We have all experienced the stresses of a cluttered something –– whether it be a cluttered email inbox, a cluttered car, a cluttered closet or in some cases –– a cluttered home. It always starts small. Perhaps a small wrapper that doesn’t get thrown away or a shirt that doesn’t get tossed in the hamper. Then, as our belongings begin to accumulate, they start to compound on one another until one day we step into our car, our closet or our home only to find a jungle of jumbled things –– some of which are actual belongings but most of which are trash.
In this article, we will share some valuable insight on how to declutter your home, that way (as Julia Cameron put it) you can make way for good, orderly direction.
Moving is a great chance to declutter. It’s like that old question: What would you grab if your house was on fire? But with moving, luckily, the fire is nice and slow. You have a few days, weeks or even months to grab everything you cherish and leave the rest. So, here a decluttering your home checklist for when you move (drawn largely from Marie Kondo’s amazing book).
Whether you’re preparing for a move or just paring down on your things, Bellhops can help. With over 100,000 moves under our belt, we’ve got this down to a science.
When we are coaching people on preparing for a move, one thing we often say here at Bellhops is –– if it gets written down it gets done. So, if you seriously want to declutter your home, set a date and stick to it. In addition, incentivize yourself to follow through. Along with the deadline, write something along the lines of, “Declutter House by March 1st. Reward: Steak dinner at [fill in the blank restaurant].” This should be a fun process, not something you dread… so make a game out of it.
Your first step is to lay all your clothes together on the floor. All of them. All at once. It’ll make a huge mess, but it’ll allow you to see all that you own. You’ll spot redundancies in your wardrobe and find all kinds of things you don’t need to keep. Then carefully organize what’s left. Move through all your possessions this way, starting with clothes, then books, “important” documents, and so on. It’ll look real bad at first, but it’ll feel real good real quick.
Before diving into the toughest part of the decluttering process (getting rid of actual belongings), you should first throw away the trash in your home. Now, we are using the word trash pretty loosely here.
Magazines you’ve never read, shoe boxes, dated electronic chargers and cords, etc. These aren’t actual belongings, but rather stuff you’ve just never thrown away. Your goal here should be to fill at least one trash bag to the brim… if you can’t do this you aren’t throwing enough trash away. To declutter your home, first start by decluttering the trash. It’s much easier to let go of.
Letting go of things can be tough, so focus on what you want to keep. Identify and cherish the possessions that actively bring you joy, and get rid of the rest. If your hardback copy of Eat, Pray, Love doesn’t make you happy, maybe it will for someone else.
When it comes to gifts, it’s not so much the thought, but the emotion that counts. A successful present makes you feel loved. Once that emotional gift is received, the object itself has done its job. No need to keep the graduation present from your aunty. Just remember she loves you, then you are free to send the snuggie to Goodwill.
Declutter your home the same way you would tear off a band-aid. Don’t do it slowly. Do it quickly. It hurts less. As you are working to declutter your home, we recommend that you break it down by rooms and closets. In addition give yourself 30 minutes to declutter each room or closet. Nothing good will come out of staring at your 27 pairs of shoes for two hours hoping that one will fall off the shelf as a sign. The quicker you declutter your home the less stressful it will be and the less it will hurt.
We mentioned earlier how important it is for you to play games as you work to declutter your house –– it makes this process fun and refreshing versus dreadful. One game you can play to make things fun and easy is the 12-12-12 challenge. The game works like this: as you go about decluttering each room you find 12 things to donate, 12 things to throw in the trash and 12 things to keep. Continue this process 2-3 times in each room until it is nice and tidy. You will be surprised at how quickly you can knock out entire sections of your house this way.
How many pots and pans do you have? What about iPhone chargers? Old laptops? TV’s? Electronics? Can openers? Hair dryers? We will let you in on a little secret as you work to declutter your house… there is no reason for you to have three can openers and four hair dryers. Over the years, we tend to accumulate so much stuff that much of the stuff is the same stuff we already have. As you declutter your home and you come across doubles, triples and quadruples… don’t think twice just remove them.
Launching five projects at once will leave your home in worse shape than when you began. Don’t get halfway through organizing your clothes and move on to your books just for fun. Muscle through one project, and then focus on what’s next. Don’t be like that ADD slacker Leonardo da Vinci. Finish what you start.
We Americans tend to have more space than we know what to do with… and when we figure out a way to fill this space… we build more space we call storage units (that we rent out on a monthly basis). When you have that much space, it’s easy to think you have to fill it. So, just pretend you have less space. Pretend you have one less room in your house or one less closet or one less bathroom… how would you make everything fit? What would you choose to get rid of? What would you keep?
Arguably the best part about decluttering your home is the money you can make as a result of it. Before you start painfully letting go of your belongings, we recommend you have an earnings goal in mind. And, remember to write it down –– see point number one if this still isn’t clear. Anytime you are struggling with saying goodbye to something, think about the money you are trying to make… this will hopefully make things far less painful. With sites like Ebay, Bonanza, Craigslist, eBid and Letgo… you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a new home for your lightly used goods.
This one is kind of a joke… but kinda not. The addiction to keeping too much stuff is actually a psychological problem called hoarding disorder –– it is the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. Hoarding: Buried Alive is a show that is actually very sad to watch, but one that will at the very least motivate you to declutter your home. While most people don’t struggle to the extent that these people do in Hoarding: Buried Alive… it is still something we all can learn from.
Good, you’ve made it to the end of this article which means you are serious about working to declutter your home. As you do so, remember what we mentioned towards the beginning of this article –– what would you grab if your house was on fire? While obviously, conditions aren’t this extreme, it definitely will get you thinking about which of your belongs matters most to you.
Good luck, and if you need some extra hands, book Bellhops. Give us a call at 1 (888) 836-3939. We love getting organized. We hope this decluttering your home checklist helps!
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Ryan Finlay is no mere mortal. He is a wise and wealthy Craigslist wizard that has spent the past five years honing his craft on one of the world’s largest buying and selling platforms.