We all have sentimental items that we cherish and want to store away, but when is it too much? And when is it clutter? Clutter is basically anything that takes up space and isn’t improving or making your life better. If you have clothing in your closet that you haven’t worn in years, piles of mail on the counter, toys in every corner or trouble finding important documents, it is time for you to think about purging and decluttering your home. For many of my clients letting go of items is the biggest hurdle when organizing their home. And I understand.
I even battle with clutter in my own home. It’s mainly my kids’ toys. We don’t have a designated playroom, so we have to limit how many toys can be kept. Our rule is that if a new toy comes in, an older or unused toy must be donated, recycled or if damaged beyond repair thrown out. It is very difficult for my kids to understand this, but it must be done.
Here are some guidelines and questions you should ask when determining whether to toss/recycle, donate to charity, or keep:
Take one item at a time when determining to keep it or not. While sorting keep in mind that the goal is to purge and reduce the amount of stuff in your home. The best decisions are the ones made quickly.
If you get stuck and can’t decide what to do with a particular item, ask yourself clarifying questions including:
- When is the last time you used this item and was it in the last year?
- Is it broken, damaged or the wrong size?
- Does it make you happy or have sentimental value?
- Do you really need this item?
For many of us, holding onto clutter is emotional. Our possessions reflect who we are, who we are not, and who we wish to be. Emotional attachment to items is something most of us do and the primary reason people hold onto clutter. Pretty Neat suggests that if you can’t make a decision on whether or not to get rid of an item, put it in a review box for a specified period of time. When time is up, it should be easier to make the decision. I would recommend having a limit to how many items can go into the “review box.” It should only be used on very select items and as sparingly as possible. Again the goal is to reduce the clutter in your home and make it more functional and beautiful.
TOSS & RECYCLE
Much of the clutter in your home could actually be trash. Here are some items that are the most obvious to throw away and recycle whenever possible:
- Junk mail, old magazines and newspapers. Be mindful to shred documents and information containing personal information such as birthdates, account numbers, and tax information.
- Expired food, make-up, and medicine. Check with your local recycling center about how and where to dispose of medications safely
- Clothing that is damaged, stained, or ripped beyond repair.
- Damaged boxes that are no longer useful.
- Broken toys, games, and electronic equipment.
An easy way to declutter your home is to donate items you don’t use, but are still in good condition. Donating to a family, friends, or a local charity is a great place for used clothing, furniture, CDs/DVDs, toys, tools, and so much more.
Once you have decluttered your home, the best way to keep it that way is to set up daily and weekly maintenance sessions. Taking fifteen minutes every day to tackle the mail, put toys away, and organize the entry or mudroom. At least once a month file away papers in your inbox, organize the pantry, or review your closet for pieces that could be donated.
Are you ready to conquer the clutter in your home? There is no better time than today.