In this age of material excess, it can be all too easy to amass enough stuff to qualify for Hoarders. If this sounds familiar, don’t panic: by practicing a little restraint and doing a bit of legwork, you can organize your home in three easy steps. You’ll not only benefit from a cleaner house but a clearer mind too.
With decluttering, the most common question where to start. For newbies, we recommend starting by numbering each room from most cluttered to least, and then either tackle the worst rooms first or ease yourself into the decluttering process with the spaces that require the least work. Feeling high energy? Get to that garage. Feeling tentative? Start with the kitchen junk drawer.
The kitchen can often be the most cluttered room in the house. Try to clear the counters so you have more work space and things feel more open. Stow away the cutting boards and small appliances as best you can. Corral other, smaller items onto trays or plates so they have a designated home in your kitchen. Hooks can be added to the inside of cabinet doors to hang measuring cups and spoons for easy access.
If you haven’t already, institute a long-term filing system – and for decluttering purposes, sort your papers into piles: "File," "To do" and "Shred/trash." Scan whatever you're able to into a digital copy to save on space.
With bathrooms, the biggest anxiety-inducer is the miscellany of items to clutter your various cabinets and drawers. Invest in some plastic-ware organizers, and chuck out any finished or expired products. Again, try to clear counter space to give the room an open feeling. If you must store things on the counter, make them pretty, like a basket for hand towels or a glass tray for perfumes and makeup. A favorite tip: use a tension road under the sink to get a little extra storage space.
Your bedroom should be a calm space -- a messy room makes it harder to relax and get a good night's rest. Feng shui philosophy also says that you shouldn't store things under the bed, as it blocks energy flow in the room. And of course, there's the closet! Remember that we only wear 20 percent of what we own on average, so do a thorough purge of the other 80 percent (either put things aside to donate or store seasonal pieces in the attic). Use the ruthless KonMari method to be extra thorough.
The major task in this room is to get things off surfaces -- water glasses, magazines, laptops, etc. Same old things end up on the coffee table every day? It means you use them often! Find a place to store them close by so they have a home to return to. Invest in some pretty baskets to hold those miscellaneous items that you reach for often, like toys, blankets, and books.
Managed to pile your garage up so high that your car barely fits in there anymore? The garage has long been the bane of the organized home. The best advice is to purge, purge, purge! When you can't purge any more, use shelving and bins to store your sports equipment, camping gear, and tools. Make sure all are labeled well and preferably off the ground and up high to save valuable floor space.
Unlike decluttering, which entails organizing what you already have, ditching is about letting go of the possessions that don’t serve you anymore.
First and foremost, have a thorough review of anything in your home that hasn’t been used or worn for the last year. These questions might come in handy when determining whether you really need to keep a hold of that shirt from five years ago. William Morris said, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
We all can be sentimental, so it can be difficult to approach this objectively. In order to determine whether you really require something or merely want to keep it, try the “Box and Banish” method – but with a twist. The method has you declutter and put all items you deem extraneous into boxes, but rather than “banishing” them immediately to a donation center, store them in your garage for a month or two. Set yourself a reminder at the end of those two months: did you need anything in those boxes? Did you forget about them entirely? It’s time to ditch!
Another strategy is to consult an objective party on questions of taste and quality. Your rose-tinted glasses might not see the wear and tear on your favourite dress from high school, but those of a clear-eyed pal will. Lastly, make a "to ditch" list: start with the easiest items to ditch (like clothes and books) and end with the most difficult (old greeting cards, your child's toys, etc). The act of going through the list in order, you’ll gain fortitude, and will be able to better deal with your emotions.
And remember - you can let go of an item without letting go of the memory it represents!
This is the one we are most excited about. The things you no longer need, someone else probably does. There are many ways to get rid of items that in a way that is environmentally friendly and will likely help a worthy cause. Instead of taking it to the landfill or leaving it on the curb, bring it to a local donation center (like the ReStores!) -- the donated item itself and the money it generates for a nonprofit can make a difference in the community.
Sofia Lockett is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand. She is passionate about travel, interior design, and home trends. When she's not writing, you'll find her checking out the latest design news and blogs. You can find more of her work on her Tumblr.
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