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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How to Get Rid of Clutter - Where to start?

The first step to getting organized is decluttering.  This is easier said than done because we hold onto stuff for various reasons.  Or we hold onto things for no reason at all other than we are so overwhelmed we don't know where or how to begin.

Generally we hold onto clutter for one of 5 reasons:

1. We just can't resist a freebie or a sale. (Bargain Clutter, find out how to overcome it HERE)

2. We hold onto keepsakes and sentimental items because we're afraid to let them go. (Sentimental Clutter, read more about it HERE)

3. We like to have a lot of stuff around. (Abundance Clutter and what to do about it can be found HERE )

4. We think we "might need it someday." (Aspirational Clutter reducing tips found HERE)

5. We don't know where to start!

I've been going over what we can do to overcome each type of clutter, and today it's time to talk about how to start.

Getting rid of clutter can be overwhelming, whether it's your entire house, a room or just a pile of papers on the counter.  Sometimes we don't know where to begin.  

First off, there is no one right way to decluttering.  Each person is unique, each person holds onto clutter for different reasons, therefore you have to find what works for you and just do it. 

The key is to start.  Stop ignoring the clutter.  Stop making excuses for the clutter and just start decluttering.

Start small
Don't overwhelm yourself.  If doing a room is too much, do a closet, a drawer, a corner of the room. 
If working for an hour is too much, see how much you can get done in 15 mins or even just 5.  You'll be amazed at how much you can get done in as little as 5 minutes.  Take a picture of the space before and after you declutter.   Getting started is often the most difficult part but once you get started and see the progress you make, it can motivate you to keep going. 

Hold Yourself Accountable
Tell your family or friends you are going to declutter, and better yet, have someone help you.  Letting others know helps keep you accountable.  Set a goal as to what  you want to get organized and reward yourself along the way to keep yourself motivated.  Just don't buy yourself anything as a reward, maybe eat dinner out or go to the movies.
  1. Tell others
  2. Set a goal
  3. Reward yourself
Decluttering Techniques
One way is to remove everything from the area whether it's your purse, a drawer, a closet or an entire room.
Then put things into piles such as:  trash, keep, donate, and sell.  
Deal with each pile.

The 'trash' pile should be thrown away.
Take the 'keep' pile and put those things back where they belong. 

If it doesn't belong in that space, put it where it does belong.  This is where I get hung up.  Not everything has a specified place and then I think about a new piece of furniture or storage system that I need to solve my problem and quickly get off task.  I've overcome this by having a miscellaneous bin to put things that belong in that room but don't have an assigned 'home'.  I have found this most useful for toys.

Make a plan to get rid of your 'donate' pile.  I have a bin in the basement.  Anytime the kids outgrow something or we no longer need something, it goes in the bin.  I highly recommend having some sort of  donation box.  When it gets full, drop it off.  There are several places in my area that take donations like Goodwill, and Purple Heart will even pick up at your house – how easy is that?  
Sometimes, it's much easier to get rid of an item if you know it's going to a good home.  This can be especially true when dealing with Sentimental Clutter.  So check with friends and family to see if they could use anything you have and if not, donate it.

If you decide to sell you unwanted items (yard sale, craigslist, ebay, consignment) and they don't sell, please donate them.  Don't keep holding onto them.  Just like a donation bin, have a 'to sell' bin or area.  Make a plan to sell the items.  List a lot or often on craigslist or ebay so you can quickly reduce your clutter.   I usually only sell things that I can make a decent amount of money on (usually $20 or more).  Otherwise it's not worth my time and effort to advertise it, meet someone to sell it or ship it.  Having a yard sale is different, most of the stuff I sell there is kids clothing and toys and less than $20.  You can check out my post on How To Have A Successful Yard Sale for some tips.

Deciding to keep or toss: 
1. Can I afford, in terms of space, to keep this item?
2. Could the space that this item takes up be put to better use?
3. What am I saying NO to in order to say YES to this item?
4. What's the worst thing that's going to happen if I get rid of this item?
5.    Imagine that you are moving, is it worth the effort and expense to move it, if not – get rid of it
6.   Get someone else to help.  If you have sentimental attachment to the items, have them hold each object.  Holding it yourself emphasizes your attachment to it, that's why a good salesperson will encourage you to touch or try something on.
7.     Has anyone used it in the past year?
8.  Does it serve a worthwhile purpose in my life?
9.  Do I have a use for it?
10. If it's broken, is it worth fixing?
11. Do I need to keep it for legal/tax reasons?
12. Is it more important for me to keep this item than to have the space it occupies?
13. Does someone in my home love it?
14. Would it be difficult or expensive to get a new one?
15. If you have more than one, be honest with yourself, do you really need the extra?

If you get stuck on something, set it aside and come back to it another day.

Here's a little motto for you that might help you decide whether or not to keep something:
And a fact from the survey by IKEA.
64% of Americans are unsatisfied with the amount of storage in their home, although
80% of household clutter is the result of disorganization, not lack of space.

I hope this series of posts has helped you realize why it's important to get organized, why we hold onto clutter and how to get rid of it.   Decluttering is the first step to getting organized.  I'll share some organizational tips in a later post.

The whole point of getting organized is to create more time, space, and energy in our life for the people and things that matter most.  Because when it comes down to it, none of the things in our lives really matter; we can't take them with us. 

And in case you missed anything in this decluttering series you can read the rest by clicking on the links belows:

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