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Ah, Spring. A time for rejuvenation, warmer days, and the unwelcome task of dealing with a Winter’s worth of amassed clutter. Stuff seems to have a way of piling up in the home at a greater pace over the Winter months. Maybe the shorter days and the dreary weather give us less energy and motivation to clean and declutter on a regular basis. Whatever the reason may be, the onset of Spring is a perfect time to take stock and reorganize our living spaces. It’s not called “Spring cleaning” for nothing.
That said, too much clutter has an energy-zapping, overwhelming quality all on its own. Once you get a sense of how much extra stuff is lying around your home, figuring out how to address it can seem impossible. Well, we get it. That’s why we’ve put together this list of six easy ways to declutter your home.
1. Make a Plan Before Doing Anything
All successful decluttering ventures begin with a solid battle plan. Go through your home and identify the spots that need the most TLC. It’s important to be thorough here. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an entire spare bedroom, a closet or one particularly bad drawer in the kitchen, simply walk around and mark down all the areas that are overburdened with clutter. While you’re at it, rule out areas that are already in good shape. Taking stock of these lower-priority areas can make the whole job seem less daunting right from the get-go.
2. Take it One Room at a Time
Once you’ve made a plan and identified the areas that need the most work, it’s time to start tackling the job. A helpful way to go about this is to go room by room. This method is far preferable to jumping from one part of the house to another in a disorganized shuffle. It’s easy to omit areas if you do it this way. Instead, look to your list of messy spots and group these spots into their respective rooms. Once that’s done, simply pick a room that you’d like to work in and work through all the spots in that room before moving onto another one. By devoting all your attention to one space, you’ll ensure that you don’t miss anything.
3. Create a Sorting System
So, you’ve picked a room. What now? First things first: empty out the cluttered area you’re working on so you can take stock of all the items it contained. After you’ve emptied everything out, group everything according to this sorting system:
Discard: Anything that is clearly ready to be tossed out or recycled. These items can include garbage, broken items or worn, torn articles of clothing.
Donate: Anything that’s in working order that you simply don’t use or don’t want anymore. Clothing, books, pots and pans, plates, cups, electronics, etc.
Keep: Everything else that you wish to hold on to. This includes items that you wish to put into storage (hint, hint).
This sorting system may change according to the room you’re working in (you certainly won’t be donating empty food containers or shampoo bottles), but the rules generally apply in all circumstances. It’s key to be discerning, deliberate and, if need be, ruthless. You don’t want to end up with a “keep” pile that consists of all the same things you started with. When building your piles, ask questions like:
When was the last time I used/wore this?
Does this thing even work?
Would someone else enjoy this more than I do?
Do I really need four jars of olives?
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4. Deal With the Piles
Once you’ve laid out all your piles, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to deal with them. Here’s how it should go:
The Discard Pile
This pile should be the easiest to deal with. Bag up the obvious garbage in appropriate bags and recycle all the items that can be recycled. Be sure to look up the proper procedures for discarding things like clothing and broken electronics.
The Donate Pile
A donation is a responsible way to get rid of perfectly good items that you simply don’t want or need anymore. There are plenty of local shelters, charities and used-clothing stores that take used items. Just be sure to check the organization’s donation guidelines before dropping off your items. Expediency is key with the donation pile. Well all know that the longer bags and boxes sit around the house, the less likely we are to do anything about them.
The Keep Pile
With any luck, this pile should be substantially smaller than the initial mass of stuff you pulled out of the space. As you put items back into the space, be sure to organize things like clothes, toiletries, food and important documents in a way that works for you. Decluttering is as much about organization as it is about clearing things out. For comprehensive tips on how to deal with the keep pile, check out our Quickstart Guide to Decluttering.
5. Clean as You Go
As you’re going room by room tackling your list of problem spots, don’t sign off a room until you’ve also given it a thorough cleaning. Seeing as how your organizing spaces and areas that aren’t normally emptied out, the decluttering process is also the perfect time to dust them, sweep them and wipe them down. It may sound like more work after a full day of parting with old t-shirts, books and empty cereal boxes, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
6. Use Second Closet to Store the Rest
When you’re building out your keep pile, it’s inevitable that there’s going to be things you’re on the fence about. Should it stay or should it go? There are certain items that even the most ruthless purger won’t be able to decide on right away. That’s where Second Closet comes in. We pick up, store, and return your stuff when you need it. You can book a space plan or pay per item and keep your things safe and secure until you need them, or until you’ve made your decision.