar or put a big note on the refrigerator. Otherwise other things can get in the way and prevent you from doing the job.
It’s important to stay on task and avoid becoming sidetracked as you get started going through the clutter. (I have to be careful and not get sidetracked too.)
Give yourself a realistic deadline for completion: an afternoon, a day, a weekend, a whole week. Then keep your time in mind and stick to it as you go through your belongings.
Gather your Supplies
Be sure to gather your cleaning and organizing supplies before you begin so you can stay focused on the job at hand!
This is worth mentioning to unorganized folks to make sure they have everything they need on hand and planned out in advance.
Nothing can stop a job faster than heading off to another part of the house looking for boxes, packing material, markers, trash bags, cleaning supplies, etc.
A job that can’t be completed will likely remain 1/2 finished until the messy piles grow back into their original size.
It might take more than one pass to go through a large number of items, so the goal is to quickly identify most of the trash and put things into general groupings to free up space.
When you’re going through your things, be sure to look at them honestly as you evaluate them. Don’t get all sentimental. Be prepared and bring in some garbage bags for the trash and either make piles or use boxes for the items you will be keeping or donating.
If something you come across hasn’t been seen in a long time; something you had completely forgotten about or didn’t even know you had or if it’s in need of repair, it may not be worth the time, effort, or money to keep or fix.
Do you have boxes of hair dye hanging out in the bathroom, a hair dryer that hasn’t worked in ages or damaged clothing? Throw these in the trash and take back some of the space.
Do you have boxes and bags of staples outdated rice, pancake mixes, an open sack of flour from five years ago? Oh boy, throw those away. While you are at it (and in the refrigerator, I presume) check the expiration dates of all your condiments and sauces too. If you can’t remember when you last had it, toss it.
Are you hanging on to old magazines, newspapers or other paper clutter? Maybe something like a home decorating magazine with an idea you want to try?
Be truthful now.
How many times did you think to get online first to look up a recipe or decorating idea before you picked up one of those magazines?
If this is the case, magazines and newspapers can be recycled and open up a ton of free space in a room.
If the item in need of repair is valuable, then get it fixed and use it, sell it, or donate it. But don’t hang on to it if you honestly think it will just end up being stored for the next umpteen years.
We are still being honest with ourselves for this part of the decluttering process although it is a little easier than deciding what is trash.
When you go through your shoes, clothes closet and drawers use a critical eye and try things on before making a final decision. If something doesn’t fit and is still in good condition, donate it.
Before you decide to keep an item, think about where you want to put it.
If you can’t immediately think of a proper place to put it, maybe you don’t want it as much as you thought and you should donate it or give it away, ask yourself one more time whether you really need it.
When you have finished going through a room put things in your “keep” pile where they belong.
Avoiding Common Decluttering Pitfalls
If you are a clutter bug the odds are good that getting rid of your stuff isn’t going to be an easy task. You are going to find plenty of reasons not to throw something out or even give it away.
Here are just some of the pitfalls you will have to fight in order to reign in the chaos:
It cost a lot of money
Sure, all of those purses cluttering your closet probably cost a bundle, but what is the true cost of keeping them?
If their cost is keeping you from giving them away, try selling them through a local consignment shop or put them in your next garage sale.
Not only will you free up some space in your closet, you just might make a few extra bucks.
Someone gave it to me
Gifts are wonderful, but sometimes we simply do not need those particular items. Re-gift the item if possible. You’ll save money and reduce clutter all in one.
When you receive something you don’t want, don’t like or can’t use, either re-gift it to someone else who may enjoy it, donate it to someone who needs it, or consign it and get some cash to buy what you really want or need.
My kids made it
Keeping those special items your kids made is perfectly fine. But resist keeping it all. One good way to reduce the clutter of homemade art without throwing it away is to convert the artwork to a digital form. Just by taking a picture of the item and saving it in a digital form, means you’ll have it forever in a much smaller size.
Try limiting mementos to one medium sized box. That way you can enjoy your keepsakes from time to time without being overwhelmed. The rest can go.
I might need it (someday…)
Heck, we might need everything someday. That doesn’t mean we should hold onto everything until then.
Sometimes your clutter is just a part of something you might need. Disassemble the item to get to the part you want, and dispose of the rest.
An example going back to the vacuums with the busted wheels in our junk room (we had 3-4 in there). If wheels are the problems, then take the wheels off the the old ones and store them if you need them.
There’s no reason to keep an entire broken vacuum if you just need a few parts. Keep what you know you’ll need within the year and ditch the rest.
Great Job! It feels great to get rid of clutter and now it’s time for a little reward.
Two of my favorites are indulging in a hot bubble bath or going out to dinner. Big or small, a reward can help to keep you moving forward in your quest to get rid of your piles of clutter.
Getting control of your clutter is never easy, but with these basic tips, it is doable. So, stop procrastinating and get working on getting your clutter under control.