How to Create a Declutter Strategy
Now I just want to take a moment to put my own conscience at ease. My family and I are no saints when it comes to living clutter-free lives. Our kids are ages 7, 6, and 3 and our schedules are packed full of after-school activities and full-time jobs. Every day is a struggle to stay on top of putting things away and keeping our home tidy. Our master bedroom is always a disaster and I’m breaking out in a cold nervous sweat as I type this. If someone were to chart a line graph based on the days our house goes from neat to messy it would look less like a rollercoaster and more like a seismograph recording a level 8 earthquake. So as you read through this game plan please don’t compare your situation to a Tidying Up with Marie Kondo episode. Consistent and gradual progress always prevails when decluttering. Win the small battles and you’ll create consistent everyday habits that will win the war.
The first step is to just walk through your home with new eyes. In fact, some organizers recommend that you enter your house, going room by room, making a list of everything you want to change. Before you start doing anything, take a close look at the list. Which room or space irritates you the most? Prioritize each area you want clean based on this list.
Rather than trying to tackle an entire room, start with one small area. Focus on that one area - whether it is a counter, a dresser drawer or a bookshelf. Completely clear everything from the area and then go through each item, choosing whether to save, donate, give it away, or throw it away. As you find items you want to keep, put them back until everything is back in its place. When you step back and see the cleared space, you will feel a sense of satisfaction and odds are that feeling will the spark that gives you renewed energy to move forward.
You may be tempted to start on the next item on the list, but it would be better to wait. Give yourself a couple of days to a week to get used to having the area clean and see how you do keeping the area clutter-free. Your goal is to develop the new habit of keeping this one area cleared. When you feel secure in keeping this one area clear, it is time to move to the next priority item on your list.
The next step is to work on another small area. You may want to have a decluttering spree but bear in mind that doing too much too soon can wear you out. Instead, plan to spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day cleaning, remember the goal is to make this a long term lifestyle change so it has to be sustainable. If you can schedule more time, an hour or two each week would be fantastic. Follow the list of prioritized items and mark the time on your calendar. Guard the time like you would a doctor’s appointment or a meeting for work, that way you'll be sure to declutter each week.
Once you have gotten your own clutter under control, it is time to enlist the help of your family. Develop a chore chart for everyone in the family so you are not the only one cleaning. You may be the only one decluttering but it only makes sense for everyone in the family to be involved in general housekeeping which will help develop a routine.
As you go through clutter, whether on your own or with your family’s help, remember the importance of not only cleaning but also getting rid of items that you no longer need. You may want to put a “give away” box in each room. When you find an unwanted or unneeded item, place it in the designated basket. Once it’s full, immediately take it to the car and donate it to a charity like the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or even a local women’s shelter. Perhaps someone else will need it.
You may feel like it is taking forever to clear the clutter, but it took more than a day or two to amass it. It will take time to get your home back in order, but once you do, you will be more likely to use the new skills you have learned and keep the clutter from coming back.
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Lauren & Jake