It’s that time of year. The birds are singing, the flowers in bloom. Ah yes, it’s spring which means that it is time to roll up your sleeves, put on your gameface and get serious about cleaning house. The very first step in restoring your home to springtime splendor is decluttering. While it may seem like an overwhelming task, following a few simple tips will make your purging process go swiftly and smoothly:
Know Your Job. Know Yourself.
First, evaluate your workload. How many rooms, bathrooms, closets, cabinets and drawers will you be cleaning out? Large closets, garages, and storage rooms can take a whole day, but generally you can handle the bathroom or kitchen cabinets in one hour blocks. How much stuff do you really have to go through? Are you the type of person who needs a lot of breaks or can you power through for hours? Are you easily distracted or do you get super focused? Answer these questions honestly so you can make a realistic timeframe and set attainable goals for getting your tasks done.
Take Only What You Need
I know. You want those tote bins and cute little desk organizers and nifty hooks. However, until you have cleaned everything out and done an assessment of how much you have to store, there is no point in getting those yet. Right now, stick with a heavy duty trash bag, some cardboard boxes, and gloves. Anything more will only serve as a distraction.
I suggest starting with the closet in the most cluttered room in the house and working outward for two reasons. First, tackling one of your toughest jobs head on really serves as a motivator once you see the progress and feel the results. Moreover, this room usually has the greatest potential for storage and becomes the catchall throughout the year(s). Clearing this area of unnecessary belongings frees up space to store other things in the house… or not store anything at all. That’s cool too.
Get it all out there.
Lay down a large sheet and pull everything out of the closet, drawer, cabinet, bookcase, etc. Whatever you are cleaning, EMPTY it out. I know it is much more appealing to kind of pick through and toss this or rearrange that but that is merely shuffling the problem. When you pull it all out you are forced to look at it and determine whether you really need it or not before replacing it. If you haven’t used it, thought about it, missed it in six months, you can probably do without it. If you don’t know what it is, you can probably do without it. And if you haven’t made that awesome whatnot you saw on Pinterest that one time made entirely of it, you can DEFINITELY do without it. Fill that trash bag. Take out to trash can. Repeat as necessary.
Clean the Unseen
Pulling everything out allows you to properly clean your drawers and cabinets and vacuum your closets or room. Just because it is hidden away doesn’t mean it doesn’t require a good cleaning. These hideaways are regular hangouts for extra dust and cobwebs. Take that time to clean them thoroughly while nothing is in your way. There’s nothing worse than mystery crumbs and stray coins in the “junk drawer” or a shard of plastic hanger stalking your foot in an unvacuumed closet. Go ahead and handle that. You’ve come so far already.
Race the Clock
Set a time limit and work within it. I use an egg timer but you can use your alarm clock, microwave, or maybe even that snazzy smartphone you’ve got there. Regardless of how you keep the time, use it wisely. If you do not do well with distractions (like this girl) you have to be super vigilant on keeping time. Whereas some people are able to multitask by taking on smaller jobs while chatting on the phone or listening to television, others (again, like this girl) may get so engrossed in their conversations or tv shows that hours go by with no progress. I have learned to politely excuse myself from phone conversations and enjoy the radio instead of the television. This helps me to meet my deadline on or ahead of schedule! Learn what works best for you and stick with it.
Give It Away, Now!
If you have items that you don’t need but you know someone else could get good use from them, box those things up and DONATE them! One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and your donation may very well be helping to give someone the new beginning they need. You don’t even have to leave the house. Many non-profits will come and pick up the donations free of charge. In case the good karma and good Samaritan angles just aren’t motivation enough, perhaps sweetening the deal with the term “tax write-off” will urge you to make an extra pile for those givable items. It’s a win-win if you’re making room in your home.
Find a Foster
Create a temporary home for the things you have decided to keep. The books can go back on the (dusted) shelves, of course. However, any items that you know you will not use often, would like to put elsewhere or need to organize more thoroughly should be grouped and placed out of the way. Soon, you will have worked your way through the entire house and though things are not totally in place yet, you will notice a significant difference. Again, take note of the amount you would like to store and organize differently.
Once you’ve made it to this point, you can go ahead and splurge on decorative boxes, labelers, and storage totes. It is time to organize!