Ah yes, it’s that time of year again—spring cleaning. If you’re like me, the words “storage bins” and “color-coordinating” are music to your ears and you can’t wait to dive into the trenches of clutter and organize to your heart’s desire.
But, if you’re like most people, the thought of decluttering your home is stressful and overwhelming. Sure, the idea of a clean, organized home sounds great, but where do you even start? How can you possibly tackle the 30 boxes in the basement that haven’t been touched since you moved into your home 6 years ago?
Believe me, I’ve been there, but the path to a decluttered home doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, it is quite freeing to let go of possessions that have been weighing you and your home down. In 10 quick and easy steps, you too can live a life of less stuff and less stress!
Check out my 10 steps to a decluttered, stress-free home:
- Schedule the clean-up. I’ve found the best way to ensure a task gets done is to plan ahead and put it in writing. So, go ahead, open up your calendar and schedule a few hours on a Saturday (or any day you are available) that you can dedicate to decluttering. And stick to it.
- Make a Priority List. Once you’ve picked your clean-out day, create a list of rooms or areas in your home that you want to focus on and plan to tackle them one by one, starting with the area that is your biggest priority. Does the garage house everything but your car? Does your closet resemble a war zone? Once you check off the biggest room on your list, you’ll be more motivated to move on to the next problem area.
- Organize Your Clutter into Four Piles. The day is here and it’s time to clean the room you’ve been avoiding for months. Before diving in, create four piles—keep, donate, throw away and move. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but place the items you plan to keep in the existing area in the keep pile. Place items suitable and in good enough condition for donation in the donate pile. Place items too old, tattered or too used to be donated in the throw away pile. And, finally, place items that belong in a different location in the move pile. Organizing into piles will be the bulk of your decluttering work, so once you’re done separating your possessions; you’ll be well on your way to a clean home!
- Actually Get Rid of Stuff. Come on, do you really need that jean jacket you rocked in the 80s and haven’t worn since? If you haven’t picked it up in the past 6 months, you probably don’t need it. You’ve committed to decluttering your space, so take a second look at your keep pile. You’ll be surprised by the amount of items you can actually get rid of.
- Get It Out Now. You’ve just spent two hours separating your items into four distinct piles and all you want to do is pour a glass of wine and call it a day. Resist the urge to quit—put everything in its proper place once you’ve decided where it needs to go. If you don’t do it now, you won’t do it later and this time next year the donation bags will still be piled up in your garage. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste, put the donation bags in your car or arrange for them to be picked up and take the trash out ASAP.
- Clean the Space. Now that you’ve cleared out the clutter and have a blank work space, take the time to clean the area. You’ll be surprised at the amount of dust and trash that has accumulated over the months (or years), so take a few minutes to vacuum and wipe down the space. Your future self will thank you.
- Reorganize Your “Keep Items”. Ok, you’ve done the cleaning and decluttering, now what do you do with the leftover stuff? Don’t shove everything in a drawer or closet and call it a day. Go the extra mile and strategically place your possessions in a thoughtful manner. Keep like things together, categorize drawers, label shelves, etc. If you don’t have a knack for organization, check out this guide to an organized home.
- Move onto the Next Area on Your List. You did it! You conquered the first of many goals. Take a break and then keep the momentum going. Move on to the next area on your list and repeat steps 3-7.
- Assess Your Needs. While decluttering your home, you probably came across a few storage issues (hence the clutter in the first place). Create a wish list of items that will help you maintain a more organized home. Spring cleaning is no easy feat, so treat yourself to a trip to The Container Store! You deserve those cute wicker storage bins.
- Commit to an Uncluttered Life. Wow, look at your clean home. It looks amazing and you feel accomplished. Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Commit to a life of less clutter by actively pursuing a simple life style. No one is perfect and your home is never going to look like a Pottery Barn catalog, but by taking daily action to declutter (throwing away mail and hanging up clothes after you wear them) , you’ll soon be on the path to a more organized, stress free home.
Now, go ahead, pour yourself a glass of wine.
Author: My name is Kristen Fowler and I work for Allconnect, a company that helps home owners and renters set up their home services like cable, internet, electricity, etc. I frequently write about home improvement, design and home savings tips for the Allconnect Blog. You can read some of my posts here: http://www.allconnect.com/