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Do you find yourself struggling to throw away the packaging in which your purchased goods arrive? Do you keep old items even when you’ve replaced them with new ones? If your answer to these questions is a yes, you’re not the only one; America has a clutter problem.
Anyone who struggles to believe that America has a clutter problem probably hasn’t seen the statistics indicating that 54% of Americans believe that they are overwhelmed by clutter, and 78% don’t know what to do with it.
If you’re one of the people facing a clutter challenge, this article is for you. We look at some creative ways to declutter your home and get organized.
When Does Clutter Become A Problem And Why Declutter?
You have clutter in your space if you keep things that do not add value to your life. For instance, when you move that toaster into a cupboard in your kitchen because you have purchased a new one, the old toaster is no longer adding value in your life and doesn’t deserve the space you’re giving it in your house.
Clutter becomes a problem the moment you start keeping stuff you no longer need. The more clutter you accumulate, the bigger the problem becomes as you feel more overwhelmed. Generally, clutter becomes a headache when it starts to create disorder in your spaces to the extent that you find it challenging to accomplish tasks or find stuff.
The company that offers dumpster rentals, BudgetDumpster.com, conducted a survey and concluded that “Organizing and decluttering relieves stress for many people by providing a sense of control and accomplishment.”
The same BudgetDumpster.com survey revealed that “61.7% of survey respondents said decluttering reduced their overall stress level.” Some indicated that getting rid of clutter freed up extra space.
Now that it’s clear that clutter is not a good thing, let’s look at how you can declutter your home and get better organized.
1. Identify The Signs
Certain signs show you may have a clutter problem:
- Your house feels crowded.
- You have stress caused by not knowing what to do with all the things you have.
- You find it difficult to find things in your home.
- You have things you bought but have never used them even once.
- You discourage people from coming to your house because you’re embarrassed by the disorder caused by having too many things.
- In your closet, there are clothes you don’t remember.
- There are storage boxes you haven’t opened months after moving into a new home.
If any of the above signs are present in your place, it’s time to consider decluttering your home.
2. Determine Who You Are Now
The process of decluttering needs to start with you determining who you are today. Doing this will help you decide what the person you are today needs and doesn’t need. For instance, the ashtray you needed five years ago when you smoked is no longer necessary today if you stopped smoking. It becomes clutter.
Technology also changes with time. Those CDs you played in 1995 may no longer be necessary today when you can live stream all your music. The same applies to the DVD player you used to cherish 15 years ago or the magazines on your bookshelf, which haven’t been opened in years.
3. Put Everything Where It Belongs
Always ensure that everything is where it should be by putting things back where they belong after using them.
Having things where they belong doesn’t only create order; it gives you an idea of how much stuff you have. When things are all over the place, you may start to worry that you have a clutter challenge when you don’t, or you may rush off to buy something you already have.
In an article written for the website that offers ideas and inspiration for creating great living spaces, MyDomaine.com, Gabrielle Savoie’s counsel is simple, “Everything has to have a home.”
There are times when it may be convenient to keep things where they usually don’t belong, like having blankets in the living room during winter. However, the blankets need to be arranged neatly so that they don’t stay scattered around the living room.
4. Keep Similar Things Together
When you keep similar things together, it becomes easy to see when you have too much of anything. It is also easier to get rid of excess stuff if you have a clear idea of what you own.
Keeping similar things together also helps you to find things quickly when you need to use them. It may also help you quickly see if any important things are missing, have expired, or are about to be finished.
5. Discourage Clutter
The best way not to have clutter is never to allow it to accumulate in the first place. I know that this is easier said than done, but it’s important to be conscious of it. It may help you stop clutter before it begins.
Start by being mindful when you buy stuff. This means recognizing that there is a difference between liking something and needing something. If you know that you like it, ask yourself a second question: Do I need it?
Another policy is to understand that your space is finite. With this consciousness, you can have a policy of getting rid of something in your house whenever a new item comes into your space. Buy that new pair of shoes if you want it but start by deciding what you will do with the one you already have.
Another clever idea to discourage clutter is to have furniture that serves multiple purposes, such as having a futon mattress that can be used for both sitting and sleeping.
6. Start Small
Clutter isn’t accumulated in a single day. Therefore, you cannot expect to declutter your home at once. This is a reality recognized by AARP.org, an organization that helps Americans aged 50 and above determine how they live. AARP.org suggests that you “Begin by choosing one small area to organize — like a drawer.”
7. Have No Sacred Cows
As you determine what you need and what you no longer need, ensure that you assess everything in your home. This implies that you should not keep anything unless it has gone through the test determining whether you still need it.
Create a list of questions to evaluate every item in your home. You’ll be surprised by how many things you think you need when you actually don’t.
8. Create A Decluttering Plan
BudgetDumpster.com provides some tips on how to create a decluttering plan:
- Break down the decluttering project into rooms and sections of rooms. Work on one section within a room at a time.
- Have a specific timeline for completing each section and room.
- Create separate categories for things you will keep in the house, store, donate, and get rid of.
- Balance between throwing away too much and keeping too many things by carefully thinking about what you will need in the future.
- Create a habit of staying organized so that clutter doesn’t have a chance of accumulating again.
9. Prepare For An Emotional Challenge
Andrea Jordan writes for the website TinyBuddha.com and says that “Letting go of possessions can be like letting go of a part of ourselves.” She advises that it’s vital to connect with your emotions by determining what those possessions stand for and the memories they represent. Jordan calls this process connecting with your emotions.
Jordan says, “Connecting to those emotions helped me to know that those memories are always with me and don’t need to be triggered by a thing.” Adding, “I began to thank those items for helping me to create those memories. That might sound a bit odd, but it really worked. I could then release those things with a smile and a thankful heart.”
If you’re keeping stuff for the next generation, AARP.org recommends that you should “ask your heirs if they want the items.” Adding, “Be prepared for them to say no, and be gracious.”
10. Ask Someone To Help You
If you’re afraid that you may not be able to determine what you need to let go of objectively, you may need to consider getting someone to help you with decluttering. This doesn’t mean that you have to subcontract the decluttering job to someone else.
The person you ask to help you can hold something and ask a simple question: Do you still need this? It’s easier to make a decision about something sentimental if you’re not holding it.
11. Start A Conversation With Your Partner
You can declutter all you want, but if your partner isn’t part of the plan, you’re likely to fail. Brooke McAlary writes for the website TheArtOfSimple.net and emphasizes the importance of speaking to your partner about your decluttering plans.
McAlary advises that you need to “Make it about you and your desires, and avoid accusations or judgment.” She adds, “Tell them how you plan on going about simplifying and then ask if it’s something they are interested in.”
12. Hold Everybody In Your Home Responsible
Apart from getting your partner’s buy-in, you’ll also need the support of all the other people in your home. This is because it will not be possible to declutter and organize the home if other people are busy creating clutter.
Once everybody agrees, it’s time to create mechanisms for holding each other accountable.
13. Help An Older Adult Declutter
If you’re handling the process of decluttering for seniors, you may need to exercise more care because they may have a sentimental attachment to their stuff. However, older adults are also changing in terms of their health and need to have their spaces adapted for their needs.
To make things simple, when dealing with seniors, you’ll need to explain why the decluttering project is essential. Be prepared to show them how the project will enhance their lives.
The healthcare company catering for seniors, EdgewoodHealthcare.com, recommends that if something truly makes an older loved one happy, it must be kept.
14. Consider Donating
EdgewoodHealthcare.com suggests that people who want to declutter should “Get rid of the clutter by getting these items [they have decided to let go of] out of the house as soon as possible.” Adding, “Once you’ve filed a bag or box with items to be donated, put them in your car and drive them to the donation center as soon as you can.”
15. Hire A Professional
Decluttering is complex and can be an overwhelming experience for many people. Therefore, it’s impossible to expect that everyone will manage the process on their own. If you find yourself in this situation, you can always hire a declutter expert or organizer to help you with the process.