Several months ago, I decided I was ready to majorly declutter our home.
We weren’t living in a massively disorganized house, but it was driving me crazy how I’d find trails of paper in every room or pens scattered throughout the house in obscure places. Our kitchen cabinets had sippy cups and Tupperware lids that were missing for who knows how long. Our guest room closets were solely used to store old decor items, notebooks and textbooks from college, and childhood memorabilia — most of which hasn’t been touched in years.
I started researching ways to declutter our home and most of the posts were about living minimally — things like capsule wardrobes, digitizing keepsakes so that you can throw them out, or getting rid of furniture with flat surfaces that might be a landing spot for random items. While that might work for some people, I’m definitely not one of them. And, just because you might not want to live minimally doesn’t mean you are a hoarder either.
In my mind, there had to be a happy medium. A way to live without the clutter while still keeping items that were important to me.
Guess what? Decluttering doesn’t have to mean all or nothing! It took a couple of weeks, but we came out on the other side and learned a thing or two along the way. I’ve put together a few tips that helped us declutter our home as well as make decisions about what to keep and what to throw out.
Get rid of unnecessary paper
Paper, paper, paper — it seems harmless enough, but paper can create so much clutter and adds up so quickly.
Start by going through your entire house, gather up all of the paper items, and stack it all in one spot. You can use your dining table, kitchen counters, or even the floor to consolidate it all so that you can slowly start to sort through the stacks. Just keep repeating to yourself, “It’s going to look worse before it looks better.” 🙂
You’ll want to keep documents like marriage and birth certificates, deeds, warranties, but items like old receipts, out-of-date bills, and other random papers can be thrown in the trash or shredded.
Tidy by category, not by room
One large reason clutter exists is because like-items are spread all over the house rather than grouped together. When you start by decluttering a room rather than an entire category, you don’t get a very accurate sense of what you have.
Instead, start by gathering up everything in a particular category (books, clothes, magazines, tupperware, etc). This will allow you to see, all at once, how much you have, how much you want to purge, if there are any duplicates, what pieces are missing — and you’ll be making progress across your entire house.
Get rid of things you haven’t used in a year
Easy to say, but hard to implement. If you haven’t used an item in a year, that means you’ve made it through every season, every holiday, and every occasion that you might possibly use that item. Do yourself a favor and get rid of items that aren’t getting any use.
Don’t keep things out of guilt
This might be the hardest thing for me, personally. I keep things out of guilt…a lot. It might be a gift from a dear friend that I’m keeping it out of fear that they’ll one day ask me what happened to it and I’ll have to admit that I threw the gift away. Or it might be something I bought myself, but didn’t turn out as I expected. Whatever the guilt, let it go!
Get rid of anything that has expired
When I think of expired items, I think of my refrigerator. Yes, the expired milk is definitely included in this, but some less obvious things are canned goods and other products in the pantry, medication and prescriptions, makeup and hair products, sunscreen, etc. You’d be surprised how many things have probably expired in your house and how getting rid of those items quickly eliminates some clutter.
Don’t keep items you wouldn’t buy now
For me, this is a great measure of whether or not I should keep an item. Would I buy this throw pillow off the shelf right now? Would I try on this pair of jeans and buy them based off of their fit? If the answer is no, it might be a good sign that you can do without them.
Get it down to one box
We had several boxes of memorabilia and keepsakes that were taking up a lot of room. David and I decided to get the stuff we wanted to keep down to one box each. Not only did this free up a lot of space, but it helped us prioritize when making decisions on what to keep since we only had so much space in that one box.
Schedule your donation pick ups
Remember to actually schedule the donation pick ups as soon as you have a collection of stuff to donate. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve been known to let a box of stuff sit in my closet, waiting to be donated, for over a year! You can call or schedule a pick up online or you can load the box in the car and take it to a drop off location — it’s so easy. And, if you keep track of your donations, it’s a nice tax deduction.
Maintain a cleaning schedule
I’ve written about this before, but maintaining a clean home can make a world of difference in eliminating clutter. There are daily tasks that we complete each day such as putting away toys and out-of-place items, making beds, and taking out the trash that take just a few minutes when done each day. Keeping a clean home not only eliminates “surface clutter,” but also makes way for you to do some of the deeper decluttering and organizational tasks that may be hiding in closets, garages, and attics.
Have patience and stick with it
Decluttering and organizing takes time. Don’t give up! Take it one step at a time and set realistic goals. If you only have 15 minutes a day, use that 15 minutes to declutter a junk drawer or a basket full of odds-and-ends. The main thing is to stick with it and you’ll start seeing progress in no time!
Are you ready to declutter and organize your home? Let me know in the comments below where you plan to start first!
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