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How to get started on decluttering your home July 22, 2007

Filed under: Tips — sarah @ 10:10 am

Deciding to declutter your house is a pretty big project. How and where to start?

Perhaps you’ve already decided “where”, because one area of your home is crying out for de-junking. No? Then consider which room gives you the most grief. Are you reluctant to let visitors in the kitchen or the living room? Is the back closet an avalanche in ambush? Do you need a backhoe to get to the far side of the garage or basement?

Another way of picking a starting point, especially if you can only work for short periods, is to work on a small, limited area you can finish quickly. Then it won’t overflow into the rest of the house. One drawer, one cabinet, one shelf or one box might be a good choice. You could also divide a larger area into sections or chunks and work on them separately

Once you’ve decided where to work, grab your tools. Most important are containers for the stuff you’ll be moving around. Sturdy cardboard boxes are great for things which will move to other places in the house, or out of the house for recycling or gifting. Big, tough garbage bags for the junk are another essential. You might want gloves if you’re working somewhere dirty or dusty like the attic or basement (and even a dust mask if it’s really bad). And once you’ve decluttered this area you’ll probably want to clean it, especially if there are places which haven’t seen the light of day for some time, so stock up on the cleaning tools and supplies you prefer to use.

Arm yourself with containers for these categories:

  • Trash (actual garbage)
  • Give away (to the thrift store, neighbors, friends or family)
  • Recycle (glass, plastic, paper etc which can be recycled in your community)
  • Sell (if you have things which might be worth something at a garage sale or on eBay. Be practical here, though: most things are not worth the trouble and time to sell them).
  • Elsewhere (things to be kept, but which don’t belong in this area you’re working on)
  • Pending (things you can’t decide about. This should be a VERY SMALL category!)
  • Keep (things which will go back into the space you’ve just cleared out)

When you’re ready, get started. You can check out my other articles and my website for more details, but the basic principle is simple: if you don’t use it, love it, or need it, get rid of it. You get to decide the definitions of “use”, “love” and “need”, in this context.
Once you have some full boxes and bags, don’t let things on their way to the thrift store or the dump hang around too long. Apart from the fact that the boxes of stuff are clutter in themselves, it’s too easy to change your mind and start pulling stuff back out of the box. If you have a lot of boxes, or large furniture to get rid of, some organizations will pick them up, so take advantage of that. Does your community have a day for putting out large items at the curb for pickup? Make sure you use it! Instead of piling boxes by the door to take outside, take them all the way out to the car so that next time you pass the thrift store they are ready and waiting to be dropped off.By Robin Gray


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